Just before 17.25hrs on the evening of 3rd November 1943 Lancaster W4833 of 625 Squadron lined up for take-off on a sortie to Dusseldorf. The crew were setting out on their second operation together, their first had been to Kassel on the 22nd October when they had had a close call with an enemy night-fighter. Rear gunner Frank Sutton’s log book recorded – ‘ops Kassel. Expended 150 rounds. Damaged Fw190 in combat (1 attack).’
Pilot F/Sgt Reg Price had previously flown as ‘second-dickie’ with P/O Edgar Pickles and crew on 20th October op to Berlin (and on the same night M/u Harry Powter had filled in for the absent F/Sgt Bill Allan in Jimmie Ives’s crew on their abortive sortie). The other members of Price’s crew were f/e Les Knowles, navigator Dudley Ball, b/a Jack Conley and w/op Jim Harris. Their bomb-load on this occasion included a 4,000lb ‘cookie’ fused to explode on impact and 12 SBCs (small bomb containers), canisters containing 2,800 incendiaries. Fuel-load for Dusseldorf and back was 1200 gallons. Take-off was renowned to be potentially the most ‘dicey’ part of any flight.
Sgt Sutton’s log-book records the following entry ‘inner engines u/s (Dusseldorf)’ – for the trip which turned out to be short and eventful. Many thanks to Iain Sutton for allowing me to reproduce his father’s account of what happened. I defy anyone not to be gripped by the following narrative, written soon after returning to base:-
|(for ‘Doug’ read ‘Dud’)|
The squadron ORB records this version of events:- Lancaster W4833 – Target Dusseldorf – ‘Aircraft ‘J’. Up 17.25 dn 18.40hrs. ‘Task abandoned. Both engines cut just after take-off. Course set out to sea but difficult to maintain height. Incendiaries and guns jettisoned to enable sufficient height to be gained to jettison 4,000lb bomb. Landed at base at 18.40.’
back row :- Les Knowles, Jack Conley, Harry Powter, front row:- Frank Sutton, Reg Price, Dud Ball (Jim Harris absent)