A detailed account of the raid can be found in Chapter 9 “ACHIEVE YOUR AIM” by Kevin Bending - the following has been created from parts of this chapter and the OBR.
The whole force for the raid was to be 56 Lancasters from 5 Group with 4 Lancasters from PFF Group. 97 Squadron provided the 4 Lancasters for the PFF part of the force.
Shuttle raid to mark target at Friedrichshafen 20/21 June 1943 and on return La Spezia 23/24 June 1943.
On the 16th June 1943 following a morning air test flight P/O Munro was asked to take 3 others after lunch from Bourn to Scampton for a special operation but no further details were given at that time. They were met on arrival at Scampton by Group Captain Leonard Slee DSO, who was to be the master Bomber (the second time this tactic was to be used, the first being a month earlier by the Dams Raid), who told them to arrange their own training and come up with a strategy to mark a small target, which they did over the next few days. On the 19th June there was a full briefing on the raids by Wing Commander Gomm DSO who was to be Deputy Bomber. The plan was to attack the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen where it was believed the Germans were manufacturing Radar baskets. They would then continue to fly to Maison Blanche Algeria in Africa, land to be serviced and reloaded before a return attack on La Spezia in Italy and then return home. The attack was to take place with the PFF force marking the target from 5,000ft and the main force to bomb the target from 10,000ft. There would be 2 waves of attack by the main force with the first wave bombing on the Target Indicators (TI) and the second wave would bomb, after a timed run, from a dropped TI to the target.
All the 97 Squadron planes were overloaded by around 2000lbs, with the distance to be travelled being at the furthest extent of their range and with fuel tanks full at 2,154 gallons. There was a mix of Bomb, Flare and IT loads between the planes to reflect the tactics the markers were going to use to mark the target.
97 Squadron set off from Scampton around 21:45 and headed to Selsey Bill to meet with the whole force before heading to France at around 9,000ft. Once over the French coast the force dropped low level and continued towards the Alps. Nearing the Alps the force started its climb to the previously assigned bombing height of 10,000ft for the main force and 5,000ft for 97 Squadron. On approach to Friedrichshafen, P/O Munro and P/O Jones flew from the timed mark parallel to each other some distance apart and exactly on time, almost simultaneously, they each dropped a line of flares up to the target creating a pathway for the following F/L Sauvage and F/L Rodley. These two raced to be the first to mark the target with F/L Sauvage just beating F/L Rodley and placing a red TI right on the roof of the target. The first wave of the main force then proceeded to bomb the red TI. Anti-Aircraft fire was fierce around the target and that, combined with the smoke from the first wave, caused G/C Slee to order the second wave to adjust the height by 5,000ft making the new heights 10,000ft for the PFF and 15,000ft for the main force. However 97 Squadron continued to mark both the timed mark and the target from 5,000ft owing to better accuracy at that height though they did report dropping their bombs from around 10,000ft. Over the target F/L Sauvage suffered damage from flak and, upon landing at Maison Blanche, discovered that the plane suffered damage that could not be fixed in time for the return raid. F/L Rodley suffered damage when a flare went off in the bomb bay near Corsica which caused lots of damage to the aircraft but, whilst this would be fixed, it would not be in time for the return raid.
Planes and crews for the Friedrichshafen raid taken from the Operational Record Book
ED868P/O J.F.Munro, Sgt H.Townsley, P/O A.H.G.Spencer, Sgts E.J.Suswain, S.Nevard, K.S.Bennett, F/Sgt W.Hill. Up 2145 Down 0745. Target Friedrichshaven attacked. 11,000’. No cloud. Visibility excellent. Target identified visually in light of flares. Made first run over target dropping flares. Bombs were dropped during another run over target on concentration of green target indicators. Bombing was well concentrated on target. Own 4000 pounder seen to burst right on sheds. Landed at Maison Blanche. (Dropped flarepath)
Sgt Munro & crew. The Munro crew early in 1943. (Left to right) Harry Townsley (flight engineer), "Snowy" Nevard (wireless operator), Eric Suswain (bomb aimer), Jimmy Munro (pilot), Wellington "Weasel" Hill (rear gunner), Arthur Spencer (navigator), Ron Bennett (mid upper gunner).
