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Operational history of Wellington IV Z1206
In October 1941, 142 Squadron replaced its Merlin powered Wellington Mk IIs with Wellington Mk IVs.  Z1206 was assigned to 142 Sqn at Binbrook on 1st October 1941 and became QT-F: F for Freddie.  Operations with Mk IIs continued until 10th October and the first with the Mk IVs was 12th October, in which Z1206 was included.

Z1206 flew five operational sorties from Binbrook.


12th October 1941 - Boulogne
F/Lt Kelly and crew took off at 18.40 from Binbrook, carrying 
fourteen 250 lb GP bombs. The target was attacked on the first run and bursts were seen in the dock area. Landed 23.40.

16th October 1941 - Dunkirk
Sgt Caldow and crew took off at 19.15 from Binbrook, carrying fourteen 250 lb GP bombs. In spite of 3 flares being dropped, the target was not located and the bombs were brought back. Landed 23.10.

20th October 1941 - Antwerp
Sgt Parker and crew took off at 18.40 from Binbrook, carrying fourteen 250 lb GP bombs. The target was covered in 10/10ths cloud, so the bombs were brought back. Landed 23.05.

29th October 1941 - Brest
F/Lt Kelly and crew took off at 21.00 from Binbrook, carrying six 500 lb SAP bombs. (The semi-armour piercing bombs were used to attack the German capital ships Scharnhorst & Gneisenau in Brest harbour.) The crew reported attacking the target OK, but being unable to observe results, because they had to take violent evasive action after releasing the bombs. Landed 03.25.

31st October 1941 - Hamburg
Sgt Mays and crew took off at 18.40 from Binbrook, carrying 6 cases of 4 lb incendiaries, two 500 lb and one 250 lb GP bombs. There was cloud over the target and the bomb bursts were not seen. Landed 00.35.

142 Sqn moved from Binbrook to Grimsby (RAF Waltham) on 26th November 1941.

7th November 1941 - Mannheim
F/Lt G M Kelly, P/O R Waters, Sgt K A Parslow, F/Sgt G J Sharp, Sgt M O'Brien and Sgt A W Kerrisk took off from Waltham at 19.45 in Z1206, carrying 360 4 lb incendiaries and two 500 lb GP bombs. The pilot had to abandon the operation, due to excessive petrol consumption. The bombs were brought back. Landed 00.17.

16th December 1941 - Wilhelmshaven
F/Lt W StC McNeilly DFC, Sgt W J Giles, P/O A G Huggett, Sgt C Micklethwaite, Sgt L L Phillips and Sgt G E Probert took off from Waltham at 18.24 in Z1206, carrying six 500 lb GP bombs. The target was located and the bombs were dropped in the area. However, one bomb hung-up on station 12. It was brought home and jettisoned on the aerodrome before landing. Landed 23.11.

8th January 1942 - Brest
S/L A B Olney, Sgt A Harker, P/O Ingalls, F/Sgt W C Davies DFM, Sgt W Gilroy and Sgt E B Key took off from Waltham at 04.00 in Z1206, carrying four 500 lb SAP and three 500 lb GP bombs. (The semi-armour piercing bombs were used to attack the German capital ships Scharnhorst & Gneisenau in Brest harbour.) The crew found 8/10ths cloud in the target area. During the attack, Z1206 was hit by flak. Landed 09.30.

20th January 1942 - Emden

S/L A B Olney, Sgt A Harker, P/O Ingalls, P/O J S Gronow, Sgt R Forster and Sgt E B Key took off from Waltham at 18.30 in Z1206, carrying six 500 lb GP bombs. The target was identified and bombed in good visibility. Landed 23.30.

