From The Daily Telegraph 13 January. This one was difficult to edit. I didn't want to take anything out.
Wing Commander Reg Reynolds, who has died aged 98, was one of the RAF’s outstanding low-level attack pilots; he flew 89 bombing operations and was decorated for gallantry four times.
He joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1937 and trained as a pilot.
The following August he joined No 144 Squadron, flying the Hampden bomber. During the Phoney War he flew on shipping sweeps, and after the German invasion of the Low Countries and France in May 1940 he dropped mines in the Baltic and bombed targets in Germany.
During the summer of 1940 he attacked the German invasion barges gathering in French ports. After 30 operations he was awarded the DFC and rested.
He returned to operational flying in April 1941 to fly the Manchester, which was plagued with engine problems, on a number of bombing operations over France and Germany. Three months later he was sent as a flight commander to form the nucleus of No 455 Squadron, the first Royal Australian Air Force bomber squadron.
This involved returning to fly the out-dated Hampden on 12 more operations over Germany and to lay mines in the waters around the Netherlands and north Germany.
In 1942 he converted to the Mosquito before joining the first squadron to be equipped with the aircraft, No 105, teaming up with Ted Sismore.
Over the next nine months, Reynolds led many daylight attacks against targets in France, the Low Countries and Germany. These included railway workshops, power stations, steel plants and armament works.
One of his most effective raids was the bombing of Berlin during the morning of January 30 1943, just as Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, was due to address a mass rally as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of Hitler’s coming to power. Goering’s speech was to be broadcast to the nation.
Early that day, three Mosquitos of No 105 Squadron, led by Reynolds and his long-serving and brilliant navigator Ted Sismore, took off from their base in Norfolk on the RAF’s first daylight bombing attack on Berlin, a round trip of 1,150 miles. Their explicit task was to drop bombs on the capital at exactly 11 am, the time at which Goering was to begin his address.
After take-off the three aircraft remained at low level and headed across the North Sea. They flew north of the Frisian Islands before turning due east. As they crossed the River Elbe they commenced a climb to 25,000 ft and headed for Berlin. The attack was delivered exactly on time, with the bombs falling near the broadcast station. The explosions could be heard over the radio.
It was reported that Goering was “boiling with rage and humiliation”, and had to postpone his speech for an hour. A few years earlier Goering had famously boasted that no enemy aircraft would ever bomb the German Reich.
The raid succeeded, despite the loss of one mosquito later in the day, and was a significant propaganda coup. It was covered extensively in the press and on the BBC news. Sismore later related: “After our return, we were able to listen to a recording of the broadcast, the announcement, an explosion, loud voices and then just martial music.”
All the crews were decorated and Reynolds received an immediate DSO for his “calm courage, resolution and endurance”.
On May 27 1943 he led a formation of 14 aircraft to attack the Schott Glass Works and the Zeiss Optical Instruments Works at Jena, deep in the heart of Germany. It was the longest low-level daylight raid mounted by the RAF.
The weather and visibility deteriorated as they approached the target surrounded by cloud-covered hills. Balloon defences protected the target and the Mosquitos encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire.
As Reynolds released the bombs, his aircraft was hit by flak and one engine was damaged. He was wounded in the hand and leg and a piece of shrapnel ripped the collar of his jacket. The long journey home was spent monitoring the damaged engine and avoiding enemy defences. Reynolds was awarded an immediate Bar to his DSO and Sismore received the DSO.
In January 1944 Reynolds became wing commander, flying operations in No 140 Wing of the Second Tactical Air Force. He continued to fly on operations and on October 31 1944, again flying with Sismore, he led a force of 24 Mosquitos to bomb the Gestapo HQ located in one of the buildings of Aarhus University in Denmark.
The surprise attack in misty weather was delivered from low level and was a complete success. The head of the local SS was killed and one of his officers wrote: “A terrible disaster happened when our HQ was shot up by English airmen.” As the formation crossed Denmark at treetop height, many Danes waved and a farmer stopped ploughing, stood at attention and saluted as the Mosquitos swept past.
For their outstanding leadership, both Reynolds and Sismore received a Bar to their DFCs, making Reynolds one of only 30 airmen to receive two DSOs and two DFCs.
Full obituary with photographs.
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The life and times of the Greatest Generation, the heroes (British and Allies) of WWII.