Tag Archives: Beaufighter

The Broodbank Collection – Catalogue now available!

At long last, I have catalogued the various items in my grandfather’s collection. You can see a complete list of all archive material by following this link.

This is still a bit of a work in progress, as there are currently no links to images etc, but in time this page should allow researchers to view the material in my collection.

As ever, if you want to get in contact about this or any other page on the site, please use the Contact page.


29/v/44 – Shot at by a Beaufighter

29th May 02:30
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
PATROL & GCI PRACTICE ~ Exminster & Hope Cove (Type 16)
During a flap – 1 run: 1 contact: 1 visual: 1 murder, then on to Hope Cove Type 16 after a bogey – Wellington at 2000ft with lights on. Back on Exminster after another bogey – which proved to be a Mosquito of 604 Squadron, shot down by another type who then had a go at us. Having got rid of him, another quiet practice run. Then home!
2:50

The Mosquito of 604 Squadron, MM503 was shot down in error by a Beaufighter MM920 (WM-Y) of 68 Squadron off Lyme Bay.

The pilot, F/Lt C.L. HARRIS survived, but sadly the Navigator, Sgt E.B HOPKINSON was killed.

In 2 days, the crews of 488 Squadron were on both sides of Friendly Fire incidents. We are now only a week away from D-Day and the invasion of German occupied France – One can only imagine the pressure these men must have been under at the time.


Summary for April 1944

SUMMARY for APRIL

TOTAL BEAUFIGHTER DAY 00H45M
TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 16H40M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 2H35M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 20H00M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 26H40M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 26H40M

Another busy month for Broody, with 4 more Operational hours flown than in March.

The ORB summary for the month states:

“A quiet month with very little enemy activity in our Sector. The destruction of two Huns on the only night of a large scale raid reflect great credit on the Squadron, and the first success of an all New Zealand aircrew acted as a tonic to the Squadron.

Practices in formation flying have resulted in a high standard and the exercise ‘London’ proved our ability to cope in this unaccustomed role”

The victories referred to were a JU.88 apiece on 18/iv/44 for Johnny Hall (his 4th victory to date, putting him at the top of the Squadron’s leader board at the end of the month), and the all Kiwi crew of WO Rod Bourke and Fg Off Irwin Skudder. (See entries 17 & 18 on the Squadron Victories page)

Other interesting snippets from the ORB for the month include:

“The Squadron aircrew plus the Adjutant and M.O moved into tents today. Quite a Boy Scout air and a good deal of ‘scrounging’ apparent” (08/iv/44)

“B Flight visited Westcliffe Baths for a Dinghy Drill and a good time was had by all” (21/iv/44)

“We maintained a continuous patrol over a Walrus which was taxying in with an overload of rescued American aircrew” (22/iv/44)

The overloading of the Supermarine Walrus, a  single-engine amphibious biplane does not appear to be an unusual occurrence. An article from the Alton Evening Telegraph from 26/iv/44 tells this particular story.

“An RAF Walrus seaplane rescued eight survivors of a Flying Fortress which crashed in the North Sea but the Walrus was so overloaded it had to taxi 70 miles home — an all-night job in stormy waters which threatened to sink the plane—it was disclosed today. At the start of the long journey — just off an enemy-occupied coast – the British craft was under attack by a German Ju-88, but a couple of fighters from a Germany-bound air armada swooped down and drove the big Nazi plane away. The Fortress itself had been on a mercy trip scanning choppy seas for another crew reported forced down. Flames enveloped the cockpit of the big bomber, which crashed into a wave and quickly settled. Two gunners went down with the ship, but the pilot and 7 crewmen clambered into a dingy. For 12 hours the airmen wallowed in the seas, vainly signalling with flares to the planes rumbling overhead. It was almost dusk when the Walrus spotted the American airmen. The British plane came down and picked up all eight and began the long wet trip home. The men bailed with hats, boots and bare hands through the night to keep the plane from sinking. At dawn a British patrol boat came alongside and took the Americans aboard. They were treated for exposure and sunburn and sent back to their base.”


