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Bendixsen, John

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status: survived
airforce: RCAF
born: United Kingdom

added by: John R. Bendixsen
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BENDIXSEN, F/L John (J13401) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.541 Squadron - Award effective 29 March 1945 as per London Gazette dated 10 April 1945 and AFRO 824/45 dated 18 May 1945. Born in London, England, 1923; home in New York City; enlisted Toronto, 3 September 1941. Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 2 January 1942), No.6 EFTS (graduated 13 March 1942) and No.1 SFTS (graduated 14 August 1942). Commissioned 1942.

Flight Lieutenant Bendixsen has completed an operational tour on Photographic Reconnaissance during which time he has flown 92 sorties. On November 28th, 1944 he photographed targets in Rochum, Essen, Duisburg, Hamborn, Gilsenkirchen [sic], Eindhoven, Gilze, Rijen, Venlo, Wanne-Eickel, Westkapelle, Flushing and Terneizen in one sortie. On May 21st, 1944, Flight Lieutenant Bendixsen photographed two flying bomb sites from 100 feet. On returning, a successful landing was made although the cloud base was only 150 feet. Flight Lieutenant Bendixsen proved himself to be a most reliable and thorough photographic reconnaissance pilot.

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RAF 541 PRU
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EN664
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by: John R. Bendixsen No brakes, short runway 2015-11-19 00:31:44

One somewhat comical story I remember my Dad telling me was about the time his Spitfire was having a problem with the brakes. He was sent to another field to have them serviced. Unfortunately, the other field had a short runway. The Spitfire would not be stopped in time. He went beyond the end of the runway, lost the undercarriage in a ditch by the side of a road, skidded across the road narrowly missing a young lady on a bicycle, and into a stone wall. He got out of the Spitfire very quickly and ran in case the plane decided to do something unpleasant and took cover. Meanwhile, the young lady he almost hit stood in the middle of the road and balled him out for scaring the hell out of her.
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by: John R. Bendixsen Job 102 - Photo Reconn of German RDF at Le Conquet, France - Part 1. 2015-11-21 01:19:48

Documented by John Bendixsen 541 Squadron PRU

May 26th, 1944

A month and a half ago, the phone rang. Not that it hasn’t rung since — but this particular time — so long ago — there was something very special about it. It was RAE Command HQ. on the phone — they gave us a job to do — a very special job. To be precise the job was a dice of three wireless installations on the French Coast near Brest. We immediately got cracking. Maps — high level photographs of the area — special gen on the exact location of the targets — and so on. Then we started to wait for suitable weather.

Suitable weather consists of a layer of 10/10 cloud — at 800 to 1500 feet — with medium visibility — and no rain. Slight variations of these conditions are acceptable — but the ideal conditions are as mentioned.

While we were waiting for these conditions we went out on practice runs — with our oblique cameras — first making sure of our sighting and getting the target fairly well in the middle of the photograph. This took several days — and each day — each morning — we went to Met. wondering if “to—day would be the day”. This went on for some time — and our practicing got to the stage where two of us would go out together and have a go at territory as much the same as we could find, as the actual target area. It worked well — to within split seconds — so we thought we’d be all right.

During these days of practice we also made paper plans of the actual job — using as a guide our actual flying practice. Our routes were marked on a large scale mosaic photographic sec¬tion made for us. The combination of timing and routing to avoid flak positions made the job look very sweet on paper. All that remained was to wait for suitable weather.

The first “suitable day” arrived. Met. advised us that there was a 10/10 layer at 2000 ft. This was acceptable for us — so Johnny and I got all excited and practically ready. Something cropped up though — Met hadn’t been quite right! The South Coast stations were reporting about 5/10 at 3000 and it certainly would have been worse in our target area. Therefore we didn’t go. Dis¬appointing — but the episode served its purpose as we, with new enthusiasm, got to work studying photographs of our area again.

