War is "ON" - 3rd March
The crew's first two sorties had been uneventful, both attacking the Dortmund-Ems canal, firstly at Mittelland then at Ladbergen. No fighters or flak were seen, cloud obscured the target on both occasions and their bombs were brought back to base.
The Station Commander of RAF Waddington, Group Captain David Bonham-Carter sometimes flew with new crews on their first op., apparently not always the reassuring experience that he meant it to be since he was "now out of condition (having previously been a very good test pilot), stone deaf but still flew, frightening the unfortunates who had to fly with him and horrifying the Control Tower WAAF operators, whom he completely ignored." (Wing Cmdr Rollo Kingsford-Smith RAAF).
Grp Cpt Bonham Carter leads the Duke of Gloucester on his visit to Waddington
Bonham-Carter was affectionately known as TR9 because of his prominent hearing aid (just visible in his right ear). TR9 was actually an item of radio equipment used on the Lancaster.
Tom's diary entry for Monday says "Peace today. D.I.s as usual. Went to chapel hut but no mass on. Spent the evening at the club." This photograph, courtesy of Bryan Cook, was taken by Bryan's grandfather Brian Fallon, the mid-upper gunner of Don Huxtable's crew. In the book called "Press on Regardless" that Bryan and his grandfather produced from the latter's post-war notes and his memory, he writes that the priest, Fr. Dullehan, who was a Liverpudlian Irishman had converted the back room of the Church hut into a recreation centre and club for use by all the boys and girls of the squadron irrespective of their denomination. The room contained a great open fireplace where people toasted bread and scones, a piano around which many an old tune was sung to the accompaniment of the meteorologist officer (a grand Scot) and a table tennis set. Usually about 20 would gather to say the Rosary and attend Benediction in church before making their way to the club or the Horse and Jockey."
Monday 26 February
Peace today. D.I.’s as usual. Went to chapel but no Mass on. Spent the evening in the club.
Tuesday 27 February
Peace again today – expecting a call at 5am tomorrow – war on. Went to station cinema. Unable to sleep.
Wednesday 28 February
Only had 4 hrs sleep although in bed early. Early morning briefing Dortmund Ems canal again – same route. Scrubbed about 8pm. Stand down from 2pm. War on.
Thursday 1 March
War scrubbed – clay targets afternoon. No talk of war yet. Wrote some letters.
Friday 2 March
D.I.’s as usual. War on – 2.30am. Run up this afternoon. Went to station cinema and had H. Communion at Padres house. Flying in “L” Love tomorrow.
Saturday 3 March
Woke at 03.30 – not called. Postponed until 14.00 – postponed again till 16.30. Very cheesed. Same target, same route – priority plus target.
LM233 PO-M, the Lancaster in which they flew their first two operations.