On Friday 17 December 1943, a member of the 103 Sqdn, Flight Sergeant H Campbell, took off from Elsham Wolds 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 separately mentioned as a mission. The plane left at 16:30.
He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type III, serial JB658, code PM-).
Campaign report of the USAAF:
(Ninth Air Force): The Ninth Air Force planning group joins the 21 Army Group, AEAF, and the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force in preparation of the air section of the initial joint plan (Operation NEPTUNE) for Operation OVERLORD (the invasion of Normandy).
This begins planning which later results in a massive Ninth Air Force plan for moving the Ninth into battle on the continent of Europe.
Campaign report of the RAF:
16/17 December 1943
483 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos on the main raid to Berlin and 5 further Mosquitos dropped decoy fighter flares south of Berlin. The bomber route again led directly to Berlin across Holland and Northern Germany and there were no major diversions. The German controllers plotted the course of the bombers with great accuracy; many German fighters were met at the coast of Holland and further fighters were guided on to the bomber stream throughout the approach to the target. More fighters were waiting at the target and there were many combats. The bombers shook off the opposition on the return flight by taking a northerly route over Denmark. 25 Lancasters, 5.2 per cent of the Lancaster force, were lost. Many further aircraft were lost on returning to England. Berlin was cloud-covered but the Pathfinder skymarking was reasonably accurate and much of the bombing fell in the city. In the city centre, the National Theatre and the building housing Germany's military and political archives were both destroyed. The damage to the Berlin railway system and to rolling stock, and the large numbers of people still leaving the city, were having a cumulative effect upon the transportation of supplies to the Russian Front; 1,000 wagon-loads of war material were held up for 6 days. The sustained bombing had now made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable. On their return to England, many of the bombers encountered very low cloud at their bases. The squadrons of 1, 6 and No 8 Groups were particularly badly affected. 29 Lancasters (and a Stirling from the minelaying operation) either crashed or were abandoned when their crews parachuted. The group with heaviest losses was No 1 Group with 13 aircraft lost; the squadron with heaviest losses was 97 Squadron, No 8 Group, with 7 aircraft lost.
47 aircraft - 26 Stirlings, 12 Mosquitos, 9 Lancasters - carried out raids on 2 flying-bomb sites near Abbeville. Neither raid was successful. The larger raid, by the Stirlings on the Tilley-le-Haut site, failed because the Oboe Mosquito markers could not get any closer than 450 yards from the small target. The 9 Lancasters of 617 Squadron which attacked the second site, in a wood at Flixecourt, dropped their 12,000lb bombs accurately on the markers placed by the only Oboe Mosquito operating at this target but the markers were 350 yards from the flying-bomb site and none of the 617 Squadron bombs were more than l00 yards from the markers. No aircraft lost.
2 Beaufighters and 2 Mosquitos of 141 Squadron, recently transferred from Fighter Command to No 100 Group, inaugurated Bomber Command's Serrate operations in patrols near the routes of the Berlin raid. (Serrate was a device which homed on to the radar emissions of a German night fighter.) 1 Mosquito made contact with an Me110 and damaged it with cannon-fire. The crew of this first successful Bomber Command Serrate patrol was Squadron Leader FF Lambert and Flying Officer K Dear.
5 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 35 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Biscay ports. No losses.
With thanks to the RAF and USAAF.net!
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