Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Flying Medal, WW2 Campaign Medals, Pilot Officer Arthur Liddle, 107 Squadron, a part of a distinguished bomber crew who flew over 60 sorties over Occupied Europe.
Distinguished Flying Cross, GVI, dated 1943, Distinguished Flying Medal, GVI, 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, with France and Germany clasp, Defence Medal, 1939-45 War Medal.
D.F.M. Officially engraved: “1132613 Sgt A. Liddle. R.A.F.”
An extensively well documented and researched group.
The truly exceptional Second World War Bomber Command Boston and Mosquito High /Low Level Attack Navigator’s 1943 Distinguished Flying Cross and 1942 ‘immediate’ Distinguished Flying Medal group awarded to Pilot Officer A. Liddle, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who flew over 60 sorties with the famous 107 Squadron was part of No.2 Group conducting low level, fast moving, night and day attacks on important targets in Nazi occupied Europe between August 1942 and July 1944, as part of the distinguished crew of Flight Lieutenant G.A. Turner, D.F.C. and Bar.
His baptism of fire came in a Boston on 19th August 1942 during Operation Jubilee – the Dieppe Raid, a sortie which the aircrews involved considered extremely hazardous, and which led Liddle’s pilot to have the motto “Est Melior Dare Quam Accipere” (It is better to give than to receive) painted on the nose of their aircraft.
Liddle won a superb immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal for the low level raid on the steel works at Ijmuiden on the 27th November 1942, his pilot being decorated with the D.F.C. The Boston formation had made an excellent landfall, as the target was sighted on the horizon before the coastline itself became visible. During the bombing run however, the aircraft in which Liddle was flying, came under very heavy and accurate fire from the Mole at Ijmuiden. The Observer’s cockpit received a direct hit which shattered most of the perspex, and wounded Liddle in the face, in his arms, chest and legs; but disregarding his injuries, and unperturbed by the intense barrage of light flack which had to be negotiated. Liddle dropped his bombs on the target. Even after setting course for home, it was some time before Liddle had to tell his pilot that there was a lot of blood about which prevented him from seeing his maps and navigation log, and, in addition, he was feeling the effects of the icy blast blowing through the holes in the perspex. By a supreme effort, he managed to pull himself together and guide the pilot to base. By this stage Liddle had completed 8 operational sorties.
Subsequently commissioned, on 27th August 1943 when leading navigator during a low level attack on a power station near Gosnay, having by then completed 21 sorties, Liddle gained the Distinguished Flying Cross. Soon after crossing the enemy coast the formation of six aircraft was attacked by fighters and these attacks continued all the way to, and most of the way back from the target. Undeterred, and un-flurried by the evasive action which it was necessary to take against these fighters, Liddle guided his formation to the target and bombed it accurately in the face of fierce opposition from the ground. He then accurately navigated his pilot back across enemy territory to base in spite of the course lying directly into a bright setting sun. In February 1944 the squadron converted to Mosquitoes, and two of the crew became redundant, though Turner maintained Liddle as his navigator. The pair then flew together in a number of hair raising low level sorties against enemy ground and V-Weapon targets during the run up to, during and after the invasion of Normandy, their last operational sortie together occurring on 31st July 1944. Both pilot and navigator ended the war training others.
Sold with the following:
Air Council Campaign Medal Award Slip.
Group photograph taken of men of his squadron on 10th March 1944 whilst in Jerusalem, Palestine, this printed with the photographers stamp: ‘Approved Military Photographer No.4 Jerusalem’. Two other wartime photographs, one inflight are included.
Second World War period Royal Air Force Sergeant’s rank chevrons.
Second World War period Royal Air Force Obeserver’s single wing brevet.
Wartime Airman’s badge.
Rank brassard for a Pilot Officer.
A selection of RAF badges, buttons and insignia, and a silver hallmarks winged starling badge.
A copy of the 2005 pulbished book 'The Reich Intruders RAF Light Bomber Raids in World War II' by Martin Bowman.
Arthur Liddle was born on 29th December 1914 in Blaydon, County Durham, the son of Mary nee Brooks, and John George Liddle, a coal miner. Having attended the local schools he found work as a travelling commercial salesman, but with the outbreak of the Second World War volunteered for the Royal Air Force in December 1940. Having passed the initial exams, and the additional one for aircrew, he applied for training as either a pilot of navigator, and was sent to an Initial Training Wing, before being posted overseas to Canada, under the Empire Air Training Scheme, and then passed out as an Observer / Bomb Aimer and was promoted to Sergeant (No.1132613).
By April 1942 Liddle had returned to the United Kingdom, and was then posted to No.17 Operational Training Unit at Upwood, the No.2 Group ‘finishing’ School, in order to hone his skills as a navigator, and to team up with a crew. This training lasted three months, after which he was posted to join No.107 Squadron at Great Massingham, near Norwich, Norfolk. Having trained to fly the Boston aircraft, he joined the squadron as part of a three man crew consisting of a pilot, observer and radio operator, with the squadron then operating in the Boston Mk III aircraft. The aircraft was designed to perform both high-level pinpoint bombing as well as low level strikes. These low level strikes would be made on the industrial plants in the Low Countries and German held airfields in France in order to entice enemy fighters up to engage in combat with the Boston’s and escorting Spitfires, the ops being known as ‘Circus Operations’.
