THE TWO BILL'S FIRST CRASH

WELLINGTON X3657 SR-Q  'Queenie'

 
W.O.2 James William Spinney RCAF known as Bill and Sergeant Henry William Amner Collett RNZAF, also known as Bill, flew together as Pilot and Navigator respectively in a Wellington Bomber before reforming with a new crew in Lancaster W4326
 
 
Wellington Bombers
 
On the night of 28th of August 1942 they boarded Wellington SR-Q 'Queenie' with their 3 other crewmen, Sergeant R Mayhew RAF, Sergeant G C McLennan RAF and Sergeant W H Moon RAF. They were departing from RAF Stradishall on 101 Squadron's Battle Order No. 214, an operation against Kassel with 305 other aircraft of Bomber Command, the time was 20:50 hours.
 
 
Ministry of Defence Photograph:- A five man Wellington crew board their plane for the night's Op
 
The raid on Kassel was a big operation, mounted before Sir Arthur Harris' 1000 Bomber Raids, it consisted nonetheless of 306 Aircraft of 5 types from Bomber Command. Kassel was an important target and later in the war suffered extensive flood damage following the famous Dam Busters raid. The town housed the Henschel Locomotive works as well as a Focke Wulf aircraft plant.

10 % of the RAF force that night were lost, 21 Wellingtons, 5 Stirlings, 3 Lancasters, 1 Halifax and 1 Hampden a total of 31 planes. They experienced flak over the target and there was a lot of night fighter activity. WO2 Spinney's plane suffered damage from both, but thanks to his flying skill they made it home and he successfully crash landed the Wellington, all the crew survived and escaped just before it burst into flames.

Sergeant Collett's diary contains a dramatic account of these events and is reproduced below. A copy of the original can be seen on this page and the individual story of each 'Bill' can be found on the Homepage.

 

'Bill' Collett's account of the crash - from his diary.

THANKS TO - MAX COLLETT

" What a day.

Taking "Q" Queenie to-night. Went to do an air test in the afternoon but the kite was u/s, so did a ground test after tea. Target - Kassel. At last we got away at 8.50. No trouble over the Dutch coast - passed North of Amsterdam and had quite a bit of flak light and intense. Arrived at the target 20 minutes early so stooged around and watched the fireworks, let the bombs go at 11.47. - Bright moonlight and intense ground haze. Coming home the fun started. Flak & S/L (Search Lights) from Hamm, then got caught in the S/L's over Essen and were hit several times by heavy flak, diving from 16,000 to 3,500 & finally got clear, then we climbed to height and crossed over Overflakkee at 12,000, were 30 miles out to sea when we were attacked by a night-fighter. Rear gunner severely injured, hydraulics shot up, no H.S.I, wheels down, bomb doors open, T.R. & wireless u/s, crossed English coast at 3,500, called darky and immediately got a reply - drome lit up by S/L and we crash-landed, - got Mick out & about 1 minute later the kite burst into flames. Landed at Martlesham Heath - at about 02.20 0n August 28th.........................

Good Show ! "

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