Month and year: March 1945
21st March 1945
Day flying: 31.00. Night flying: NIL. Twenty eight aircraft led by W/Cdr R.G. Dutton DFC and Bar took off at 16.30 hrs on the first phase of the operation "Varsity". These aircraft landed at RAF Gosfield and were unloaded. F/L J.W. Kippax proceeded to B.56 and returned. Three aircraft were air-tested.
22nd March 1945
Day flying: 2.30. Night flying: NIL. Very little flying at Broadwell today. No flying at Gosfield. An Anson was engaged in local flying. One aircraft proceeded to Gosfield.
23rd March 1945
Day flying: 5.05. Night flying: NIL. Again very little flying. Three Ansons were engaged in local flying. F/L.A/S/L A.G. Wallis GD.VR. P.81061 Posted to this unit from 233 Squadron wef 15.3.45. F/O E. Watson GD.VR. P.153602 Posted from this unit to 109.CTU w.e.f. 19.3.45. F/O N.J. Orchard GD.VR. P.89020 Promoted to rank of F/L (WS) w.e.f. 16.1.45. W/O D.R. Miller RCAF.WAG. R.115510 Appointed to a commission in the RCAF in the rank of P/O on probation w.e.f. 15.1.45. Reported as an officer on 20.3.45.
24th March 1945
Day flying: 162.05. Night flying: NIL. Twenty four aircraft, led by W/Cdr R.G. Dutton DFC and Bar took off at 06.00 hours towing Horsa gliders from Gosfield on the operation "Varsity". The operation was a major success and all the gliders except one were dropped on the L.Z., which was the other side of the Rhine. It is regretted that in this action F/L C.A. Chew's aircraft was badly hit and caught fire. Before the aircraft broke in two a member of the crew was seen to bale out, but no official news has yet been received. The whole crew has been posted as missing. F/L C.A. Chew, Captain; F/S H. Cravett, co-pilot; W/O G.C. Newman, Navigator; W/O P.J. Hughes, Wireless Operator. W/C R.G. Dutton, DFC and Bar also had the honour to lead the whole of the British stream of gliders. In No.2 aircraft, piloted by S/L W.A. Mostyn-Brown, was Air Commodore L. Darvall MC, A.O.C., No.46 Group. It was a great honour for the Squadron and he proved a very able member of the crew as second pilot. After the operation the aircraft proceeded to Brussels where they stayed, and returned to base on 26th.
Once again the Squadron has the honour to take part in what may prove to be the greatest airborne operation in history; greater even that 'D' Day in Normandy; or Arnhem.
Not only was the Squadron taking part, but it had been selected to lead the whole of the British stream. It may be stated, now, that this placed an extremely heavy responsibility on the shoulders of the CO, Wing Commander R.G. Dutton, D.F.C. and Bar, who, it may be recalled, had taken over command of the Squadron as recently as 25th January, 1945, and his crew, F/Lt Houdret (Co-Pilot); F/Lt Williams, A.F.C. (Navigator) and F/Lt Porter (Wireless Operator).
That an operation, depending so much for its success upon accurate timing, was carried out to schedule, was a tribute to him and his crew.
A very high example was set by the A.O.C. of 46 Group, Air Commodore L. Darvall, who flew as co-pilot to S/Ldr W.A. Mostyn-Brown, No.2 in the formation. His presence was appreciated by all.
The 24 crews and 5 reserve crews selected to take part in exercise "Meteor" were now to take part in this operation. Most of the crews were experienced in this type of operation, for others it was to be their first sortie.
The operation was to commence with the Second Army assaulting the Rhine between Wesel and Emmerich, and the IXth U.S. Army assaulting the Rhine South of Wesel. Supporting attacks were to be made by the First Canadian Army North of Rees, and by a Commando Brigade against Wesel.
Some hours after the assault was to commence two Airborne Divisions, the 6th British Division and the 17th U.S. Division, under the command of the 18th U.S. Corps (Airborne) were to be dropped approximately 6 miles East of the Rhine between Rees and Wesel to speed up the build up of the forces. The airborne operation was to be in one lift.
The plan for the ground forces to commence to assault first was placed before the Supreme Commander by Field Marshal Montgomery with the object of: (i) Fooling the enemy into believing that the assault would be, in fact, made entirely by land (owing to a supposed fear of an airborne failure) and thereby draw his main forces west-ward towards the river. (ii) Then the launching of the airborne assault behind the enemy lines would take place some hours after the first water crossing.
The job for the airborne troops, both paratroops and glider Horsa Regiments was to be the occupation of key towns and the holding of a series of vital positions until such time as would be required to bring the land forces into their orbit of operations, such time not to exceed 48 hours, a lesson learnt as a result of Arnhem.