Whist under training at 17 OTU, Liddle had met Sergeant Ron Chatfield, a qualified wireless operator. In 1992 Chatfield would make a recording at The Imperial War Museum in London, detailing his RAF career, with both 107 and 88 Squadrons. Chatfield remembered that he had approached Pilot Officer George Turner, a pilot, who was also looking for a crew at the OTU, and suggested himself and Arthur Liddle should team up. All three agreed and a crew was formed that would turn out to be a very efficient and most importantly ‘a lucky crew’ on all their ops together.
With 107 Squadron, for the first few missions a Canadian gunner, Pilot Officer George Murray was incorporated into the crew as an under gunner, as the Boston was found to be very vulnerable to attack, by enemy fighters coming up from below. Turner, Little and Chatfield were initially sent along with five other new crews to 107 Squadron in July 1942, and were then immediately sent to Scotland to commence army co-operation training to become proficient in smoke laying from a low level. This training was undertaken for their forthcoming part in Operation Jubilee on 19th August 1942, the Dieppe Raid, when both Canadian and British troops made a landing on the beaches of Dieppe. The Boston squadrons, 88, 107 and 226 would lay down smoke, to help the troops attempting landings on the beaches.
The sixteen crews of 107 and 88 Squadrons assigned to the operation were sent to RAF Ford in Sussex on the 17th August, in order to be properly briefed, whilst 226 were sent to Thruxton. Some 32 sorties were carried out by the Boston’s over Dieppe during the landings, with no losses, but several aircraft were hit by flak. 12 aircraft from 107 were detailed to attack the Hitler Battery by the River D’Arques that was still in operation after the initial attack, but their bombs overshot the target due to ground haze and all agreed the operation to lay a smokescreen had been extremely hazardous. After this trip, Turner had the motto “Est Melior Dare Quam Accipere” (It is better to give than to receive) painted on the nose of their Boston.
Of this first sortie, Chatfield would later recall: “ This was our first ‘op’ and we flew Boston ‘O’ for Orange for 1 hour and twenty minutes, taking off at 1120 in the morning. Our position was at the rear of five other Boston’s in box formation (new crews always had to take the rear position). When we attacked, George Turner dived down too fast trying to follow the leading aircraft and I hit my head on the canopy as I wasn’t strapped in at the time. He never did that again, and George turned out to be an excellent pilot, eventually leading our box formations. I think he always wanted to be a fighter pilot, and flew that way most of the time”.
Ten days later ‘O’ Orange was one of several aircraft from the squadron engaged on a north sea search for a downed aircraft and its crew, but nothing was sighted. On the 1st September the crew were again engaged on another search, this time for a German fishing vessel, known as a ‘squealer’, due to the fact that it acted as a spy ship radioing back details of any allied aircraft seen flying towards Europe. Their next proper ‘op’ was on the 6th September when 12 Boston’s were detailed to bomb Boulogne harbour along with any ships seen there, the raid took place under intense heavy and accurate flak.
On the 15th September they were one of 12 Boston’s from 107 that bombed the whaling factory ship Solglint in Cherbourg harbour setting it on fire and sinking it. A week later they took part in a low level operation along with 17 other Boston’s when they attacked the power station at Commines in France, flying in pairs at around 50 feet, trying to avoid the heavy flak. Two Boston’s were lost on this raid. Only two Circuses were possible during October 1942, George Turner and his crew taking part in both of them.
On the 15th October,11 Boston’s from 107, 3 from 88 and 9 from 226 Squadrons made an attack on Le Havre, with the intention of sinking a Neumark Class raider which had been spotted undergoing repairs in dry dock. On arrival the Boston’s found that the vessel had sailed and they directed their bombs instead onto a 5000 ton motor vessel in the Bassin de Maree, with no loss to any of the Boston’s.
In the late afternoon of the 31st October, 17 Boston’s of 88 and 107 Squadrons again headed out on a low level operation to attack power stations in the area of Rijsel and Bethune. George Turner and his crew were in a box formation of 6 Boston’s but only his crew and Squadron Leader Philip Bar DFC and his crew managed to drop their loads directly onto the target, at Vendin Power Station, with light flak coming at them continually. Despite the rate of climb with the Boston, one of the other five Boston’s had been picked out, and attacked, by two Fw 190’s from 8/JG 26 who were patrolling in the area, Pilot Officer Henry Collins and his crew were shot down by Leutnant Paul Galland ( the younger brother of Adolf Galland, the Luftwaffe’s ace fighter pilot), with none surviving. This was his 17th victory and his last, being shot down 5 hours later by a Spitfire pilot. Losses in Boston squadrons of 2 Group were high, for example, just in November 1942, 107 Squadron flew eleven sorties with the loss of four aircraft ,and sixteen aircrew killed, which amounts to an almost 40% loss rate!
Most of the sorties undertaken were low level, fast moving surprise attacks, made head on, where the attacking aircraft had already travelled over the Channel or North Sea at wave top height to avoid detection.Then, flying deep into enemy territory, around forests, and hedge-hopping at around 50 feet, the navigator would often confirm their timing by church clocks at the same height! Added to this, was the constant flak and attacks by enemy fighters. After landing back at base, close inspection of their aircraft by the crews, often revealed much flak and fighter damage, accompanied by all sorts of foliage in the undercarriage! On the 7th November George Turner and his crew were detailed to attack Swevelgham Power Station, but were unable to locate the target and ended up dropping their bombs on a German goods train west of Bruges.
