20.11.44 – Attack Against Homberg – a reflection…..

With a few days gap, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has responded so positively regarding my ‘multiple’ Homberg posting last Friday – the 71st anniversary of the Homberg Op.

I must confess, it was one of those classic – ‘this is a great idea’ moments that, as the following day unfolded, I wondered about the coherency and communication of the event.

Based on feedback, I think it worked and I think for those that know the Squadron and it’s history it chimed.

I will confess – the idea of generating multiple posts based on a real time event line would always be challenging – particularly if you missed the first contextual post and as I started wading through the first of what would be 56 individual posts, I wondered if this was a fantastic idea, or an appallingly misguided adventure.

I received some criticism and questioning as well – but, to be honest those that responded in this way are not known to me – perhaps these individuals are like neighbours at a family get together – they watch, they try to understand, but ultimately, they are simply ignorant of the ways, history and knowledge of the family – they smile and purse their lips – but they simply do not understand…..

Looking back, the concept was simple enough – to use the WordPress scheduled post feature to post each a/c up and down based on recorded times. This was to be punctuated with a ‘respite’ post about half way through the Op ( I gave up trying to try to calculate the relative achievable speed of a Lancaster fully bomber up, versus  post target regarding an approximate time of ‘over target’. This was then finished after what I thought to be an appropriate and realistic delay to note the missing status of the three crews that were lost that night.

I actually hoped for not a sensational, but perhaps a surprised, engaged realisation that the Squadron were leaving on an Op – the spectacle of departure and then, simply the awful wait, the looking at watches, at Ops room clocks, the pacing and sipping from NAAFI tea cups, until the low lands filled with the tired howl of Merlins and the names of the crews could be checked off the board. The final realisation that three Lancasters and their crews were missing, was intentionally left like that.

It was about trying to capture that awful, dawning acceptance that time had simply run out – all avenues of alternative havens had been exhausted – the boys would simply not come back……

My inclination, at a point later, not advertised is simply to remove these posts. Perhaps in this way we recorded the brief event – witnessed but then lost and only held in our thoughts, as if we were there to see it – to be able to say it happened and you saw it, but now, again it is gone.

The poignancy of Leo McCartin’s Last Post at the Australian War Memorial this morning/ afternoon is a fitting final paragraph to this post – I am glad that Phil Smith was mentioned as well and as the Last Post started, I shed more than a singe tear –

these lost boys, again made real.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Untouched 20.11.1944 No. 75 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.) Lancaster I PB689


6 thoughts on “20.11.44 – Attack Against Homberg – a reflection…..

  1. Roger Strong

    I thought it was just fantastic and read every single entry – many thanks! I swear I could hear the song of the those 112 Merlin engines.


  2. pfkdogrescue

    It worked very well Simon, I could almost hear the engines passing overhead every few minutes. Then the suspense as they returned one by one. My only problem was the email notifications did not come in in the right order so at first I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Putting those posts together must have been a tremendous amount of work so I salute you. Keep it up and thank you.


    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Ironically I think the dearth of digital media and contacts worked against it – like you say when delayed emails started out of time layng over the posts that’s where problems started- I wanted the spontaneous immediacy of it just happening – the preface about the lancs winding up on the airfield was my best vehicle to achieve this – but if this first one was lost – then I understand it all started to fall aprt!


  3. Paul Hickey

    Well its just gone 48 Hrs since the Last Post tribute to Leo McCartin, 75(NZ) at the Australian War Memorial; 24 hours ince the tribute to Leo McCartin, 22nd Battalion and about12 hours since the last of the 50 McCartins gathering in Canberra left our post-ceremony bbq!!
    Thank you once again for promoting the ceremonies and all the work you put into the blog.

    The coincidence of the AWM ceremonies and the recap of the Homberg raid did make it a little raw for some that read it. For me it was a reminder of the realities of life in Bomber Command that the Squadrons had to endure, both in the air and on the ground.

    Lest we Forget


  4. Mark Weston

    Hi Simon
    Sorry for the late post but ironically I was flying on my hols on the 20th but the significance of the day was not lost on me and I did read all the posts. Lots of hard work I am sure but was greatly appreciated. Its been a reflective few weeks after finding a few more parts of Mick’s jigsaw (Gordon Crew) and knowing that he was part of a good crew and with close mates on that fateful November day does lighten the mood somewhat. I did raise a glass to all the boys that night

    Best wishes



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