RAF Blenheim V6391 After Bombing Goldenburg Power Station, Cologne

A Bristol Blenheim Mark IV (extreme left), serial V6391, marked RT-V of 114 Squadron, 2 Group, Royal Air Force, banks away after releasing two 500-pound (227-kilogram) bombs over the Goldenburg-Werk lignite (brown coal) power station in Knapsack. V6391, piloted by Sergeant (later Air Marshal) Ivan Gordon Broom (June 2, 1920 - January 24, 2003) and crewed by Sergeant William "Bill" North, Navigator, and Sergeant Leslie Harrison, Weapons Operator and Aerial Gunner. Fifty-four Blenheims made a daring daylight raid on two power stations near Cologne run by Rheinische Aktiengesellschaft für Braunkohlenbergbau und Brikettfabrikation or RAG (Rhine Public Company for Brown Coal and Briquette Manufacturing). They were escorted by fifteen squadrons of Supermarine Spitfires and 263 Squadron flying Westland Whirlwinds, but none of the fighters had the range to make it all the way to the target, so the Blenheims went in on their own. Broom was noted as one of the flew pilots of 2 Group who did not consider the mission a suicide run. He relished the enthusiastic reaction of the Dutch public, who greeted the low-flying Blenheims with waving and cheers, which abruptly stopped when V6391 crossed into Germany. This photo ran in the Illustrated London News, which syndicated the photo around the world without Brown or his crew being named. The Goldenburg power station was severely damaged, but power was restored to the Ruhr factories. Brown and his crew were sent to the Far East in September 1941, but were "hijacked" in Malta, where they were ordered to fly anti-submarine patrols and attack airfields in Sicily and Italy. On their first flight out of Malta, Broom and North used an Aldis signal lamp to guide a stricken Blenheim back to base. With most of the senior officers dead or missing, Brown was given command and won his first Distinguished Flying Cross, eventually surviving 30 missions. Brown was a popular leader who shared his men's risks. Later he flew DeHavilland Mosquitoes on pathfinder missions on night raids over Germany.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Imperial War Museum
Archival Identifier: 
IWM C2025
Date Photographed: 
Tuesday, August 12, 1941