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In terms of the percentage of Canadian RCAF aircraft that failed to return, the Montzen Raid was the most costly of the war.
144 aircraft of Bomber Command attacked the railway marshalling yards at Montzen, Belgium on the night of 27/28 April, 1944. The raid was one of hundreds in preparation for the invasion of occupied France that eventually occurred on 06 June, 1944. 55 No. 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft participated in the attack that was led by No. 405 Squadron, the Canadian pathfinder squadron. They were ordered to mark the target prior to the arrival of the main force and Teddy Blenkinsop was to assist in the target marking.
The bombing force, particularly the second of the two waves, suffered ferocious opposition when attacked by enemy fighters. Ten, a sobering 18% of the Canadian aircraft, were lost as well as five aircraft from other groups.
The painting (below) depicts a point in the raid shortly after S/L Blenkinsop DFC had dropped his markers and was about to be attacked by an enemy fighter. The Master Bomber and commanding officer of the squadron, W/C Reg Lane DSO DFC and Bar2 recalled: "The operation was completed and I instructed Blenkinsop to head home. Moments later I saw the flash of an aircraft blowing up. I realized at once it was Blenkinsop's because the bright colours of his target indicators came dripping out of the explosion. When I returned to base, I reported that he had been killed."
Teddy Blenkinsop's Lancaster had been shot down by German night fighter ace Hermann Greiner but incredibly Blenkinsop had survived although the remainder of his crewmembers had not. He was picked up by the Belgian Underground and obtained papers that enabled him to pass as a Belgian national. However while in Meensel-Kiesegem the German Gestapo captured eighty members of the local Resistance including Blenkinsop. He was held at St. Gilles Prison in Brussels and while detained transmitted his identity to an American officer POW by tapping in Morse code over steam pipes.
Honouring members of the Pathfinder squadrons, this painting is of a raid led by No. 405, the Canadian Pathfinder squadron, on the railway yards at Montzen, Belgium on the night of 27/28 April, 1944. Depicted is a point during the raid shortly after W/C Edward W. Blenkinsop had dropped his target markers and was about to be attacked by an enemy fighter. The aircraft banking in the upper portion of the painting is being flown by W/C Reg Lane. The painting was unveiled by Reg Lane (DSO, DFC & Bar) on 31 July, 1994. Lt. General Lane (ret'd) was the Master Bomber on this raid that was successful but at a heavy cost in Canadian aircraft and aircrew.