Sgt Ron Chatfield:- “We failed to locate the power station on that trip, but bombed a goods train near Bruges carrying military vehicles, the rear end of it blew up sky high with our delayed action bombs” On the 27th November the crew undertook a mission paired with one other Boston which would turn out to be a very memorable trip for all of them, a low level raid on the steel works at Ijmuiden, in North Holland.
Pilot Officer George Turner, recalled to the historian Martin Bowman in 2005 for his book on light bomber raids, titled,‘ The Reich Intruders’:- “ The 27th November 1942 was a typical November day with grey cloud sheer at about 1000 feet and visibility of about 3 miles. It started out as a normal one for us at Great Massingham, the officers had arrived from West Raynham in the crew bus at about 8.30 and the NCO’s had walked up from their billets.We gathered around the stove in the crew room, some played cards, some chatted, some read. By 9 o’clock normal training was under way, when at around 11am the Flight Commander sent for Warrant Officer Tony Reid and myself to tell us that we had been detailed for a low level operation that I was to lead. We were to tell our crews to have an early lunch in order for a briefing at 1 o’clock. I was excited (low level trips in Boston’s always were) and flattered ,as this was the first raid I had been chosen to lead (Tony was not pleased as he had been flying longer than me and had double the flying hours as I had). The Royal Dutch Steelworks at Ijmuiden lay behind and slightly to one side of the town and for some reason we were briefed to come in from the sea, cross the harbour and town, then attack the steelworks. In our ignorance this meant nothing to us (this being only our fourth ‘low level op’. The Intelligence Officer actually came up to our aircraft to wish us luck, which had never happened before. We took off and flew at 100 feet until we got to the coast when we dropped down to sea height. We had no aids so accurate navigation and compass courses were essential. We had a full load of fuel and four 500 lb bombs fused for a 11 second delay. I was flying one of the few aircraft in the squadron that incorporated an RAF modification to improve the Boston’s range – a 140 gallon fuselage tank fitted over the bomb bay. We did not say much over the sea, as we were never a chatty crew, so it was Arthur Liddle, my navigator, warning me that the enemy coast was 5 miles ahead that broke the silence. I changed tanks to inners, went into rich mixture pushed the revs to 2350 and the boost to 40 inches of mercury. As the speed built up to about 280 mph I re-trimmed the aircraft and gave a quick glance over my shoulder to see Tony Reid nicely in position a little to the side and behind, we saw Ijmuiden from about 5 miles out. As I came into the harbour there was tracer flak from all directions criss – crossing in front, at the side and straight ahead in front of me. I was flying as low as I could go, with the prop tips about a foot or so above the water, and most of it seemed to be going above us. Then I heard four loud bangs and knew we had been hit. The engine instruments seemed OK although the starboard engine was a bit down on boost but the fuel gauge for the starboard inner and fuselage tank were showing zero. I was probably suffering from shock because when I looked out again we were up at 300 feet, and a target for every flak gun for miles around. It seemed to take ages to register that I was the centre of all this attention. I pushed the stick forward, shot down to ground level, pushed throttles and pitch levers against the stops and changed to the starboard outer tank, which still had a few gallons in it. I flew in a wide curve to port well behind the town and turned north for a couple of miles or so before taking up a north-westerly heading that Arthur gave me, before passing out over his loss of blood. I checked the crew and found the gunners were OK, but my navigator had been hit. We crossed some sand dunes and headed out to sea.
Heavy guns opened up behind us and great spouts of water rose around us. Ron Chatfield my rear gunner / wireless operator then reported that two Me 109’s were on our tail, so I pulled up into some cloud. Ron was filming the raid with a 16mm cine camera during this time and was about to fire at the enemy aircraft when 140 gallons of 100 octane from the damaged fuel tanks swished past his legs and out of the rear hatch. George later told me he was getting ready to fire when he was doused in petrol and thought better of it!
Sgt Ron Chatfield remembered:- “There was a lot of concern over this raid on Ijmuiden, I remember the Intelligence Officer walking out to our aircraft before take-off to wish us well, which was somewhat unusual. This was the worst ‘op’ I was on, but it had the greatest firework display and was exciting, the first low level attack on the works. The sky was full of flak. Our Boston was hit a few times from the many flak sites, and our petrol tank was damaged, with petrol sloshing about, so I couldn’t fire my guns. Our navigator was hit and we eventually landed at Horsham St Faith.
P/O George Turner:- I calculated we had just enough petrol to reach England at our reduced airspeed of 270mph, and from time to time tried to raise Arthur but with no success. I decided to land at the nearest airfield in order to get medical attention for Arthur as soon as possible and landed at Horsham St Faith, after firing the colours of the day. I flew over the tower at 800 feet did a circuit and landed. We all the shot out of our cockpits and raced round to the front of the aircraft in order to get Arthur out. Both he and the nose of the aircraft were a mess. There was blood everywhere and great chunks of the perspex were missing. Arthur was covered in blood unconscious and very cold. Nothing else seemed to be happening, whenever a twin engined aircraft landing on one engine landed at a RAF airfield there was usually a fire tender alongside as soon as it had stopped. Ron dashed off to see what was going on, whilst George and I finished getting Arthur out of the aircraft. Unknown to us the RAF had left Horsham, leaving a care and maintenance party to hand over to the Americans when they arrived. Ron eventually turned up with a truck having browbeaten a corporal to take charge. Arthur was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich hospital in the care of a medical orderly. I went back to inspect our Boston which was a sorry sight. All the shells that had hit her had come from dead ahead or the right.One had burst on the actual bombsight, flinging fragments of steel (and perspex) into Arthur’s leg, arm and face.A second had entered the fuselage a foot or so behind my head and had burst in the fuselage tank.
