A Bomber Command Navigator 80 years on – 20th January 1942: Operation Emden

After his 3 challenging operations to Brest over a period of 4 days (8th-11th January), Alan enjoyed a few days free from flying before his 6th mission which took place on 20th January 1942 against a new target, the German port of Emden, close to the Dutch border. Emden, which dates back to the 8th century, was selected for its links to the industrial Ruhr area of Germany via the Dortmund-Ems Canal. This 269km canal was completed in 1899 and led to Emden being known as the seaport of the Ruhr. The city was also home to Nordseewerke (North Sea Works), a large shipyard built in 1903.

The relevant extract from Alan’s logbook below shows that the crew completed another air test in the local area before departing for Emden at 1755. As a result of the substantial damage inflicted on their aircraft on their previous mission, the crew were forced to use another Wellington (T2739) which was eventually transferred to 311 Squadron (made up of Czech aircrew) where it subsequently suffered damage on another raid (as shown below).

Extract from Alan’s logbook (Source: S Green)

It can be seen from the Squadron Operational Records (ORB) below that 3 Wellingtons were planned for the raid on Emden. However, due to last minute technical issues, only 2 aircraft got airborne, R1596 and T2739, under the command of Sgts Davidge and Griggs respectively. The ORB goes on to say that “due to cloud and navigational errors” the crew of R1596 “could not locate Emden after circling in the area for one hour” and bombed the secondary target, Norden. Alan’s crew, on the other hand, aboard T2739, managed to drop their bombs “in one stick on, or near, target heading 050”, although “no definite results were observed”.   In all, “over 2 tons of bombs were dropped during this operation” and both crews safely returned to their base at Marham.

Extracts from “18 Squadron’s Operational Records (Source: National Archives)
Damage to Wellington T2739 (Source: RAF commands.com)

Lecturer in Air Transport Management at Buckinghamshire New University, Module Leader in Aviation Sustainability Management. Experienced Airbus/Boeing Captain.

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