Library Reference Number: 043
With survival on many flying operations hanging by a thread, it was almost inevitable that some aircrew members would form an attachment for one particular aircraft while less willing to fly an aircraft with a reputation for being unreliable - to some people a 'jinx'. Bill Taylor describes one of those planes.
In 1944, the situation on the Anzio Bridgehead on the west coast of Italy was becoming desperate. The Army was in retreat. The Wellington squadrons of 205 Group at Foggia were briefed to do a timed run of 4 minutes from the point of Anzio (no one was exactly sure where the front-line was) and bomb anything that moved. We would also be required to fly two sorties to Anzio that night.
Our crew was allocated Wellington 'Q' for Queen. We took off and at 2,500 feet, both engines cut out. I hopefully pressed the starter button and to our great relief both engines sprang back to life and we carried on to Anzio. With the mission completed and returning to base, we were debriefed while the aircraft was being bombed up and refuelled for our second trip.
During debriefing, we reported the engine failure to the Officer i/c Maintenence. Wellington 'Q' was checked out and refuelled and we set off on another sortie to Anzio.
Mission completed, we set course for returning to base when the starboard engine suddenly lost power. We managed to limp back to base and, after our debriefing, my pilot refused to fly aircraft 'Q' again.
One of the old lags on the squadron informed us that 'Q' was a 'Jinx' aircraft and had a history of strange and mysterious problems yet curiously had always made it back to base. She was always allocated to new crews, unaware of its history.
Shortly after our experience of flying in this plane, a new crew took 'Q' on their first operation. They returned with a chunk of the starboard wing missing and it was a mystery they returned at all! The aircraft was taken to a Maintenence Unit for repair.
It was eventually returned to the squadron, but this time displaying the letter 'U' for Uncle. However, experienced squadron members recognised it from its' serial numbers which could not be changed. A newly arrived aircrew was allocated 'U' for their first operation and this time they did not return. The Jinx had won.