11/iv/44 – A/I Demonstration in a Beaufighter

11th April 15:55
Bristol Beaufighter VIII MM868 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Robinson
2nd Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
U/T Navigator (R): F/S Emerton
A/I DEMONSTRATION & PRACTICE
Demonstration for F/O Scott
0:45


22/iii/44 – A/I Mk.VIII Demonstrations

22nd March 14:40
Bristol Beaufighter VIII MM868 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
2nd Pilot: F/S Hughes
Navigator (R): Self
U/T Navigator (R): F/S Emerton
A/I PRACTICE &DEMONSTRATION
Free-lancing & demonstration for F/S Hughes
1:00

16:10
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
Passenger:F/Lt Field
A/I DEMONSTRATION
Setting-up, presentation & interception demonstration for Jurby GCI Controller. 2 runs on Fortresses.
0:30

A day of A/I training and demonstration for 2 new arrivals to the Squadron in F/Sgt Hughes and F/Sgt Emmerton plus a GCI Controller from Jurby, who was able to see for himself the way in which information passed to the aircraft from the GCI stations was used.


19/iii/44 – Back in a Beaufighter

19th March 10:00
Bristol Beaufighter VIII MM858 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
Navigator (R): F/O Marriott
U/T Navigator (R): F/O Sommerville
A/I DEMONSTRATION & PRACTICE
Various exercises, including low-level “minelayer”
2:10

15:20
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, CINE-GUN & A/I PRACTICE
1:10


11/iii/44 – Trip to Middle Wallop & Loss of F/Sgt Anderson

11th March 11:00
AIRSPEED OXFORD II X7293
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator: Self
BASE – MIDDLE WALLOP
Pilot as Navigator & Navigator as Pilot about half the way. Fairly hazy.
1:00

12:05
Pilot: F/O Scott
2nd Pilot: F/O Robinson
Navigator: Self
Another 10 mins driving amongst the bumps
0:55

14:30
DH Mosquito XII HK227 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, CINE-GUN & A/C TEST
The usual 15,000ft climb to test the blowers & feathering tests
0:45

On 07/iii/44, F/Sgt John Anderson, a New Zealand pilot arrived at the Squadron from 51 OTU where he had been trained on Beaufighters. On 11/iii/44 he was on only his second solo flight in a mosquito. On landing, he swung, tried to climb, and then dived into the ground after his undercarriage hit an obstruction. He was killed instantly. The subsequent report was critical of the fact that he had been posted direct to the squadron from an OTU but had no Mosquito experience.

Anderson was buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery on the 15th March, with Squadron Representatives in attendance. He lies in grave number 2.K.7, a short distance from his fellow Squadron members, Riwai, Clark, Watson & Edwards. His death brings the total number of lives lost since the start of Broody’s tour to 15.

The grave of F/Sgt John Anderson. Brookwood Military Cemetery (Plot number 2.k.7)

The grave of F/Sgt John Anderson.
Brookwood Military Cemetery (Plot number 2.k.7)

His name is duly recorded in the Roll of Honour


26/ii/44 – A/I Mk VIII test with the “Circus”

26th February 15:50
Bristol Beaufighter VI KW109 (A/I Mk VIII)
Pilot: F/Lt Davison DFC
Instructor: F/O Wilmot DFC
Navigator (R): Self
Navigator (R): F/O Grant
A/I TEST
Trip with the Mk VIII “Circus”. Violent evasive action at 3,000ft.
0:45


11/xii/43 – NFT and search for Beaufighter wreckage

11th December 14:15
DH Mosquito XIII HK375 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT & Cine-Gun
Unsuccessful search for wreckage of Beaufighter
1:10


10/xii/43 – Scramble with tragic outcome

10th December 14:50
DH Mosquito XII HK227 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: P/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT & Cine-Gun
Various American targets, whence no IFF interrogator check – cause of later repercussions
0:40

