18.04.1945 No. 514 Squadron Lancaster III LM724 JI-H Fl/Lt. Eley
Date: 18th April 1945 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 514 Squadron
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: No loss - returned
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Norman James Eley RAFVR 163588 Survived
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ronald William Pugh 2222244 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from Wales
Nav: Sgt. Thomas Albert Barker 1617171 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from London
Air/Bmr: F/O. Jack William Eykyn 154076 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from Leamington
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis Frederick Fox 1892529 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from London
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Ernest Austin 1817714 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from Warwickshire
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Cook 1850109 RAFVR Survived, understood to be from Bristol
REASON FOR LOSS:
Not lost - one of the crews that survived the war. April 2018 the pilot, Fl/Lt. Eley was the sole surviving member of the crew. He wrote to us, telling just one of his stories (of course we welcome contact from other relatives of the crew):
"You ask for details about a typical bombing operation over Germany. Its a long time ago but will try to record a raid on the U-boat pens at Heligoland. This will bring back some memories and you can alter any text below that you may think necessary. Hope this is what you are looking for. Here goes:-
It was on 18th. April 1945 when 514 squadron crews assembled for the briefing for our next operation. In walked our Commanding Officer and we we all stood up. He named the target as the U-boat pens on the island of Heligoland and we could see the route to be taken on the big wall map.
We then got information about possible flak en route and a weather forecast from the meteorological officer. The C.O. then departed wishing us all good luck. Almost 1000 bombers were due to be on this operation so it was going to be necessary to keep a really sharp lookout when airborne with so many aircraft in the air.With our briefing complete we made our way to the transport to take us to the aircraft. Arriving at dispersal had a quick look around the Lancaster LM724 and a final word with the ground sergeant and all 7 of us climbed up the ladder at the rear entrance.
It was more difficult for me having to carry my mae-west and a heavy parachute and to climb over the main spar inside the fuselage and settle in my seat.
We all got on intercom and then with the assistance of my flight engineer commenced our cockpit check for starting engines. With the Merlins running smoothly I did a final check with the rest of the crew that all was OK.
Above L-R: Sgt. Ronald William Pugh, Sgt. William John Cook, Sgt. Thomas Albert Barker, Fl/Lt. Norman James Eley, Sgt. Dennis Frederick Fox, Sgt. Leslie Ernest Austin and F/O. Jack William Eykyn (courtesy Norman Eley)
At the briefed taxi time I released the brakes and slowly taxied to the runway in use which happened to be R/W 27. This R/W meant flying over the A10 Cambridge road at very low level and with a heavy bomb load which must have frightened a few motorists. Our turn to line up on the runway and stop and a final check on all instruments. A group of ground staff including some of the girls were standing by the runway caravan to wave us good luck which was customary with daylight raids.
Above: Photo of the Heigoland operations as taken by the crew (courtesy Norman Eley)
With the green Aldis lamp signal I opened the throttles to full power checking the instruments that all was OK. Clearing the A10 road with the undercarriage retracting we settled into a climb. At 1,000 feet the navigator gave me a course to turn eastwards and head for Southwold on the Suffolk coast. In order to gain height before crossing the North Sea we circled over Southwold until reaching 10,000 feet before heading for Germany.
As there were so many aircraft in the air it was necessary to keep a good lookout at all times. and later was told that one or two collisions occurred. At this point we all got on oxygen and at 12,000 feet the engine superchargers were engaged giving us an extra boost to the Merlins to climb to 18,000 feet, our cruising altitude.
Right: Fl/Lt. Norman James Eley (courtesy Norman Eley)
At this height it is really cold and the Lancaster had poor heating. I wore an inner and and outer flying suit, flying boots and silk gloves with leather gauntlets.
Crossing the Dutch coast and heading for Heligoland we could see 100's of aircraft ahead of us and all round us. We reached our target and with a GEE-H fix we opened our bomb doors and released six x 1000 lbs. and ten x 500 lbs. bombs. I think we surprised the enemy as there was no flak or any of their fighters in the sky. The U-boat pens were completely wrecked and have attached a photo of Heligoland taken by our aircraft camera.
