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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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608 Squadron
08/09.03.1945 608 (North Riding) Squadron Mosquito B.XXV KB406 Flt Lt. Lennard N. Hobbs

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 8th/9th March 1945 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 608 (North Riding) Squadron, Fast Night Striking Force (FNSF), 8 Group

Type: Mosquito B.XXV

Serial: KB406

Code: 6T:K

Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk

Location: Mont-Saint-André, Belgium

Pilot: Flt Lt. Lennard Norman Hobbs 136432 RAFVR Age? Returned

Navigator: Fg Off. Robert Methuen Dennis 439280 RAAF Age 22. Returned

Above: Image of Fg Off. Dennis from his service record

REASON FOR LOSS:

KB406 took off from RAF Downham Market at 18:20 hrs on the 8th March 1945 for an operation to Berlin. This was the 2nd operation for this crew on the Mosquito. Flt Lt. Hobbs had flown 21 operations on heavy bombers.

The outbound leg of the mission was uneventful. German Lichtenstein (GL) Boozer warnings were received on the bombing run and moderate heavy flak was seen 2 or 3 minutes ahead. Loran was in use up to the time of the incident. Window dropped as ordered between Hamburg and Hanover, but not afterwards.

At Berlin there was no moon, and it was dark but clear. Ground Target Indictor (TI) markers were clearly seen through breaks in the cloud. The 4 x 500 Ib bombs on Berlin were dropped on ground markers at 20:42 hrs from 25,000 ft. The aircraft continued straight and level and about 30 seconds after 'Bombs gone' a tight cluster of 5 or 6 bursts of heavy flak burst just off the Starboard wing-tip.

The pilot immediately began to lose height as required by the flight plan and turned on to the next WSW heading. About 2 minutes after the flak engagement the pilot looked at his instruments and saw that the coolant temperature for the Starboard engine was 'off the clock', two minutes later, the oil temperature for the same engine was also 'off the clock' and oil pressure had dropped to 40 lbs. The engine was immediately feathered, and kept feathered thereafter.

The aircraft was trimmed for single engine flight and all electrical equipment including cockpit lighting was switched off. The aircraft remained under good control and there was no indications that any other part of the aircraft had been hit.

A total of 5000 ft was lost in the target area, which was left at 20,000 ft. A speed of 150 kts was maintained and a further 2000 ft was gradually lost between Berlin and the Aachen area, which was reached at about 22:30 hrs. Both drop tanks were jettisoned empty about 30 minutes after leaving Berlin.

Gee was switched on but responses were very faint and faded completely after 3 minutes before any effective use be obtained. VHF was tried but it was jammed by another aircraft for 5 minutes. When VHF became available a QDM to ALG B-58 Brussels/Melsbroek was obtained. Any further contact was not available because the accumulators were flat, and the VHF set was switched off.

QDM = A Magnetic heading, with zero wind, for the receiver to fly towards with a time.

The pilot assumed that the one QDM he received would bring him within sight of Brussels/Melsbroek airfield, and it was his intention to land there. He is not sure how much petrol he had when he made that decision, but he estimated that it was sufficient to have brought him to this country had he decided to do so. He determined that with no navigational aids, the shorter journey offered less hazard, especially after receiving the QDM.

The aircraft was flown to the end of the QDM losing height to 1000 ft which brought it below cloud base of 1500 ft.

No airfield lighting was seen, so the aircraft circled for 20 minutes. There were in the locality a line of steady searchlights, presumed to be indicating an IAZ and 3 single occulting searchlights flashing respectively “A", "B" and "C".

IAZ = Inner Artillery Zone. This was a free fire zone for antiaircraft artillery.

The pilot opted for the location “C” and circled for another 20 minutes and fired off 3 single Red Very Pistol cartridges at intervals. There was no reply, so they flew to one of the steady searchlights and fired off all remaining Very Pistol cartridges including the colours of the period. There was still no reply from the ground.

By then there was a total of 60 gallons of petrol left in all tanks, excluding the 20 gallons which could not be cross-fed from the outer starboard wing tanks. The pilot decided to climb to height and abandon the aircraft. At about 23:40 hrs the aircraft was flown south for 3 minutes and then climbed, circling up to 10,000 ft.

The pilot feathered the Port engine and held the aircraft straight and level and the Navigator baled out of the bottom hatchway at 23:55 hrs. He counted to 5 and pulled the rip-cord. His descent was uneventful and as he passed through cloud near the ground he found it very dark and was unable to estimate his height and drift. As a consequence he landed heavily on his back and was knocked unconscious for several minutes. Regaining consciousness he saw the lights of a farm very close by where he was given shelter. Apart from a headache which persisted for 2 or 3 days he suffered no injury.

The pilot trimmed the aircraft for level flight and tried to leave the aircraft via the bottom hatchway but was unable to get out of his seat because of the seat type parachute and dingy pack. In his struggles the aircraft entered a fairly steep dive. He pulled the aircraft level and tried again and only managed to get partially out of his seat, and slipped finding himself jammed across the cockpit with his left leg behind the control column and his right arm and shoulder jammed against the Starboard side of the cockpit.

The aircraft went into a tight spiral nose-dive. He struggled to get clear and suddenly fell out of the hatchway head first. He counted to 5 and pulled the rip-cord at a height he estimated to be 4000 ft. His descent was uneventful but he misjudged his height from the ground and landed heavily in a ploughed field. He was unhurt and made for some distant lights, and came upon the farm found by his navigator 15 minutes earlier.

They had landed in the vicinity of Aische-en-Refail in Belgium and the aircraft crashed at Mont-Saint-André some 4 km to the NNW.

Burial details:

None – both survived

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.

Other sources listed below:

RS 11.12.2022 - Initial Upload

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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