site search  

 

    626 squadron crews    

626 Squadron and RAF wickenby

626 Squadron Lost Aircraft

 

 

D

Operations Board
Sgt Tom Bint & HK539
Commonwealth War Graves
Wartime Friesland Islands
Airfield Plan
Bomber Command photos
Wickenby's Groundcrews
About Gardening missions
Tony Winser - Ace Gunner
Bennet's Beavers

 

 A photo taken by me of a framed photo passed down to me from my grandfather ("skipper" Bob Dobson)        Copied from Wikipedia

* * *

The Loss of ME576 on the Brunswick Raid 14/15th January 1944

 

 ME576 UM-A2 was one of two 626 Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation. ( See: JB141). Airborne 16.45 14th January 1944 from RAF Wickenby. Crashed near Halberstadt, where all were initially buried. They have been subsequently re- interred in the Berlin 1939-45 War cemetery.

Bomber Command sent 496 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes on the first major raid to Brunswick of the war. 38 Lancasters were lost, 7.6 per cent of the force. 

The German running commentary was heard following the progress of the bomber force from a position only 40 miles from the English coast and many German fighters entered the bomber stream soon after the German frontier was crossed near Bremen. 

 

The German fighters scored steadily until the Dutch coast was crossed on the return flight. 11 of the lost aircraft were Pathfinders. Brunswick was smaller than Bomber Command's usual targets and this raid was not a success. 

 

The city report describes this only as a 'light' raid, with bombs in the south of the city which had only 10 houses destroyed and 14 people killed. Most of the attack fell either in the countryside or in Wolfenbüttel and other small towns and villages well to the south of Brunswick.  Photo shows the Berlin War Cemetery.

 

The crew of ME576 were -

 

Kenneth Neal Elkington  (28),  F/Sgt,   Pilot. Yorkshire.

 

Leonard John (Len) Pasfield ((21),  Sgt,  Wireless Op. Son of George & Beatrice Pasfield Of Clapton, London.

 

Basil George Martin (19) Sgt, Flight Engineer. Son of Harold & Minnie Victoria Rose Martin of Poplar, London.

 

Robert Charles (Charlie) McLaren (20) Sgt, Navigator. Son of Thomas & Emma McLaren of Six Mile Cross, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

 

Arthur Manley Goodall (25) W/O (RCAF),  Bomb Aimer. Son of James and Cora Goodall of Chauvin, Alberta, Canada.

 

Maxwell Anderson Brooks Sgt,  Air Gunner

 

Albert Alexander Johnson (21) Sgt,   Air Gunner. Son of Henry John & Ethel Emily Johnson of Edmonton, Middlesex.

 

My Great Uncle, Robert Charles (Charlie) McLaren was a navigator in 626 squadron.  He was originally from Six Mile Cross, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland.  He began training with the Air Force at Queens University, Belfast, where he was a medical student. 

He was part of 1 Operational Air Flying Unit on 12th January 1943, 81 Operational Training Unit, 27th April 1943, 18 Operational Training Unit 12 July 1943 and became part of 626 Squadron 11 December 1943. 

From RAF Wickenby he flew Operation Mannheim on 20th December 1943.  His plane was shot down on 14th January 1944 on his second mission, over Brunswick, he was 20 years old.  

The pilot was Sgt Elkington and as far as we know at least one of the crew was Canadian and may have come back to Northern Ireland on furlough with Charlie.  

Charlie's  mother destroyed his letters and all but one photograph, after his death, so great was her grief, therefore there is much we do not know. 

Her husband hid Charlie's log book - something for which I am eternally grateful.  His body and those of his crew were discovered after the war, identified by a silver cigarette case with his initials engraved.  It is my single most prized possession.  

The crew are buried in Berlin and family have visited over the years. We know that Arthur Manley Goodall aged 25, son of James and Coral Goodall from Chauvin, Alberta, was one of the crew.  Also Albert Alexander Johnson, aged 21, son of Henry John and Ethel Emily Johnson of Edmonton, Middlesex.

 

I would be so grateful if anyone reading this remembers Charlie and members of his crew, or has any information whatsoever about that last mission.    Ruth McKeown November 2011

 

I have corrected Arthur Goodall's family details after receiving information from his Canadian family.  Tom Bint

 * * *

German Intruders Over Wickenby in March 1945

 

On the night of March 3rd 1945 around 200 Junkers-88 fighter bombers flew low over the North Sea, underneath the radar, to lurk in the area between the Thames Estuary and North Yorkshire. They then crept into the returning streams of bombers as they prepared to land and caused havoc.

Between 12.20 and 2.20am twenty-four bombers were shot down and 97 men lost their lives. Eight crews were on training flights, 44 men dying before they had even gone on operations.

In the early hours of March 4th 1945 two of 12 Squadron's aircraft at Wickenby were returning from a night flying exercise. Both crews had only arrived at the station three days earlier.

 

One of the first victims was 12 Squadron's PB476 PH-Y skippered by Flying Officer Nicholas Ansdell with a crew whose average age was 22. He was 21 and the son of Thomas and Beatrice Ansdell, of Churt in Surrey.

The aircraft crashed at 0029 near Weekly Cross, not far from the small Lincolnshire town of Alford. Their were no survivors. Four of the crew were buried in the local cemetery.

Their memorial stone on the left is on the A16 at Ulceby Cross, Lincolnshire.

