On the night of April 27-28, 1944, Lancaster Mark II EQ-K, "King" of 408 Squadron, with pilot F/L Hales and crew aboard on a raid on Friedrieshafen, developed a ruptured cross feed fuel line, resulting in extensive leakage on the floor behind the main spar. By opening the cross feed valve and feeding all engines off the starboard tanks the leakage was reduced and the crew pressed on.
Immediately after releasing our bomb load, the aircraft was showered with incendiaries from above resulting in the nose perspex, as well as the perspex over the pilot, being shattered. All maps and loose articles were sucked out through the roof. Of the seven other hits to the aircraft, only one entered the fuselage. It stuck in the floor near the mid-upper gunner who swept it out the hole in the belly, burning the palm out of his glove while doing so.
The aircraft went into a dive, but the captain soon regained control and a hasty decision was made to try for home rather than the short route to Switzerland. On the breezy return journey we jettisoned any loose articles we could. We limped into Tangmere on the south coast of England, having nearly exhausted our fuel supply (2050 Imp. gal. in 7 hours 31 min. flying time indicates the amount of lost fuel). On closer examination of the aircraft next a.m., an unexploded 4-pound incendiary was found lodged behind the bomb sight computer box, severing the camera leads, rendering that inoperable. The incendiary bomb was defused and kept by the writer.
The engineering section at Tangmere cut the cross feed fuel line and inserted a wooden plug in the open end. This allowed us to return to Linton on Ouse that afternoon in our battered but not broken K. King. (A unique way to celebrate my mother's birthday, April 28.)