We kept as low as possible to avoid detection and as we passed over the gun position with the smoke bomb released, our starboard engine was put out of action by ground fire from around the target area. At this point I feathered the starboard airscrew, applied maximum power on the port engine and climbed as high as I could with the high speed we had. I called up the squadron above and notified them of our predicament and asked Alan Lorimer our Navigator-Bomb Aimer, to give me a course for the alternative target we had been given at briefing - it was a bomb or fuel dump according to Intelligence reports, at a map reference position on the Eastern part of Muschu Island just off Wewak Point.
Meantime our Radio Operator Arthur Goodall was flat out trying to inform Head Office of our situation. He was not having much success, but I think he ultimately contacted someone on Biak Island after a frustrating effort. I headed the aircraft on the course Alan gave me, and we approached a mass of jungle only, with our target somewhere below. We had reached 1,300 feet from our climb, and I was only able to maintain that height by maintaining maximum power on the port engine, and flying at 96 knots airspeed, just on the stall. As we approached the Muschu Island target I delayed opening the bomb bay doors till the last moment, due to the extra resistance of the exposed doors causing a reduction in our airspeed and stalling. After Alan had released the bombs over the target, we smartly closed the bomb bay doors and considered our alternatives!
I did not consider that we had any chance of getting home on the port engine, so while we were over dry land I told the crew Alan Lorimer, Arthur Goodall and Roy Dingwell their best chance of survival was to jump for it, while I continued to try and get the aircraft home, hopeless as the chance seemed. I felt my chances were minimal and that I would be finishing up ditching in the aircraft in the sea. The crew unanimously decided they would stick with me and try for home, so our next job was to throw out everything that was moveable and not required on our remaining flight.
During this time Roy Dingwall who was still in the rear gun turret, kept lifting our spirits with a running commentary of great explosions and bursts of flames and fire erupting from our target, indicating that the intelligence report was correct and that we had accurately located it and damaged it extensively. The aircraft would start to quiver, indicating it was just about to stall and fall out of the sky and I would ease the controls forward ever so slightly, gain a few knots airspeed and climb back to where we were. I kept doing this continuously every few minutes or less, and we slowly approached our base at 96 knots - we had 100 miles to cover from Muschu Island to Tadji and we were keeping out to sea to avoid any further enemy anti-aircraft action. On crossing the coastline in friendly territory, we called the tower and informed them that we could not proceed on a normal circuit and land from the West due to lack of speed and control of the aircraft - our height was now down to approx 1,000 feet.
As we approached the runway we delayed lowering our landing gear till absolutely necessary, and the tower was trying to get an 8 Squadron aircraft to go around again instead of continuing his approach from the west on final for landing - the aircraft continued its approach on final and completed the landings. Meanwhile we were staggering along on an approach from the EAST. I did not want to crash land the aircraft, it having got us home safely so far, so decided to land on the runway behind the landing aircraft. Estimating the correct time to commit ourselves to the landing, I dropped the landing gear, put out full flap and treated the Beaufort like a Gypsy Moth and side-slipped it down from our safe height and landed over the top of the 8 squadron landing aircraft. I instantly applied maximum brakes, which were not normally as good as we would have liked them to be. In this case, they helped slow the aircraft up to a safe speed to turn the aircraft around at the end of the runway to the right using the port engine to assist the turn. We then came to a halt on the taxiway and everyone heaved a mighty sigh of relief on being home again on terra firma.
The main bombing mission by the rest of the Squadron was quite successful and the only Japanese soldier to survive the attack was the Gunnery Officer Lt. Taizo Takahashi. This information I learnt when I met him in Kyoto in 1976 - but that is another story.