19:25
SCRAMBLE – Searchlights
Scrambled late for 12-16 raid. On searchlight control, but they had an R/T failure. Picked up free-lance contact near intersection & obtained visual. No resins & no IFF response obtained. Re-established contact with ground, who said they thought it hostile. Examined at length in adverse glare from moon & decided it to be a Ju88. 1 second burst hit port engine & fuselage & set on fire. A/C crashed and blew up. Later identified as a Beaufighter of 68 Squadron returning from a chase. Pilot baled out – Navigator killed. Our A/C hit in port radiator by piece of oil pipe & lost Glycol. Returned with port engine idling & landed ok. Court of Inquiry absolved us from blame, but deprecated the lack of Interrogator check.
[F/O Schultz & F/O Williams, 410 Sqdn. destroyed 3 Do217’s]
0:55

This has been the hardest post to write so far, and covers what I imagine was the defining moment in Broody’s war. I was going to leave this Scramble out of the blog, but after much consideration I have decided to include it. There is enough information available in the public domain to identify the fact that HK227 and her crew were involved in this incident. I think it is important to share this event, and present all the information I can that is not so readily available, for both historical and (personal) cathartic reasons.

I tried to track down a copy of the original “Proceedings of Court of Inquiry” to try and understand exactly what happened on the night, and see what the Court of Inquiry judgement said. I was  given some invaluable assistance by the Archives Department of the RAF Museum at Hendon on this matter. Although Proceedings of Court of Inquiry were routinely destroyed after 3 years, the museum archive still holds a copy of the Accident Record Card (Air Ministry Form 1180) of which the museum kindly sent me a copy. The information on the form states that the Court:

“…considers pilot of HK227 wrongly recognised target and opened fire. NB no IFF seen though IFF on Stud 3. Recognition attempted when a/c flying into moon, windscreen misted. Ground reported a/c hostile. Bullseye with enemy aircraft at same time. Recommend closer GI cooperation. SD158 [Routeing, recognition and identification of aircraft] to be modified. Air Officer Commanding: Pilot’s Error of Judgement not carelessness. Several [-unreadable-] rules re opening fire stressed.

The important facts to understand here are:

1) The IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) channel (Stub 3) was not operating correctly, therefore Jack and Broody were unable to get clarification by this means that the aircraft was friendly.
2) The Beaufighter was not displaying Resin lights –There were rear facing identification lights controlled by a switch in the cockpit. These lights would display a pre-selected colour and morse key as a tool for visual identification of friendly aircraft. As these weren’t being shown on the Beaufighter, another opportunity to identify the aircraft as friendly was lost.
3) Ground Control (Trimley?) were of the opinion that the aircraft was hostile, and reported it as such to the crew of HK227.
4) Scott and Broody “examined [the target] at length”. There was no hasty identification and opening of fire.
5) Identification was hampered by the light of the moon and made through a misted windshield.
6) As well as the hostile aircraft being hunted, there were other allied fighters in the area, as well as allied bombers carrying out a practice bombing raid (Bullseye), making the area busy with aircraft.

It is also necessary, I think to put yourself in the position of Jack and Broody. They have been scrambled at night to search for and intercept enemy aircraft. The enemy aircraft were armed, and would have shot down allied aircraft given the opportunity. As a lifeboat helmsman, I have experienced the emotions and adrenalin rush of being paged in the middle of the night for a shout. The change from “down-time” to “fully-alert” takes a heartbeat. You need to wake up instantly, and focus on the task in hand. It can be a disorientating feeling. Making quick decisions can be hard, often in a hostile and unforgiving environment. I cannot imagine adding to this the real risk of being shot down and killed.

I defy anyone reading this to blame Jack and Broody for their actions that night. In war, friendly fire incidents are all too common; even in the modern age with technology that has advanced 70 years since 1943. I know Broody carried guilt about this incident, and I understand that. I also say to him: You did your duty, and acted properly with the information available to you. I understand how this incident came about, and in my eyes you are no less of the great man that I remember you to be.

If it hadn’t already, this was the day that war became all too real for Broody. And for me too.