12th February 1942 - Channel Dash
The German battle cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau & Prinz Eugen broke out from Brest harbour the previous evening and took the British defences by surprise, steaming straight up the English Channel in broad daylight. The brave but ill-fated attacks by Coastal Command and the Fleet Air Arm had little effect and the ships were well into the North Sea before Bomber Command was brought into the fray. F/Sgt G H Mays, Sgt L E Taylor, Sgt V R Dufton, Sgt D M Laing, Sgt F G Huntley and F/Sgt D B McFarlane took off from Waltham at 13.50 in Z1206, carrying eight 500 lb SAP bombs. The front turret was found to be unserviceable 15 minutes into the flight.  Knowing they were approaching an air umbrella of Luftwaffe escort fighters, the crew had little option but to turn back. They were unable to land with the bomb load and jettisioned it ten miles off Mablethorpe. Landed 15.50.

25th February 1942 - Kiel
S/L A B Olney, Sgt A Harker, P/O Ingalls, P/O J S Gronow, Sgt R Forster and Sgt E B Key took off from Waltham at 23.20 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb and four 500 lb GP bombs. The pilot found the aircraft was unable to climb and the bombs had to be dropped in the sea. Landed 00.05.

9th March 1942 - Essen
Sgt R Vandersteen, Sgt J E Marriott, Sgt D Berger, Sgt E C Groves, Sgt R A Evans and Sgt R K McGrath took off from Waltham at 21.00 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb GP, five 500 lb GP and one 250 lb incendiary bombs. An attack was made from 12,000 feet, but the photographs taken by flash could not be plotted in the target area. The crew bombed an aerodrome south of Amsterdam. The airspeed indicator stopped working during the flight. Landed 01.45.

12th March 1942 - Kiel
P/O J M Tillard, Sgt H Selby, Sgt M V Ward, F/Sgt B M S Henderson, Sgt B Forster and Sgt H L Price took off from Waltham at 19.15 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb GP and four 500 lb GP bombs. One of the 500 lb bombs had to be jettisoned to gain height. The target was then attacked from 17,000 feet, where icing was experienced. The results of the attack could not be seen. Landed 02.00.

25th March 1942 - Essen
P/O J M Tillard, Sgt H Selby, Sgt M V Ward, F/Sgt B M S Henderson, Sgt B Forster and Sgt H L Price took off from Waltham at 20.10 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb GP, six 500 lb GP and one 250 lb incendiary bombs. The crew bombed an aerodrome on Overflakee, but the photograph later suggested it was a decoy. Landed 23.40.

28th March 1942 - Lubeck
The first of the famous Lubeck - Rostock attacks, where smaller towns were singled out for a concentrated attack, marked Harris taking over Bomber Command.

Sgt N J Warfield, Sgt H J Green, P/O E Yates, Sgt W Harper, Sgt W Gilroy and Sgt J Howarth
took off from Waltham at 21.20 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb GP and five 500 lb GP bombs. The crew bombed the town of Lubeck from just 3,000 feet (well within range of the deadly light flak). The photograph was taken north of the town. The Wellington then descended to just 30 feet, from where the gunners straffed numerous searchlights, villages and targets of opportunity. East of the Kiel canal, still flying at just 75 feet, their luck ran out when a Messerschmitt Bf 110 night fighter caught up with them. They landed back at Waltham at 03.20 and filed the following combat report:

Night of 28/29th March 1942.  One Wellington IV 142 Squadron F on Lubeck, Eutin 00-35 hours, 75 feet, 180 mph IAS. Bombs dropped. Course 283, visibility excellent second quarter moon on port beam no cloud. There was considerable searchlight and light flak activity in the vicinity of our aircraft, which was not actually held when a single Me 110 without lights, was observed 100 feet above at 1000 yards on the starboard quarter. Enemy aircraft closed to 600 yards and opened fire with cannon fire, closing to 400 yards. The rear gunner replied with a five second burst. No strikes were observed, and our aircraft was not materially hit, although holes have been found in and around the tail. The Wellington then took evasive action and enemy aircraft was not seen again. No claim is made. IFF was not used.

5th April 1942 - Cologne
Sgt R Vandersteen, Sgt J E Marriott, Sgt D Berger, Sgt R A Evans, Sgt R K McGrath and Sgt N W Dawkins took off from Waltham at 23.15 in Z1206, carrying one 1000 lb GP and five 500 lb GP bombs. The target area was identified in clear conditions, with some haze. The bombs were dropped from 13,000 feet in a glide attack. Landed 05.14.