A third had smashed through the leading edge of the wing inboard of the starboard engine and holed the fuel tank there. The fourth had burst against the bottom two cylinders of the starboard engine, making a mess of the cylinder heads and rocker boxes. These were all 20mm and probably came from one gun. Eventually, an 8cwt van with a WAAF driver came from Massingham to pick us up and we got back to our mess about 10pm. It had been a rather long and eventful day. This operation illustrated the part that luck played, we were lucky the tanks were full, otherwise they would most likely have exploded and caught fire. Intelligence had given Ron Chatfield our gunner, a 16mm cine camera to film over the target. He was using this and not his guns, when 140 gallons of 100 octane swished past his legs and out of the rear hatch. George told me later he was getting ready to use his guns when he was soused in petrol and thought better of it.
Conversely, it was our bad luck that our experienced CO, Wing Commander Lynn had been replaced by Wing Commander Dutton who had just come from India and had no ex-perience of European operations. No experienced CO would have allowed any of his crews to fly through a heavily defended harbour to attack a target behind it. I guess that our attack was to have an element of surprise – straight in from the sea was the shortest way to the target and it might have worked. We didn’t surprise them but they certainly surprised us!
This particular operation was well written up by the Intelligence Officer for the Squadron Operational Record Book, which must have influenced W/C Dutton to recommend Arthur Liddle for an immediate Distinguished Flying Medal and George Turner the Distinguished Flying Cross, just two days after the operation. The full recommendation reads:- Sergeant Liddle was the Navigator in the leading aircraft of two Boston III’s detailed to carry out a cloud cover low level raid on the steel works at Ijmuiden on the 27th November 1942. The formation made an excellent landfall, as the target was sighted on the horizon before the coastline itself became visible. During the bombing run, the aircraft in which Sgt Liddle was flying, came under very heavy and accurate fire from the Mole at Ijmuiden. The Observer’s cockpit received a direct hit which shattered most of the perspex, and wounded Sgt Liddle in the face, in his arms, chest and legs; but disregarding his injuries, and unperturbed by the intense barrage of light flack which had to be negotiated, Sgt Liddle dropped his bombs on the target. Even after setting course for home, it was some time before Sgt Liddle had to tell his pilot, P/O Turner, that there was a lot of blood about which prevented him from seeing his maps and navigation log, and, in addition, he was feeling the effects of the icy blast blowing through the holes in the perspex. Nevertheless, Sgt Liddle, by a supreme effort, managed to pull himself together and guide the pilot to Horsham St Faith, where a safe landing was made, and Sgt Liddle removed to hospital. Sgt Liddle has now completed 8 sorties, of which 4 have been low level attacks, all carried out successfully. I consider that Sgt Liddle’s courage, fortitude,and fine conception of his duty justify the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
Group Captain McDonald, the Station Commander at Wattisham endorsed these remarks on the 30th November and added: Sgt Liddle’s action in continuing and completing his mission, when badly wounded, is a magnificent example of gallantry and determination. Strongly recommended for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal. Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris CinC Bomber Command, agreed with the recommendation on the 3rd December 1942, and the award was published in the London Gazette on the 15th December 1942. Whilst Arthur recuperated in hospital, George Turner and his crew took part in Operation Oyster on the 6th December, the famous attack on the Phillips Radio works at Eindhoven, Holland. Their aircraft was the second Boston to attack the works and again they were lucky not to have been shot down.
By the 19th January 1943, Arthur was well enough to take part in operations again, although on this mission to bomb Cherbourg they were recalled due to bad weather. Two days later the crew were engaged on Circus 252, an attack on Tricqueville Aerodrome, a round trip of two and three-quarter hours. One day later they were on a similar mission, bombing the aerodrome at Abbeville, France (Circus 253 ). On the 30th January George Turner and his crew were sent on another low level attack to Eindhoven, but were recalled due to lack of cloud cover. Bad weather punctuated most of February for 2 Group, 115 sorties were aborted, with just 92 consisting of low level attacks on rail.
On the 11th February George Turner and his crew made a low level attack on the marshalling yards at Roosendaal, where they came under fire from very accurate light flak. A change of equipment came to the Boston squadrons of 2 Group in February 1943, as reinforcements of Boston’s were needed in Africa. 107 were given the new MkIIIA’s, built by Boeing, and it took them a couple of months training to get used to the new power units installed, which gave them a top speed of 330mph,at 50 feet, with 4x.303 machine guns in the nose, and twin .303’s in the dorsal and ventral positions. By the end of April 1943 the crews of 107 Squadron had amassed 90 decorations for their dangerous missions. No 107 was the only squadron engaged on operations in May 1943, apart from the odd sea search. George Turners crew were one of 12 Boston’s to attack Rouen on the 31st May. By now, news had spread through 2 Group that it was to leave Bomber Command and transfer temporarily to Fighter Command whilst a 2nd Tactical Air Force(TAF) was established under AVM Sir Basil Embry.
