Question time

For some time Ron Lapp from Winnipeg has been trying to find out the answer to a question of detail about the Dams Raid:

 When the Lancaster nose turret guns were fired, as they certainly were on the Dams raid, were the empty cases and links collected somehow, or did they just fall to the floor of the nose and get collected later?  I have seen a picture showing the expended cases and links on the bottom of the nose, but I am not sure if this was common practice.  I have also read that canvas bags or a flexible sleeve may have been used, but have not seen pictures of either of these possible collection methods.  In the case of the Dams raid, with a gunner in the nose turret and the bomb aimer at his position, I would not think that the bomb aimer would want to be distracted by having spent cases and links falling over him during the bomb run.

Fortunately, I knew someone who would have the answer: Fred Sutherland, the front gunner in Les Knight’s aircraft, AJ-N – the aircraft which dropped the mine which broke the Eder Dam. Fred obliged with an almost immediate definitive response: 

There were bags under each gun to catch the spent cases. There were several reasons for this. First, each gun fired 20 rounds a second and even with a short burst the empty cases soon built up a great pile.
Then there was at times, the violent evasive action where the empties could get air borne and foul up the works.
In the front turret which was designed for one person they would have showered down on the B/A. After a long burst [of fire] the cases became very hot.

So, there we have it. Another small mystery resolved!

2 thoughts on “Question time

  1. Ron Lapp December 14, 2008 / 4:29 am


    Thanks for posting the outstanding information from Fred Sutherland concerning how the spent cartridges were handled in the 617 Sqn Lancasters. I have another couple of questions that I was wondering if you could forward to Fred for his response.

    I have read that special stirrups were designed for the nose turret gunner to keep his feet off of the bomb aimers head. Usually, the bomb aimer was also the nose gunner, but for the Dams raid, there was a dedicated nose gunner in addition to the bomb aimer. I am wondering if Fred remembers whether this was the case.

    Also, could you ask Fred if he recalls whether the spent case collection bags were used on non-617 Sqn aircraft.

    Thanks Charles.


  2. andy hickes October 18, 2010 / 7:58 am

    Hi, could you ask fred if he is the Fred Sutherland i worked with at a company W. Richards and sons in North Ormesby Road, Middlesborough,
    England. I was an apprentice at the time. He retired in about 1983. The Fred i knew was a really nice genuine guy who was very respected by all who worked there. I was told he was a Canadian Airman but did not beleive at the time the had been a member of such an important historical event. The blokes i worked with were big on practical jokes and i thought this was one.
    I do hope he is still alive and well.

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