Terry Spencer: My time with 350 (Belgian) Squadron
(by Terry Spencer)

 

I joined 350 (Belgian) Squadron as their C.O. on 4 January 1945 at Y.32 (Ophoven). On 23 January 1945 F/Sgt Huens was shot down and killed and I was hit twice on that flight.  We then moved to B.78 Eindhoven in Holland on 27 January. On 6 February on an armed recce, with Fifi Verpoorten, in the Minden/Munster area Fifi hit a tree, but landed safely at Volkel. On 26 February whilst on a "Rhubarb" in the Rheine area I was shot down by ground flak. I called Roberto Muls, my No. 2, and advised him that I was on fire. I climbed to 8,000 feet and baled out, but hit the tail plane whilst baling out. When I landed I was taken prisoner and, fortunately, a lot of French slave workers were around to save me being torn apart. 

I was taken to Birgsteinfurt hospital for ten days, with Prison in solitary nearby and was then taken down to Frankfurt, where I got lost on the station. Despite shouting out "Ich krieg geffenger" no one took me seriously. Frankfurt was heavily bombed and many Germans sought refuge in the camp when Jimmy Thieles and I walked out, not to return. French workers gave us a small motor-cycle and we collected petrol from the nearby Hungarian camp. 

We ran in to the 1st American Army who eventually returned us to Holland, where I rejoined 350 (Belgian) Squadron on 1 April 1945 (April Fool's Day!). I then took over from Frank Woolley. On 16 April we moved to B.118 Celle, where I visited the Concentration Camp at Belsen, which had been liberated the previous day by the British 21st Army Group. On 19 April sweeping the Parchim area we attacked a ship in the Bay of Wismar, German school of Ack Ack. I left the squadron at 8,000 feet and dived down with Roberto Muls, a Sergeant pilot and one other. We 'hit' the water doing 420 m.p.h. - very fast then - and attacked the tanker with cannon and machine guns. Two German warships were in the lea of the hills and in the shade which I never saw. They opened up with everything possible. My Spitfire was blown in two on the water. My chute was blown out of the pack and I landed in the Bay in time to see the front part of my Spitfire crash on land! The tail was beside me. I then spent the next two weeks as a POW in Germany. As I was badly burned I had been taken to the Luftwaffe hospital Lazarett, Wismar. With the arrival of the Russians we were taken by tanker to Scharbeutz, and liberated by the Desert Rats of the 7th Armoured Division. I rejoined 125 Wing on 4 May. 

I was awarded an Immediate DFC by AVM Harry Broadhurst and later the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. I was demobbed on 17 December and given 68 days leave. My final logbook entry said "Goodbye to the RAF and certainly the best and happiest days of my life."