 

Another 12 Squadron aircraft, ME323 PH-P, was flown by Welshman Pilot Officer Arthur Thomas, five of his crew were Australians. They crashed at 1.10 am between Stockwith and Blyton around three miles from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire and the whole crew perished.

All 5 RAAF members are buried in the Cambridge City Cemetery and the skipper, Pilot Officer Arthur Thomas, is buried in the Port Talbot Churchyard in Glamorganshire. The grave of the Flight Engineer, Scotsman Flt Sgt McCaffray, is in the Vale of Leven Cemetery, Dumbartonshire.

The Germans paid a high price for this daring operation losing 25 aircraft, each with a crew of 4.

 


THE SQUADRON'S LAST 'OP' IN ANGER - Berchtesgaden - Hitler's Eagle's Nest April 25th 1945 Most of the squadrons taking part in the raids on this day were flying their last operations of the war.

Berchtesgaden: 359 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 5 and 8 Groups. 2 Lancasters lost. This raid was against Hitler's 'Eagle's Nest' chalet and the local SS guard barracks. Among the force were 16 Lancasters of No 617 Squadron dropping their last Tallboys. 8 Oboe Mosquitos were also among the bombing force, to help with the marking, but mountains intervened between one of the ground stations transmitting the Oboe signals and the Mosquitos could not operate even though they were flying at 39,000 ft! There was some mist and the presence of snow on the ground also made it difficult to identify targets, but the bombing appeared to be accurate and effective. No other details are available.     Total effort for the day: 857 sorties, 9 aircraft (1.0 per cent) lost.  The Bomber Command War Diaries

Four Lancasters from 626 Squadron were on this raid. PD287 piloted by W/O Green was the last to return, touching down at 13.51 hours.

The bombing of Berchtesgaden. On the left is Lancaster RF256 UM-T2 piloted by Wing Commander Dixon of 626 Squadron who was flying with Squadron Leader Dick Lane's crew on their last war-time mission. The photo was taken from another 626 Squadron aircraft.

The other members of RF256's crew were Duncan "Mac" McLean (Navigator), Fred Till (Bomb Aimer), Bert Bray (Wireless Operator), Stan Thompson (Flight Engineer), Peter Bone (Mid Upper Gunner), Frank Broome (Rear Gunner).

The last photograph shows the target area on April 26th 1945

* * *

Lancaster PD287 - 14th July 1945           "A whistle saved his life"

 

During the hours of darkness on the 13th July 1945, Lancaster PD287 UM-U2 of 626 Squadron had taken off from RAF Wickenby on a Balbo training sortie with 11 other Lancasters.  The crews had been briefed to fly at 2,000ft.

The crew of Lancaster PD287 were:

F/Sgt S P Bell – Pilot F/Sgt L W Garfield – Nav F/Sgt H J Plastow – W/Op Sgt P J Allsebrook – A/B Sgt S Welsh – F/E Sgt R C T Goldthorpe – M/U/G Sgt J Critchley – R/G  

During the flight at approximately 01.55 hours on the 14th July, the aircraft flew into a thunderstorm and inexplicably Lancaster PD287 flew into the ground near the village of Burdale, 12 miles North West of Driffield in Yorkshire.  

Six members of the crew lost their lives in the crash.  The only survivor was Sgt J Critchley the rear Gunner.  

The event was later reported in two of the local newspapers;

Kept whistling, saved life “An injured airman whose plane had crashed in a lonely part of the Yorkshire Wolds saved his life by blowing a whistle for five hours.  Harvesters going to work heard him and searched until they found the wrecked bomber.  The other six members of the crew were dead”.  

Saved by his whistle – but six died   “Four Irish harvesters, on their way to work in a lonely part of the Yorkshire Wolds, heard feeble sounds of a whistle.  Investigating, they found a crashed Lancaster bomber with six of the crew of seven dead.   The survivor, Sergeant Critchley, badly injured, had been blowing his whistle for five hours”.    

Sgt Critchley was taken to Driffield Hospital, he eventually recovered from his injuries. The other six members of the crew were taken to their home towns were they are buried.

 

Fl/Sgt. Sydney Philip Bell. Wakefield Cemetery. Son of Ernest Edward and Lilian Gertrude Bell of Wakefield, Yorkshire and husband of Violet Isabel of Peckham, London.
Sgt. Stanley Welsh (19) Harelaw Cemetery, Durham. Son of John and Mary Jane Welsh of Annfield Plain, Durham
Fl/Sgt. Lawrence William Garfield (23) . Birmingham (Quinton) Cemetery, Warley. Son of Henry Charles and May Garfield of Warley Woods, Smethwick, Staffordshire
Sgt. Percy John Allsebrook (22). Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery. Son of Percy John and Elizabeth Allsebrook of Milton, Southsea, Hampshire. The family also lived previously in Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline and Derbyshire before their move to Milton; Hampshire. 
Fl/Sgt. Henry Jacob Plastow (20). Edinburgh (Piershill) Cemetery. Son of Henry Jacob and Margaret Cook Plastow of Edinburgh
Sgt. Roy Charles Thomas Goldthorpe (20). Bexleyheath Cemetery, Kent. Son of Charles Richard and Henrietta Goldthorpe of Welling

 

* * *

W/O Peter Richard Chambers DFM & DFC

 

In the course of my research into any military headstone related to Pembrokeshire currently covering the years of 1722 to 2008, with some 3,000 photo's of worldwide Pembroke related headstones I have come across 3 references to 626 Sqdn.  

