See: TALES: News & Acquisitions, 2. Tales from the Archive – 2. December 2017
The Stettin Bay mining operation demanded the most enormous courage from the crews of the Controller, Wing Commander Edward Leach Porter, and the two marker Deputies, Squadron Leader Parkes and Squadron Leader Locke.
These details once again show the interaction between 54 Base and 97 Squadron, with the Porter crew being recorded in 97 Squadron’s ORB even though Porter – and his usual crew – were attached to 54 Base.
Wing Commander Porter was not flying with his usual crew because he had come back from leave before them; he then undertook to replace another pilot who could not fly that night. The aircraft was shot down with the loss of all on board. Porter’s usual crew were devastated.
Stettin Bay Mining Operation
97 SQUADRON ORB: Tonight 12 aircraft of the squadron carried out one of its most successful and daring attacks. It was decided that during a heavy PFF and Main Force attack on the town of Stettin, this squadron should mark and mine the Stettin-Schwinemunde Channel.
This channel runs across Stettin Bay from Schwinemunde to Stettin and is the only means of access that any large ship has to Stettin. One side of the channel has square buoys and the other side conical buoys.
At 0101 hours the flare force arrived and dropped by means of their blind bombing apparatus over the channel. Illumination was hardly necessary as the Germans had guessed what was happening and had criss-crossed the bay with searchlights. However, the Controller (W/C Porter) and the two marker deputies (S/L Parkes and S/L Locke DFC RAAF) who were all down at 300 feet decided to “Press on”.
In the face of great batteries of light flak guns from all sides of the bay, and although they were coned the whole time, they located the buoys and flew down the channel marking it with 250lb flame floats and dropping mines in between. By 0105 hours, W/C Porter’s machine had been so badly hit that he called up S/L Parkes on the VHF telling him that he had “Had it” and would have to bale out. He also wished everyone the best of luck.
A minute later a W/T message was received from W/C Porter’s aircraft – for the Main Force to go in and drop their mines over the flame floats. It is believed that his crew had every chance to bale out successfully.
W/C Porter, S/L Parkes and S/L Locke have since received immediate awards of the DSO. A message of congratulation was also received by the squadron from the AOC.
The ferocity of the opposition can be gauged in the following report given by the Parkes crew after they returned to base
ND740F S/L S.M.P.Parkes, Sgt G.Flint, F/O C.E.J.Reynolds, F/Sgt H.D.Chappell, F/O C.C.Atkins, F/O J.Barton, F/Sgt L.S.Baldwin. (Deputy Controller). Up 2130 Down 0457. Veg 718 and 406, 6 Markers marine, 8 Flame Floats.
Clear at 300’. Located aiming point visually as we were right down low. We could mark our own sector due to engagement by flak ships and searchlights and light flak from shore. Assessed W/C Porter’s marking, called him up and reported “Bang on” at 0113.5 hours; he replied and asked us to back up which we did and at same time dropped our two mines.
We were engaged the whole time by flak ships and our three turrets were firing continuously. Tracer seen going in to 2 flak ships and about 3 searchlights and they went out of action. The other searchlights were sweeping at sea level.
At 0055 hours a large explosion observed at Stettin which was plainly seen to be well on fire from the Main Force attack. At 0050 hours approx, we believe we saw an aircraft crash at 5350N 1410E.
At approx 0115 hours, W/C Porter (Controller) called up on VHF to say his aircraft had been hit and that he was baling out; we replied wishing him the best of luck and he thanked us.
Seeing that attack was a success, we sent a W/T message for Force to return home at approx 0116 hours; this message was not received by Flare Force as our W/T aerial had been shot away. VHF message was also sent but this was also not received – reason not known.
Porter Crew at the time of the Stettin Bay Mining Operation
W/C Edward Leach Porter (buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery)
Sgt Ronald Harold Croucher Burgess (buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery)
F/L John Inshaw Rogerson (buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery)
W/O Leslie Herbert Smith (commemorated at Runymede)
F/L Harry Bean – SHQ Coningsby (commemorated at Runymede)
Sgt Terence Michael Twomey (buried at Pederskirke Chuchyard, island of Bornholm, Denmark – he is the only British casualty there)
F/Sgt Jack Douglas Wells (buried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery)
Johnnie Rogerson and Les Smith had both flown with the Benton crew, most of whom survived the war, and their memory was always honoured by Eric Rimmington, the flight engineer, who was our source for information about the crew.
Two crews also mentioned in TALES: News & Acquisitions, 2. were Reid’s and Bob Lasham’s. These were the men who were flying that night.
F/L Ronald Douglas Holbrook Parker
F/L Bob Lasham
F/Sgt Harold Wilson