RAAF

Don Wills Story, Loss of Lancaster LM675

JOT

Photo (click to enlarge): The plane has half on the left wing missing, right side wing in shreds, a right side engine on fire, control surfaces severly damaged, fuel tanks blown away, falling out of the sky and the pilot claims "Moderate Control"

463 R.A.A.F. SQUADRON

BOLOGNE, FRANCE. 17 SEPTEMBER,1944, TAKE OFF TIME: 08.15 

PILOT 

F/O. K.E.J. TANNER R.A.F.
FLIGHT ENGINEER Sgt K.W.YATES R.A.A.F
NAVIGATOR   F/Sgt R.W. DENT R.A.A.F
BOMB AIMER  F/Sgt W.A. HUNDY R.A.A.F
WIRELESS OPERATOR F/Sgt N.PALMER R.A.A.F
MID UPPER GUNNER F/Sgt B.D. McGILL R.A.A.F
REAR GUNNER F/Sgt D.McK. WILLS R.A.A.F

Pilots report

    Sortie completed; slight haze; visibility fair; Red T/I (Target Indicator) in sight as instructed; 8,000ft; 09.15.30 hrs; 11 X 1,000 S.A.P.; USA, 4 X 1,000 GP (bomb load). Appeared to be a good concentration of bombing. Took off from Waddington, received hit from flak, and crew baled out. Pilot landed aircraft at Rolet south of Samer. On our bombing run, immediately after "Bombs Gone" we were hit by heavy flak, causing a hole in our port wing approximately 11ft; X 6ft; and the ailerons severely damaged. Aircraft went out of control in a diving turn; during this time No.3 tank blew out, and exploded behind aircraft. I ordered crew to abandon aircraft and moderate control of aircraft was maintained at 4,000 ft; during which time Wireless Operator, Mid Upper and Rear Gunners endeavoured to get out of rear door. This was jammed and the handle broke off, so had to come to the front hatch which partly jammed adding further difficulties for crew trying to bale out. Eventually all members of crew apart from Pilot squeezed themselves out. During this time reasonable controlled descent was maintained with port engines fully opened; starboard engines half throttled; full aileron and rudder bias. It is estimated crew got out at 2,000 to 3,000 ft; and at 1,500 ft; I made an effort to bale out, unsuccessfully as the aircraft dived and was uncontrollable. I regained control of the aircraft at 800 ft; and having no alternative, had to make a forced landing in the quickest possible time. Landing eventually effected in a field that was obstructed with anti-invasion posts, with my starboard engine on fire; undercarriage and flaps serviceable and operated allowing me to make a successful landing. At the end of the landing run, to avoid further damage, swung aircraft to port, coming to rest in a wood. Made a quick get away as starboard outer wing and engine were on fire. Throughout these extremely difficult circumstances my crew behaved in an exemplary manner and showed calm and coolness throughout. Navigator (F/Sgt. Dent) states: "Our pilot's captaincy and leadership displayed throughout those intense moments gave us confidence and inspiration. We considered aircraft impossible to fly, and how he effected a landing was, in the opinion of all of us, a miracle, and we never expected after we left that the aircraft would be landed". Editorial Comment. I like the comment "Moderate Control". The plane has half of the left wing missing, right side wing in shreds, a right side engine on fire, control surfaces severely damaged, fuel tanks blown away, falling out of the sky and the pilot claims "Moderate Control".

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