Another week went by — and I used to sit, now and again, and picture myself doing the job. I could see the coastline clearly — the little bay where I was to cross over the coast — the river to cross — turn left to the end of “the orchard” — turn steep right onto the first target — pass to the right of it, taking the photograph — then a steep turn to the right again — look for the clump of trees to the left — turn towards them — pass them on my left — and there was the second target. All in all it would take about one and a half minutes — not very long when flying close to 300 m.p.h.!

The second suitable day arrived. Met gave us the gun — 10/10 at 1500 for the next two hours — good show. One thing overlooked though! It took two hours to get the cameras put in the kites. So again we didn’t go. We had the cameras changed however as Met gave a good chance of our being able to have a crack next morning. Next morning came — but the weather wasn’t good enough.

Then came a week of good weather — but still each morning — in fact several times a day we asked Met — anything in sight for our low level job?

The answer came on a Thursday — “a good day for your job”. O—kay — so we laid it on for 11 o’clock. Jock and I were going to do it. Met gave us a 10/10 layer at 2500 — worth trying. We had a high level trip out the same morning, so we figured out a code for him to send back a message saying what the cloud looked like from above. We were somewhat amazed when we got one message saying 5/10—8/10 followed by another saying less than 5/10 5 Met said that as the cloud was moving South, it would probably be suitable if we took off an hour later — so we postponed it to 1200 hours.

At 1115 hrs. our high level trip came back — the pilot reported that the cloud was only half way across the channel — obviously it would take another four hours to reach the Coast! So again we postponed the trip till 1630!

During the afternoon Jock and I worked out our courses. We were ready — to within an hour of take off time when the front came in. Ceiling down to 300 feet and raining — liable to keep like it for hours. Well, we couldn’t do more than try — we thought — but at 1600 hrs it looked bad — almost on the
deck and raining hard. Besides we weren’t positive that the cloud had reached the target area. What to do —yes — or no? At 1610 it was no — not worth it. So again we cancelled it.

The next day came — weather at base still sticky — cloud at 200 to 300 feet — if that. Slight rain cutting visibility to about a mile. Met said the target area had 10/10 at 1200 ft — very good conditions. The only bad part was getting off — and getting back down again when we got back! We decided to have a go anyway — take off at 1100 hours.

Courses were worked out once more — maps checked over — and photographs — nearly worn out by this time were studied for a final check up.

1040 hours — we get into our kites.

1051 hours — we start to taxi out to the runway in use.

1054 hours — I take up position on runway and wait for Jock to taxi up next to me on my right. While I was waiting I took another look around at the weather — 150 to 200 feet — could see just beyond the end of the runway — wake up — here’s Jock!

1056 — Throttle open — a great feeling of security rises with the rise in speed in this wonderful kite — it will take good care of me — never mind the weather! Maybe this is a false feeling all of a sudden it all goes white — in cloud, and the altimeter reading still zero feet! Throttle back a bit —let down — there’s the ground — here comes the bay — good enough. I’m out at sea now — with a good four hundred feet ceiling! But is Jock O.K. — where is he — good show — he’s right with me!

We set course in the rain and muck, for Land’s End. Eleven minutes to go.

Five minutes gone — rain stopped.

Six minutes — cloud base 500 feet.

With our part of the journey over — getting off and on our way — we reach Lands End and set course for France and the target area. A few minutes have gone by — and a big convoy looms up in front of us — have to go around the damn thing — might set our course and E.T.A.’s off a bit — hell!

