Amiens again. They’d failed last time. Capt. Estelle was clear on that. An outside observer would say that it was either the bombardier’s or German’s fault that the On Rails hadn’t hit a damn thing yet. But Capt. Estelle was trying to instill a sense of unity in the crew. Those that suffer together will learn together, he thinks.
This is the plane’s first time in the lead position. Out here the bombardier and navigator would have a good view of the Germans circling and preparing for an attack. And it was the bottom squadron. The very one that the Luftwaffe loved to crawl all over.
And the Germans greeted the Group as soon as they crossed the French coast. While the Suffragette City suffering from the extreme cold, the On Rails and Special Delivery saw fighters boil towards them. But the RAF was on the ball and chased a total of six Germans of various types away from the On Rails and Special Delivery.
The Germans through another trio of planes towards the On Rails. The British managed to catch the 109 coming straight at the nose and his brother coming in at 1:30 High. One more 109 made a broadside pass at the ship, facing the top turret, waist and ball turret. All five guns thundered at him, but not one passed near him. The pilot opened fire too early and had to dive away from supporting fire from the Horehound Harrier.
The air was smooth and calm. Not a single puff of flak troubled the clear blue sky. Bombardier Warren hunched over his sight, sweat running down his spine. If he screwed this up, Capt. Estelle would eat him alive.
The first road rolled by, then the second. He marked and punched the bomb release. They were perfectly timed and racked along the railyard, overturning a line of cars.
“That’ll go down as a 30 percent,” he said over the intercom.
“Good work, Pete,” the captain said.
“Sir, we’ve got more Germans incoming,” called Flight Engineer Hivalle from the top turret.
“Get back on the gun then Pete, we can’t celebrate too long.”
Only two Germans decided to risk going against the Corgi Crew’s tight formation. The one headed dead one was nearly blindsided by a Spitfire and dived away. The 109 coming in at 130 High flew into a sky filled with lead from the top turret, port cheek and port waist. Not a single man hit, nor did the German. Even Sgt. Manderley in the tail couldn’t land a hit on the tricksy fighter. From his position, Manderley watched the German join up with the other 109 in a spiraling duel with the Spit.
As Navigator Dryden looked carefully for the French coast, the Germans leapt in again. But only two Germans made an attempt to attack. Both met interference from the Luftwaffe and the On Rails headed home.
It wasn’t a perfect landing, but it got all the wheels on the ground in the right order without any damage.
Lt. Warren hurried away from the bomber. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to deal with the praise of finally earning a “good” mark on a run.
Sadly for him, his crew caught him after debriefing and dragged him into town.
The MPs had to show up to bring them all back. There was another mission in the offing.