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Whitley P5OO5/DY:N on 13 November 1940

(Rus)  In far from favourable weather, 77 Bomber Command aircraft were despatched on 12/13 November 1940 to harass a number of targets in the Ruhr, No 102 Squadron seeking an oil refinery at Wesseling. The crew of Whitley P5OO5/DY:N had some confusion in finding the target and after twenty minutes' searching the captain decided that they should bomb Cologne's marshalling yards instead. While investigating beneath the clouds, two direct hits were taken from light flak. One burst in the fuselage, detonating a flare and opening up a 15ft section of the port side as neatly as a can opener. Wireless operator Sgt. A. Davidson sustained slight wounds and the interior of the Whitley was temporarily filled with acrid fumes, the captain momentarily losing control and only managing to regain it after the aircraft had lost some 2,000ft in a dive. Despite the adverse aerodynamic effect of the flapping fuselage skin, the pilot was able to return safely to base. His name was P Off G. L. Cheshire and the feat brought him a Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Leonard Cheshire was destined to become one of the most eminent pilots to serve with Bomber Command. The dislodged flare that ignited can be seen below the hole in the far side of the fuselage; other flares are in the rack on the right. (IWM CHI765)


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