Another day of poor weather on the Western Front with low clouds, mist, and high winds. For the most part, enemy aircraft were inactive with only one combat recorded. 2nd-Lieutenant Herbert Henry Hartley and Lieutenant Robert Samuel Herring from 48 Squadron RFC shot down an Albatross out of control south of Guise. They were unable to see if it crashed due to clouds. 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Arthur Churchill Manley from 54 Squadron RFC failed to return from a wireless interruption mission in his Sopwith Camel (B5417), and was subsequently reported as a prisoner of war. This does not appear to be a result of enemy action.
A lack of fighter action did not deter the bombers though, and during the day, nearly a ton of bombs were dropped on various targets.
In the evening, 100 Squadron RFC carried out a raid into Germany, attacking the important railway junction and sidings at Courcelles-les-Metz, south-east of Metz. The leaders dropped two 40lb phosphorus bombs to guide other pilots to the objective. The rest dropped twelve 112lb bombs and 20 25lb bombs. Unfortunately, the mist prevented any observation of the results. One of the bombers failed to return. 2nd-Lieutenant Owen Brennand Swart and 2nd Lieutenant Anthony Fielding-Clarke suffered engine failure in their FE2b (B439). They were forced to land behind enemy lines.
Swart later wrote about this in the Annals of 100 Squadron:
“On the evening of the 9th of February 1919, we started on a raid into Germany. My machine did not climb well, and the engine occasionally showed signs of some unpleasantness, but being a new pilot I was ashamed to return. Pride again.Well, we circled round the specified lighthouse, and then followed behind the leaning machine when it arrived. We had a fairly quiet. passage over the lines, anal eventually came In the railway line which we followed up until we came to a. junction, and saw a small village next to it. It appeared in be the spot we were looking for, so we pulled off our bombs and my observer tired at targets beneath. I only saw one bomb, a Cooper, go off to the South of the line, and near some houses.I had to turn to the North sharply, and came past the station of Courcelles in order lo give my observer a better chance of using his gun, and also to see the bombs go off. This was the juncture where my engine failed mc, not completely, but as though two or three cylinders had stopped firing. I was hardly at a height of more than 1,900 feet, but I turned her head towards the lines and Steered S.W. as the wind was more or less from the West. l also had a look at all my instruments which recorded everything correct, except the revolutions per minute. The pressure was all right, but I tried her on gravity tank. No better, the vibrations were so bad I tried throttling back, but to no purpose. Soon we glided gradually nearer to the ground and also nearer to the line, but just when I thought we might do it the engine ” cut out ” completely,My observer behaved very well, firing at searchlights, and machine gun posts, though he knew what had happened to the engine.I was only a couple of hundred feet up now, and I decided to use my parachute flares, even if I was still in German territory, as it was rather misty, and I wanted to see what I had to land on. The first one did not show me much, but those my observer sent out showed that I was going to land on some small trees beneath. I thereupon lit my wing tip flare, and by its light saw a small clearing to the east, which I turned for, and in five seconds I was sailing down to it, and landed amongst hundreds of hares sitting bolt up-right with the gleam of the reflected light shining out of their great big saucy eyes. The machine touched the ground without a jar, and came to a stop within thirty feet.”
The two of them went on the run for two days before finally being captured.
Fielding-Clarke left and Swart right after being captured