Ernest George Lewis, Whom I presume you have the full details and photo's from Dave Stapleton so will not repeat.  

Sgt (Air Gnr) William Arla George, see attached for the memorial to him put up by his parents at Llangwm, Pembrokeshire.  

W/O Peter Richard Chambers. This is the most interesting at present London Gazette 25 Sept 1945 shows his award of the D.F.C. as a member of 626 Sqdn, is this correct?

 

My understanding is that he was awarded the D.F.C. flying fighters when he shot down one enemy fighter and drove off another enemy fighter thus saving the crew and a/c of a Lancaster of 626 Sqdn.

Was Richard in fact an Air Gunner aboard the Lancaster which he helped save??

Richard was invested with the award at Buck House in 1945. After the war he farmed at Whitland Carmarthenshire and died at Singleton Hospital in 2004.

 

I tried to teach my wife to drive at Wickenby back in the late 1960's when I was stationed at RAF Digby and living on the old airfield at Skellingthorpe. Happy days...

Regards   Owen Vaughan     benfrobmw@hotmail.co.uk

 

Pembrokeshire Military Headstones 1722 to 2008

26th February 2012

O
O

 

RCAF Flying Officer Walter LeRoy Cook and the crew of LM290-W2

O

Lancaster LM290, UM-W2 took off was from RAF Wickenby at 17:26hrs on 4th November 1944 for a mission to Bochum in Germany.

It crashed near Menin in the Belgian province of West-Vlaanderen and on the border with France and NNW from the town of Tourcoing.

My Uncle Walter's family thinks/thought that his plane went down because he was run into by one of his own planes. Alan Salmoni (nephew of Walter LeRoy Cook)

The Lancaster was one of 32 RAF bombers lost on that raid. All the crew, who were on their 27th mission, were killed and now rest in the St Jean Communal Cemetery at Courtrai.

They were: RCAF Flying Officer Walter LeRoy Cook DFC,  Pilot. 27 year old son of Vera E. Cook, of Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

RAF Sergeant Douglas Whitehead Garside, Flight Engineer, (22) Son of Enoch Garside, and of Elizabeth May Garside, of Oswestry, Shropshire.

RCAF Flight Sergeant Henry Sulz. Navigator. (24) (Promoted to Pilot Officer after his death) J92698 Son of Stephen and Elizabeth Sulz; husband of Margaret Mary Sulz, of Sunnybrook, Alberta, Canada.

RCAF Flight Sergeant Kenneth Corbett McCormick. Bomb Aimer (21) from Flat Lake, Alberta, Canada

RAF Sergeant Leonard Alfred Rolfe. (21) Wireless Operator/Gunner. Son of P. G. and Edith L. Rolfe, of Woolwich, London.

RAF Sergeant John Fulton Air gunner.

RCAF Flight Sergeant Eric Smith (20) Air Gunner from West Summerland, British Columbia.

 

Their earlier missions had been to - 18 July 1944 - Scholven, 20 July - Courtrai, 23 July - Kiel, 24 July - Stuttgart, 31 July - Foret de Nieppe, 4 August - Paulliac, 7 August - Fontenay le Marmion, 10 August - Ferme du Forestel, 14 August - Falaise, 15 August - Volkel, 18 August - Ghent, 3 September - Eindhoven, 6 September - Le Havre, 10 September - Le Havre, 12 September - Frankfurt, 16 September Mine-laying (Danzig), 17 September - Westkapelle, 20 September - Calais, 23 September - Neuss, 26 September - Calais, 14 October - Duisburg (day), 14 October - Duisburg (night), 23 October - Essen, 25 October - Essen, 29 October - Domburg, 31 October - Cologne.

 


The Communal Cemetery (West Vlaanderen Belgium) and Sgt Eric Smith's photo and medals at he Canadian Bomber Command Museum

O

Flying Officer Walter Le Roy Cook (J86874) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.626 Squadron - Award effective 5 February 1945 as per London Gazette dated 20 February 1945 and AFRO 563/45 dated 29 March 1945.

Born 24 November 1916. Home in Leamington, Ontario; enlisted Toronto 12 June 1942. To No.1 Manning Depot, 2 July 1942. To No.4 BGS (guard), 13 August 1942. To No.1 ITS, 10 October 1942; graduated and promoted LAC, 18 December 1942 but not posted to No.7 EFTS until 23 January 1943. May have graduated 19 March 1943 but not posted to No.6 SFTS until 2 April 1943; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 23 July 1943. To Depot, 6 August 1943. To United Kingdom, 25 August 1943.

Commissioned 1 June 1944. Killed in action with 626 Squadron, 4/5 November 1944 (Lancaster LM290); buried in Belgium. Invested with award to next-of-kin, 9 December 1947. Citation reads - "Completed numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty." Public Record Office Air 2/8830 has recommendation for DFC dated 1 November 1944 when he had flown 26 sorties (121 hours 50 minutes) 18 July to 31 October 1944).

 

His CO wrote - "Flying Officer Cook, a Canadian, has now completed 26 operational sorties against the enemy, including such important targets as Kiel, Essen and Duisburg.

Under a calm and quiet manner he has a fine offensive spirit which has been an inspiration to his crew. By setting his mind and energies on the task in hand, and with complete disregard for his own safety, he has pressed home each attack with determination.

His personal example to his crew has welded them into a fine aggressive team and his skilful pilotage has given them a strong confidence at all times.

