19th March 1945

174 Squadron took off from B.80 at Volkel at 09.50 with Frank Johnson in RB396 flying as Red 4. 174 Squadron were tasked with flying as top cover for 184 Squadron for their Armed Reconnaissance to the Ahus-Haltern area. Both squadrons were lead by Wind Commander J.G. Keep DFC. The recce area was found to be quiet, so both squadrons attacked a marshalling yard where some trucks were lined up, with 174 Squadron claiming 2 destroyed, courtesy of Frank and RB396, and 3 damaged.

But, it was not all plain sailing for RB396. On the first pass, her rockets didn’t fire, so for the rest of the sortie RB396 has all 8 of her rockets still attached. This would be bad enough except for the reception they received over the marshalling yard, Frank noted: “Bags of heavy and light flak: Dicey!!!” With that much high-explosive stuck under each wing, 2 destroyed trucks was a rather impressive return for a morning’s work.

Typhoon pilot entering the cockpit of his aircraft before setting off for a raid on enemy radio installations in France Image IWM: CH013343

Both squadrons would return to Volkel without loss, but fellow 121 Wing 175 Squadron lost their CO, Sqn Ldr Michael Savage, when he spun in, in Typhoon RB214, while attacking marshalling yards north-west of Hamm.

This was the start of intense ops for 174 Squadron as the jumping of the Rhine in Operations Plunder and Varsity were less than a week away.

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