Books about and including the Squadron

Flak and Barbed Wire

Flak and Barbed Wire

In The Wake of the Wuppertal
by Gordon Stooke

Be my guest. Read the true story about an Australian Lancaster bomber, during a World War II mission over Germany, being coned by searchlights at 20 000 feet, hit by flak, then the crew bailing out over Belgium.

This is an extract from Chapter 2 of "Flak and Barbed Wire" by Gordon Stooke. This book also describes life in RAF Bomber Command, bombing raids, evasion attempts, capture, interrogation by the Gestapo, prisoner of war life in Germany and eventual release by the Russian army.

Gordon Stooke was a pilot of a Lancaster Bomber on 460–Squadron RAAF.

Extracts from "Flak and Barbed Wire" by Gordon Stooke

Pilot, Gordon Stooke, describes his first raid from Binbrook on 23rd. May, 1943, to Dortmund.

As we approached Dortmund it was already alight from incendiaries dropped by waves of bombers in front of us. The visual impact was unbelievable, almost abstract. This large city was on fire. Dozens of probing searchlights turned night into day, while down below, thousands of flickering lights pinpointed bomb strikes. In front of us, the smoke balls from hundreds of exploding anti–aircraft shells appeared as impregnable barrier that had to be flown through.

Over to my right, I saw a bomber caught in a cone of searchlights. Suddenly it exploded and a horrific blood–red fireball attested to the accuracy of the German anti–aircraft gunners and ostentatiously proclaimed the obliteration of another seven brave British airmen. All seemed to be organised turmoil and you had to be sharp eyed to carefully pick your way through dozens of other attacking bombers illuminated by fires and searchlights. It was a crazy game of 30–ton dodgem at 20,000 feet.

Corporal Nuttall stole a ride with Gordon Stooke in "D" Donald. Just after take off, with the four merlins roaring as they litterally dragged the fully loaded Lancaster into the air, Gordon was shocked to see Corporal Jim Nuttall, the groundstaff airframes man at his right elbow.

"What the bloody hell are you doing here" yelled Gordon, hardly able to compete with the roar of the motors.

"I just wanted to do one operation – just one". He yelled, "I just wanted to see what it was like".

"You bloody idiot , you'll find out what its like all right, you'll have us all courtmarshalled".

After they crossed the Dutch coast, gunner "Rowdy" Nolan reported seeing an ME110 and then a FW190 so the pilot Gordon Stooke corkscrewed the  plane quite violently for some minutes. After landing back at Binbrook, Corporal Nuttall was got rid of quick.

Later he confided to a mate "They're all crackpots, the whole bloody lot of them. Anyone who does that more than once ought to be certified." He was quite right of course.

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