I recommend, in recognition of his powers of leadership and for his fine record and devotion to duty, that Flying Officer Cook be rewarded by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross."


I am thinking about donating Walter's picture and medals to the Lancaster Bomber museum in Hamilton. This is only a 1.5 hour drive from my house.

I have attached the plaque I have made for my Uncle Walter that I will leave at his grave site on May 26th 2013. I got the idea to do this from Vimy Ridge. When I was there last year many families (of the men never found in France) had left plaques of their loved ones. As we looked at the Vimy Memorial and read these plaques, of course, we started to cry! I cried just making my Uncle's plaque so I am sure I will cry again at his cemetery. Alan Salmoni

O

O
O

Alan's Visit to France & Belgium in 2013

I wanted to share my experience in France with you, particularly Pam and my trip to Vimy Ridge and of course to Uncle Walter’s grave site. To say that the effect these experiences had was profound is a significant understatement. Since being at Uncle Walter’s grave I have felt this need, indeed obligation, to share this story with you (I apologize for its length, but I don’t know how else to capture the experience). I have also attached some photos which I hope give you a sense of Uncle Walter’s resting place.

Going back to Vimy Ridge was special this year because I was simultaneously reading Pierre Berton’s book, “Vimy”, his account of the battle at Vimy Ridge and I was armed with a brief story my good friend Rick Scott wrote for me about his grandfather, who was a Vimy Ridge survivor. Rick was able to supply some nice pictures also to go with the story.After arriving at the Arras train station we were picked up by a wonderful taxi cab driver who took us to Vimy Ridge (8 km). As a side note, Vimy Ridge was part of the offensive called the Battle of Arras. The cab driver spoke pretty good English and he wanted to show us some of the sites along the way related to the war, so we drove through the town of Arras before heading north out into the countryside towards Vimy. We stopped at a huge German cemetery with thousands of dark grey crosses. There was row after row of crosses in a huge treed area. “Now” the cab driver said, “what is significant to know is that there are six bodies buried at every cross”. Our mouths just dropped. One kilometer up the road the cab driver told us to look back behind the car as he slowly made a right turn around a corner. This he said was a French cemetery. It was the largest cemetery I have ever seen and it was filled with thousands of white crosses and tomb stones. At this point I started to cry, and we weren’t even at Vimy Ridge (there are two small cemeteries at Vimy Ridge). It is important to note that there are thousands of cemeteries between Paris and the English Channel because soldiers were normally buried where they were killed. The French lost 250,000 soldiers over two to three years trying unsuccessfully to secure the area around Vimy Ridge. This area was significant because there were many coal mines and this coal helped fuel the war manufacturing engine in Germany. The French withdrew from Vimy to move its troops to Verdun, and in came the Canadians and the Brits. This was significant for Canada and why we deem it so important as a country is because it was the first (and last) time the Canadian troops fought all together as four large battalions fighting side by side (the Brits formed units on the sides). Most military leaders from France and Britain thought this was just sending the Canadian troops to the slaughter as no one thought the Germans could be dislodged.

Below the memorial at Vimy Ridge, I read Rick Scott’s story about his grandpa to the 10 students, instructors, and Pam. Rick’s grandpa survived Vimy (an artillery shell exploded and buried him alive in a trench - later he was unearthed by Canadian troops). Not unexpectedly some of us cried while I read the story of a survivor of the battle at Vimy Ridge. At a battle some months after Vimy, Rick’s grandfather survived again. Of his platoon of 104 soldiers in this later battle, 94 were killed and only 10, including Rick’s grandpa, survived. Although famous to Canadians, Vimy was not even close to the bloodiest battle in which Canadians fought during WWI. In his story Rick made the profound point that he and his son would not be here today if his grandfather had not survived. He reminds us that thousands of Canadians were never born because their ancestors perished in two World Wars (Rick’s dad fought for 4 years in Europe during WWII and had Richard when he returned). Rick is the offspring of two survivors!

Even though Uncle Walter’s cemetery is only one hour from Vimy Ridge by car, we could not rent a car in Arras because it was a national holiday in France. I have learned that when French people have holidays they really have holidays. We could not rent a car for two days! So instead, we left Vimy on our way to Nice, where we spent five great days. We then took a train back to the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris where we stayed for two nights. We rented a car for our two hour trip to the Kortijk Communal Cemtery. Kortijk is just inside the Belgium border and is the town/city where Uncle Walter’s bomber, of which he was the pilot crashed, with all 7 crew members killed. At 27 Uncle Walter was the oldest of 4 Canadians and 3 Brits who formed the crew.