With bomb doors closed we turned to head back home with 100's of other Lancasters from other squadrons. Crossing the Suffolk coast once again and with Waterbeach in sight I landed back on R/W 27 at taxied to dispersal after spending 5 and a half hours in the air. All 514 aircraft returned safely with no losses and the 1000 bomber raid was a huge success".
List of some of the operations undertaken by this crew:
Sunday 18th March 1945: Lancaster I NG298 JI-E Target: Bruchstrasse - Time up: 11:39 hrs. Time down: 17:18 hrs - Notes: Bomb load 1 x 4000 HC, 13 x 500 ANM64, 2 x 500 MC. Primary target: Bruchstrasse, Coal mine & coking plant. Weather 10/10ths cloud, tops 6 -12,000 feet. Bombed at 15:06 hrs from 18,000 feet on G.H. Leader.
Thursday 29th March 1945: Lancaster III LM627 JI-D Target: Salzgitter (Hallendorf) - Time up: 12:29 hrs. Time down: 19:25 hrs - Notes: Bomb load 1 x 4000 HC, 8 x 500 ANM64. Primary target: Salzgitter, Hallendorf works. Weather 10/10ths cloud. Bombed at 16.45 hours. Bombed from 19,500 feet on leading aircraft G.H. Cloud prevented accurate bombing.
Wednesday 18th April 1945: Lancaster III LM724 JI-H Target: Heligoland - Time up: 09:49 hrs. Time down: 15:21 hrs. - Notes: Bomb load 6 x 1000 MC, 10 x 500 ANM64. Primary target: Heligoland, Naval base. Weather no cloud, slight haze. Bombed visually on Leader of Vic at 13.10 hours from 18,200 ft. Whole island covered in smoke. 1 x 500 ANM64 hang up. Markers not shown. No troubles.
Friday 20th April 1945: Lancaster I NG142 JI-J Target: Regensburg - Time up: 09:33 hrs. Time down: 17:20 hrs - Notes: Bomb load 16 x 500 ANM64. Primary target: Regensburg. Weather clear over target and whole route. Bombed on blue markers visually at 13.56 hours from 19,000 ft. Visually due to G.H. leaders marking too sharp a turn before the target. Bomb bursts seen across the target, much undershooting seen. Formation good, should be a successful raid. Fair amount of smoke.
Monday 30th April 1945: Lancaster III RF231 JI-A Target: Rotterdam - Time up: 16:44 hrs. Time down: 19:26 hrs - Notes: Dropping area: Rotterdam. Weather intermittent showers and low cloud. Load 5 packs. Dropped 4 packs visually on white cross at 18.13 hours. Bags well together. Saw people gathering them and stacking them up. Saw house on fire. Populace waving to us from streets and roof tops.
Wednesday 02nd May 1945: Lancaster III ME535 JI-G Target: The Hague - Time up: 11:12 hrs. Time down: 13:43 hrs - Notes: Dropping area The Hague. Weather over dropping zone clear below cloud for the first arrivals changing later to heavy showers which marred visibility. Dropped 4 panniers on Red T.I.'s at 12.35 hours. Rain storm and poor visibility over target. 1 pannier returned to Base due to hang-up. Delivery O.K. although much undershooting into the wood. Many flags flying in Hague.
Thursday 05th July 1945: Lancaster III RF230 JI-B Target: Special mission (See notes) - Time up: 13:21 hrs. Time down: 18:28 hrs - Notes: Operation Postmortem : This mission was flown by many Bomber Command Squadrons. It required the crews to fly at operational height towards the Continent (Flensburg) in a simulated Main Force attack whilst specialist radar crew tracked the Bomber stream using captured German Radar equipment, the purpose being to check the radars efficiency and to allow Bomber command to try out defence tactics.
None - all crew survived the war.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Fl/Lt. Norman James Eley who contacted us in April 2018 with photographs and information on Heligoland operation. Also to Simon Hepworth for operation details. Simon lost his relative who served as a Flight Engineer in 514 Squadron - he has written many books on the subject.