21/iii/44 – Pleasant trip to Gosport, but a busy night for B Flight

21st March 11:10
Airspeed Oxford II X7293
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator: Self
Passenger: F/Lt Norman
Passenger: W/O Aviss
BASE ~ GRAVESEND ~ BRIGHTON ~ GOSPORT
Pleasant trip, apart from mild front near Brighton
1:00

14:10
GOSPORT ~ WINCHESTER ~ READING ~ AYLESBURY ~ BASE
Very low cloud just past Reading, so had to fly for some while in cloud, by rough D.R [Dead Reckoning]. Whence well off track to North. “Senior” passenger panicking!
1:15

Later in the evening of 21/iii/44, with B flight having taking over operational duties, a mass raid gave 488(NZ) squadron a very busy night. A number of JU88s and JU188s were sent to bomb the Marconi factory in Chelmsford in retaliation for the RAF’s earlier raid on the  Philips factories in Eindhoven, Holland during Operation Oyster in December 1942. F/Sgt Chris Vlotman shot down two Ju 88s, including the leader of the formation,  and in fact 488(NZ) Squadron were credited with destroying all five of the first ‘pathfinder’ force.

I could never give a better account of the subsequent events than the author of the Squadron’s ORB – the excitement and pride palpable as you read:

“The most successful night in our history – 5 Huns destroyed by 488. A very large raid was plotted from the Dutch Islands and very appropriately, the first aircraft of the formation; a JU88 was shot down into the sea by our Dutch Pilot F/Sgt Vlotman C.J, with Sgt Wood J.L (British) as Navigator. Shortly afterwards F/Sgt Vlotman intercepted a second Hun and shot this down into the sea near Herne bay. Pieces of wreckage hit our Mosquito and the Pilot was compelled to feather his starboard engine, making a brilliant landing at base on the remaining engine. A very fine performance.

F/Lt J.A.S Hall & F/O J.P Cairns (British) who had witnessed the destruction of F/Sgt Vlotman’s first Hun, intercepted a JU88 over Essex and shot it down in flames near Earls Colne; the wreckage fell on an American airfield causing some damage but no casualties. This is their third Hun this year.

S/L E.N. Bunting DFC and F/L C.P.Reed, DFC were also meeting with success and intercepted a JU88 near Sudbury, Suffolk, shooting it down 10 miles away at Clare[?]. They had searchlight assistance and made use of this a few minutes later when they pursued a JU188 which they destroyed near Rochford (Southend area). Once again this wreckage bore evidence of S/L E.N. Bunting’s excellent marksmanship.”

21March44

© IWM (CH 12537) – Air Marshal Sir Roderick Hill, Air Officer Commanding ADGB, is shown the wreckage of one of five enemy aircraft shot down by aircrews of No. 488 Squadron RAF, flying from Bradwell Bay, Essex, on the night of 21 March 1944.

In the photo above are, (left to right) F/Lt Phil Reed (Navigator), S/Ldr Edward Bunting (Pilot, pointing toward the wreckage), AM Sir Roderick Hill, W/Cdr Richard Haine (Squadron CO) and F/Sgt Johnny Wood (Navigator). This particular aircraft, a Junkers Ju 188E-1 (3E+BK) of 2/KG6, came down at Butler’s Farm, Shopland, Essex, and was Bunting and Reed’s second ‘kill’ of the evening.

The crew of the 3E+BK were: Lt Günther Lahl (Pilot), Uffz Julius Fromm (Observer), Ogefr Ericn Schiml (Radio Operator), Uffz Rudolf Budrat (Gunner) (all killed) and Uffz Erwin Kosch (Gunner) who baled out injured and was then captured.

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