Anti aircraft battery photos - 451 Squadron - V2 launch sites
By Malcolm Laird
Jun 27, 2016, 11:56

"We commenced operations over Holland, bombing V2 launch sites which were generally positioned near the coast and also on a racecourse in the Hague. On our very first mission, as we approached the Dutch coast, a V2 was launched. At 10,000 we watched it rise up in front of us, the metal glinting in the sun. It finally disappeared into the stratosphere and would have fallen on London some minutes later. The shock wave from the V2 hit our aircraft some seconds later and bounced us around.

This camouflaged German 37mm flak gun is being inspected by members of 451 (RAAF) Squadron, post war in Germany. Lindsay Richards stands in front. Caption information from Ivano Biazzo. (L Richards)

The German anti-aircraft fire was strong around the launching sites and particularly around the Hague racecourse. Once they worked out our attack plan they put up a carpet of flak at a height of about 6,000 feet. They knew we had to fly through it and relied on a pattern of fire to be effective. We lost one pilot, Flying Officer Les Blake on his first mission, but he bailed out and was taken prisoner. Flight Lieutenant Henry ‘Doonk’ Bray, DFC, was also lost about this time.”
Flying Officer Lindsay Richards recalled an occasion when he was concentrating very hard on an attack. He found himself perspiring so heavily that he could dip his tongue into the pool of sweat which formed in the bottom of his oxygen mask.

German FlakZwilling 43 37mm flak gun. Caption information from Ivano Biazzo.(L Richards)

German 37mm flak gun. Caption information from Ivano Biazzo. (L Richards)

“Fortunately the launching of V2 rockets (and our role) tapered off as the Germans were pushed out of Holland. This was just as well as the V2s had taken their toll on London, where whole blocks of buildings would disappear as a V2 landed without warning. I remember having a weekend leave in London during this time and thinking that I was much safer when I was over a V2 launching site in Holland."

© Copyright 2004-2013 and contributors.