A detailed account of the raid can be found in Chapter 9 ACVIEVE YOU AIM by Kevin Bending the follow has been created from parts of this chapter and the OBR.
2/8/2016 - the page has been updated following clarification and details from Arthur Spencer Navigator on P/O Munro's Crew I have amended these errors and also added his comments where appropriate, especially the attack phase.
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 detailed with 3 other crews after lunch from Bourn to Scampton with a weeks kit 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 marking tactics to mark a small target. Training took place on the 17th and 18th June. 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. Then to continue to fly to Maison Blanche Algeria Africa. 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 TI 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 they with 5 Group rendez-vous over Reading before turning to Selsey Bill then heading to France at around 9,000ft. (Arthur Spencer states they were higher crossing the channel, well above the light flack which came up from Cabourg where they crossed the French Coast.)
Once over the French coast the force dropped low level and continued towards the Alps. (Arthur Spencer makes the point that When we reached the Alps, we were, of course, over Switzerland, a neutral country!) 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 timed the run asthe crossed the shoreline 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. (Arthur clarifies the proceeding part for me, we both started timing as we crossed the shore of Lake constance; I recall counting out 12 seconds almost as if it were yesterday. I then stood up and watched from the astro-dome. When our fourth flare was released and none appeared on our left, I wondered if I had made some terrible mistake, because I knew That Doug Jones's navigator, Jimmy Silk, was pretty good; then as the flare burst another line of flares began on our left. All was Well!) F/L Rodley and F/L Sauvage 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 the target from 5,000ft owing to better accuracy at that height though they do report dropping their bombs from around 10,000ft. (the last sentence is clarified by Arthur's comments, Rodley and Sauvage marked only the target. We and Doug dropped a second line of flares when asked by the MC (Master of Ceremonies) together with our small bomb load. We were coned on both runs!)
Over the target F/L Sauvage suffered damage from flak and on landing at Maison Blanche this resulted in the plane suffering 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
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 2145 Down 0745. Target Friedrichshaven attacked. 11,000’. No cloud. Visibilty 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)
(Arthur would like the following noted. I know what it says in the ORB, but i assure you we didn’t carry a 'cookie'. I think the confusion must have arisen because we we not flying from Bourn. We were overloaded with all that petrol! We commented that we had seen our bombs burst (unusual - in sixteen visits to the Ruhr we had seen the ground only twice!), and the clerk compiling the ORB must have assumed that we were carrying a 'cookie'.)
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)
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 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
2 days after the first raid on June 23rd the force were briefed on the target to be attacked, La Spezia, on the way back to Scampton. Only 52 aircraft made the return attack due to damage recieved on the first raid. 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 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 homebase 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.
Most crews recieved awards or had awards brought forward in recognition to their efforts during the raids. However two where specifically awarded, namely BAR to DFC to F/L E.E.Rodley and F/L J.H.Sauvage
I would like to add a comment on the above map from Arthur Spencer Navigator 97 Sqdn -" The map, of course, is very approximate!"