8th April 1942 - Hamburg
Sgt R Vandersteen, Sgt J E Marriott, Sgt D Berger, Sgt R A Evans, Sgt R K McGrath and Sgt N W Dawkins took off from Waltham at 21.48 in Z1206, carrying sixty six 30 lb incendiaries and ninety 4 lb incendiary bombs. The crew experienced 10/10ths cloud and dropped their bombs through it from 18,000 feet, on their estimated time of arrival over the target area. Landed 03.57.

10th April 1942 - Essen
Sgt R Vandersteen, Sgt J E Marriott, Sgt D Berger, Sgt R A Evans, Sgt R K McGrath and Sgt N W Dawkins took off from Waltham at 22.16 in Z1206, carrying sixty four 30 lb incendiary bombs. Caught in searchlights near Amsterdam, the flak guns opened up on the Wellington and the pilot was forced to jettison the bombs to escape. The camera control on the instrument panel in front of the co-pilot was smashed by the shrapnel from the flak. Landed 01.22.

19th May 1942 - Mannheim
Sgt D C West, Sgt G C Hooper, Sgt G L Cooper, Sgt I D Lowther, Sgt P Milnes and Sgt B E B Luckman took off from Waltham at 22.35 in Z1206, carrying nine cases of 4 lb incendiaries. The weather on arrival was good, but with some haze over the city. The target area was bombed from 16,800 feet in a glide attack, but the results could not be seen. pilot had to abandon the operation, due to excessive petrol consumption. The crew experienced moderate flak and many searchlights. Landed 05.55.

30th May 1942 - Cologne
The first of Harris' famous Thousand Bomber Raids, which caused heavy damage and loss of life.
Sgt D C West, P/O M F Johnson, Sgt G L Cooper, Sgt I D Lowther, Sgt P Milnes and Sgt B E B Luckman
took off from Waltham at 23.11 in Z1206. The bomber attacked from 10,000 feet. Fires were then seen to start at the aiming point, one mile east of the main target, on the opposite side of the river. Landed 05.09.

By 10th June 1942, 142 Squadron had been detached to Thruxton in Wiltshire, where part of their duties involved the dropping of paratroopers. This was probably in preparation for the raid on Dieppe, but the plans changed and the Wellingtons returned to bomber operations without taking part.

19th June 1942 - Thruxton airfield
Z1206 was being flown by Canadian Sergeant D C West, for night flying training. 20 minutes into the flight he was on approach to land when an engine failed. At 15.50, he landed without flaps, overshot and went through a hedge. It was later found that the engine failure had been due to loosening of a throttle control lock nut. There were no serious injuries to the crew, but Z1206 was badly damaged and had to be sent away for repair.


Although the movement card for Z1206 suggests that it next went to a Maintenance Unit for a period of storage, it actually appears again in the Operations Record Book for 142 Squadron. This has now been corroborated by a pilot's log book as well, so we can be confident that it completed one more operation in Bomber Command:

25th July 1942 - Duisberg
P/O W R Brooks, Sgt J W Oldham, Sgt S M Chadwick, Sgt G S Penrith and Sgt C Delaney took off from Waltham at 00.29 in Z1206, carrying two 1000 lb GP, two 500 lb GP and one 250 lb GP bombs. The target area was bombed from 15,000 feet. The crew landed at 04.45.

The Operations Record Book erroneously records Z1206 as failing to return from the attack on Hamburg the following night. The confusion no doubt arose because both Z1206 and the aircraft that had replaced it, Z1461, were coded 'F' for Freddie. On that night, Z1461 was being flown by Sgt D C West and his crew, who had no doubt taken over Z1461 as their new aircraft when Z1206 had to be repaired. Research into the history of Wellington Z1206 is continuing. We hope to add more detail and photographs (people and aircraft) to the narrative. If you can help, or a relative was in 142 Squadron in 1941-42, please contact us.


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