Like the Le Creusot raid of 17 October, the Milan raid of 24 October was flown in daylight. It is not entirely certain on which of the two operations this photograph and three other related photographs were taken, but the fact that the aircraft were flying in formation seems to suggest that this particular one was taken on the Le Creusot raid.
The photographs were Ernest Deverill‘s, and were almost certainly taken from inside his Lancaster. For an image of his Flying Logbook which records the Milan and Le Creusot raids, see the RAF Pathfinders Archive page: Deverill and Le Creusot Op
The photographs reflect a period of the Air War when Bomber Command as a force had increased greatly in confidence. It had a new highly dynamic commander in Arthur Harris (who took over Bomber Command in February 1942), new techniques (the Path Finder Force was created in August 1942 and would revolutionise target-marking), new equipment such as the Lancaster, and a new use of bombing raids for propaganda as well as military gain, a policy which brought the Air War centre-stage. For a time, it seemed as if Bomber Command could become invincible. This hope would die in the winter of the following year.
In the images above, Lancasters can be seen flying in formation close to Deverill’s aircraft. The rare photographs give a flavour of what it was like to fly in a Lancaster in these extraordinary daylight raids of 1942. The other major operation flown in daylight that year was the iconic Augsburg raid on 17 April. Ernest Deverill also flew on that operation.
It was not until after D-Day in 1944 that Lancasters once again flew operations in broad daylight.
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