USN strike inside the Arctic circle
4th October 1943: TBF Avenger pilot has a narrow escape during the US Navy's only carrier operation against the Germans
The Royal Navy and the US Navy had been operating in the North Sea during the summer, hoping to tempt the Tirpitz out for an engagement. After the midget submarine attack on the Tirpitz they turned their attention to the shipping carrying vital iron ore to Germany. The force mounted an unusual joint operation on the 4th October - Operation Leader.
The Royal Navy Home Fleet escorted the carrier USS Ranger to a position 100 miles off the port of Bodo, just above the Arctic Circle in Norway.
Gerald W. Thomas1 flew a Grumman Avenger on the mission. It was his first combat sortie, a pre-dawn takeoff for a low-level, under-the-radar flight to the target area:
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