We headed out of the Charles De Gaulle airport early in the morning with excitement and a bit of trepidation. The day was cool and overcast, but not raining. Without our GPS we may not have made it to the cemetery, as there were many notable road changes to navigate. However, we arrived and pulled into a large community cemetery. At first drive around we couldn’t tell where the military graves were. They are at the back and form only a very small portion of the cemetery. Indeed there are only about 70-80 WWI and WWII graves. Luckily, a nice older gentleman walked us to the necessary location. This tiny military grave yard is surrounded by a green hedge fence and is beautifully maintained with flowers and such in front of all tombstones. In the middle is a cenotaph surrounded by 20 or so tombstones of WWI soldiers. I noticed the tombstone (Bint) of the relative of the man I had been communicating with in England before the trip. Once inside it took us some time to find Uncle Walter’s tomb stone. For a few moments I had this sinking feeling, “what if this wasn’t the right place”. In a middle row, on the cemetery map called “BB 15-19” we found Uncle Walter. It was not obvious to me why it was BB, but there it was. In Uncle Walter’s little part of row B there are 7 tombstones. The two outside ones are not connected to Uncle Walter’s plane but the five inside are for the seven crew members from the bomber. Two of the tombstones have two names and the middle three of Uncle Walter’s pod have one name. At the one end of these five stones is Uncle Walter. His stone has two names (W. Cook and J. Fulton). There the seven crew members lie. Some of the stones in Walter’s pod have little phrases written on them that must have been suggested by their families. Uncle Walter’s just says “pilot” Royal Canadian Air Force. This made me feel even sadder because the one stone said, “in loving memory of our son”. Why didn’t Uncle Walter’s say something like that?!

Naturally we stood looking at the tombstone for quite some time. At this point I still had it together, but it was time to place my plaque in front of the tombstone. After placing it on top of part of the flower in front of the stone, I realized that I needed to read what I wrote to Uncle Walter (it wasn’t the last time I spoke with him that day). I picked the plaque back up and read the words on the plaque to Uncle Walter, crying as I did so (I still cry thinking of that moment!). After reading the plaque we placed it down again and took several pictures. As we stood there I had this deep sense that I shouldn’t leave. Uncle Walter had already been abandoned for 69 years – how could I just abandon him all over again. I told Pam we needed to go for a walk around the cemetery as I wasn’t ready to leave. There was a neat cement cemetery registry at the end of the military cemetery where people who had visited the cemetery could write a little note in a notebook placed inside the cement vault. We read some of the other comments, one written only a few months earlier. We thanked the War Memorial Cemeteries organization for doing such a wonderful job keeping up the site – it shows such respect for those who died.

We walked around for a while longer viewing other parts of the cemetery as well, trying to get a little sense of the place where Uncle Walter rests. We eventually made our way back to Uncle Walter’s tombstone, where we once again were feeling like we shouldn’t leave. After taking some more pictures and talking silently to Uncle Walter again, we finally got back into our rented car and drove slowly away. I left feeling both very happy and very sad. Would this be the last time I ever go to see the site and would this be the last time that any family member ever comes to see Uncle Walter’s grave? Our first cousin Bill Bailey told me that his dad (Everett) went to Belgium 50+ years ago. As far as I know Uncle Walter has had only had two visits from family members (to stand and weep at his graveside and to say thank you).

Back in Canada I am still feeling profoundly happy and sad. Happy I went and very sad because of a family loss I never appreciated for all this time. “How could Uncle Walter’s family do this to him”, is how I feel. I have made a huge step forward in understanding why Canadians “celebrate” Remembrance Day. Pam and I have vowed to help our children and grandchildren understand and never forget the sacrifices their relatives and others made so that we are able to grow up in our wonderful country, Canada.

From now on, on Remembrance Day ,I am going to say a little prayer of thanks to Uncle Walter, lest I forget the huge sacrifice he made. I will also remember that there are no winners in war. German families lost their loved ones too! I am left wondering why humans think war solves anything. Who are the relatives that we never met because they were never born!

  Lancaster PB PB412/UM-Z2 and RNZAF F/O George Green's crew

 

When the Germans withdrew from France in 1944, the French based U-boats were transferred to Norway and caused a major threat to the allied convoys in the North sea and to shipping supporting the French landings. On 4-October 1944 forty-seven Lancasters and thirty-one Halifaxes were sent out to lay magnetic mines in the Kattegat (mining area code-name 'Silverthorn').

626 Squadron's contingent of five aircraft took off from Wickenby around 17.15 hrs and proceeded with the force en route to Northern Denmark. They preserved radar and signals silence until a point at 06.30 E (near Borkum).

They were not plotted by the Germans until being quite close to their targets.

Three Himmelbett radar stations in Denmark dispersed at least five fighters from II. and III./NJG3 between 20:03 and 22:34 hrs. Three of those crews, all from the second gruppe, were responsible for the downing of the three aircraft from the Kattegat force.

 

The first aircraft to be lost was Lancaster III PB235 KM-C from 44 Squadron based at RAF Spilsby and piloted by F/O N.J Evans. It had been spotted on radar and at 20:00 hours a German JU 88 night fighter piloted by Oberleutnant August Györy of 5./NJG 3 was scrambled from Fliegerhorst Aalborg. He followed the Lancaster towards the southeast and Jylland near Hansted and intercepted it 20 km. north east of Nyköbing at 3.000 mtrs. He attacked at 20.35hrs and the Lancaster caught fire. Five parachutes, three of them in flames, were seen to leave the stricken bomber just before approaching Grettrup Strand beach. It then dived vertically into Risgård Bredning Bay and exploded just before hitting the water. Only two of the crew survived and were taken prisoner.

Hptm. Johann Dreher of 6./NJG4 then claimed a 4-engine aircraft 50km west of Ringköbing at 21:30 at a height of 1,000 meters. It was his second victory.

Oblt. Rudolf Szardenings of 5./NJG3 claimed a 4-engine aircraft 30km north-west of Ringköbing at 22:05 at a height of 900 meters, his tenth victory. One of those two aircraft was almost certainly Lancaster PB412/UM-Z2 of 626 Squadron with Flying Officer George Green and his crew.

