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Thread: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

    I have the whole Myres passage now and will
    Post it here later

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    Default Re: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

    from RAF Night Operations (Voices in Flight) by Martin W. Bowman Pages

    This does not match the August 30th 1941 Incident - But the August 3rd Incident - Including the serial number - But Myres (as far as ORB says) not on the August 3rd crew..


    In a contemporary account Sergeant Myers, rear gunner on Pilot Officer
    Reynolds’ Wellington IC R1088 ‘O-Orange’ crew on 101 Squadron at
    Oakington, Cambridgeshire, recalled the trip to Hamburg on 30/31 August
    1941.
    ‘I remember very well,’ he says, ‘going to the Intelligence Room that
    afternoon and the feeling of expectancy I had when I learnt that my target
    was to be Hamburg. I knew that new fighter patrols had recently been seen
    round there-they were marked, with the usual red wool, on the map in the
    Intelligence Room - and I suppose that is why I felt as though something
    exciting was going to happen. On the way out we were all on the alert and
    everyone of the crew who was available carried out what we call a ‘search’
    of the sky very thoroughly indeed. From my rear turret I searched
    continuously and I certainly felt relieved when we got near Hamburg
    without meeting anything except occasional searchlights and flak. We got
    away from them by evasive action and were able to continue on our course
    without undue delay. We got to Hamburg well in time. As far as I can
    remember we were not satisfied with our first run over the target, so we
    flew over the area for about twenty minutes. The flak, both heavy and light,
    was particularly intense, but eventually we got a good run over the target
    and saw our bombs burst on it.
    ‘We began our long journey home and things seemed to be going
    particularly well, when we suddenly began to get into trouble with
    searchlights. The pilot took evasive action, but in spite of everything he
    could do we were held by more and more searchlights, until in the end we
    found ourselves in a cone of about thirty with very intense flak all round us.
    The searchlight crews appeared to be working on a definite system; their
    idea seemed to be to hold us in the centre of a huge circle of light with a
    diameter of about 400 yards. We were feeling, as always when caught in
    searchlights, as though we were completely naked, when the flak suddenly
    and entirely stopped.
    ‘I knew what this meant at once and I did not need the captain’s caution,
    ‘Watch out for fighters.’ To anyone who has not been through just that
    moment of suspense it is difficult to describe the eerie sensation one feels. It
    is as if time were standing still and the whole world waiting. I seemed to be
    in the centre of an enormous lighted but empty circus, waiting for the
    unknown. Obviously I knew in a sense what I was waiting for, but I felt that
    everything was fantastic and unreal.
    ‘I kept my eyes skinned and tried to look in all directions at once.
    Suddenly, I caught sight of a faint ghostly shape entering the circle of light.
    At the same time streaks of light were slithering under my turret. Of course
    I realized that they were tracer, but my brain refused to register the fact that
    they were deadly. I immediately swung round to face the attacker. But the
    attack was so swift that it was almost over before I could bring fire to bear
    and I fear that my sighting was in consequence rather sketchy.
    ‘I told my captain of the attack and then in quick succession there were
    four more, each by a Me 110. My captain thought afterwards that the last
    attack was a repeat by the first Messerschmitt, but my own opinion is that
    the attacks followed one another too quickly for that to have happened.
    After my rather erratic burst at the first fighter I was ready for the others. I
    fired between eight hundred and one thousand rounds at them at point-blank
    range; at least half my shots must have found their mark. Not a single shot
    from the fighters hit my turret; all their shots went by underneath me, but a
    great many bullets and one or two cannon shells must have struck the
    starboard wing and the other side of the fuselage.
    ‘Three of the fighters never appeared again, but I could not claim them as
    victims of my fire because there were no positive signs of damage to them.
    The other two fighters each made a second attack, one from the beam, to no
    effect and the other from the front. In this attack a cannon shell wounded
    the front gunner; it passed through his left arm and went on to smash the
    pilot’s instrument panel; only the compass and the altimeter were left
    working. The Wellington went into a very steep dive. We hurtled down
    from 10,000 to 2,000 feet before we pulled out. I could get no answer from
    the intercom during the dive and you can imagine my feelings; I was on the
    point of bailing out when we began to pull out.
    ‘Our dive shook off the fighters and at the same time we somehow got
    away from the searchlights. But the engines were, missing badly. The
    captain sent the second pilot back to see if I was all right and to warn me to
    be ready to bail out if the engines failed altogether. The others with
    difficulty took the front gunner from the front turret and brought him to the
    bed to the rear of the main spar. They applied a tourniquet to his upper arm
    and did everything possible for him.
    ‘The engines unexpectedly picked up again and we were able to gain
    height gradually, though we found to our consternation that we had lost
    three hundred gallons of petrol from our starboard tanks. The pilot
    consulted with the navigator and decided to try to make for the Dutch coast
    before baling out; he hoped that we might then be able to escape to England
    by boat. But by excellent airmanship and skilful saving of petrol, the pilot
    discovered that at to the Dutch coast there was enough petrol to take us
    within sixty miles of the English coast. We decided to take a chance and if
    necessary, even though our wireless had failed, come down in the sea.
    Actually we flew for half an hour after the petrol gauge had registered zero
    and with great relief we eventually crossed the English coast. The navigator
    had brought us direct to his aiming-point, an aerodrome near our own and
    just inland. Exactly as we were gliding in to land our engines cut, but the
    pilot made a wonderful belly landing. Our wounded front gunner, after this
    struggle of three and a half hours to get back to England, died in hospital,
    half an hour after he was taken there.’ The front gunner’s name was Pilot
    Officer David Lecky Crichton RAAF. Another member of the crew, Sergeant
    Owen Hugh Barlow, was killed. The Wellington crashed at Rampton, seven
    miles NNW of Cambridge.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