Five minutes to target area — but no sign of land! Should be. Should be a coast line on our left, but there isn’t — keep going — ah — at four and a half minutes there’s the island —our position looks reasonably correct — keep going — four minutes to go — a loud howl of enemy R.D.F. comes over the ear phones — three and a half minutes to go — land in sight on the port side — lighthouse straight ahead — small fishing boats all over the place — passing one now — take a picture okay — here’s the point where I turn inland — no, wrong one! God — nearly mucked it up! — wait a sec — this must be it now — hell, I’ve almost passed it — I’ll go up the river then instead of across it and turning left — into the river mouth — small fishing boat coming out — ha! fisherman looks scared — he’s hanging onto the mast. FLAK — small puffs overhead — Christ - Jerry’s ready and waiting — got to hand it to him — now where’s the orchard — there it goes — I mean it’s gone — must be going bloody fast — turn sharp steep quick right — (steep turns on the deck aren’t permitted they said in flying school — I wish my instructor could see me now) bags of FLAK — there’s the target — target number one — I’m too bloody far away — I can’t turn quick enough to get it on my port side — try hard — Christ look at the FLAK! — just passed a machine gun — one guy shooting for all he’s worth — another passing the ammunition — to hell with them - turn steep — sharp - got to get this bloody target — I’ll hit it in a minute — I’m too close — can’t get it on my port side — can’t turn quick enough — straighten out or I will hit it - HELL - I’ve missed it now — have to go on to the next one — what a bloody fool. What went wrong anyway —forget it now — got to get the other picture! — look at the bloody FLAX now — here comes another machine gun — I can see the guy’s faces — passed them now — here comes the coast — over we go — turn right — up the cliff again — nearly went into it — here comes the next target — there it goes! I think I got it — hope so — perhaps a bit close but it should do — now to get back.

Still bloody flak around — no sense going back for another run — all the guns would be in action by the time we could do another run — the first time they were about 75% in action — some guys had been a bit slow and were just jumping into their gun pits — wish I had some guns — here come the fishing boats again — take another picture — there’s Jock — let’s get together and get going.

I relax again. We’re nearly back to the English Coast — my God I’ve been sweating some — I’m all wet!! Here’s the coast! Nearly home — round Land’s End — turn East.

The weather looks pretty bad ahead — get in touch with “Eddy” I guess — hello Eddy — hello Eddy —

They say a special flare path is lit for us at base — good show — we’ll get in O.K.

Here comes the bay — photographic section — the hotel — there’s the flare path. Ceiling 200 feet — raining — just like when we took off. Steep turning circuit on the deck — flaps - wheels - pitch. Wow — what a stinky landing !!

The trip’s done with now all the excitement is over —except for one little thing — we might have to do it again.

I’ve drawn a picture of the one I missed — they might be satisfied with that — then again they might not. I was too close to the second one — picture just a hopeless blur — Jock did O.K. — got 3/4 of one and as good as all of the rest — good show on his part — they were very close together too!

Maybe we’ll do it again — maybe I’ll do it alone — after all I mucked it up — Jock got his shift O.K. We’ll see what happens!

There was a lot of flak though — maybe we won’t be so lucky next time — who knows?
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by: John R. Bendixsen Photo Reconn of German RDF at Le Conquet, France - Part 2. 2016-01-08 21:23:26

Documented by John Bendixsen 541 Squadron PRU

July 14, 1944

Well, we finally did it again.

But there’s more to it than that!

We last did it on May 26th. I wanted to do it again to finish the job — so to speak — and Jock wanted to come along to help. We decided that two kites would be better than one, because there was so much flak. One kite might have a hell of a time. Two kites though, might confuse the “Herr” — and divide the flak up.

However the job was cancelled. It was considered too dangerous by someone who didn’t know anything about it — so we got the order — cancel Job 102 till further notice. I asked permission to do it — but no — it wasn’t necessary to be done again — and all that — said the person who didn’t know anything about it.

Then one day when he was away came the message — Request Job 102 — but not till the flight commander gives the O.K., as if he thinks it’s too dangerous it won’t be done again. As I said before — this certain person didn’t know anything about it — so what the heck! How could he say whether it was too dangerous. So when he came back I asked him again, if we could do it, but he wouldn’t say yes - or no — so I asked him to ask the powers that be, at Benson.