P/O D.I.Jones, Sgt M.Hemming, P/O A.J.Silk, F/O T.Hodkinson, Sgts J.L.Hannah, F.Strange, J.Brierley. (Time not known). Friedrichshaven attacked. Further details not known. Crew being on leave and Navigator’s log book not available. (Dropped flarepath)
P/O Jones and crew in Algiers, North Africa after the Freidrichshafen shuttle raid, June 1943. Back (from left) Oscar Brierley (RG), Jimmy Silk (Nav), Tommy Hodkinson (BA), Jack Hannah (W/Op), Doug Jones (Pilot); Front (from left) Freddie Strange (MUG), Maurice Hemming (F/Eng)
F/L J.H.Sauvage, Sgt W.G.Waller, P/O H.A.Hitchcock, F/O F.Burbridge, F/Sgt E.Wheeler, P/O J.E.Blair, Sgt G.W.Wood. 6 x TI, 16 flares, 8 x 500lb. Up 2155 Down 0804. Target Friedrichshaven attacked. Visibility perfect, no cloud. 9,000’. Target identified visually by light of flares. Flares, TIs and bombs dropped on marked area. Bombs seen to fall on factory itself which soon became covered with smoke. Landed at Maison Blanche.
F/L Sauvage & crew and Lancaster N-Nuts 2406 (later lancaster than the raid)
F/L E.E.Rodley, Sgt J.Duffy, W/O H.Boyd, Sgts R.R.Rae, S.S.Ramsden, R.N.V.Daniels, F/Sgt M.T.O’Donaghue. 6 x TI, 16 flares, 8 x 500lb. Up 2145 Down 0755. Primary objective Friedrichshaven bombed. No cloud. Visibility good. 10,500’. Dropped red TI on first run. On second run, green TIs and bombs were dropped on factory which could be clearly seen in light of flares. Early bombing was very accurate but later became wild. Landed at Maison Blanche.
The return Trip
Two days after the first raid the force left Maison Blanche to attack La Spezia on the way back to Scampton. All of the main force were to return, with what damage had been sustained in the first leg attack being fixed. For the PFF this was to be a harder task since two of 97 Squadron's Lancasters, OF-C and OF-N, had been damaged on the first leg. OF-N was a write off and, following a few days of repairs, the remaining crew were ferried back on the patched up OF-C. This left only P/O Munro and P/O Jones crews to mark the target which they did from high level. The target area was clear as the raid started but a smokescreen was put up by the Italians which hampered the raid as it progressed. The target marking was excellent and crews reported a large explosion in the northeast corner of the port thought to be a fuel dump. Once the crews landed at Scampton they were met by high ranking officers and debriefed before the crews had a few hours sleep. Later that afternoon they returned to their home base Bourn.
23/24 June 1943 Spezia (from North African Base) – Bomb Load 8 x 500lb 6 SBC
P/O J.F.Munro, Sgt H.Townsley, P/O A.H.G.Spencer, Sgts E.J.Suswain, S.Nevard, K.S.Bennett, F/Sgt W.Hill. Up 1940 Down 0412. Target Spezia attacked. Visibility poor with haze and smoke. 15,000’. Target identified by headland of Palmaria in light of flares. Harbour of Spezia seen in light of flares. Target in bombsight but own results not seen. One large explosion seen in north-east corner of harbour.
P/O D.I.Jones, Sgt M.Hemming, P/O A.J.Silk, F/O T.Hodkinson, Sgts J.L.Hannah, F.Strange, J.Brierley. Up 1955 Down 0409. Primary target Spezia bombed. 12,000’. No cloud but heavy smoke screen. Harbour identified visually by aid of flares. Own bombs not seen to burst. One very large explosion seen at 2346 hours in target area. Believed to be oil storage dump. Flak and searchlights more numerous than on previous visit.