Dick completed 19 ops on 431 Squadron. No flak damage of fighter attacks, but had a close call when flying in cloud below 10, 000 feet to keep or reduce, the chance of being picked up by enemy radar. Another Lancaster
tracking about 30 deg. off our course passed overhead within 10 - 20 feet above us.
The bomb aimer had the responsibility for arming the front two guns, the bombs, and turning on the “cookie” heater switch. By agreement --- so as not to have the bomb aimer leave the navigation compartment when we crossed the Englis coast --- the flight engineer (Dick Reid) would do this as he was closest to the nose section.
On the night on March 21, 1945, en route to Hemmingsfelt, Denmark, Dick went through the prescribed routine and when he depressed the guns, one or both started firing. His fingers were clear of the trigger guards to ensure that he wouldn’t inadvertently squeeze the triggers. In his confusion, Dick says that he forgot that the breech-cover should be raised to stop a runaway gun. He pressed the fire/safe button and, luckily the guns stopped firing. He later learned that it was fortunate that the fire/safe pins weren’t sheard and that the cause was a kink in the firing cable. The pilot’s reation was to yell on the intercom: Engineer, what the .... are you doing? Dick’s reply was “ I don’t ......... know!” Dick and the rest of the crew figured they were lucky that an edgy tail gunner up head didn’t fire back with four Brownings.
(Dick cites the case of a navigator whom he met at Manning Depot. C.A. Brennan, flying with #218 Squadron near Turin was killed by fire from the rear turret of another Stirling flying ahead. The death of Brennan is recorded in “They Shall Grow Not Old”.)
In May, 1945, Dick volunteered for Tiger Force. In June, 1945, the crew flew Lancaster KB 810, SE-H to Canada with refuelling and rest stops at St. Mawgan, Cornwall, the Azores, Gander, landing in Dartmouth. Total flying time 19:10 hours.