428 Squadron Lancasters in action
RAF heavy bombers attacking Hagen in Germany on Thursday 15 March 1945: in the foreground is a Canadian-built Lancaster Mk X, KB820, coded NA-M, from 428 "Ghost" Squadron based at RCAF station Middleton St George in the north-east of England. It is carrying some flak damage after bombing on the green target indicators dropped by Pathfinder aircraft. This was the crew's first operational sortie and reportedly their most terrifying. My picture was commissioned by the son of the flight engineer.
Alongside, falling prey to a German Ju 88 night fighter, is another squadron Lancaster, KB846 / NA-I. Its crew were on their second tour of operations. Five of them were killed, one of the gunners survived - as did the pilot, Flt Lt JDC Craton, who was thrown through the perspex of the cockpit as the big aircraft tumbled. He managed to open his parachute and landed with both arms broken and numerous cuts and abrasions, but walked back to Allied lines.
In all 134 Lancasters, 122 Halifaxes and 11 Mosquitoes of 4, 6 and 8 Groups took part. Six Lancasters and four Halifaxes were lost.