This new force was to prepare the way into France (Operation Overlord ) for the Army, and then to give it close support. On the 11th June Turner and his crew took part in a raid on Bethune Power Plant. This was successful with no enemy fighters and little flak to contend with. The 12th June was a combined raid (Ramrod 91) with 107 and 342 squadrons attacking a power plant at Rouen, which again was successful. Next day, 12 Boston’s from 107 squadron attacked Lille aerodrome, the flak being so heavy on this raid that every aircraft returned peppered with holes. Circus 311 was carried out on the 17th June with 9 Boston’s from 107 attempting two raids on Flushing, but on each occasion they had to return due to bad weather. The 20th June was another Circus raid (C 313 )this time on a Luftwaffe aerodrome at Poix, with 12 Boston’s making the attack. A large number of enemy fighters were seen, but no large scale attacks took place, and there was no flak. On the evening of the 23rd June two ‘boxes’ of 6 Boston’s from 107, with three crews of 342 Squadron made a diversionary raid for a large American B-17 operation on an aircraft factory at Meaulte close to Albert in Belgium. Near Abbeville six enemy fighters tried to attack the Bostons, but their Spitfire escort stopped them. The enemy fighters tried head on attacks from Doullens to the coast, but again, the escort intercepted them, shooting down a FW-190.
107 Squadron opened up 2nd Group activity in July, with pairs of low flying Boston’s attacking rail targets in France. George Turner and his crew on the 2nd July, in conjunction with F/O Shaw and his crew, attacked the marshalling yards at Ghent, bombing at 50 feet. Two bombs fell on the lines in front of the station, with two further bombs blowing up a goods train that was just leaving the station, which was also machine gunned. Heavy flak was also encountered crossing the coast, 107 Operational Record Book described the days activity as:- ‘ a brilliantly planned day’s work, proving what a fine machine the Boston is for low- level operations’ The next day a similar operation was planned on the same target, but the same two crews turned back at Zeebrugge due to lack of cloud cover.
On the 11th July 107 Squadron sent off 12 Boston’s on another low level raid to a power station at Chocques. Along the way Turner and his crew machine gunned two trains, where strikes were seen to hit the engines and the whole length of the train. Strikes and bursts were seen on the power ration switch house and nearby machine gun post. 107 Squadron continued their Circus operations, with Turner and his crew attacking Abbeville aerodrome on the 14th, and Poix aerodrome on the 15th from 10,000 feet, where they encountered very heavy accurate flak. There were many attacks by FW190’s, on their route home, with Sgt Chatfield damaging one of them. On the 30th July 12 Boston’s from 107 Squadron dropped 44 x 500lb bombs on Schipol aerodrome, when again heavy accurate flak was encountered, 7 of the aircraft suffering a wide range of damage. Mid afternoon on the 8th August some forty aircraft from 2 Group took off for a low level attack on the German naval storage depot at Rennes. This unescorted force would set course for Start Point, cross to Puren then run onto target. 107 Squadron sent 14 Boston’s along with twelve each from 88 and 342 Squadrons, taking off in pairs each carrying a 500lb bomb. Flying in sixes line abreast, they flew at 250 feet over land, dropping to wave height over the Channel, racing towards their target. The leading Boston’s from 107 swept across the stores at deck level in order to drop their 11 second delay bombs, blazing away with all of their guns as well. Despite the considerable flak, the naval stores were completely destroyed, the bombs all finding their target, causing a dull red fire with smoke rising to a 1000 feet.
The famous wartime cameraman ‘Skeets’ Kelly was in the lead aircraft and captured the very successful raid on film.(* post war he continued with his flying camerawork, as seen in the 1969 film ‘Battle of Britain’ ). George Turners aircraft like many others during the raid was badly shot up, and running short of fuel, was directed to land at Hurn airfield. Between 16-24 August some 680 USAAF and 156 aircraft bombed airfields, transportation and industrial targets. Between 25 August and 9th September the bomber force swelled to 1,754 and 640 respectively, their targets to include gun sites, ammunition and fuel dumps.
On Friday the 27th August George Turner and his crew were the lead aircraft of six Boston’s detailed for another low level attack on the electrical power station at Gosney, which supplied most of Northern France, (Ramrod Special 7). During the briefing it was revealed that the attack would be made ‘at all costs’, and that fighter escort may be able to cover their withdrawal. Again ‘Skeets’ Kelly would be filming the operation. Crossing the enemy coast at 50 feet, the aircraft flew in echelon to starboard. All six Boston’s were widely spaced for any evasive action, the tactic was to stay low, to avoid being silhouetted. From the coast, the Boston’s flew around forests rather than over them, sometimes taking the line of roads and rail. All six aircraft got through to the target only to find heavy flak from 20mm cannons awaiting them. Flying high overhead the Boston crews spotted USAAF B17’s on another mission (to bomb block houses at Eperlecques), that were being chased by FW190’s. But then the Boston’s were spotted and the FW190’s decided they were easier prey and dived on them (the B-17’s of course each having a total of 10 x .5 machine guns located above, below and to the side of their aircraft). Turner and his crew went in first at rooftop height, dropping his 11 second delay bombs followed by two other Boston’s. The fourth one (OM-K) took a direct hit from the flak and disintegrated in the air, with the fifth Boston (OM-O) flying into the explosion and crashing in Flechinelle blowing up on the ground. The 6th Boston (OM- S) flown by the South African pilot F/O Jim Allison was hit many times over the target, and was finally shot down over Northern France by the attacking FW 190’s at 19.25 hours. By skilful piloting F/O Allison managed to land the damaged aircraft in Beaumetz-les-Aire, where all the crew (including ‘Skeets’ Kelly) managed to get out and evade capture until December 1943 when they were arrested in Paris.
