Monday 18th December 1939 - Shipping Reconnaissance Mission off Wilhelmshaven

Monday 18th December 1939  
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2940
WS-??
 

9 Sqn
RAF Honington

take-off
08:55

  Shot down by Me-110/s of IV JG1 during reconnaissance / strike mission to Wilhelmshaven Crashed off Wilhelmshaven,  Germany

Pilot Officer Eric Francis Lines
24 36224 kia  
Son of Maj. Ernest Walter Lines, M.B.E., and Blanche Lines, of Brighton, Sussex
Flight Sergeant Alfred Kito Fearnside 25 563436 kia  
Son of Reginald K. and Elizabeth A. Fearnside, of Nanstallon, Cornwall.
Aircraftsman 1st Class Edward Malcolm George Polhill 19 551731 kia  
Son of Edward and Constance Mary Polhill, of Frinton-on-Sea, Essex.
Leading Aircraftsman Alex Morrison Dickie 21 566708 kia  
Son of Alexander and Helen Dickie, of Macduff, Banffshire
Aircraftsman 2nd Class Clifford Walker   627354 kia  
 
All commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial
                 
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2939
WS-H
9 Sqn
RAF Honington

take-off
08:55

     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2872
WS-??
9 Sqn
RAF Honington

take-off
09:00

     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2941
WS-??
9 Sqn
RAF Honington

take-off
08:55

     
  I KILLED - 4 RESCUED BY TRAWLER
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2983
WS-??
9 Sqn
RAF Honington

take-off
09:00

    DITCHED
  4 KILLED - I POW
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2888
LF-A
37 Sqn
RAF Feltwell
     
  4 KILLED - 1 POW
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2889
LF-P
37 Sqn
RAF Feltwell
     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2904
LF-B
37 Sqn
RAF Feltwell
     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2935
LF-H
37 Sqn
RAF Feltwell
     
  2 KILLED - 3 POW
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2936
LF-J
37 Sqn
RAF Feltwell
     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2961
OJ-?
149 Sqn
RAF Mildenhall

09:27

     
  5 KILLED
RAF
Wellington Mk.1a N2962
OJ-?
149 Sqn
RAF Mildenhall

09:27

     
   
  Wellington N2964 and N2981 managed to land at their home base at 16.00hrs
  Wellington N2873 was so badly damaged it was forced to land at RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire at 17.30hrs two of the crew having been wounded
  Wellington N2871 was forced to land at RAF Northcoates Fitties at 17.30hrs again due to the extensive damage to the aircraft.
  Wellington N2983 which had been so badly damaged by gunfire that it crashed into the North Sea at 15.30hrs near Cromer Knoll. Four of the injured crew were picked up by trawler and one was taken to hospital in Grimsby, the three others returned to R.A.F. Honington, Suffolk one of the crew was lost killed in action.
  The total loss for No. 9 Squadron from the mission was 24 killed and four injured. No. 9 Squadron Losses - See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/lines-eric.html#sthash.TefoIQS3.dpuf
   
  No. 9 Squadron Losses (N2872) (N2939) (2941) (N2983) - See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/lines-eric.html#sthash.TefoIQS3.dpuf
   

  

 

Shipping Search off Wilhelmshaven

"24 Wellingtons were dispatched  and ordered not to attack at less than 10,000ft so that they could avoid the worst of the flak. 22 aircraft reached the target area, German ships were seen of Wilhelmshaven and bombed from 13,000ft. Weather conditions were cloudless and visibility perfect. For the first time in the war, German fighters were directed onto this bomber force by a ground controller who was being given information by an experimental Freya radra station located on the nearby island of  Wangerooge when they were 70 miles out on their approach flight. Flak caused the bomber formations to open out and when German fighters of IV/JG1 appeared 12 of the 22 Wellingtons were shot down.
This famous action, together with that of the 14th December when 5 out of a force of 12 Wellingtons were shot down, had a major effect on the British Bomber Commanders. Exactly half of the 34 Wellingtons dispatched had been shot down in these two actions without any penetration of the German mainland having taken place. The validity of the self-defending bomber formation was now seriously in doubt. 3 further Wellingtons and 2 Whitleys on separate patrols saw no action."

The Bomber Command Diaries - An Operational Reference Book, 1939 - 1945, by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, published by Viking, 1985, isbn 0-670-80137-2, pages 26-27

   

 

WAR in the AIR

Further Details of Wellington versus Messerschmitt Air Battle : German Exaggerations

AT the conclusion of his visit to the British forces  in France, His Majesty the King sent the following message to Air Vice-Marshal P. H. L. Playfair,

A.O.C. the R.A.F. in France: "Please assure all ranks of the R.A.F. units in France of the pleasure which it gave me to pay them a visit to gain an insight into some of their activities. I was greatly impressed as well as interested by all that I saw, and I shall be glad if you will convey my best wishes to all ranks of the force under your command."

Some further details have come to light concerning the air fight on Monday, December 18. Among the Messerschmitt fighters which attacked our formation a number were of the type Me-110 and it is believed that at least six of these were shot down. The Me-110, it will be recalled, is a new twin-engined two-seater fighter, or, as the Germans sometimes call it, "destroyer." The engines are two of the latest direct-injection Daimler- Benz D.B. 601s, and the armament is said to . _ ,; include two shell-guns (20 or 23 mm.) and largebore machine guns. It is claimed that it is faster than the Spitfire, but this is very questionable. Several German squadrons are equipped with the type.

