Tuesday, 19 October 2010

THE LONGEST BOMBER BATTLE

This is the story of the longest single battle ever fought by an Allied bomber against enemy fighters.  The crew were;  Edmund Ladro (pilot), Jan Bialy (co-pilot), Stanislaw Plachcinski (navigator), Kazimierz Chlopicki (wireless operator), Wladyslaw Piskorski and Antoni Ulicki (air gunners).

On 9th February 1943, whilst patrolling the Bay of Biscay, about four hours into the flight, they saw four Junkers Ju88s and immediately jettisoned their depth charges and dived to near wave top level; this was a tactic to prevent the fighters from attacking the undefended underbelly of the Wellington. The rear gunner poured accurate fire into one of the Junkers, knocking it out of the sky. The remaining three persisted with the attack until they ran out of ammunition and then tried to force the Wellington into the sea by dangerous manoeuvres. During the 57 minute battle the co-pilot and rear gunner received serious bullet wounds; the aircraft itself was riddled with bullet holes and had a two yard square hole torn in its right wing through cannon fire. This was the longest single battle fought by an Allied bomber during the whole of the war and, between attacks, the pilot steered with his knees to rest his arms. Unable to make it back to RAF Dale, they landed safely at RAF Predannack in Cornwall.

Eventually a squadron of Bristol Beaufighters arrived, in response to the Mayday calls, and shot down all three of the Ju88s.

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