Feedback - Mr. Harry McLean
I recently received a delightful letter from Mr. Harry McLean, ex-427 and RAF, and with his permission would like to share it with you.
Dear Mr. MacLellan,
I was pleased to receive a copy of 'ROAR', recently. We don't seem to hear much about the RCAF nowadays. Recently I was browsing around in an Antiquarian Bookshop, and was surprised to find there, a copy of a "Unit Newsletter", issued to a British Army Unit in India, in September, 1943, and more so surprised, and pleased to find a reference to 427 Squadron therein.
As you can see from the following pages, this reference covers the adoption of 427 by MGM Studios. At the time of the ceremony I was at Topcliffe converting to Halifaxes, and missed the actual celebration. My Pilot was Billy Biggs, one of the earliest members of the Squadron, and senior enough to be able to ask for his own aircraft. He chose 'P'. for Piccadilly Princess. I supposed this to refer to a 'lady of the night', but discovered a year or two ago, from his sister, that this was the name of a sailing yacht which the family owned.
This aircraft was EB 247, and we did a few Ops in her, before we abandoned her, not too damaged, just an hydraulic pipe severed, on 10th August 1943, on Beacon Hill, Hampshire. As I baled out, I thought of just how beautiful the hum of her engines were and what a pity for her to be written off.
As we were approaching the end of our Tour, we did not get an offer of a kite of our own, but flew in any which was available, and, on the night of 6th September, 1943, we took LK 628, to Munich. She was named Judy Garland. She cannot be the 'Judy' mentioned in the newsletter, as she was only a few days old.
This was her second Op. The first was abandoned owing to the pilot being unable to get air speed. This, we quickly discovered was caused by a bent Pitot Head.
We were attacked by a night fighter. The overload fuel tank caught fire, and quickly exploded, rending poor Judy into two parts. Only three of us survived, Alf the Bomb Aimer was blown out through the front Perspex, by the blast. I was blown out the rear portion, and Jack, our Engineer came down to earth in the front portion and walked away from the wreck!!!
Only Alf and I are still here to recall those exciting days. I don't think Alf recalls them with the same pleasure that I do.
Good Luck to the Lions, in their future Ops.
Signed Harry McLean