15th February 1945

Thursday 15th February found morning mist descending on B.80 at Volkel as the sun rose. This meant that 174 Squadron flew only one sortie in conjunction with 245 Squadron. The target that afternoon was a V2 site. Things didn’t get off to a great start.

This remarkable image shows the contrail from a V-2 rocket photographed from a B-24 Liberator of the 93rd Bomb Group, 24 December 1944. © IWM

Getting airborne at 14:15, the 8 Typhoons from 174 Squadron were quickly reduced to 6 when both aircraft from Red Section had to return with engine issues and a burst fuel pipe respectively. The remaining 6 174 Squadron aircraft set off for the target. With the morning mist still hanging in the air, the remaining Red Section Typhoons became separated and, unable to rejoin the rest of the squadron, they returned to base. 6 Typhoons were now 4.

When the remainder of the squadron was about halfway to the target area, Blue 1 and 2 were forced to turn back as well. Blue 1 reported he was losing oil and Blue 2 had radio trouble. That left Plt Off Frank Johnson in the comparatively reliable RB396 and Blue 3 flown by W/O J.W. Hodges the lone 174 Squadron aircraft to arrive in the target area. They loitered until 245 Squadron arrived. Joining up, they attacked in squadron strength. All the rockets fired landed in the target area with Frank reporting: “A good prang for only 2 of us. No R.P strikes observed but many cannon strikes on buildings. No Flak!!!”

The sortie for Frank and RB396 lasted for an hour and five minutes. But their work for the day was not done.

That evening, 174 Squadron, according to the squadron summary, celebrated its second anniversary of B.80 Volkel. Given that they had only arrived at Volkel on the 30th September 1944, this is an interesting entry in the squadron diary. Still, a party is a party. Best Blues were dusted off and spit and polish applied liberally and the celebration commenced.

RB396 now has a rest in our records, until the 22nd February.


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