The third bomber brought down, with the loss of its entire crew, was Halifax III MZ756/ZL-E from 427 Squadron piloted by RCAF Squadron Leader W.R Moseley-Williams DFC on his 32nd sortie.They are reported to have been lost in the North Sea about 30-50 km west of Ringkobing. A search the following morning with 22 aircraft turned up no sign of the plane or its crew.

626 Squadron's other four bombers returned to base safely around midnight. They had all laid their mines successfully and reported a quiet uneventful raid.

 

 

 

Lancaster PB412/UM-Z2.  This was their 20th bombing raid and the first time that George Green's crew had flown on a mission in Z2. That aircraft was comparatively new only being delivered in August and was on its first overseas mission on 12th August 1944.

The crew had been formed at 1662 HCU - RAF Blyton in Lincolnshire in June 1944.

Their first mission with 626 Squadron from RAF Wickenby had been on 18th July when participating in a dawn raid on Caen as part of Operation Goodwood.That was the occasion when the RAF and USAAF dropped nearly 5000 tons of high explosive bombs on German positions, with fighter bombers and the Royal Artillery providing support against identified German strong points and gun positions. Another 1,300 tons of bombs were dropped directly on the Bourguébus Ridge, the strongest German Defence line and the ultimate objective of the Offensive.

Operation Goodwood was the name given to the Allies attempt to capture the city of Caen in Normandy. It was started in July 1944 and by the time it was declared finished the city of Caen was in ruins. Ironically, the people who had come to rescue Caen from German occupation were also the same people who caused far more damage to the ancient city than the German occupiers had done. However, by the end of Operation Goodwood the city was freed of German control and the civilians who lived in Caen had their city back. It may have been extensively damaged, but it was under French control one again.

On their return to Wickenby the crew had little rest as later that evening they were detailed to attack the Scholven/Buer synthetic oil plant near Gelsenkirchen in Germany. This was another successful raid, carried out by 157 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitoes from 1 & 8 Groups. A local report later showed 550 bombs falling in the plant area and production at the plant coming to a standstill for a ‘long period of time’.

 

Little is known about what happened on George Green and his crew's 20th op', the October 4th Norway mission. PB412 UM-Z was one of five 626 Squadron Lancasters sent from RAF Wickenby on the gardening (mine-laying) operation at 5.16 pm.

The squadron's other four bombers all returned to base safely around midnight. They had laid their mines successfully and reported a quiet and uneventful raid.

Hptm. Johann Dreher of 6./NJG4 later claimed the downing of a 4-engine aircraft 50km west of Ringköbing at 21:30 at a height of 1,000 meters, his second victory that night.

 

The crew of Z2 were -

F/O George Arthur Green  RNZAF, No:424456  (Pilot) Age:31. Son of Arthur Augustus and Jane Mabel Green, of Greymouth, Westland, New Zealand.

Sgt Charles Frederick Farley, No:629251 (Flight Engineer) from Monkwearmouth, Nr Sunderland.

F/Sgt William Arthur Stephens RAAF, No:429247 (Navigator) Age:28. The son of Alexander and Emily Beatrice Stephens, of Belmont, New South Wales, Australia.

F/O Kenneth Edward Frederick Taylor, No: 153350 (Air Bomber)

F/Sgt William Alexander Dickson RAAF, No:423079 (Wireless Operator Air) Aged 20, he was the son of William Muirhead Dickson and Constance Ursula Dickson, of Rosebery, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt William Christopher Norman, No:1592453 (Mid Upper Gunner) Age:26: Son of Thomas and Mary Alice Norman, of Murton Colliery, Co. Durham.

Sgt Louis Cohen, No: 1668508 (Rear Gunner) Lou had been part of F/O Foote's crew until his Skipper had completed his tour a couple of weeks earlier.

All crew members have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

Skipper George Green, RNZAF, Upper Gunner Bill Norman, RAF, Navigator Arthur "Tubby" Stephens, RAAF, & Rear Gunner, Gordon Newton, RAAF.

 

F/O George Arthur Green RNZAF, the pilot, was from Foulwind, New Zealand. He was the 31 year old son of Arthur Augustus and Jane Mabel Green, of Greymouth, Westland, New Zealand.

In 1936 he joined the West Coast United Aero Club as a flying member and the following year was granted his "A" Flying Licence. In July 1941 he enlisted in the RNZAF.

In September 1942 he was one of a number of airmen listed as passengers on board MV Day Star en route to America, presumably on the way to aircrew training in Canada. After the courses in Canada he was posted to the UK and finally completed his Lancaster training and formed his new crew at 1662 HCU in June 1943. He was promoted to Flying Officer in July.

The navigator, 28 year old F/Sgt William Arthur Stephens RAAF, was the son of Alexander and Emily Stephens, of Belmont, and formerly Neath, New South Wales in Australia. He was educated at Neath Public School, and Maitland and Cessnock High Schools. He trained at Armidale Teachers College and then went on to teach at Yarrowyck High School. The Newcastle local newspaper reported his arrival in the UK in December 1943 after aircrew training and gaining his wing in Canada. He had two brothers, George & Wilfred, who served with the Australian Army in New Guinea.

