3rd April 1945

After Flight Lieutenant Chris House was shot down in RB396, he knew he had to get away from the crash site as quickly as possible. As he was coming in for his forced landing, he had noticed a large build with a Red Cross on the roof. Rightly deciding this was a German field hospital, he made for the fields in the other direction.

As he was escaping, he could see German troops making their way towards RB396. Safely away, Chris needed to make sure he wasn’t found. In a field where he noticed a few people working, Chris burrowed into a haystack and hoped for the best. He was found by Herman ter Duis and taken to their farmhouse. With the aid of a translator, Chris explained his situation and that he had come from an airfield in Germany. Chris remembered they listened to the BBC before turning in for the night.

The next day, April 2nd, a local guide turned up with a spare bicycle and they made their way toward Allied lines, using the ditches and hedges for cover. Eventually, Chris found the advanced units of the Guards Armoured Division and he was safe. From there, he made his way back across the Rhine to B.100 at Goch, Germany. When he arrived back, the rumours that had been whispered were now confirmed, 174 (Mauritius) Squadron was to be disbanded in the following days.

The Squadron was not in the best of mood but the ORB Summary noted that the mood lifted noticeably when an exhausted Chris turned up and told all about his adventure. With the war’s end in sight, 2TAF were consolidating their units. In 121 Wing, 174 Squadron were the third to be disbanded. Between Chris’ return and the formal disbanding of the unit, 174 Squadron flies 11 more sorties, Chris himself flew one more on the 7th, four days after getting back, before being posted to 175 Squadron where he saw out the war.

174 Squadron had been formed at Manston on 3 March 1942 around seventeen Hurricanes and eight pilots from No.607 Squadron, and as a result, was able to begin operations on the same day. They flew on the Dieppe Raid and converted to Typhoons a year later. After being equipped with Rockets in January 1944, 174 would play a key role as part of 121 Wing 2nd Tactical Air Force, including the attack on the Jobourg radar station near Cap de la Hague on the day before the D-Day landings. RB396 would only be a part of the squadron for a little under four months but she lived up to the squadron’s simple but apt moto, “Attack”.