It is with great sadness I have to report the passing of George Green who died on Saturday April 11th 2015.
I am hoping that I will be able to provide a brief history of Georges time on the squadron within the next few weeks with the help of his family.
May I on behalf of the 218 Squadron Association offer our most sincere condolences to all the family at this sad time.
George was the rear gunner in the Kemp crew who joined the squadron at RAF Chedburgh in January 1945. Below is a lovely photograph of the crew relaxing with the ground crew, sadly identity of the individual’s are unknown at this time. George is front row second from right.
George’s route to No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron was slightly different from most in that his early training was carried out in Lincolnshire and predominantly using No.1 Group training facilities.
In October 1944, George and crew were posted on completion of their O.T.U training to RAF Sandtoft home of No.1667 Conversion Unit. Sandtoft was located in North Lincolnshire and was equipped with an assortment of Merlin powered Handley Page Halifaxes. George’s stay was relatively brief, within two days he was sent to No.1481 Target Towing Gunnery Flight based at RAF Ingham. Here George would fine turn his gunnery skills, both in the class room and aloft. For just over a week George was put through his passes flying the trusty twin engine Wellington. He re-joined his crew on November 5th at Sandtoft were over the next month they continued with their training on four engine heavies.
With the crews training finally completed they were posted on New Year’s Day 1945 to No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron based at RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk. The squadron was part of No.3 Group and were primarily tasked with precision attacks using the bombing aid G-H. The squadron was at the time commanded by Wing Commander Smith William Smith and consisted of three flights, A-B and C.
The crew, skippered by Flight Sergeant Alan Kemp were allocated to B Flight under the command of S/Ldr Jell It would be over three weeks before F/Sgt Kemp operated, his first operation was on January 22nd when he joined the crew of Australian F/Lt “Nicky” Nixon RAAF of “B” Flight. The squadron would be part of a force of over 200 aircraft briefed to attack a benzol plant in Duisburg. A further operation with F/Lt Nixon was carried out on the 28th when the target was the Cologne/Gremburg railway yards, both operations proved successful.
George’s first operation was on February 1st 1945, a full month after his arrival, the target was the railway station at Monchengladbach. This was an all No.3 Group operation carried out in daylight, a common occurrence for 3 Group during this period. At just after 1.30pm, F/Sgt Kemp departed RAF Chedburgh at the controls of Avro Lancaster SW269 HA-R “Robert” and along with twenty other squadron aircraft formed up over East Anglia were they were joined by their fighter escort. The attack encountered practically no opposition, bombs were dropped on G-H over a 10/10th cloud covered target. Over the next week the crew carried out a further three operations all in “R-Robert”, Wiesbaden on the 2nd, Dortmund on the 3rd and finally Wanne-Eickel on the 7th. The crew’s next operation was against Dresden on February 13th followed by an attack on Chemnitz the following night, both these attacks were highly successful. There followed another brief lull in operations, in which time Alan Kemp was promoted to pilot officer. Dortmund was the intended target on February 20th, over 500 Lancaster’s took part destroying most of the southern portion of the city in the process. The crew were aloft in Lancaster ME438 XH-H “Harry” on the 22nd attacking the oil refineries at Gelsenkirchen, this was followed on the 25th when No.3 Group sent 153 Lancaster’s to attack the synthetic oil refinery at Kamen. Unfortunately, for the Kemp crew the starboard inner engine aboard NN716 XH-A “Apple” developed a coolant leak resulting in the crew abandoning the operation. Within 24 hours the crew were aloft again, this time attacking the Hoesch benzol oil plant situated in Dortmund aboard their usual aircraft SW269 XH-R.
The crew had completed a hectic month, 10 operations were undertaken, with just one early return. March started with a daylight attack by 159 Lancaster’s of No.3 Group against the Emscher Lippe benzol plant at Datteln, conditions were not favourable, 10/10th cloud was reported over the AP, however with G-H the target did not have to be visually identified. The following day the crew found themselves over the oil refinery at Scholven/Buer were a devastating attack took place with tremendous damage caused. Over 1000 aircraft attacked Dortmund on the 12th, on this occasion the Kemp crew were joined by F/Sgt Fulford as second pilot, this raid set a new record for tonnage dropped, 4,851. The unfortunate town experienced the most devastating attack of the entire war. It was back to benzol plants of the 14th, the crew attacking Detteln, near Bochum causing heavy damage. There followed a five day break before their next operation, a raid on the Consolidated benzol plant at Gelsenkirchen. This operation was flown in PD279 HA-W “William”. Bocholt was attacked on the 22nd, unlike the previous operations this was purely an area bombing raid. The last operation for March was flown on the 29th when the Hermann Goring benzol plant at Hallendorf, Salzgitter was attacked by 130 Lancaster’s including 20 dispatched from 218 Squadron.
The last full month of WW2 started with an attack on the synthetic oil plant at Leuna on the night of 4/5th April 1945. Joining the crew was F/Sgt Tim Sheard for operational experience. The crew’s last operation was flown on April 9th a night raid against Kiel Harbour, this highly successful raid witnessed the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer capsized and the Admiral Hipper and Emden both badly damaged. The squadron and the Kemp crew flew a food dropping flight to Rotterdam on the 29th in PD279 HA-V “Victor”.May would see urgently needed food dropped to the starving Dutch, F/O Kemp and crew flew three such trips before VE Day, these were on May 2nd, 5th and 7th each flight was to the Hague where food parcels, essentials and medicine were dropped to the Dutch civilians. On May 11th the crew were tasked to bring home ex PoW from Juvincourt. TBC…………