On Friday 24 September 1943, a member of the 467 Sqdn, Pilot Officer W T Farmer, took off from Bottesford in the United Kingdom. His mission is mentioned elsewhere on Back to Normandy. You can find the other details of this mission by searching here. Training and cargo flights are not seperately mentioned as a mission. The plane left at 19:04.
He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type III, serial DV233, code PO-).
John Darvill: My great uncle Tom, Sgt T W Darvill was the Wireless Operator on this mission bombing Mannheim aboard Lancaster III DV 233 (RAAF 467 Sqd) The plane was shot down on 23/24 Sept 1943. He and another crew member survived and were POW's in a camp in Russia. The pilot (PO Farmer) told Tom to bail out, but Tom's parachute was all in his arms as it had snagged on sections of the plane. Apparently there was a large hole at the back of the aircraft, Tom monkey swung across the wires across the large hole caused by flak. He went to check on the rear gunner, unfortunately he was killed. It was whilst swinging back across that Tom snagged his parachute. Tom managed to bail out, he had a bad landing and damaged his leg. Tom said many German locals were out hunting for him by tourch light. He lay still in a dyke until they had gone. The next day a very old dodgery German policeman found him. The policeman waited until dark to take Tom to the police station, as he said the locals would want to kill Tom if they saw him. I still have Tom's Catapillar Club gold badge and medals. Also, a curious RAAF 18ct gold badge given to him by the Australians.
Tom was a British RAF personnel assigned to the RAAF 467 Squadron as a signaller and part of the Article XV set up, which I think the gold badge relates to. It has a "S" above and XV below. I'm not sure if this relates to "Signaller" or if it means he flew on S-Sugar? I believe he was the only Brit on board. The pilot was apparently good friends with the rear gunner, that's why Tom went to see if he was okay. The pilot told Tom to jump as he was going to stay at the controls. Tom bailed with his parachute in his arms. He ended up in a German POW camp in Russia when the Russians began their push, Tom was caught up in the great march back to Germany. I believe that many thousands of POW's died on that journey. When he was taken prisoner he was a healthy 13 stone, upon his return to Britain he was down to six stone. In May 1945 Tom was promoted to a Warrant Officer. He left the RAF around 1953. He also said laughing, although very serious at the time. That a German troop carriers rear Axel sank into one of the unfinished escape tunnels, the Germans were very annoyed and filled it full of excrement to prevent its use. Fantastic site, thank you for keeping Tom's memory alive. Best to you all. John Darvill (Great Nephew)
Campaign report of the USAAF:
(Eighth Air Force):: VIII Air Support Command Missions 69 & 70: 2 airfields in France are targeted. 1. 71 of 72 B-26's hit Evreux/Fauville Airfield at 1150 hours; they claim 0-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 4 B-26's are damaged. 2. 66 of 72 B-26's hit Beauvais/Tille Airfield at 1602-1603 hours; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 17 B-26's are damaged. HQ 20th Combat Bombardment Wing (Heavy) transfers from Horsham St Faith to Hethel, England.
HQ 386th Bombardment Group (Medium) and it's 552d, 553d, 554th and 555th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) transfer from Boxted to Great Dunmow, England with B-26's.
Campaign report of the RAF:
23/24 September 1943
Manheim: 628 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 193 Halifaxes, 115 Stirlings, 8 Mosquitos. 5 B- 17s also took part. 32 aircraft - 18 Lancasters, 7 Halifaxes, 7 Wellingtons - lost, 5.1 per cent of the force. The Pathfinder plan worked well and concentrated bombing fell on the intended area, although later stages of the raid crept back across the northern edge of Ludwigshafen and out into the open country.
21 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Darmstadt without loss. The diversionary purpose of this raid was not achieved because Darmstadt was too close to Mannheim and the German night fighters could see the main attack only 20 miles away quite clearly. But the small force of bombers caused much damage in this university town which had little industry and which had not been seriously bombed before.
6 Mosquitos to Aachen, 28 OTU sorties. 1 OTU Wellington lost.
24/25 September 1943
4 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 39 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and south of Texel, 2 OTU sorties. 1 Stirling minelayer lost. With thanks to the RAF and USAAF.net!
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