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Wings Over Wick
|E W Robinson, Southampton
I was with 608 squadron as a wireless operator/air gunner, flying Lockheed Hudson aircraft. In December 1941 the squadron was posted to Wick. From there we operated until the summer when we moved briefly to Shetland and after that the squadron was involved in the North African invasion.
As to Wick, we found it a very quiet but pleasant town. The town had two cinemas - the Breadalbane and the Pavillion. When we had the opportunity - we weren't training or on flying operations - we could go to the cinema. My wife, Irene Davidson, lived at Willowbank and her sister Nancy Davidson also married a RAF man who was at Wick with 269 squadron earlier in the war.
On one trip from Wick in 1942 with Flying Officer Tony Scholefield in Hudson AM644 we went on patrol along the Norwegian coast. We edged our way into the coast and it was interesting to see a light flashing along the coast which made us think that there might be fighters seaward.
We were turning on one leg when we saw flak and an aircraft caught the searchlight. Tony said, "There must be a ship there. We turned north and saw two ships side by side in a fiord. We came down to 50 feet. The flak started, searchlights caught us and, firing from the beam gun one could fire upwards at these guns which were firing down on us. It was like flying into a dark tunnel. We dropped our bombs and there was an explosion. There was a crash on our starboard bomb door right under my feet and we knew we'd been hit. Tony called for the searchlight to be put out as he was being blinded and finding it difficult to find his way up the fiord. I fired my machine gun at the searchlight as we moved towards it.
We made our way up the fiord to make for the open sea and when we got clear off the coast heading westward we examined the damage. We had a large hole in our starboard bomb door, which was hanging down. This was going to be a problem when we landed and we tried to shake the bomb door off but without success. Eventually Tony landed the aircraft at Wick. We assumed crash positions and Tony made a splendid landing.
We didn't know at that time whether we'd damaged or sunk either of the ships (I've since learnt that one of the ships "Klaud Fritzen" 2936 tons was sunk that night so Tony can justify claiming that.
Another trip I remember to Hoyanger and Floro at night was spent dropping flares and photography in what appeared to be snow and mountains. I never did understand the purpose of that operation but certainly felt the biting cold in the rear turret.