Raids - J2 Engine Trouble, late January 1944

By Arthur Hoyle

"Late in January 1944, Bob Wade and crew, again on the way to Berlin in "J²" take off 1700 hours, after taxying slowly around the perimeter track, turned onto the runway and waited for the green light from the caravan. When it flashed, Bob and Harry, the engineer, together opened up the four throttles and "J²", laden with 10,000lb of bombs started to lumber forward. After running about 400 yards along the mile long runway the port outer engine suddenly lost power.

The aircraft immediately swung off the runway on to the grass at an angle of about 25 degrees. Instead of aborting Bob pulled the throttle back and pushed it forward again. The motor came back to full power and we continued across the grass.

With such a rough grass surface "J²" was slow to pick up speed. We raced over the perimeter track and then tore down the slope through the dispersal area where B Flight aircraft were normally parked, with our wheels thumping on the grass but still firmly on the ground. It now seemed nothing could save us, and in a couple of moments we would disappear in a great explosion.

I could hear Bob, our pilot, saying "Get off the ground, you bastard, get off". Then at the very last moment, the wheels hit a hedge and bank, flanking a sunken road, and the aircraft was bounced into the air. Beyond the sunken road the ground sloped away quite steeply into a valley. We staggered into the valley and gradually picked up flying speed enabling us to climb away".

Arthur goes on to say, "By this time we had done 13 operations and were one of the few experienced crews on the squadron. In the face of the continuing losses, our early confidence that we would survive a tour of operations was slowly melting away.

On this trip I could hear the engines coughing into life and although I knew what I had to do my feet were reluctant to move. My mind kept saying to me, if I entered the plane I was going to my certain death; although I believed I would survive. When we returned to Binbrook after the raid, some eight hours later, I felt my time was not up, and I would survive and that in future I could face death with some courage and some dignity".

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