AG Association No. 0021 101 Squadron.
Two Trips to Duisbury
Oct. 14 and 15 1944.
I was on both of these trips in October/44.
Man, that is a long time ago!
Our trips were mostly no problem, some
flak, no fighters. On trip two we had to feather our Starboard outer just
before the target. The above picture was taken by William Troughton a wartime
journalist who made both trips from our 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna.
Mr. Troughton caught the 4000 lb. “cookie” and incendiaries perfectly.
Very faintly you can read the aircraft designation SR-B. You can also see
that this aircraft is equipped with two aerials placed just in front of
the Mid Upper Turret. This was to disrupt German fighter Control. We had
an extra WAG whose job it was to pick up German frequencies. He could speak
fluent German and could give the fighters false information. Or, sometimes
just tune a Merlin (one of our engines), onto the frequency.
Our Navigator had to be sharp as we needed
to be over the target at specific times to give all bombers as much protection
We usually sent out 22 aircraft from 101
Daily Express Oct. 16, 1944
I FLEW BACK TO SEE DUISBURG
By William Troughton
William flew on both raids on Saturday,
and is the first War Correspondent to make a day and night raid in the
At an RAF Station, 5 a.m. Sunday
The Medical Officer had just asked me to
take a sleeping tablet – and I’m almost asleep on my feet. It sounded so
silly that I had to laugh.
But the boys who have just come back from
Duisburg are all milling around him with their hair dishevelled and their
eyes heavy with the need for sleep, and they are taking his tablets. Funnier
still, because only seven hours ago we were taking “Wakey-wakey” tablets
from him to ward off sleep.
We were pretty tired then, for most of
us were setting out to bomb Duisburg again for the second time in 18 hours.
Now we are back - and we have left Duisburg dying. We have dropped more
than 10,000 tons, including 500,000 fire bombs on the city – one ton for
every 45 of its inhabitants – delivered in two great raids of more
than 1000 planes each.
Twenty of those planes have not come back.
That was inevitable for Duisburg is still one of the most heavily defended
cities of the Ruhr Valley. But our losses are surprisingly small, only
.9 per cent.
This is what happened in the two attacks
By Day. Yesterday morning when we
saw at last the great waterways of Duisburg gleaming in the sunshine, the
sky ahead of us was full of the aircraft that were going in with the first
wave. They looked like a cloud of gnats. Behind us hundreds more were stretched
across the sky.
Flying Officer J. Whitwood, of Norwich,
stockily built, fair haired, put on his best guide manner and said over
the intercom, “and there, Bill, on our Port bow, is the great big ‘Happy
But ahead of us ugly black smudges of smoke
appeared among the gnats and slowly expanded into big, black blobs. And
suddenly a pale blue smoke trail spiralled down from the cloud of gnats
“Somebody’s got it,” came some one’s voice
over the itercom.
Down in the dock area behind Duisburg’s
waterways that lie to the east of the winding Rhine the bombs were falling.
And far down to the right I saw the little red flashes of a ack-ack battery
opening up on us at the end of a straggling village. I pointed this out
to the engineer, P/O Ken Thomas, of Swansea. “Jerry never could take a
joke,” he cracked back.
Just ahead, much nearer, quicker, blacker,
and more vicious – new smoke puffs appeared. There was only a few minutes
now before we were due over the target. The layout of the city was as clear
as a map. The bombs were raining down on it and the sky around us was filling
with smoke smudges – hundreds of them. They appeared from nowhere as if
they had been painted by an invisible paint brush. Our Bomb Aimer, F/O
D.J. McEwen, of Gridrod, British Columbia, Canada, planted the bombs well
on the target.
The rest of us had our noses flattened
against the Perspex. The Navigator, F/O P. Lankester, of Bexhill, Sussex,
pointed to four or five great black balls of smoke right across the dockside.
“Looks like an oil dump,” said the Mid Upper Gunner, Flight Sergeant J.V.
Gillespie, a Canadian from Toronto, “Duisburg had it.”
There was the radio operator, Flight Sergeant
D (Jock) Cargill, of Arbroath, who, an hour or so earlier, when we were
waiting in the darkness to take off, had kept us laughing with his description
of a murder film he had seen that made him “sweat with fright”.
And there was Sergeant Tommy Birch, of
Hendon, N.W. who had pulled Jock Cargill’s leg about his birthday – “Friday
13th.” Tommy Birch, at the end of the trip tumbled out grousing cheerfully:
“I’ve never been so cold in all my life.”
The rear gunner’s cockpit is the coldest
place in the kite.
This nights work has been much grimmer. There was for me, a bad few minutes
when the first searchlights on enemy territory began feeling for us, coning
and creeping nearer.
This time we were a new crew with S/L P.B.
Clay of Sowerby Bridge, Yorks, as Skipper. He is a tall young fellow with
fair hair and a nonchalant manner, but a brain as cool as ice when he sits
behind the joy stick. When the flak began to flash around us I thought
of the great cloud of smoke puffs we had left behind us in the sky the
previous morning. But Duisburg and a great cylinder above it, stretching
four miles into the sky, was ablaze. It was too fascinating for fear.
Markers showered down and lay on the city
like shimmering flower beds, others were lost in the fires. Flak of all
kinds shattered the darkness. Then as we left this fantastic scene, the
boys who followed us sent down thousands of incendiaries. The sky was red
and angry above Duisburg when we were 100 miles away.
We could not see our boys in front of the
Siegfried Line a we passed over on our way home – we were too high for
that – but we drew great comfort in the knowledge that they could see the
glow from the city, only 30 miles away, where thousands of tons of supplies
to have been used against them were going up in flames.
The night attack on Duisburg was made in
two waves. The first began bombing at 1:30a.m. and the second nearly two
Later Sunday Now I know why
the M.O. wanted to give me sleeping tablets. So many impressions have entered
my mind and I saw so vivid the flashes and the colours of the flak, when
I finally got into bed, I could not sleep.
But the boys who do these trips – the crew
of my Lancaster, G for George, was typical of them – night after night
were wiser, especially after this, when the greatest weight of bombs that
has ever been dropped on one city fell within 24 hours.
They took the tablets and slept. They were
still sleeping, most of them, when I left the Station later this morning.