Night after night in the cold hostile skies above enemy-occupied Europe, a deadly war was waged between enemy forces on the ground, roving enemy night-fighter aircraft and our allied bomber crews. Using complex state-of-the-art electronic counter-measures and human vigilance, remaining undetected was vital. Detection was almost always fatal and often, the first the bomber crews would know of their detection was the sudden burst of gunfire which would rip their bomber apart.Equally deadly, were the searchlights on the ground. These could trap an aircraft in their beams-illuminating them for the flak guns or the night-fighters. Mid-air collisions were the biggest cause of losses when hundreds of aircraft flew in formation in the dark skies.
During the bombing campaign of the Second World War, the duties that the crews of Bomber Command were expected to undertake was considered so dangerous, even by wartime standards,that the bomber crews were made up entirely of volunteers. Each man was obliged to complete a thirty- mission tour of operations. The life expectancy of a crew was just five operations. Given that aircrew training took two-years to complete and given that the crews were operating the most sophisticated and reliable tool of war devised to date-namely the Lancaster bomber, highlights just how hazardous and difficult bombing operations were.The eventual loss calculations, which consisted of operational and training losses, serious physical and mental injury was finally calculated at 75 of every 100 who flew with Bomber Command in the war years 1939 to 1945.
MUCH HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS AND THE ETHICS OF BOMBING. EARLY IN THE WAR, WE WERE LOSING THE FIGHT ON LAND AND AT SEA AS WERE THE RUSSIANS. BOMBING WAS THE ONLY WAY WE COULD TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY IN A WAY WE THOUGHT WAS RIGHT. THE BOMBING HELPED OUR EVENTUAL VICTORY AND THE ENEMY CONFIRMED THAT THIS WAS TRUE AFTER THE CONFLICT WAS OVER. THE RESOURCES USED ON CITY DEFENCES MEANT THAT THEY COULD NOT BE USED AGAINST THE ALLIED AND RUSSIAN LAND FORCES AFTER D-DAY. THE ENEMY KNEW THEY COULD NOT WIN THE WAR AFTER D-DAY AND HAD THEY SURRENDERED, THE WORST LOSSES OF LIFE ON BOTH SIDES WOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.
This airfield was the wartime home of:
49 Squadron RAF
576 Squadron RAF
150 Squadron RAF
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