22nd February 1945

After a period of poor weather, Thursday 22nd February 1945 was fine and sunny which meant a busy day for 174 Squadron. RB396 and Plt Off Frank Johnson flew on 174’s first of 5 operations that day, an Armed Reconnaissance to the area around Osnabrück, Germany.

Things didn’t start well. After departing B.80 at Volkel at 10:00, 35 minutes later F/O J.M. Harbridge flying as Blue 2, developed engine trouble and had to return to base, escorted by Blue 3, F/O J.G. Penfield. That left Frank and RB396 in a section of 2 aircraft with Blue Leader, Plt Off F.E. Wheeler. They were contacted by Control to offer some trade in the marshalling yards at Dorsten. Before they arrived over the marshalling yards, engine trouble struck Red 4, and F/O J.S. Kennon had to be escorted home by F/L J.S. Knight in Red 3. That left 174 Squadron down to 4 of the 8 aircraft they had departed B.80 with, but as they arrived at Dorsten, they could not see any trains in the marshalling yards. Having a look up the Ems Canal, they spotted some barges and the remaining 174 aircraft made an attack.

Hawker Typhoon Mark IB MN606 of 247 Squadron being overhauled by a Repair and Salvage Unit in a dispersal wrecked by the retreating Luftwaffe at B78 Eindhoven Holland © IWM

They were met with a thick haze and intense flak that made picking out targets difficult. They claimed one barge damaged and returned to B.80 at Volkel, one hour and twenty-five minutes after departing. The four other 174 Squadron aircraft had already arrived home safe.

Frank’s logbook only notes the sortie and mission time but does not record any notes against this operation.

The other 4 sorties flown by 174 Squadron that day would also encounter the haze coming up, which meant results were minimal for the day, but other than a few spots of engine trouble, all aircraft and crews ended the day safely.


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