The above photograph is perhaps one of the most important in the squadron history. Not only does the photo depict the first 1000 bomber raid ever undertaken it records the flight of the AOC of No.3 Group Air Vice Marshall John (Jack) Baldwin DSO with the squadrons commanding officer Wing Commander Paul Holder DFC.
The circumstances surrounding the decision by the AOC to operate with No.218 Squadron is unknown. There was obvious pride in taking the group commander to Cologne however the flip side was that if he failed to return the squadron would always be associated with his loss, not a pleasant thought.
Air Vice Marshal Jack Baldwin had been to Cologne before however that was during the Great War, and he wanted to go again. Baldwin was a dynamic commander with a youthful outlook on life, he was always keen to take on anything given to him, he delighted in the unusual and this was certainly unusual. He had decided in the planning stages that he would operate but kept the secret to a select few. The C-in-C Bomber Command had issued instructions that forbade his commanders from flying on the raid, Baldwin was hoping that his participation would go unnoticed.
The operation was a success and the AoC No.3 Group returned safe and sound to RAF Marham. The crew and their group commander filled into the mess for the customary eggs and beacon before having to depart for No.3 Group HQ at Exning Hall. The C-in-C Bert Harris was by all accounts not amused at Baldwin’s participation in the raid, however privately it is understood that he thought it a “Good effort”.