This, then, was the broad plan, and the Squadron was to lift the Oxford-Bucks, and the Royal Ulster Rifles in gliders and deliver them to Landing Zones East of the Rhine.
Wing Commander Dutton, leading, took off on time at 06.00 followed by the rest of the Squadron, 24 aircraft in all, and turned on to the form-up track of 315°(T). The formation was to be in loose pairs at 10 second intervals. Take off was approximately half an hour before dawn. There was a moon but visibility was not good owing to ground mist. Upward identification lights and formation lights were used, but despite this, contact was difficult to maintain in the formation. S/Ldr Clarke, flying Number 3, having failed to make contact with the two leading aircraft turned on E.T.A. followed by the rest of the formation. This put the leaders some distance down the stream, and being unable to get through, were in consequence 4½ minutes late at Gosfield. Time was gradually made up until at Cap Griz Nez, W/Cdr Dutton and S/Ldr Mostyn-Brown took the lead, and were by then one minute off schedule.
From here the route was South-Easterly to Bethune, which was the most Southerly turning point, and thence in a North-Easterly direction to Wavre and the Rhine. There are few incidents to record during this part of the Operation, as, the glider stream were on E.T.A. The spacing and formation of the stream were excellent, no enemy opposition was experienced and, in fact, the whole operation was going according to plan.
Almost as soon as the leading aircraft of the glider stream had made their turn at Bethune, the first wave of Paratroop-carrying Dakotas of the IXth U.S. Troop Carrier Command passed below and to port, and repeated waves continued to pass until on the final 'run up' across the Rhine to the L.Z., the last formation of these machines could be seen dropping their troops only about ten miles ahead.
The final turn across the Rhine was made at Weeze at which point the previous monotony of this operation, which up till now was little different from a practice training exercise, was dispelled, as the Dakota formations ahead were repeatedly hit by the flak, which appeared to be quite heavy, a number of aircraft were seen to go down in flames, whilst others exploded in mid-air. Most of the aircraft, however, were more fortunate after leaving the dropping zone and could be seen returning low down and partly concealed by the smoke screen laid down by the Second Army.
The task of the glider train from Weeze up to the L.Z., which was a distance of 18 miles, became all the more hazardous, as the tug aircraft had been briefed to fly at 2,500 feet, and to take no evasive action. However, the flak which was encountered, although being fairly thick, was not too accurate, and all the 512 Squadron aircraft were able to deliver their respective gliders to the L.Z. with the exception of one, whose glider pulled off just before reaching the Rhine.
The mission completed, the aircraft turned to port and the towing cables were dropped, after each individual crew had made certain that the falling rope would not foul any of the aircraft or gliders following in behind.
Unfortunately, whilst turning away from the L.Z. one of the 512 Squadron aircraft, captained by F/Lt C.A. Chew was hit by flak in the port side fuel tanks and caught fire, the flames soon spreading along the fuselage until the fabric was seen to be burning off the rudder and elevators. F/Lt Briscoe of S/Ldr Rushell's crew, and F/S Geisler of F/O Hill's crew, who were flying near the burning aircraft both saw one member of the crew bale out, and his parachute open. As he jumped, the aircraft itself broke in two, and fell to the ground. So far no news has been heard of F/Lt Chew and his crew who are now reported missing.
Apart from slight damage to two other of the Squadron's aircraft this was the only loss.
The Squadron returning from the operation landed at Brussels for de-briefing and was ordered to stand by for the supply-dropping, but this proved unnecessary owing to the unprecedented success of the operation.
S/Ldr Mostyn-Brown and crew landed their aircraft at Eindhoven as he had insufficient fuel to fly direct to Brussels, however, he rejoined the Squadron at B.56 later.
To conclude, therefore, 512 Squadron have now had the honour to participate in three major glider towing operations - 'D' Day, Arnhem, and lastly across the Rhine at Wesel, where they not only had the additional responsibility of leading the whole of the glider force, but also of carrying as second pilot to S/Ldr Mostyn-Brown the A.O.C. of 46 Group, Air Commodore L. Darvall, who proved to be a most able member of the crew.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 590 AF. Crew: W/Cdr R.G. Dutton, F/Lt J.G.S. Houdret, F/Lt J. Williams, F/Lt A.T.S. Porter. Time Up: 06.00. Total: 7.30.
