“Typhoon Attack” by Robert Taylor

TYPHOON ATTACK by Robert Taylor. © The Military Gallery. www.militarygallery.com
Squadron Leader ‘Bee’ Beamont leads the Typhoons of No. 609 (WR) Squadron in a attack from Manston on heavily armed enemy shipping in the Channel off Boulogne, 4 April 1943

This classic piece by Robert Taylor contains all that a true Typhoon enthusiast could ask for! The scenario was inspired by a specific raid on German coastal patrol R-boats in the English Channel, typical of many carried out by 609 Squadron. Roland ‘Bee’ Beamont, who led the attack, helped artist Robert Taylor to ensure that all the historic and technical details for this dramatic reconstruction were spot on as he leads his Typhoons into the teeth of the enemy’s flak.

Entry for this day in No.609 Squadron’s Operations Records Book:
A busy day, starting at 08:30 (DBST) with a shipping strike, 9 Typhoons of 609 escorting 8 Whirlibombers from Le Touquet to Boulogne, 2 Typhoons returning early with engine trouble and 1 Whirlwind ditching through hitting the water by mistake (pilot OK).

There is then a period of sudden fog, F/O Raw landing from patrol just in time.

Later on there is Ramrod 46, 9 Typhoons again escorting 8 Whirlibombers for an attack on Abbeville marshalling yards – the first time 609 has acted in this role on Typhoons. Taking off at 18:16, RV is made with 2 Spit Sqdns from H’church, and landfall made at Cayeux, Whirlwinds at 8,500 feet, Typhoons 500 feet lower and behind. The bombing, executed in a dive to 7,000 feet, is successful, and there is no opposition. Half way across the Channel 609 are vectored by Swingate to a ‘special target’, and off Boulogne several R-Boats and a small motor Flak ship are sighted. S/Ldr Beamont manoeuvres his formation (2 Typhoons have returned with the Whirlwinds) to attack from up-sun and astern, and this evidently achieves surprise, for the vessels do not open fire until after the leader’s attack. It is then intense, from the 2 R-Boats attacked and from the Flak ship. The CO instructs each pilot to make one attack only, and he himself, followed by 4 others, attacks the last pair of R-Boats, F/Lt Wells and F/O Evans the Flak ship. This and the nearer R-Boat are set on fire, and the second R-Boat is also Damaged. Adjutant Pilot Blanco has part of his rudder shot away, but lands safely. Bandits are then reported by Hornchurch, and the West Riding Squadron returns home, landing at 19:40.

Enemy Casualties:
1 R-Boat Cat II ) S/Ldr Beamont DFC, F/O Cameron (Irish), Adj Pilot
1 R-Boat Cat III ) Blanco (Belgian), F/O Raw, F/O van Lierde (Belgian)
1 Motor Flak Ship Cat II: F/Lt Wells and F/O Evans (Canadian)
Our Casualties:1 Typhoon Cat B (Adj Pilot Blanco unhurt).

F/O Raw has a cutting engine and is lucky to get back without trouble, and the CO also has to land in a hurry, causing the following conversation piece: F/O van Lierde: Who is that c…t landing downwind?” “Crooner leader, if it’s of any interest, van.” There are emphatic radio apologies. Otherwise the day sees 2 standing patrols and a Scramble.

Evening sees a farewell party at the Old Charles and the Mess for F/Lt Atkinson, who has at last been posted (as supernumerary CFI at 59 (Typhoon) OTU, Millfield. He duly inscribes his footprint on the bar ceiling, and singing reaches an all-time high for volume, execution and variety of repertoire, Lt Haabjoern (Norwegian) leading most of the best English songs, F/O Evans (Canadian) most of the best French ones. F/Lt Atkinson and the IO give a final joint rendering of ‘He Had To Go And Prang ‘Er In The Hangar’, and the latter tries to take photographs.

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