Welcome to the Ackworth and Pontefract Branch of The Royal British Legion
MY LAST OPERATION
(Account of a WW2
By Geoff Towers BEM
After going to Hell and back forty
times, our last operation was the one that sticks in my mind, apart
from some dicey trips during the rest of our tour.
The operation was to WITTEN in the Rhur in Germany. It was
a night operation, taking six hours and twenty five minutes on the
18th March 1945.
There were a total of 324 aircraft taking part in the raid
259 Halifax Bombers, 45 Lancaster Bombers and 20 Mosquitoes.
Eight aircraft were lost during the raid - 6 Halifaxes, 1 Lancaster
and 1 Mosquito.
Me and the rest of the crew were keeping our fingers crossed and
hoping we would get back to our base safe and sound. I made
sure that my rabbit's foot in a little pocket in my Mae West life
jacket was safe.
The raid was reported to have been a success: 1,081 tons of
bombs were dropped destroying 129 acres of the built-up area.
German reports stated that the Ruhrstahl Steelworks and the
Hammersham Tube Factory was severely damaged. (Extracts from Bomber
Command War Diaries).
We encountered only light flak on the way to the target
area. Over the target the flak and
search lights were more concentrated: The German defence was
putting up a box barrage of flak. This was like flying
through the fires of hell.
There was no choice, but to go through and bomb the red
target indicators on the ground. With great relief we got
through, suffering only minor damage. Our skipper put our
aircraft into a steep dive and we got to hell out as quickly as
On our way back to base at LISSETT we hoped and prayed we would
not encounter any night fighters. Luck was with us and the
Good Lord was looking after us.
We landed at our base in the early hours of the 19th
March 1945. It was an unwritten law
that when you were on your last operation, Flying Control allowed
you to land before all other aircraft in the circuit, but of course
this did not apply if there was an emergency. Priority was
given to the aircraft in distress.
After we landed I can remember us all getting out of our
Halifax, putting our hands together to say a little prayer to thank
God for our safe return. We were all now due for a six month
rest period, before reporting back for our second tour of
operations. We were due to join a pathfinder squadron.
We were given four weeks leave, after which we would all be
posted to a training station on instructional duties.
Fortunately the war ended during this period.
All of my crew split up and we went our separate ways. It
was with great sadness when the time came to say our
farewells. We had been like a band of brothers. We flew
together, lived together and went out on the town together.
It was a wonderful relationship. Never again, during the
remainder of my lifetime, will I ever encounter such wonderful
Geoff Towers BEM
Ex Air Gunner