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409 Squadron RCAF: The Nighthawks

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Outfought, outwitted and outguessed at every turn, the Luftwaffe never knew from what quarter the next attack might be launched. As the former husbanded its dwindling strength the Squadron found time to add to the ever increasing crescendo of attacks mounted by the Allies by doing some straffing.

The coolness daring and courage displayed by S/L Ben Plumer DFC (Pilot) and P/O Bill Beynon (RAF-Navigator) in a ground attack against a German aerodrome on the night of 24/25th April, 1945, must have shaken the Aryan supermen as well as accounting for one German aircraft destroyed and in all probability, several others damaged.

Ben and Bill were carrying out a regular patrol when they observed the soft glow of a Jerry flarepath. After searching the circuit unsuccess- fully on the AI for any aircraft that might be airborne they flew across the 'drome at 500 feet searching for targets on the ground.

Bill flashed the navigation lights intermittently as a pseudo signal and received an answer. They then made a normal circuit at 500 feet, Bill observing several twin-engined aircraft dispersed in bays at the edge of a wood.

Ben immediately made a run against them from a height of 50 feet, strikes being observed among them. On this run they experienced light ack-ack fire from the opposite side of the 'drome, one shot exploding against the port propellor. As it didn't seem to have harmed the motor, Ben made a run over a row of single engined aircraft lined up for the morning's take-off.

Strikes were observed all along the line, and one aircraft believed to be a FW190 exploded and burned. Ben, still not satisfied with the chaos he had already created, decided to make a run against the gun emplacements.

Coming in over the hangers at an angle, he fired in the turn, his shots falling among the gun crews. The aim of the latter, who probably suffered some casualties, was definitely disrupted and their return fire extremely wild.

A good night's work, Ben and Bill.