“O.K. — you can do Job 102”, was the reply. We then, again, started to think about it — and wait for the weather. Several times we nearly went, day after day Job 102 kept me sitting on the edge of my chair.

Then the Flight Commander wanted me to take along a guy who hadn’t done a Dice — to give him the experience. Naturally, I didn’t want to take anyone but Jock — as Jock knew where and why he was going. But we managed today, on July 14th, to set out, Jock and I, for Le Conquet.

We took off at 1200 hours in formation. The ceiling was pretty low so we went around Land’s End again. As we went round Land’s End the weather came down to the deck for about five minutes. We nearly pranged into a Corvette too!

About ten minutes from Land’s End the weather broke into 8/10 at 1290 feet and 3/10 at 500 feet. Visibility was extraordinarily good. We saw the French Coast ten minutes from E.T.A. Le Conguet.

As we went down the West Coast of France — we were both looking for two lighthouses which were so predominant the last time we came down this way. But could we see them? — could we hell!! I asked Jock three times if “this was it” — but his reply was so distorted on the V.H.F. that I couldn’t understand him — so I went towards “this” — which was a bit of land sticking out. As soon as I turned in I heard, Jock yelling No! No! No! So I turned out again — next to Jock. We flew right past Le Conquet with a hail of flak from “Jocks bofors” and some machine guns from the coast!

We both realized that we had gone too far as a moment later we were looking up the river going into Brest.

The distortion on the V.H.F. was to blame I guess, neither of us could quite understand what we were saying, and it resulted in the finger like confusion.

I thought Jock said he was returning to base, so I was just about to turn in and make a dash for the target when Jock started turning in himself. It worked far better than we could have hoped. We did a 180 turn to starboard, diving from 800 feet to the deck — 26.50 rpm -+ boost. I was doing 340 or so on the clock as I approached the coast.

At about 700 yds range two gun positions opened up — and the water in front of me was full of splashes. I did a wicked turn to port — then a wicked one to starboard back on to track. The church steeple was the next obstacle — I was headed straight for it so I kicked hard left rudder skidding violently out of the way of ye steeple. Then I saw the target — came up off the deck — saw two gun positions at the target open up — got the target lined up — watched it go under my wing — and presto on the old button as it came out into view.

Now to get out! — and in the meantime take a look around. I did a steep climbing turn to starboard, with bags of bottom rudder, then top rudder — beyond that I don’t remember what I did, except kick & push & pull, because something happened.

As I did my climbing turn I saw several gun positions pouring with smoke, but no tracer. I said to Jock on the V.H.F. “These guys are clueless” — they must have heard me because the next second the air was full of red and orange tracer, and bofors puffs of flak. In the line book I wrote — the water was full of splashes, the ground was covered with positions of pouring smoke, the air was full of tracer and flak puffs. Actually, although it’s in the line book, it was no line! I saw Jock weaving out over the water — he was surrounded with splashes. I wished I was where he was then — because he was half a mile ahead of me! I just kept pushing and pulling till at last we were out of range — and could relax. I was slightly wet!!

We came home at 200 feet, quite happily — and got into base with a 200 foot cloud base with little trouble.

I was very grateful to Jock for coming along. I still think one kite would have a hell of a time in that area!

The pictures were O.K. — and Job 102 has been removed from the programme.

So now we sit and wait for the next Dice.
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by: John R. Bendixsen 2016-01-08 21:23:59


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reply: Andy_F 541 Sqn 2016-02-10 14:23:29

Hi John,

I read posts with great interest. For many years I have been researching RAF photo recce operations and aircrew. As such I would very much like to get in touch with you regarding your father's service with 541 Sqn.

Best Regards

Andy

by: John R. Bendixsen 2016-02-18 02:07:40

Andy -

I don't have an awful lot of additional information at this time. My Dad has been gone for over 40 years. My Sister has some more material that I'm hoping she will forward to me (I have to bug her a bit) and I think there's more material in my collection. I'll see what I can gather and post at a later date.

John
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