Sergeant Chatfield: ‘We took off at 1820 hrs in Boston OM-G with W/C England as the lead aircraft, we were escorted by several Typhoons to the coast, who were then recalled. There was heavy flak over the target, one gun battery caught the aircraft on our port side which exploded and another flew into the explosion, a ball of fire. We were flying at about 310mph, out running the FW190’s who couldn’t keep up, but kept up the attack for 20 minutes. We still managed to get hit by flak on our starboard side, with the whole operation only taking 1 hour 35 minutes. During the remainder of August and into September the Boston squadrons of 2 Group prepared for Operation Starkey, (the invasion that never was). This would be a combined operation between the British and Canadian Armies in conjunction with the RAF and USAAF employing systematic bombing of selected targets in the Pas de Calais / Boulogne area, followed by a feint invasion armada of empty ships. The intention being to fool the Germans to think invasion was imminent and move reinforcements into the area. It was also designed to bring the Luftwaffe to large scale battle and force it to bring its aircraft back from Italy. Bomber Harris called it ‘at best, a piece of harmless play acting’
On the 2nd September George Turner and his crew took part in laying a smoke screen for minesweepers who were checking along the French coast in preparation for Operation Starkey, followed two days later by a Ramrod operation (R-S 30) on Boulogne harbour when E – Boats were seen, and bombed with some success. This was to be the last mission before George Turner and his crew were sent on a well earned two month rest, and Arthur Liddle was promoted to Pilot Officer rank.
At 0630 hrs of the 9th September a mile wide ‘assault force’ consisting of 355 ‘empty’ self propelled Thames barges and pleasure steamers protected by destroyers, steamed across the Channel. At 0900hrs the code word ‘Backchat’ was radioed, instructing the force to make a 180 degree turn, and head back to UK ports. Results from Starkey were extremely disappointing.Thirteen airfields were attacked by nearly 340 heavy and 85 light bombers. About 150 enemy aircraft came up to fight but only two were destroyed, clearly the Germans had not been tricked. In the meantime, on the 8th October 1943 Arthur Liddle was recommended by his commanding officer, Wing Commander RG England for the award of a Distinguished Flying Cross, (DFC) for his splendid skill and coolness as a leading Navigator during operations throughout that year. This was endorsed by Group Captain McDonald on the 16th October, and strongly recommended and approved by AVM Basil Embry on the 18th October. The award was published in the London Gazette on Christmas Eve 1943.
The recommendation reads as follows: ‘Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, Pilot Officer Liddle has completed twenty one operations against the enemy, some from high level, others from low level. He has often been the leading Navigator of formations of squadron aircraft. Pilot Officer Liddle has shown the utmost skill and coolness and has been at all times exceptionally eager to engage the enemy. On the 27th August 1943, he was the leading navigator of a formation of six aircraft detailed to attack a power station near Gosnay, from a low level. Soon after crossing the enemy coast the formation was attacked by fighters and these attacks continued all the way to, and most of the way back from the target. Undeterred, and un-flurried by the evasive action which it was necessary to take against these fighters, Pilot Officer Liddle guided his formation to the target and bombed it accurately in the face of fierce opposition from the ground. He then accurately navigated his pilot back across enemy territory to base in spite of the course lying directly into a bright setting sun. I consider that the high courage, determination, coolness and exceptional skill which this officer has always shown justifies the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.’
George Turner and his crew returned to operations on the 20th December 1943, attacking a V1 rocket site at Heuringham in France, where they encountered very stiff flak. By late October 1943, reconnaissance aircraft had photographed 88 launching sites in the Pas de Calais area, with other evidence to suggest 50 more existed, showing their launching ‘ski’ ramps all pointing towards London. No 2 Group being skilled in low level precision attacks, were selected almost immediately to destroy these sites, (code-named NoBall ) along with the RAF bombers and US 8th and 9th Air Force. From November 1943 until May 1944, 4,710 sorties were made in order to achieve this aim (Operation Crossbow). On the 23rd December a spectacular low level attack was made on the V1 site at Le Mesnil Alard. Having left the coast at Hastings, the 36 Boston’s ran into a flock of birds at Brevil, which split the formation. The amount of weaving and erratic courses, led to the Boston’s of 107 being unable to find the target, so instead they bombed the marshalling yards at Serquex. All, that is, apart from George Turner and his crew, Arthur Liddle managing to navigate onto another V1 site at Puchervin. After circling at 2000 feet, George Turner dived down and made a successful low level attack, again through heavy flak, his aircraft suffering from several hits. No more low level raids of this nature were made on V1 sites by Boston squadrons. Between 1st December and 20th January 1944, 1,362 sorties had been despatched against flying bomb sites in all sorts of weather, such was the importance given to these targets.