Aircraft Type & Number: KK 193 HK. Crew: S/Ldr W.A. Mostyn-Brown, A/Cdre L. Darvall, F/Lt J.K. King, F/O H.E. Robertson. Time Up: 06.01. Total: 8.35.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 641 AC. Crew: S/Ldr P.A. Clarke, F/Lt A.D. Burt, F/Lt W.R. James, F/O H.M. Anderson (RCAF). Time Up: 06.02. Total: 7.35.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 322 UB. Crew: F/Lt J.C.P. Thomas, F/S J.W. Beasley, F/O T. Corlett, W/O B. Bergin. Time Up: 06.03. Total: 7.20.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 582 AA. Crew: F/Lt A.E. Carpenter, F/S L.O. Cann, W/O J.M. Bowles (RAAF), W/O D.R. Miller. Time Up: 06.04. Total: 8.00.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 323 AG. Crew: F/Lt D.W. Marshall, F/S J. Priestley, F/S E. Jenkins, Sgt A.R. Hill. Time Up: 06.05. Total: 7.45.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 616 AF. Crew: W/O D.W.E. Smith, F/S P.N. Spencer, Sgt K.C. Thwaites, F/S A.H. Doleman. Time Up: 06.06. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: FZ 647 AH. Crew: P/O R.G. Dight, F/S S.S. Sanderson, F/O K.J. Batton, F/S L.J. Bryce (RAAF). Time Up: 06.07. Total: 7.25.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 373 AB. Crew: P/O W.B. Garvin (RNZAF), F/S L.W. Paddington, F/S D.W. Williams, F/S A.J. Williams. Time Up: 06.08. Total: 7.50.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 333 AN. Crew: S/Ldr T.R. Russell, S/Ldr K.C. Greenacre, F/Lt V.G. Hogan, F/Lt R.C. Briscoe. Time Up: 06.09. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: FZ 649 AK. Crew: F/Lt C.A. Chew, F/S H. Gravett, W/O G.C. Newman, W/O P.J. Hughes. Time Up: 06.10. Total: 4.10.
Aircraft Type & Number: FZ 696 AQ. Crew: Lt J.J. Offenhiser (USA), F/S S. Delamere, P/O M.A.S. Pickering, W/O W.C. Bevington (RCAF). Time Up: 06.11. Total: 7.35.
Aircraft Type & Number: FZ 651 AJ. Crew: F/O M.G. Finn, F/S W.A. Boyes, F/O E. Blazey, W/O J. Davison (RNZAF). Time Up: 06.12. Total: 7.45.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 344 AL. Crew: F/Lt R.D. McNicol, F/O D.V. Thompson, W/O C.P. Thomas, F/S L.F. Christie. Time Up: 06.13. Total: 7.50.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 348 AC. Crew: F/O P. Murray, F/S P.J. Henson, F/O R. Shallcross (RAAF), F/S T. Draper. Time Up: 06.14. Total: 7.30.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 623 AM. Crew: F/O J. Gibson, F/L J. Ismay, F/O P.G. Griffiths, Sgt J. Sabine. Time Up: 06.15. Total: 7.05.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 361 AU. Crew: F/Lt C.H. McLeod, F/O H.B. Hooper, F/Lt E.P. Butcher, F/S D. Clayton. Time Up: 06.16. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 598 UT. Crew: F/Lt R.A. Davis, F/Lt P.J. Orchard, F/O D.C. Savage, F/O W.H. Somersby. Time Up: 06.17. Total: 7.45.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 544 AZ. Crew: F/O H.T.G. Hill, F/S O.T. Williams, F/O B.C. Sitch, F/S R.L. Geisler (RAAF). Time Up: 06.18. Total: 7.20.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 330 AT. Crew: F/O R.A.S. Benson, F/S S. Sargent, F/L J.S. Starr, P/O J. Oxley (RAAF). Time Up: 06.20. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 377 AS. Crew: F/O L. Flax, F/O A.W. Hatchman (RAAF), P/O J. Bradley, F/S J. Goodall. Time Up: 06.20. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 558 AW. Crew: F/O H. Levin, F/S T.B. Symes (RNZAF), F/O H.E.E. Corby, F/O R.T. Britton. Time Up: 06.21. Total: 7.40.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 368 AY. Crew: W/O S. Pildrew, F/S N.M.V. Birkby, W/O W.K. Pattison, P/O A.B. Friend. Time Up: 06.22. Total: 7.50.
Aircraft Type & Number: KG 371 AX. Crew: F/Lt D.S. Moss, F/O D.V. Gay, P/O H. Howarth, Sgt W.E. Summers. Time Up: 06.23. Total: 7.40.
25th March 1945
Day flying: 5.45. Night flying: NIL. Three crews were engaged in local flying and one aircraft proceeded to Gosfield and returned.
26th March 1945
Day flying: 22.40. Night flying: 1.15. At Brussels, all aircraft serviceable after operation "Varsity" returned to base today. Five crews took supplies to B.75 and returned. An Anson proceeded to Wymeswold on duty and returned. F/O D.J. Howe GD.VR. P.148554 Posted to this unit from 575 Sqdn wef 23.3.45. Message of appreciation from A.O.C. Message of appreciation from Officer i/c Servicing Wing, RAF, Broadwell.