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Operational missions

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On the night of June 21 to 22, Horace flew as second pilot with the Flying Officer Russell to be aware of the conduct of a war mission. And he made his first operational flight over Krefeld in the Ruhr, the aircrew had nicknamed it the "Happy Valley" in reference to the wall of Flak erected by the Germans to defend their production. As was usual, navigator Davidson also carried out the same mission as supernumerary crew of Flying Officer G. H. Ebert.

June 22, the crew did not fly. 23 and 24 June, they performed four training flights at day and night.

But on June 25, they did not take part to the mission over Gelsenkirchen nor to the training flights of that day.  On 26 June, the squadron stayed grounded. It is probably during that day off that  Sgt Davidson had an accident that prevented  him from flying with his comrades. Deprived of their navigator, our crew remained on the ground during the training flights and missions scheduled on 27 and 28 June.

Arthur Jepps was born in Letchworth, north of London, on 21 September 1913. Working as an art Teacher, he decided to enlist in the RAF on April 3, 1939.

On 8 July, he was admitted as observer / navigator at the Irish RAF Aldergrove Station (3 Air Observer School) and promoted to sergeant on August 18.

From September 1, 1939, he was attached to 102 Squadron (based at Driffield in East Yorkshire) which operated  Armstrong Whitley twin-engine bombers. He participated in the second air raid in the history of the Bomber Command on the night of 4 to 5 September 1939 :  their mission was to launch leaflets over the Ruhr region.

After completing his first tour of operations on 9 July 1940 he was transferred to 19 OTU based in Forres, Scotland. And it’s in this beautiful country that he met his future wife, Fanny. They got married on February 19, 1941 at Stepps, a small town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the north-eastern outskirts of Glasgow. Their daughter Charlotte was born a year later. As an instructor attached to this unit forming Whitley crews , he was appointed  Pilot Officer General Duties on June 6, 1941 and finally Flying Officer on June 28, 1942. On May 31, 1943 he was possibly called on to a second tour of operations and sent to the 1660 HCU (Swinderby) to be formed on the Avro Lancaster.

On June 29
and at 29 years of age he joined our crew at short notice to replace the spot of Sgt Davidson. Normally, such a movement of personnel would affect the proper functioning of the crew. However, the long experience and maturity of Jepps will offset the inconvenience.

Shortly after arrival, the crew who was back to full strength and was the only squadron to fly that day. It was a "Cross Country" exercise prepared for their new navigator.

June 30 and July 1, no mission or training was programmed. On July 2, they performed a new training flight.

Eventually, on the evening of  July 3 they were given  their first operational mission (Lancaster EE 141 - EM-P):  That was Cologne and the Ruhr!  They took-off  at 22:59, arrived over the city at 1:52, the target was completely clear, no clouds. The Pathfinders had marked the objective with precision. From his station at 20’000 feet, Arthur Wright, could clearly discern the explosions of the "Cookies" on the ground. Twenty minutes later, while they were on the way back in the Bonn region, the gunners spotted a Junkers 88 night fighter, flying parallel to their Lancaster, 600 meters to their right. Suddenly, the German plane attacked by diving to the left, the gunners opened fire, driving off the enemy who disappeared into the night. They returned to their base without difficulty and landed at Langar. It was 4:27.

On 4 and 5 July, the planned missions were canceled and the 6 and 7 July were again devoted to training.  Once again several missions had to be canceled due to bad weather, one exercise followed another and finally on July 8, the new target was ...Cologne again ! (Lancaster W4120 EM-L). They arrived over the target at  1:20 at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Despite a heavy cloud cover 5,000 feet below, thanks to the precision work of the Pathfinders they dropped their bomb load accurately. Again, the mission was eventful, apart from the inclement weather, a German DCA broke above the target and hit the No. 1 engine which caught fire. The crew had to manage an urgent situation and return to base on three engines.

On the night of July 9, the target was still the Ruhr and was aimed at Gelsenkirchen (Lancaster ED 498 EM-D). They arrived over the target at 01:35 at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Despite the clouds that were covering the city, they dropped their bombs on the ground markers. The attack was so violent that one could see the fires through the clouds. Suddenly, a Junkers 88 triggered an attack from the front with his guns ablaze. The German fighter made two more attacks, shooting with all his on board weapons at a distance of 400 meters. Badge conducted a defensive maneuver by dipping sharply to the left. The gunners, Spence and Brett went into action by shooting more than 600 rounds and eventually mortally wounding the night fighter which disappeared trailing a plume of black smoke. This victory was officially approved and credited to ROC Brett  who was promoted to Flight Sergeant for this action .

On July 10, rain nailed the airplanes on the ground.

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