A Bomber Command Navigator 80 Years On – 28th December 1941: Operation Wilhelmshaven

Join us as we continue to follow the flying missions of Alan Green – a Bomber Command Navigator in the Second World War. Today we look into his second mission, targeting Germany’s port base at Wilhelmshaven.

Having successfully completed his first mission on 16th December 1941, Alan undertook several training (beam and formation) and air test flights from the 18th to 27th December. On 28th December, it was time for his second operational sortie in Wellington R1346B, the target being the Kriegsmarine’s base at Wilhelmshaven, Germany’s only deep-water port.

Situated on the Northern coast of Germany close to Bremen, Wilhelmshaven was the objective of the first RAF Bomber Command raid of WW2, when 10 Bristol Blenheims attacked vessels in the naval shipyards on 4th September 1939 with the loss of 7 aircraft. Wilhelmshaven is also renowned for the construction of the well-known German pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, which was launched in 1936 and sank numerous merchant ships in the South Atlantic in the early months of the war. It was famously scuttled by its crew on 18th December off the coast of neutral Uruguay after engaging 3 Royal Navy ships (HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles) in the Battle of the River Plate on 13th December.

The Admiral Graf Spee – Source: IWM

Alan’s raid on 28th December was part of 217 sorties carried out by the RAF from 28-29th December, the main targets being Wilhelmshaven, Huls and Emden.  The relevant extracts from 218 Squadron’s Operational Records are shown below, as well as Alan’s logbook entries for the mission and prior air test flights.

Alan’s logbook entries for the mission (Source: S. Green):

Operational records of the mission (Source: National Archives):

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

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