    Hi Paul,

    Curly one! Not only was the operation of R1088 on the 2nd/3rd of August without Myres - they seemingly didn't attack Hamburg, and didn't crash at Rampton.

    R1088
    P/O Bundey
    P/O Reynolds
    Sgt Lewis
    Sgt Hayter
    Sgt France
    Sgt Thompson

    Duty: Hamburg
    Up: 2234
    Down: Crashed

    'Primary Target not located but attacked Bremen at 0215... This aircraft forced landed and burnt out at Rodgerous Field, Park Farm, East Bravorne*, but none of the crew were injured.'

    *sic - presumably East Brabourne, as the Summary of Events says 'near Lympne'

    P/O Reynolds makes something like 4 or 5 trips as part of P/O Bundey's crew in August. I don't see Myers or Crichton appear in the crew lists before the 30 Aug 41 operation, and Crichton's service record implies that this may have been his first op:

    "Extracts from Flying Log Book.... First Flight: 28.8.41. Crashed Operations 30.8.41"

    ORB: "This aircraft crashed just after take off two miles N.E. of Oakington and burnt out. One of the crew killed, three severely injured, and one slightly injured."

    I note that the first and last paragraphs in your extract appear to be wrapper text by the author; I wonder if Myers' story relates to either an op at OTU or on a different Squadron before the Reynolds crew was assembled at 101 Sqn, and the author has seen 'Hamburg' and the crash in the ORB and conflated the two. Alternatively, as a 'contemporary account' presumably for public consumption, there may have been some poetic license involved by the Air Ministry!

    Regards,

    Jeff

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

    I have a theory on this - the report is genuine but probably said “Air Gunner” I think it has been wrong key attributed and dated

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Squadron Leader Percy Reynolds 66577 RAFVR DFC

    So either

    Sgt Lewis
    Sgt Hayter
    Sgt France
    Sgt ThompsoN
    I think the fact that second pilot
    Mentioned (Reynolds) is also significant

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