William Christopher Norman, the mid-upper gunner, was born in 1918, the son of Thomas and Mary Alice Norman of Murton Colliery, County Durham. He joined the RAF in 1943. On 31-Oct 1943 he was posted to 12 Air Gunnery School at Bishops Court and was trained on Avro Anson I’s. He qualified as an Air Gunner on 31-Dec with the rank of Sergeant. In March he was posted to 18 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Finningley in Yorkshire where he trained on Wellingtons until 22nd April. His training was completed in June 1944 after attending a course at 1662 HCU for four engine bomber training and joining F/O Green's crew, followed by a short period with 1 LFS (Lancaster Finishing School) at Hemswell, Lincolnshire.

His log book on arrival at 626 Squadron shows that he had clocked up 89.45 daylight and 57.50 night-time flying hours.  (thanks to his nephew Bill Norman for the photos and the log book pages and acknowledging the valuable help from NELSAM)

Sgt Charles Frederick Farley, the flight engineer, was from Monkwearmouth, near Sunderland. Born at Southwick, he was the 35 year old son of John & Maria Farley of Monkwearmouth and husband of Mary (Maureen) who he married in 1932. The couple had three children - Andrew, Mary (Pauline), & George.

Charles Farley's name is remembered in the Memorial book at the local church. His family were living at 10 Queen Street, Sunderland at the time of his death. The family migrated to Sydney in the early 1950s.

About the migration. My mother, Pauline, came first - in 1953, (she was living in London at the time), and her brother, Andrew, came in 1954. My Grandmother Mary (Maureen) arrived in 1955 - her new husband did not go to Australia with her and remained in England. George came to Australia at a date unknown. (info. from Maureen Martin.)

F/Sgt Gordon C Newton from Morewell, Victoria, was the crew's usual rear gunner but for the first time during his flying career was sick on October 4th when his crewmates took off on that fateful mission to lay mines in Norway. He was replaced by Sgt Lou Cohen.

Gordon went on to complete his tour with 626 Squadron.

He flew with Flying Officer Robert Marshall Smith's crew in Lancaster LL961 until his tour ended on December 31st 1944.  For the second time in his wartime career he was extremely lucky. One week after leaving the crew, on January 7th, his old crewmates were involved in a collision with another Lancaster from 150 Squadron. The skipper, on his 24th mission, and the rear gunner, 21 year old Sgt William McLean from Northern Ireland, who had replaced Gordon, were both killed. (see account below)

Gordon was awarded the DFM and promoted to Warrant Officer. He returned home to Morwell in June 1945.

Bill Norman's nephew, also named Bill, contacted Gordon's niece around 10 years ago and was told that he was then living in New Zealand.

 

626 Squadron's Lancaster LL961 and RCAF Flying Officer Robert Marshall Smith's crew
The aircraft took off at 18.44pm on January 7th 1945 from RAF Wickenby on a bombing raid to Munich. It was the pilot's 24th mission.

There was a  collision with another Lancaster near Soissons at 15,000ft, at 8.15pm.

We were flying in cloud and climbing when we felt a terrific bump and jar. Captain ordered to prepare to abandon and immediately after bale out. Just prior to impact the bomb aimer observed navigation lights to port approaching us. Our aircraft crashed about 2 miles from Laon on main railway line. The captain stayed with his aircraft and according to local witnesses avoided the town in a last minute pull up. Remainder of crew except rear gunner landed safely by parachute. No trace has yet been found of the rear gunner or his turret and it is the crew's opinion that the turret was knocked off in the collision. The navigator while descending through the cloud saw the glow of the aircraft burning. Flying Officer R M Smith was killed in the crash.

The surviving crew members were taken to local French farms before being transported to American army units for first aid.

Local residents later reported that the aircraft had broken through the cloud and approached the town of Laon in a shallow dive. A short surge of power only just enabled it to clear the town and crash into a railway embankment at 8.30pm (local time) and burst into flames. Lancaster LL961 finally blew up 30 minutes later. The aicraft had been carrying a 'cookie' (4000lb bomb), four 1050 pounders and 120 incendiaries. The body of the captain was found only 50ft from the wreckage still wearing an unopened parachute.

F/O R M Smith is now buried in the Canadian War Cemetery at Dieppe. There is no record of where the rear gunner's body was found but Sgt William McLean, who was the 21 year old son of John and Jessie McLean of Newtownards, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, was buried 75 miles away from Laon, at Clichy New Communal Cemetery, north of Paris.

The other Lancaster, PB781, flown by F/Lt R. Rose RCAF of 150 Sqdn, returned safely to Hemswell with very little damage.

F/O Robert Marshall Smith (J36983) RCAF - Mentioned in Despatches - 626 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 13 June 1946 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 726/46 dated 26 July 1946. Killed in action 7 January 1945 (Lancaster LL961). Born 8 July 1916 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Educated in Winnipeg. Enlisted in Toronto, 22 August 1942. Trained at No.1 ITS (graduated 30 April 1943), No. 20 EFTS (graduated 25 June 1943) and No.1 SFTS (graduated 15 October 1943). Overseas, October 1943. Completed 24 missions before his death. Commanding officer wrote that in a raid on Munich his aircraft was hit by another friendly bomber - tail end almost ripped off. He stayed at the controls, not only to permit his crew to bale out but to avoid crashing in Allied-occupied territory where a U.S. Army field hospital was located - and thus lost his own chance to survive.

 

One of the surviving crew was the Australian wireless operator F/Sgt. Geoff Magee. He had a book of poems published in 1991 'Bombs gone! and other poems'.  On the back is written -

“When you read this book you must immerse

Your thoughts and feelings in metre and in verse,

For the stories here told are of the kind

That come from the soul as well as the mind.”

