F/O L. Sparling and Crew arrive at 419 squadron

On July 8th 1944 F/O Sparling and crew were posted to the squadron after completion of their time at No. 22 O.T.U and at No. 1659 C.U. From their first operation on July 20th through to September 18th 1944 they would fly together on 17 operations in addition to a sea search operation while with 419 squadron.
On September 27th of 1944 the crew was then posted to No. 405 squadron for operational duties there.
The crew consisted of :

Pilot F/O L. Sparling
Navigator P/O James Allan
Bomb Aimer P/O L.W. Spratt
Wireless Op. Sgt N.L.W. Scott
F/E Sgt. R.A. Quinn
A/G M/Up Sgt. G. H. Brown
A/G Rear Gunner Sgt. Don Veri

The photo of Sgt. Veri and P/O Allan is a newspaper clipping from the collection of my father. The caption below the photo had read that it was taken after a raid on Stuttgart, which would have been July 24th, their second operation or July 25th their third operation.

Combat Report One July 24th 1944

Within three hours of taking off in VR-L (KB712) on their second operation, the crew found themselves under attack from a twin engine aircraft of undetermined type. The first indication of trouble was the sky being lit up by two orange flares, one near the rear of their aircraft. As well as lighting up their Lancaster the flares glow also exposed the fighter coming in at them from the port quarter opening up firing on VR-L at 350 yards. Sgt. Veri, the rear gunner saw the fighter and gave the order for the evasive manoeuvre. F/O Sparling then corkscrewed the aircraft to port.
Veri opened up on the attacker at a range of 300 yards firing off 200 rounds, with tracer from his guns seen hitting the night fighter, which then broke away on the port beam, level, having come with in 250 yards. The fighter was not seen again.

Combat Report Two July 25th 1944-First Attack

On the crew's second operation to Stuttgart, they again came under attack not once but twice. Shortly before midnight and just two and half hours after take off VR-B (KB753), with the quarter moon on their starboard side and good visibly all about them an orange flare appeared on their port beam while flying over the Normandy Beach area. At 700 yards off a JU88 with an amber nose light was coming at at them out of the dark sky of the port quarter below.
With the corkscrew to port order given, and the enemy fighter now 300 yards off Sgt. Brown then proceeded to open up and continued firing at the Ju88 right up until it broke off the attack at 200 yards. Just as his left hand gun jammed.
Sgt. Veri had also opened up on the night fighter at about 400 yards firing of 200 rounds until the fighter broke off to the starboard upper quarter.
The JU88 fighter appeared not to have fired at the Lancaster, and although tracer was see to bounce off the fighter no claims were made by the air gunners.

Combat Report Three July 25th 1944-Second Attack

While still enroute to the target and around two hours after the first attack another Ju88 came from the starboard beam down flying in parallel about 600 yards out hiding in the dark area of the sky, the enemy aircraft turned in for the attack and a corkscrew to starboard maneuver was ordered. At about 400 yards the rear gunner Sgt.Veri opened fire, firing off only two bursts before servo feed stoppages in the two left hand guns.
Mean while Sgt. Brown in the upper gun turret whose job at this point was to swept the skies for any other enemy attackers was in an usual situation. The seat of his gun turret had collapsed leaving him unable to complete this duty or to fire at the Ju88. Which had disappeared maybe off to the starboard beam, no one on board was able to verify where it had gone. Again the enemy fighter did not fire or no fire was seen by the crew, no damage was done to the Lancaster and none reported to have occurred to the night fighter.

Combat Report Four August 29th 1944 - Attacked 3 Times

On the night of August 29/30th of 1944, F/O Sparling and crew were once more singled out for multiple attacks by their adversary of their previous encounters, the Ju88. Sgt. Brown in the Mid-upper gun turret sighted the night fighter on the port quarter down at about 600 yards sighting in on VR-I when he gave the Corkscrew to port order. As the fighter still bore in on the Lancaster, Sgt. Veri in the rear turret opened when it had came within 400 yards off, the Ju88 broke off to port quarter upper.

Seond Attack

KB753 had just resumed course when again a Ju88 was sighted starboard quarter up, by both Brown and Veri. Both gunners opened fire at 400 yards, making hits on the enemy aircraft as seen by the tracer rounds. Sgt. Quinn, the F/E saw the fighter “waver as it broke away starboard bow down. Because of the short time interval between the attacks and the direction of the attacks, it is believed to have been two separate night fighters.

Third Attack

With VR-I again resuming course they were almost immediately set upon by yet one more Ju88. Veri caught sight of it almost dead astern and slightly below at 600 yards off. Again a corkscrew maneuver was made to port. Veri opened up at the fighter when it was within 500 yards and Brown opened fire as the Ju88 broke away over the Lancaster. The fighter was not seen again. During this engagement both gunners had stoppages in their guns.