Monolith
15May/22Off

Mosquito Squadron Attacks


F/O KM Jackson

I'd like to pay tribute to a much-loved family friend and my mother's last companion. Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Jackson served with the RAAF, attached to RAF 235 Squadron as part of Banff Strike Wing.

With pilot Harry Parkinson, flying the excellent DH Mosquito, the pair took part in numerous perilous raids against shipping, U-Boats and ground targets flying at tree-top level to avoid German radar, often returning to base with tree branches and telegraph wire caught in the undercarriage.

He was reluctant to talk about his experiences and never marched in ANZAC parades.It took all my life to get him to reveal some of the hairy moments, but clearly one stuck in his mind.

Late in the war, the aircraft were fitted with long-range 'drop tanks', giving the planes several hundred extra kilometres of range. As such they were able to surprise U-Boats approaching ports, thinking they were home safe. On one occasion (I think this was U-251, 19 April 1945) the boat was on the surface in the Kattegat (between Denmark and Sweden) heading for home after four gruelling months at sea. The sailors were relaxing on deck, smoking, reading and hanging their washing.

The whole squadron swooped, unleashing salvos of deadly 30kg rockets. Ken's eyes misted at the recollection and he stared blankly into thin air.

A Mosquito of 235 Squadron attacks U-251 with rockets and cannon

"The poor bastards on deck jumped into the freezing water, the rest never had a chance ... Harry was very good with rockets." U-251 sank in 30m of water with only four survivors, including the captain.

"There were extra rounds of drinks that night in the mess," Ken recalled, shaking his head.

Despite losing many friends on these dangerous missions, Ken considered his service fortunate. The "Mozzie" was a brilliant aircraft, fast and capable, and enjoyed a success (and survival) rate few other planes could match.

Knowing he would have been subject to interception by German fighters, particularly over Norway, I asked curiously, "What happened when the Focke Wulfs came up to attack you?"

"Oh, we just put the nose down, opened the throttles and got the hell out of there," Ken recalled calmly, "they weren't going to catch us."

By comparison, a school chum's father served in Bomber Command flying Lancasters. He earned a DFC, but at an enormous cost. Of his entire squadron who left Australia to fly with the RAF, only two returned - his pilot and himself. #Lestweforget.

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