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The Raid on Cologne (Part 1 of 3)

Heroes Remember

The Raid on Cologne (Part 1 of 3)

Interviewer: I understand that you were quite heavily involved in a raid over Cologne, Germany. Can you tell me about that? Yeah, we had a pretty rough night there. We were running up on, visibility was pretty good as we were approaching the target area and we could see, the bomb aimer could see the target flares, you know, already and he was already directing me as to I should go a little left or a little right when all of a sudden I figured the air plane was hit. I thought it was probably ground fire that hit us. And my starboard engine started on fire. We had to shut it down because of it and we had another one that hit some of my trimming tabs. Trimming tabs are little control in the cockpit you can control to take the pressure off of your big control on the heavy bombers and they were kind of knocked out on me and another one started a fire in between two gas tanks and my port wing but that seemed to burn a hole in the bottom and fell out so it didn't create any big fire there on us. And in the meantime, the starboard oute''s on fire and we had another one go through into my big gas tank in the starboard wing which you didn't use until the last. You used tanks that were further out to start with. And the engineer told me he said, "Skip, we're losing gas in our big tank," and he suggested and, of course, I would have anyway that we put the three remaining engines onto that tank and use as much as we dared before we ran out in that big tank because otherwise we wouldn't have enough to get back to England and so at the same time I said to the bomb aimer, "Do you think we should just carry on and go through and bomb?" Well just before that happens, the gunners called an evasive action because we were being attacked by a Junkers 88 fighter, German fighter. So we had to, they call it corkscrew, you know, either go or starboard or port, you know. So he said, "He's coming in now, he's turning in now!" And he said, "Prepare to corkscrew starboard." So I just whipped her over as steep as I could, you know, tipped her right up on the end of the wing and I pulled it around like that. He's coming from there and we go like that toward him and I cut her around really sharp and shoved her down and the gunners opened fire on the fighter. They didn't hit him but they opened fire on him which didn't hurt. It scared him off a little. And I guess the fighter got a picture on his camera of our engine on fire and he'd probably go back and claim a kill, you know, but he didn't have a kill there.

With bombing flares in sight, Mr. Sellen feels the impact of a hit to the air craft causing equipment breakdown and fire. He must make a forced landing.

Richard Sellen

Richard Sellen was born in Oak Bank, Manitoba on September 19, 1920. His hometown has been Oak Bank for his entire life. He enlisted approximately a year and a half after the war started. He was in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 426 Squadron. His rank at the end of the war was flying officer. He returned to Oak Bank after the war and started a building construction company with his brother. They built all types of buildings throughout the province of Manitoba. His parents were both originally from England but they actually met in Winnipeg. They settled on a small acreage near Oak Bank and it is there on that very site that Mr. Sellen grew up and still lives today. He and his wife Mary have five children, 15 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He has belonged to the Canadian Veterans Association since the war. After retirement, Mr. Sellen purchased a small plane which he enjoyed flying out of a grass strip near Oak Bank. He built and flew a home built airplane with two of his sons. Mr. Sellen holds great pride and recognition for being part of Bomber Command.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
June 22, 2012
Person Interviewed:
Richard Sellen
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
426 Squadron
Pilot Officer

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