The then P/O R. L. Boe and his crew were posted to 419 squadron on September 19th of 1943 after completing their stint at No.1664 at Croft.
The crew was made up of
P/O J. Vic Smith- Navigator
Sgt. A.J. Hayter - WAG
Sgt. J. Gerald McLelland -Bomb Aimer
Sgt. Les W. Dearman- F/E
Sgt. Keith G. Fox- M/U Gunner
Sgt. Herbie A. Salkeld -Air Gunner -Later P/O Salkeld DFM
After their completion of training at No.1664 CU at Croft and previous training at No.23 OTU the crew was posted to 419 squadron on September 10th 1943.
The first operation for 419 was on
October 4th they continued on as acrew for a total of 32 operations with the last operation and completion of their tour on May12/13th 1944.
November 19/20 Leverkusen
On their operation to Leverkusen on the night of November 19/20th while flying Halifax JP112, VR-R, they had a two incidents following the disappointing attack on the target .
There was a solid cloud cover over the target area and were false target flares dropped by the Germans up to 50 miles away from the target area to mislead the incoming bombers
to bomb away from the actual target.
It was on the return while over the Strait of Dover that the rear gunner Sgt. Salkeld saw a Junkers 88 which he saw off below and to the port
of another Halifax. Following standard procedures the rear gunner called for the pilot to perform evasive actions. F/L Boe corkscrewed the Halifax to the
port as Salkeld fired off a short burst at the Junkers flew past within 300 yards of VR-R's tail, no return fire was made by the Junkers.
The continued corkscrew actions by the pilot, Boe, soon lost the enemy night fighter in the darkness. The Junkers 88 may have been targeting another Halifax
at the time or it may have been trying to use the bomber stream to slip past the British defenses.
It was further along in this return trip that VR-R was caught centered in the cone of searchlights of the British home defenses, forcing the quick action of
properly identify themselves
November 25/26 Frankfurt
With an airspeed of 219 mph. and flying at a height 19,500 feet at 02.48 hours the crew was attacked by an enemy Me109 without any warning from "Monica".
The fighter was sighted in silhouette of the fires below off to the port quarter, down at a range of 500 yards. The Halifax VR-Q was on a bombing run when the fighter
came into 300 yards the rear gunner gave the combat maneuver, corkscrew port as the Me109 gave the Halifax a two second burst. Sgt. Salkeld fired off a long burst
as the first of three corkscrew movements were started. The fighter disappeared over the starboard quarter of the Halifax, tracer was seen hitting the fighter.
A second enemy aircraft, an Me210 continued the attack on the starboard quarter at 300 yards, this time only one warning pip was given by "Monica". The combat
maneuver to corkscrew starboard and the Me210 was out of Salkeld sight. Sgt. Salkeld gave the resume course, during the attack neither the Halifax and ME210
fired any shots. The crew were fortunate that during both attacks no major damage had occurred.
April 24/25 Gardening Op
On April 24/25 of 1944 a similar occurrence with searchlights was experienced while returning from a "Gardening" operation near the port town of Morlaix,
their aircraft neared the English Dorsetshire coast it was caught in the cones of the defending searchlights not once but three separate times. The port of
Weymouth, one of the many ports hiding the gathering invasion fleet was located in the vicinity. As this important town was guarded heavily it was no
surprise the aircraft came under scrutiny of the defenses. Or used as practice for the defense forces.
Sgt. Dearman and WO McLelland are shown as being posted to 1664 at the completion of their tour on May 29th. F/S Hayter was posted to 1664 CU
for Instructor duties on June 1st, P/O Salkeld was posted to "R" Depot on June 19th. P/O Fox was posted to "R" Depot on November 3rd at completion
of his tour of duty. No information on when F/L Boe and P/O Smith were posted out of 419 squadron.
Descriptions of F/L Boe's DFC and P/O Salkeld's DFM are shown in our Honors page