22nd MARCH 1945
On the night of 22 March we bombed Hamburg oil refinery. It was a 5 Group effort with about 180 aircraft involved. Our turn had come round to act as flare force so 49 Squadrons aircraft were loaded with flares as well as the usual load of bombs.
We dropped our flares accurately over the target area at H-12 and then had to hold outside the target area until our turn came to follow the main force with our bombing run. Hamburg was lit up like daylight and the devastation due to previous raids was unbelievable. However this was not our concern - our mission was to destroy the refinery. After dropping our bombs in the face of medium anti-aircraft fire we turned for home in a westerly direction. Our rear gunner was most concerned about a 'fire ball' following us which appeared to get closer very quickly. We were about 12 000 feet and he became so insistent that we take other than the usual 'corkscrew' avoiding action we had adopted that I decided to power dive to a lower level. We reached 350mph but the 'thing' was still with us and getting closer down to 1500 feet where it broke off when we were well out to sea. Was it one of Germany's latest 263 rocket propelled fighters!