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View Full Version : Interesting RAF bit-players, 1939-1941 #3: The Hampden



AWL_Spinner
04-22-2010, 04:00 PM
The Handley Page Hampden


http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o63/Harry_Flashman/h2048.jpg


Ok, this wasn't really a bit player and should definitely get some SoW love: there were over 1,400 Hampdens built and it was one of the Bomber Command mainstays until the arrival of the four-engined heavy bomber, serving with distinction in many interesting operations, including dive-bombing the Bismark and Tirpitz, attacking the German invasion barge fleet on the channel coast, and the first thousand bomber raid over occupied Europe. I would love to see this flyable alongside the Blenheim.

I quote from "Enemy Coast Ahead" by Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC, who flew Hampdens before moving onto Beaufighters and then Lancasters.


The Battle of the Barges



At the beginning of September the Battle of the Barges began. It went on day and night, Blenheims, Hampdens, Wellingtons all taking part in low-level attacks which not only destroyed many barges, but also killed many troops whose billets were in the warehouses nearby. The Battle of the Barges was a complement to the Battle of Britain; they were fought side by side by boys doing very different jobs.



These raids on the invasion ports were organised to destroy as many barges as possible. Each squadron was given a port which was to be considered its own particular port and the pet baby of all concerned; each crew was given a basin; in each basin there were so many barges, sometimes 200, sometimes even 400. Bomb-loads were organised so that the maximum amount of damage would be done per aircraft. Many small bombs were carried, even hand-grenades, which would, at least, do the job if they hit the right spot.

After each raid a reconnaissance was made, and the C.O. would call all crews together. 'I have got some pictures of C Basin at Antwerp. Yesterday there were 400 barges there; today's reconnaissance shows 350. Who is on C Basin?'

Some pilot would shuffle to his feet.

'Well, you sank fifty, you and the rest, but that is not enough. You have got to put all your bombs in that basin, not a stick starting on the edge and then doing its job, but every single bomb. Otherwise those b*stards over there are going to come and invade us, and then you will have to fight with your bare hands.'

Then off we would go again.


Bomber Destroyer



As we crossed over Cherbourg on the way home an aircraft passed us going in the opposite direction with his navigation lights on. This must have been a Hun which had been bombing England. Quickly, we whipped around and by pushing the old Hampden to the limit so that she shuddered and quivered at the unknown horse-power she was developing, we at last caught him up just near to Lorient. For a while we flew in formation, about fifty yards away, trying to make out what type of aircraft it was, but the night was dark. At last, through the welcome beam of an enemy searchlight, we identified it as a Dornier 17. Moreover, both pilots on board seemed very happy; they had their full cockpit lights on and we could see them inside sitting motionless as they, no doubt, thought of the ersatz coffee and bacon and eggs they were going to get in a few minutes' time.

In the rear both my bottom and top guns slid slowly over to the starboard side and I told Mac to take careful aim. Then I counted slowly.

'One - two - three,' and then I yelled: 'Let him have it, Mac.'

There was a quick staccato roar as all four guns belched out tracers and the Dornier dived to the ground with one engine on fire. In doing so he flew low right over Lorient Docks, where his own flak, no doubt thinking he was one of ours, gave him a pretty good pasting, and the last we saw of him was a flaming mess going down behind some trees. Bomber Command credited us with a probable when we got home

AWL_Spinner
04-22-2010, 04:00 PM
The Handley Page Hampden


http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o63/Harry_Flashman/h2048.jpg


Ok, this wasn't really a bit player and should definitely get some SoW love: there were over 1,400 Hampdens built and it was one of the Bomber Command mainstays until the arrival of the four-engined heavy bomber, serving with distinction in many interesting operations, including dive-bombing the Bismark and Tirpitz, attacking the German invasion barge fleet on the channel coast, and the first thousand bomber raid over occupied Europe. I would love to see this flyable alongside the Blenheim.

I quote from "Enemy Coast Ahead" by Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC, who flew Hampdens before moving onto Beaufighters and then Lancasters.


The Battle of the Barges

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
At the beginning of September the Battle of the Barges began. It went on day and night, Blenheims, Hampdens, Wellingtons all taking part in low-level attacks which not only destroyed many barges, but also killed many troops whose billets were in the warehouses nearby. The Battle of the Barges was a complement to the Battle of Britain; they were fought side by side by boys doing very different jobs. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
These raids on the invasion ports were organised to destroy as many barges as possible. Each squadron was given a port which was to be considered its own particular port and the pet baby of all concerned; each crew was given a basin; in each basin there were so many barges, sometimes 200, sometimes even 400. Bomb-loads were organised so that the maximum amount of damage would be done per aircraft. Many small bombs were carried, even hand-grenades, which would, at least, do the job if they hit the right spot.

After each raid a reconnaissance was made, and the C.O. would call all crews together. 'I have got some pictures of C Basin at Antwerp. Yesterday there were 400 barges there; today's reconnaissance shows 350. Who is on C Basin?'

Some pilot would shuffle to his feet.

'Well, you sank fifty, you and the rest, but that is not enough. You have got to put all your bombs in that basin, not a stick starting on the edge and then doing its job, but every single bomb. Otherwise those b*stards over there are going to come and invade us, and then you will have to fight with your bare hands.'

Then off we would go again. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Bomber Destroyer

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">
As we crossed over Cherbourg on the way home an aircraft passed us going in the opposite direction with his navigation lights on. This must have been a Hun which had been bombing England. Quickly, we whipped around and by pushing the old Hampden to the limit so that she shuddered and quivered at the unknown horse-power she was developing, we at last caught him up just near to Lorient. For a while we flew in formation, about fifty yards away, trying to make out what type of aircraft it was, but the night was dark. At last, through the welcome beam of an enemy searchlight, we identified it as a Dornier 17. Moreover, both pilots on board seemed very happy; they had their full cockpit lights on and we could see them inside sitting motionless as they, no doubt, thought of the ersatz coffee and bacon and eggs they were going to get in a few minutes' time.

In the rear both my bottom and top guns slid slowly over to the starboard side and I told Mac to take careful aim. Then I counted slowly.

'One - two - three,' and then I yelled: 'Let him have it, Mac.'

There was a quick staccato roar as all four guns belched out tracers and the Dornier dived to the ground with one engine on fire. In doing so he flew low right over Lorient Docks, where his own flak, no doubt thinking he was one of ours, gave him a pretty good pasting, and the last we saw of him was a flaming mess going down behind some trees. Bomber Command credited us with a probable when we got home </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

M_Gunz
04-22-2010, 04:48 PM
SOW Expansion Packs? With good cause, mind you.

That's the first account I've seen of taking out the barges during the BoB. It adds a time element to the whole get em out
by friday job the LW had taken on, makes the original estimate (over in was it... two weeks?) more than just a brag.