ONE CLOT'S WAR
Reg Everson AE, Pilot


305 (Polish) Squadron

107 Squadron

2 Tactical Air Force

Reg was also a member of the Mosquito Aircrew Association and served on their committee as an adviser. The editor had plans to interview him but sadly Reg died in March 2013. What follows has been provided by a fellow member of the branch and of the MAA, Reg Davis. It is an article that appeared in the December 1994 issue of the MAA's journal, 'The Mossie'.

By the time we had finished our training I was quite convinced that the Mosquito was the ultimate in aircraft. It had speed, manoeuvrability, was light and easy to handle and had no vices in the air. Treated properly she would do anything you asked.

We were posted to 305 (Polish) Squadron and joined the Squadron at an airfield near the village of Epinoy in France, the nearest town was Cambrai. Our enthusiasm was somewhat dampened when we found the airfield covered with some 6 feet of snow and we spent most of daylight hours helping to clear the runways (using shovels). Eventually flying was possible, taking off along the runway with snow piled high on either side, it did however concentrate the mind and made the pilots even more careful than ever to avoid the swing on take-off.

Night patrols, were carried out most nights, incurring a number of casualties attacking enemy road and rail transport when possible, and bombing rail junctions on "Gee" when bad weather prevented visual sightings. One night we returned from patrol to find 10/10ths cloud at 200 feet over base. As our "Gee" set had gone on the blink" I declined the offer of a diversion to Brussels (I learned better later), and received permission to land at base. This proved somewhat "hairy" but landing was completed without damage. No operations were carried out for the next few nights, diverted aircraft having to return to base and the weather remained such that even the birds were walking.

Normal service was resumed until 13th February when the Squadron had a break from operations to practise for a daylight formation operation - "Operation Clarion". As it was to be a 12 aircraft formation some crews (including us) were not involved. However, on the day of the operation it was decided to increase it to a maximum effort and all crews and serviceable aircraft were to be involved.

Without the benefit of practise we had the unenviable position of 18 in an 18 plane formation. We flew in close formation at 4,000ft, until we crossed the enemy lines when we encountered some light "Flak" bursting at 4,000feet. We took evasive action and rejoined the formation as soon as we were clear of danger. When we arrived at the area Stade, River Elbe we broke into "pairs", I was number two to W/O Smith.

Our main targets were barges and shipping, secondary targets warehouses, trains and road transport. During our patrol we attacked railway trucks. Considerable damage was done by the 18 aircraft and 8 of them were damaged by ground fire. We set course for base formating on W/O Smith at low level. Shortly after leaving the patrol area we passed over a machine gun post and Smith's aircraft was hit and caught fire, we saw it make a crash landing.

Not being sure of our exact position, and as we had used up all our machine gun ammunition and cannon shells I climbed to a safer height of 4,000ft at which we could get an accurate "Gee" fix. We soon found out where we were! The guns of Bremerhaven opened up and the air was filled with black "puffs" of exploding shells. A sharp diving turn to port down to 0 feet and a reassessment of the situation. Bremen was to our south and so course was set for Zwolle on the River Yssel, which was the "Bomb Line" for the day. Once we felt safer from immediate danger we made a tentative climb to 4,000 feet to enable us to use "Gee" to keep away from further "hot spots".'

Shortly after reaching this height an American Mustang formatted on our starboard wing. A cigar chewing pilot waved a friendly greeting before peeling off to go about his own business. As we approached Zwolle I opened the throttles to maximum boost put the nose down to get maximum speed and crossed the River Yssel as quickly as possible. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

After all this excitement night operations resumed and on the 5th March on return from patrol we found base covered with 10/10th cloud. This time we took the offered diversion to Brussels. A wise move, as owing to adverse weather conditions we had to stay in Brussels enjoying an enforced 48 hours "leave". By this time our patrol areas were moving further into Germany making a longer trip there and back, which cut down the time we could spend in the patrol areas due to fuel capacity. On these operations we used "drop tanks" and carried flares in the bomb bay instead of bombs. On sighting anything suspicious we would climb to 4,000 feet, drop a flare and circle below it to give Tony a chance to inspect the ground more thoroughly. We then attacked using machine guns and cannons.

8th April Operation No 436 (Squadron's not mine), 12 aircraft were briefed to patrol and attack enemy movements on railways and to roads in the region Leipzig-Berlin-Magdeburg-Braunschweig. My aircraft was u/s so I borrowed Duke Earle's. Weather was cloudless, visibility good. All aircraft completed sorties except "U" which returned with a defect.

We completed the patrol on the Berlin-Magdeburg road and made an attack under flares on enemy transport, lights on the transport were extinguished and movement stopped, but the flares went out so we could not assess fully the extent of the damage. On the return flight while flying at a height of 4,000 feet indicated, at about 2.00am, we were attacked by a night fighter. The night fighter fired a long burst of machine gun fire and I immediately took violent evasive action, however the port engine caught fire. Tony operated the fire extinguisher and I "feathered" the porte engine.

A further burst of machine gun fire and the starboard engine caught fire. I throttled back and operated the fire extinguisher. The fire did not go out so I ordered him to abandon the aircraft. He clipped on his parachute, jettisoned the door and successfully abandoned the aircraft. During this manoeuvre the aircraft was losing height rapidly. I struggled out of the seat, at the same time trying to keep the aircraft on an even keel. With some difficulty I reached the doorway and dived head first through the opening. I pulled the rip-cord as soon as I was clear of the aircraft, the parachute opened and I hit the ground almost simultaneously.

I landed in the bottom of a valley and saw my plane crash a short distance away. I was very close to the road and could hear vehicles moving along it. I kept low and attempted to crawl away but before I had moved more than a few feet I heard voices calling, "Kommen Sie hier!" I ignored this invitation and continued to crawl away. With much shouting and shining of torches about six or seven German soldiers started to circle my position. I was seen by one of them and they started to fire their revolvers at me. Realising that I could not escape I stood up and raised my hands above my head. I was searched, my cigarettes, matches, fountain pen, pen knife, and comb were taken away from me. The soldiers then spoke to each other during which conversation they made gestures which seemed to indicate they intended to shoot me. Fortunately at this point a German officer intervened and placed me under guard.
F/Lt Reg Everson (Pilot) - 305 Polish Squadron


Above: Reg at the last MMA event , 10 April 2005 at
London Colney. He is 2nd row, on the right.
On the right, Reg at the same event.
MAA event images: The Mossie, June 2005, via Reg Davis


Reg, after laying a wreath from the branch at the ACA Family Service at the Air Forces Memorial,
Coopers Hill, on 10th August 2006: image Haslam

 

last updated 30 May 2013: ACA Surrey Branch 2013