During February,107 Squadron as part of the 2nd TAF, started to re-equip and train up on Mosquito Mk VI’s at Lasham near Alton in Hamhire, for Night Intruder Operations as part of 138 Wing, in preparation for D-Day. 2nd TAF would gain nine Mosquito squadrons from Fighter Command to be used as low level, fast moving, Day Ranger missions and fighter cover over the beaches.
Often their targets would be well camouflaged and difficult to spot, and they would often have to fly at wave – top height over the Channel to avoid detection. This would be followed by hedgehopping deep into enemy territory to deliver their attacks, with enemy fighters and flak positions adding to their difficulties. With this new aircraft, Flt Sgt Chatfield and Flying Officer George Murray became redundant as part of George Turners crew, as a Pilot and Navigator were all this aircraft needed. George Turner elected to keep Arthur Liddle as his Navigator. At 1400 hrs on the 15th March, Wing Commander Pollard led 6 Mosquitos on their first low level attack( 100-500 feet) on a NoBall (V1 site) codenamed XI/A/42, (located at Herboville), when 24x 500lb bombs were dropped successfully, under light flak conditions, over the target and coastal areas. Fl/Lt Turner flew a Mk VI Mosquito L-Lima MM419. Their next operation on the 18th March was similar, when Wing Commander Pollard led a formation of six Mosquito’s to bomb and fire cannon at a NoBall site at Preuseville, where unfortunately the bombs overshot by 200 yards. Flt Lt Turner flew T-Tango NS 816. Two days later, six more Mosquito’s were sent back to Preuseville to finish the job, this time led by George Turner with Arthur Liddle acting as the lead Navigator, in Mosquito T-Tango NS 816. Twelve 500lb bombs with an eleven second delay were dropped on this site, with another three 500lb bombs dropped on a further site one and a half miles to the South East. Two aircraft failed to locate the primary site due to low cloud, and a third aircraft had trouble releasing his bombs. Light flak was encountered on the way in and outwards. This was not a successful attack as had been hoped. These NoBall low level attacks were extremely hazardous for the crews, facing continuous and intense light flak.
During March, 107 Squadron made seven attacks on NoBall sites, with the loss of one Mosquito that was shot down by mistake on the 28th by a USAAF Mustang! At the start of April the weather hampered operations,107 Squadron attacked airfields, marshalling yards and locomotive repair centres as well as the odd NoBall site. George Turner and Arthur Liddle did not take part in any of these operations during April. During May most of the squadrons were preparing for D-Day operations, with the Mosquito squadrons also taking part in Operation Flower (244 night attacks, undertaken on 59 German night fighter airfields). To make identification easier for the Allies, all the attack aircraft now had black and white stripes painted on their wings and fuselage.
Under 2nd TAF Operational Order No 3 of 3rd June 1944, (Operation Overlord ), Mosquito squadrons primary role was to attack all road movements as detailed, particularly thin skinned vehicles as distinct from AFV’s, by use of low flying attack with cannon, machine guns and bombs using the ‘cats eye’ method. On the 3rd June George Turner and Arthur Liddle flying in Mosquito T-Tango NS 920, led a low formation of nine Mosquito’s onto various German airfields in France, each dropping 4x500lb delayed action bombs and using canon fire on the parked aircraft.
On the night of 5/6th June, George Turner and Arthur Liddle were again flying T-Tango, one of 17 Mosquito’s from 107 Squadron to patrol in the Caen area, with orders to attack bridges, and road and rail movements. Intense light flak was encountered and one Mosquito, R-Robert was damaged in its starboard wing. On the night of 6/7th June W/C Pollard led 16 Mosquito’s on a patrol, again in the area south of Caen (Turner and Liddle flying in Mosquito NS 910 T-for Tango). Bombs were dropped on roads, railway junctions and bridges, with cannon fire used on the odd vehicle seen, all the attacking aircraft returned safely, despite the light flak encountered. A similar operation south of Caen was undertaken the following night, with 11 Mosquitos led by the South African Captain Hart, bombing roads, and forests where enemy concentrations were suspected of harbouring. The bad weather on this night meant that the Mosquito Squadrons had to fly low over dangerous terrain, their crews using their ‘cat’s eyes’ to detect slight movement of troops vehicles and trains. Turner and Liddle were in Mosquito T-Tango NS 910.
On the night of 9th/10th June, the Canadian, Wing Commander Martin led a formation of 12 Mosquito’s on a patrol south of the Caen battle zone. Weather conditions were bad, making targets difficult to find, but Flt Lt Turner and Flying Officer Liddle flying in Mosquito T-Tango, managed to locate a German night fighter beacon which they destroyed with cannon fire. Wing Commander Pollard led a high level attack on the night of 10th/11th June on the railway line at St Sauver and areas south of Caen, where each Mosquito dropped 4x500lb bombs with a 25 second delay. Turner and Liddle again flew Mosquito T-Tango. On the 12/13th June, Turner and Liddle flew in Mosquito T-Tango, along with 11 other Mosquitos, to attack a de-training site at Mesnil Manger. The aircraft took off in pairs at 20 minute intervals, where over the target, the first aircraft dropped flares to light up the area, whilst the second one of the pair dropped the bombs and used cannon fire. The procedure was then reversed. No opposition was met with on this op. The following night Turner and Liddle were in Mosquito T-Tango, one of nine aircraft attacking targets behind enemy lines south of the beach head at Le Mans, Lisieux, and Falaise, along with an ammunition dump in a forest at Vire. On the night of 15th/16th June Turner and Liddle were in their usual T-Tango Mosquito, one of 16 that attacked a German convoy between St Lo and Leesay, which they managed to halt. The following night 15 Mosquitos bombed and strafed railway trucks and bridges in the Rennes Fougers area, Turner flying T-Tango.