The Germans made a claim that thirty-six of our aircraft were brought down, but this is absurd, as the total number of British machines engaged did not amount to anything like that figure. The German fighters made forty separate attacks on the British bombers. The leader of the British formation said afterwards: '' I could see them collecting like flies waiting to attack us." Between Heligoland and Wilhelmshaven twenty - five Messerschmitts were seen. Even after the battle had begun, our crews continued on their course over German waters, determined to press on and bring back all the information they could obtain. They also met with heavy anti-aircraft fire from ships and from the shore. Some of the enemy fighters hung on as our bombers were returning. One of our machines heading for home became isolated from the others, and the Messerschmitts attacked it in force. The pilot came down to sea level to prevent the fighters from getting under his tail. The rear gunner shot down two German fighters, but was shortly afterwards wounded by a third. The centre guns and wireless set were also damaged. The second pilot took the rear gunner's place, but found that the ammunition in that position had all been expended. A moment later the front gunner was wounded. The reserve pilot thereupon scrambled from the rear turret to the front gun, where he found plenty of ammunition. The British machine finally reached home. From the moment when it dived to escape until it actually got away, the gunners in this machine had accounted for five German fighters. Another of our aircraft when within 80 miles of the English coast on its way home was forced down into the sea. Its plight was observed by the pilot of another of our machines, and he flew over it with the intention of dropping a rubber boat in case it was needed, but the crew of the foundered machine was able to launch their own boat, and after a time were picked up by a passing trawler. Yet another of our aircraft had its rudder damaged in the action, but made a safe forced landing a few miles from home. It can be stated that all the seven machines which were lost in this fight were Vickers Wellingtons.

After the fight the German officer who commanded the Messerschmitts, Wing Comdr. Schumacher, made a statement in which he praised the Wellington bomber, but said that it was no match for the Messerschmitt no. The weather was wonderfully clear, and so the British force could be attacked at all points. He spoke very highly of the stout construction of the Messerschmitts, as some of them had come back with as many as 35 bullet holes in them. His own had been hit twelve times, and both tank and petrol, feed were holed. Other machines had come back with one of their engines out of action The Wing

Commander stated that the German losses were limited to two Messerschmitt 109s, which were shot down, and to three airmen wounded, but not dangerously. Another German officer who claimed that his squadron had shot down eight British machines described how the rear gunner in one of them went on shooting at him even after his own aircraft had been practically disabled.

Crews of two of the British machines which were shot down were landed on Tuesday at Borkum. They included a badly wounded Sergeant Pilot and a Flying Officer.

Counter-attack

ALTHOUGH these bomber formations which have been sweeping the North Sea for the German fleet have been twice attacked, as yet the Security Patrol over the seaplane bases has not been interfered with by German fighters. On at least one occasion this patrol has bombed German seaplanes which were seen at their bases. German aircraft are continuing their attacks on British trawlers and other merchantmen and some terrible stories have been told of the way in which the aircraft first bombed the vessel and then raked its decks with machine-gun fire while the crew were running to their boats. It would be impossible to describe all the incidents, but perhaps the most callous one was reported by a Danish vessel. According to this account, the British trawler Trinity was attacked while fishing 70 miles off the Scottish coast. The Danish trawler saw the German machines diving on to the British vessel, dropping seven bpmbs The trawler sank  rapidly, carrying the fireman down with her. One of the hands, who was aged 60, was shot in the leg while in the water and died on board the Danish trawler which took the survivors to Norway. They say they were unable to launch their boat on account of the machine-gun fire and were forced to take refuge in the cabin, from which they escaped as their vessel was sinking. There have been many other cases of almost equal brutality. However, in some cases British fighters have appeared upon the scene and at sight of them the German bombers have immediately abandoned their attacks and flown way.

A German news agency has issued a report that the Royal Air Force twice bombed towns in the island of Sylt on Tuesday, December 19. This statement is entirely false.

Summing Up

AN interesting summary has been compiled of the results of encounters between German reconnaissance machines and bombers, which have approached Great Britain since the outbreak of war and British fighters.

During October and November these German machines were engaged 51 times over British land or sea and 21 ol them were destroyed. Of these, 13 were seen to strike the ground or water, and it is also known that many more failed to return to Germany. Not a single British fighter has been shot down in these encounters, although one British pilot has been slightly wounded.

Barrage balloons are now playing their part in the campaign against the German mine-laying seaplanes. They are flown from barges, each of which puts to sea with sufficient stores for six days. Each barge carries a balloon crew of four men in addition to the crew of the vessel. A pleasure steamer is being used as headquarters oi this branch of the balloon barrage.

During the past few days an increasing degree of nervous excitability appears to have affected the German official mind in relation to the war in the air.

On Monday the German agencies described in great detail an air battle over Sylt which never took place. This was obviously done for the purpose of helping to bolster up the fantastic figures of aircraft said to be engaged and brought down in the action over the Heligoland Bight.

On Tuesday this feat of imagination was surpassed by an even more remarkable series of inventions. Sylt was again the arena chosen ; details were given of the length of time taken by the operations ; tactics of British aircraft were described as well as their engagement by German fighters. But not content with this, the German agencies went much further and actually invented an attack on the towns of Hoernum and Ran turn. An official denial was issued by the British Air Ministry.

Source: FLIGHT 28th December 1939 pages 523 -