Attack on the Tirpitz (March and April 1942)

RESEARCH NOTES

Extracts from No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book regarding the attacks on the Battleship “Tirpitz” (which was moored in Fættenfjord, Norway) in March and April 1942

MARCH OPERATIONS

27/03/1942

On 27th March 1942, 13 aircraft and crews and about 130 ground personnel were instructed to move to an advanced base (Kinloss)

30/03/1942

On the night of 30th March 1942, 12 aircraft took part in a raid over the Norwegian Coast; 3 of these aircraft (captained by Bushby, Archibald and Steinhauer) failed to return


APRIL OPERATIONS

Details may now be given regarding the movement of aircraft, air crews and ground crews to Kinloss which was used as an advance base for the attack on the Battleship “Tirpitz”

21/04/1942

On 21st April 1942, 115 Officers, NCOs and airmen ground personnel took leave for RAF Station Kinloss, which was to be used as an advance base for an attack on the Battleship “Tirpitz”.

22/04/1942

On 22nd April, eleven aircraft and crews flew to Kinloss.

23/04/1942 to 26/04/1942

No information recorded

27/04/1942

Eleven aircraft and crews, lead by Wing Commander J.H. Marks took off from KINLOSS at approx. 20.20 hours to make a low level attack on the Battleship ‘TIRPITZ’. The crews found difficulty in sighting the target owing to an effective smoke screen being laid, but the outcrop of rock which was known to be sheltering the “TIRPITZ” was definitely seen by several of the crews and the following reports were given:

  • Aircraft captained by W/Cdr. MARKS, S/Ldr. CRIBB, and P/O. GARDINER stated “Mines dropped believed on TIRPITZ – Target obscured by smoke screen
  • F/ Lt. PETLEY and crew reported “Did not locate Fjord where TIRPITZ was, so dropped mines on unidentified ship in TRONDHEIM FJORD”
  • F/O LANE and crew “Mines dropped in position believed between land and ship. Target obscured by smoke screen”.
  • P/O ROE and crew “Mines dropped in the vicinity of target possibly to port. Target obscured by smoke screen.
  • Sgt BROWN and crew stated “Mines jettisoned as aircraft was hit by flak and losing height just west of TRONDHEIM
  • S/LDR WILDING gave “Mines jettisoned at entrance of Fættenfjord owing to intense flak
  • F/O JONES and crew stated “Mines dropped in estimated position of TIRPITZ, obscured by smoke screen.

The two remaining aircraft are missing no news being received from them since the time of take off. They were as follows:

28/04/1942

At approx. 20.35 hours, seven aircraft and crews took off to attack the TIRPITZ again, three actually reached the target and flew in at low level but owing to the heavy smoke screen, the ship was obscured, However, it was estimated that all mines were dropped on or around the TIRPITZ.

W7658 Captain S/Ldr Wilding and W.1049 Captain F/O. JONES both developed engine trouble about an hour after take-off so they jettisoned mines safe in the sea and returned to Base. (No crew sortie)

Nothing was heard of the remaining two aircraft after leaving Base and they are therefore posted as missing.

29/04/1942

W/Cdr. MARKS and crew together with F/O LANE took up the search along with other aircraft for the two lost aircraft and searched unceasingly for nine and a half hours but without avail, none of the aircraft sighted the lost crews or dinghies.