I Was There! - In Six Hours I Shot Down Four German Raiders
On Sunday, January 17, 1943, following the great R.A.F. raid on Berlin, the Nazis came to drop bombs on London. Wing Commander Wight-Boycott, in the air for six hours, in a Beaufighter, tells here how he shot four of the raiders out of the night sky.
The curious thing about the first one I shot down was that although London was throwing up a terrific amount of flak and there were any number of searchlights about I don't remember seeing anything of them at all. I was looking up all the time to find the enemy silhouetted against the bright moonlit sky.
We'd just popped above a thin layer of cloud and there was the Dornier, a sort of grey colour. I fired a long burst and saw an explosion behind the pilot's cockpit. It seemed to go straight down and I tried to follow, so steeply that my observer came out of his seat. When the Dornier crashed, three brilliantly white blobs appeared to jump out of the ground. That was Dornier number one. The next patrol nothing happened at all, except my observer complaining about the hardness of his seat.
We got Dornier number two during the second alert. It must have been about four in the morning. He was travelling very fast and junking violently. He didn't keep a straight course for more than a few seconds at a time. But there was no cloud about now; it was a good night for interception, and I managed to get in a fairly long burst.
He caught fire and slowed up very quickly. I got so close to him that I was caught in his slipstream and rolled on to my back, but I managed to avoid colliding with him. By the time we were right way up again he'd hit the ground and was blazing away.
Then came Dornier number three. Again I got in a long burst amidships. There was a yellowish explosion and down he went. As he did so he fired about a second's burst, two streams of red tracer, but they went nowhere near us. Number four was a Junkers 88, and the most spectacular of the night. We found him somewhere in the Croydon area. My cannon-shells set both his engines on fire and flames spread along the wing and back to the fuselage. They lit up the sky so clearly that we could see his black crosses. And we saw four of the crew bale out, one after the other. As it went down you could see all the streets lit up, and when it hit there was a terrific flash.
Well, that was that. Four in a night. Home we went; pleased, but wondering what luck the rest of the squadron had had.
Articles in the I Was There! category
- Previous article: I Was There! - We Got the Convoy Through the U-Boats
- Next article: I Was There - I Had a Live Shell in My Leg - and Didn't Know It