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Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945
Glad To Land

Frank Harper, Pathfinders, Widemouth Bay, North Cornwall
During the 1939-45 war I flew as a Flight Engineer in Lancasters of 83 Pathfinder Squadron of the RAF Bomber Command. We were based at Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

However, we had occasion to land at Wick on two occasions, and I remember it was a very cold and bleak airfield. Details of the two landings at Wick are as follows. On the night of 16 December 1944, seventeen Lancasters of 83 squadron attacked the German warship known as the "Emden" which was sheltering in Halten Bay off Norway in the Baltic Sea.

Several Lancasters received damage from anti-aircraft fire and our own Lancaster had been hit in the fuel tanks and we just had enough fuel to find the nearest airfield in Scotland, which was Wick. It was nearly midnight when we saw the red beacon of Wick flashing when we were still over the sea, and it was a great relief to know that we were near friendly territory. It was snowing hard and I remember we had to walk a long way to the mess for a meal. Temporary repairs were carried out the following day to enable us to fly back to our base in Coningsby.

The other occasion we landed at Wick was on the 1st January 1945. On that night 10 Lancasters of 83 squadron attacked the Dortmund Emo Canal deep into Germany. We attacked the target at about 1900 hours and on return, freezing fog covered the whole of Eastern England and most of Scotland. All 10 Lancasters had to land at Wick, and this put a considerable strain on the limited facilities and personnel at Wick to have 10 Lancasters and 70 tired and hungry aircrew fly in during the middle of the night. The next day we had to refuel our Lancasters using a hand pump mounted on a small petrol tanker trailer. That was the only time we had to do that and it was a tiring job!