 

 

What happened to the German Pilots from the Norway action?

 

Hauptmann Johann Dreher and Operation Gisela - 4th March 1945

In early March 1945, the German Luftwaffe, in an isolated display of resistance, developed a tactic which, had it been deployed earlier, could have neutralised the WWII operations of Royal Air Force Bomber Command. In the early hours of 4th March 1945, in Unternehmen (Operation) Gisela, some 200 Junkers JU88 nightfighters of the Luftwaffe Nachtjagdeschwader Gruppen (Night Fighter destroyer Group) had been deployed to intercept the allied bombers returning to base at their most vulnerable point, just before landing. The marauding aircraft crossed the North Sea at points stretching between the Thames Estuary and up the east coast to the North Yorkshire moors. The fact that these intruders were able to cross the North Sea coast without being picked up by English radar operators would seem to have been a result of a degree of complacency that had set in amongst Bomber Command, as the Luftwaffe appeared to be subdued.

The Bomber Command mission scheduled for that evening was a dual attack on the synthetic oil producing plant at Kamen and a raid on the Dortmund Elms canal. 234 aircraft from the northern 4 & 6 Groups took on the first mission, with 222 bombers from 5 Group, Lincolnshire, tackling the canal, departing bases at around 10.00pm on the 3rd March 1945.

The mission ran smoothly, until the return, when they ran into trouble in the form of Operation Gisela. On this clear night, some of the early returning aircraft had inexplicably switched on their navigation lights much earlier than usual, despite warnings of the dangers of possible predators, which was copied by those following. This gave the circling intruders a clear, enticing target.

Having already claimed two Halifax Bombers of 158 Squadron returning to RAF Lissett, near Bridlington, Hauptmann Johann Dreher (Iron Cross) flying his Junkers JU88 of 12 NJG, set his sights on a French 347 Squadron Halifax returning to RAF Elvington.  

In early 1944, 77 Squadron had moved to the newly opened airfield at Full Sutton and RAF Elvington became host to two French Squadrons operating within No.4 Group: No. 346 (Guyenne) and No.347 (Tunisie). Both squadrons played a major part in the bomber offensive against Germany.

At approximately 1.50am as Capitaine Notelle approached Elvington, he received the warning of the attack, just as the airfield lights went out. He pulled his aircraft up and headed north for Croft, narrowly escaping the menacing intruder.

The nightfighter continued its attack on Elvington, strafing the road at a passing taxi. Circling for another pass at 1.51am, the JU88 was too low, clipped a tree and crashed into Dunnington Lodge, a farmhouse on the outskirts of the airfield. Machine gun fire from the fighter had strafed the farmhouse, before the aircraft crashed through one section of the building. Here, farmer Richard Moll and his wife, Helen (60), were awakening, having been startled by the gunfire. Their daughter in law, Violet (29) was making her way to their bedroom when the aircraft struck. Meanwhile, her husband, Fred, was saving the life of their 3 year old son, Edgar, by scooping the child up in one arm and, with fire extinguisher in the other, fighting his way through flames and debris to the outside. Tragically, both his wife and mother died as a result of their injuries, shortly after admission to hospital. Richard Moll survived initially, but suffered severe burns and died later.

The JU88 ended up in a field at the junction of the Elvington and Dunnington roads. All its crew of four were killed and are buried at the Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, England.

This was the last German aircraft to crash on British soil during the war, preceded by a 7 NJG JU88 crashing at Welton, near Lincoln at 1.48am and 5 NJG JU88 crashing near Halesworth, Suffolk, at 01.37am.

Three French Halifaxes were brought down that morning, though with miraculously few casualties. On route to Croft in escaping the trap at Elvington, Notelle’s Halifax was hit three times by fire from the JU88 of Feldwebel Gunther Schmidt, before he successfully belly-landed the burning aircraft at Rockcliffe Farm, Hurworth, near Darlington.

All crew escaped, but some reports suggest that two civilians were killed by the skidding aircraft. Notelle was treated at hospital at Northallerton for a head injury. Sous-Lieutenant Terrien, remaining at the controls of his burning Halifax whilst the other six baled out, crashed at Glebe Farm, Sutton on Derwent, close to the Elvington base.

In a tragic irony, Capitaine Laucou, on his first mission, was brought down near Orford Ness, Norfolk, reflecting the extent to which the returning aircraft had been scattered by the attackers. Both he and the flight engineer were killed, but the others baled out.

Intervention by Mosquito fighters brought this disastrous Night of the Intruders to an end, but, in just a couple of hours, Bomber Command had lost a further 19 aircraft in addition to the 9 reported missing on the raids themselves. The Luftwaffe also lost 25 fighters out of the 200 involved in the operation.  source -Clickpress.com

Oberleutnant Rudolf Szardenings

Oblt. H. Rudolf Szardenings is believed to have survived the war. We have no further details although the downing of the bomber on October 4th 1944 at Ringköbing was apparently his 10th and final victory.

Oberleutnant August Györy was born in 1919 at Kleinwarasdorf, Austria. He was awarded the Knight's Cross on 26 March 1944 and was squadron commander of the 4th/NJG 3 based at Husum-Narrenthal airfield on December 29th 1944.

His Ju88G-6 crashed at around 1.15am on New Years Day 1945 at Twisteden, Germany, after flying over Allied occupied territory. He and his three crewmates were all killed.