The next operation that the crew were given
was to be on January 12th 1945, and was to be Bill’s 40th… tragically
and sadly the crew of seven including Bill, would never return ……Bill
was only 21 years old when he flew and died on this, his last
given by Bomber Command to Lancaster Pilot Ian Ross and
his crew of (NF992-K C) was to be the U-Boat pens,
and German shipping at Bergen in Norway.
to Kurt Monsen for the image.
Kurt has written a compelling story
about the final mission of the Bergen Raid in which
Ian Ross and his crew died. Click
The crew left the airfield in England and the reached the
target area in Norway at about 13.00 hrs, as they neared the
area for a closer look two Focke-Wulf fw 190 fighters attacked
and machine gunned the plane causing severe damage by putting
two of the four Merlin engines out of action, the attack was
severe enough to force the Lancaster to ditch in the sea. The
crew immediately braced themselves for the crash landing, the
giant plane hit the water and bounced along and finally settled
on the surface floating on top of the water, Ian Ross the pilot
made a perfect copybook ditching. Another Lancaster crew nearby
saw the escape hatches open and the crew of seven, apparently
uninjured crawl out onto the wing of the floating Lancaster.
observing Lancaster saw no sign of a dinghy inflating, which
was stored in the top surface of the wing, so it was presumed
that the release gear had been damaged in the fighter attack
as the dinghy never appeared.
In the area two other Lancaster’s were
observing the stricken one in the sea, both radioed the position
of the floating
aircraft back to the rescue services in England, although the
Germans were still in the area the Lancaster crews thought
that the Germans would respond quickly and arrive first and
rescue the downed crew as they were not many miles from the
the severe cold, and wet conditions the Lancaster crew were
spotted huddling together for warmth on the planes wing,
one of the two Lancasters stayed circling the downed crew
for nearly two hours when they were forced to leave due to
shortage of fuel, in fact when they landed in Scotland the
four Merlin engines stopped abruptly as the plane ran out of
fuel while taxiing along the runway.
The doomed Lancaster ditched into the sea at 13.37 hours, and when
the others left the scene after sending out continuous emergency radio
signals, a Warwick Air-Sea rescue plane with an Airborne Life-boat
on board, was already on its way to the area having left Sunburgh in
the Shetland Isles at 14.43 hours.