The following Log Book copies give an insight into operations during the last few months of the war in Europe. Operations in RED denote night operations, those in GREEN are daylight. The Log Book also records the “Manna” operations flown by Richard and his crew. During Richards time on the squadron it was primarily used to attack German synthetic oil and benzol plants and small industrial targets using the GH blind bombing aid. Other targets attacked were railway hubs and troop concentrations, most of which were attacked solely by the Avro Lancaster’s of No.3 Group. Due to the accuracy of GH many of these raids were flown against targets covered in 10/10th cloud, such was the accuracy of GH this did not effect the groups ability to inflict serious damage to many targets, target that no other group could have attacked with anywhere near the same accuracy.
A happy but very young looking Richard seen here while a Aircrew Cadet.
January & February 1945. The crew skippered by Flight Sergeant Alf Kemp arrived on 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron via 1667 Conversion Unit January 1945 joining “B” Flight commanded by S/Ldr Ron Jell. No operations were flown in January giving the crew the opportunity to settle into their new surroundings. It was a brief interlude before operations began in earnest. Two operations of note are Dresden February 13th and Chemnitz February 14th. On the return from Dresden all navigational aids failed.
Pilot Officer Alf Kemp’s bombing photograph of the attack on Gelsenkirchen-Buer.
The crews 9th operation was not successful, an internal coolant leak in the S/I engine required the engine to be feathered, and the bombs jettisoned.
March 1945 was another busy month, six operations completed. Note Richards remark that the crew had been passed as a wind finding crew. These crew were given the task of collecting wind speeds and reporting their findings directly back to Group HQ.
April 1945. The war in Europe is almost over but Germany still holds on,. Operations 16 & 17 are successfully completed, although the mid upper turret was hit and damaged by flak over Kiel. On April 29th Richard and his crew carry out their first “Manna” drop to Rotterdam.
The crews last operation Kiel April 9th 1945
May 1944. No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadrons long and bloody war is over. The squadron and Richard now found themselves dropping food not bombs. Within days of VE Day the squadron was bringing home ex Prisoners of War.
June 1945. The war is over but training still goes on. The squadron was to be one of those chosen for TIGER FORCE.
The crew left to right : Richard Bell (Nav) Len Garnett (Wop), Vic Jarvis (Bomb Aimer), Alf Kemp ( Pilot) Len Green (Mid Upper Gunner), George Green (Rear Gunner) Nobby Prior (Flight Engineer) The photo was taken in April 1945.
Alf Kemp (Pilot)
The above account would not be possible without the generous help of Mr & Mrs Coote who allowed me to view and publish the details above. Mrs Coote is the daughter of F/O Richard Bell.