On the night of 18/19th June Turner and Liddle were again flying T-Tango in a sortie of 17 Mosquitos using cannon fire and machine gun fire to destroy road transport and rail targets in the Caen -Laval area. Consistent bad weather in June meant that the Mosquitos had to fly very low to find their targets and they soon became skilled in spotting train smoke some miles away. With these countless night attacks on the rail network in France, the Germans found it painfully slow and hazardous to transport anything anywhere. On the night of 21st/22nd June, Turner and Liddle were on an offensive patrol in the areas of Chartres / Versailles when one of the other Mosquitos flown by Flt Lt Whittle saw a train which he attacked with bombs, cannon, and machine gun fire. He called in Turner and Liddle flying in Mosquito T-Tango to help destroy the train which they did, and all returned safely to base. On the night of 22nd/23rd June, and the following night, Turner and Liddle were in T-Tango, one of 14 Mosquito’s to attack various road and rail targets in the St Lo – Vime – Folligny areas where Panzer Divisions were reported. On these Ops all Mosquito’s carried bundles of flares to illuminate the targets before dropping two 500lb bombs. On the 25th June, Turner and Liddle were flying in T-Tango, one of 6 Mosquito’s detailed to search from 4pm to 8pm looking for traces of W/C Braham’s aircraft that was missing after a Ranger patrol over the Dutch Coast. Unfortunately nothing was found. (Note* W/C John ‘Bob’ Braham DSO 2 Bars, DFC 2 Bars, AFC although on the Staff of 2 Group at this time he was allowed to take part in one sortie each week, but his luck ran out on this day, and was shot down by a pair of FW190’s. He spent the rest of WW2 as a POW and was liberated in May 1945.)
At midnight the same day, eleven Mosquito’s including Turner and Liddle were ordered to patrol an area south of Caen, in support of Army operations. Attacks made on suspicious lights and a train, all returned safely. On the 27th/28th June, 79 Mosquito’s and 16 Mitchell’s were ordered to harass the enemy in the area adjacent to the 2nd Army front during Montgomery’s attempt to break out from Caen. 15 Mosquito’s from 107 Squadron were ordered to drop their bombs in woods near Mezidon Falaise area, with Turner flying T-Tango. All returned safely. On the 29th/30th June 107 Squadron supported the battle west of Caen by halting troop movements through Villers Bogage and Thury Harcourt, and bombing transport seen hiding in nearby woods. All of these attacks were flown at very low level due to the rolling countryside combined with bad weather, Turner flying T-Tango. On the night of the 3rd/4th July 1944, 8 mosquitos took off for offensive patrols in the areas of Montfort, Flers, and Lavel, whilst another 10 were sent to the area of Angers and Poiters, their mission was to drop bombs on roads, woods and bridges across the Loire. All returned safely, Turner was flying T- Tango.
On the night of 6/7th July, 13 aircraft took off for an offensive patrol looking for river traffic along the River Seine from Rouen to its mouth. None was seen, and the bomb load of 4 x 500lb bombs was dropped on roads, bridges. There were heavy thunderstorms and flying time was cut short. Turner flew Mosquito T-Tango. Their next mission was on the night of 10th/11th July when they took off at 01.18hrs in T-Tango for an offensive patrol north and south of the River Seine. Along with W/C Pollard (flying P-Papa) Turner and Liddle made low level sweeps over the river attacking bridges at 200 feet. Just south of Rouen they came across a German convoy crossing a bridge, where they made two attacks with cannon fire, and were met with a very hostile re-action! They went on to use their 4 x11 second delay 500lb bombs on transport, communication centres, and railway tunnels. They returned the next night in T-Tango, along with 16 other Mosquitos to continue their offensive patrol over the same area, and bombed the marshalling yards at Blois.
On the night of the 27th/28th July, Turner and Liddle flew in T-Tango on a different kind of operation. This time they were acting as ‘Pathfinders’ for 137 Wing, dropping 2 red Target Indicators over railway lines in the area of Chartres, Melun, Gien, and Nevers, followed by attacking any trains unlucky enough to be in the area. The next night they were back on an offensive patrol along with 17 other Mosquitos from the squadron in order to strafe motorised German troops seen in the area of Falaise and Argentan. On this op Turner flew Mosquito G-George, and on his return to base had to divert to another airfield due to low cloud. Their final operation together was on the last night of July 1944 when along with 17 other Mosquito aircraft they patrolled the upper reaches of the River Seine in the area of Rouen, trains, bridges, and transport being their targets. During the mission Turner (flying W-Whiskey ) broke off from the main component with S/L Wallington (flying V-Victor) in order to bomb an ammunition dump. All aircraft encountered light flak but returned safely to base. By now, Pilot Officer Liddle had completed over 60 operations and was sent on a well deserved ‘rest’ with F/O Turner, after which they commenced training others until the end of the war.
Along with his two decorations, Arthur was awarded the campaign medals, 1939/45 Star, the Air Crew Europe Star