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  F/O Hutchinson and the crew of LL797 (Courtesy of Wickenby Register)

 Standing L-R Sgt. R. Edgeworth, W/O. H.F. Binder, F/O. P.H.W.Young, Sgt. K.J. Macey. Front row L-R F/O. J.P. Hutchinson, P/O. L.E.Goodkey, Sgt. A. Hodgson 

 

F/O Jack Pierce Hutchinson LL797 UM-B2       24/25th February 1944

 

Airborne 1810 24th February 1944 from Wickenby for the final sortie of their first tour of operations and carrying a second pilot for operational experience. 

 

On the night of 24/25th February 1944,  Lancaster LL797 took off from RAF Wickenby at 1810 hours detailed to bomb Schweinfurt, Germany. This mission was the crew’s final sortie of their operational tour. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base.

The aircraft crashed at Marsal (Moselle), 10kms south east of Chateau-Salins, France. All the crew were killed and they are buried in the Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard, France. Marsal is a village and commune 50kms south east of Metz. Those killed are the only WW2 Commonwealth airmen buried in the Churchyard.  

 

RAAF 416501 F/O J P Hutchinson, DFC Captain (Pilot) 

RAF Sgt B R Bowditch, (2nd Pilot)) 

RAF Sgt A Hodgson, (Flight Engineer) 

RCAF PO Goodkey, L E (Navigator) 

RAF FO Young, P H W (Air Bomber) 

RAF Sgt R Edgeworth, (Wireless Air Gunner)

RCAF WO2 H F Binder, (Mid Upper Gunner) 

RAF Flt Sgt K J Macey, (Rear Gunner) 

 

The Citation for the DFC awarded to the then PO Hutchinson is as follows : “ PO Hutchinson has attacked such important targets as Berlin, Milan, Peenemunde and Munich. While on the way to attack Munich, an engine caught fire and the aircraft had to be brought down onto the sea. As a result he and his crew had to spend some eighteen hours in the dinghy. On another mission, damage was sustained over Frankfurt and only by splendid airmanship did this officer succeed in flying the aircraft back to base. This officer’s determination, skill and endurance have set a fine example to his crew.”

 

Hutchinson and Goodkey, when flying together with 12 Squadron, had a narrow escape on the 6th of September 1943 when their Lancaster ED392 suffered engine failure and a subsequent fire over the North Sea. Whilst attempting to return to base, they were forced to ditch the aircraft which broke in two and sank. Air Sea Rescue were dispatched and managed to retrieve five members of the crew from a rubber dinghy. Sadly the bomb aimer and rear gunner were lost. 

One of the more unique aspects of this crew was the fact that it was comprised of an Australian, two Canadians and five British airmen. It is also significant to note the wide age difference in that the flight engineer Sgt. Hodgson, was almost twice the age of the wireless operator Sgt. Edgeworth who at 18 years would be one of the youngest to be killed on operations with Bomber Command.
Sgt. Bowditch was an extra member of the crew taken along for operational experience. All of the others except Sgt. Edgeworth were on their final sortie of their first tour.  

 

Goodkey Island near Parry Sound, Ontario is named after Pilot Officer Leonard Earl Goodkey, the Navigator on  Lancaster LL797

 

 

 

Wing Commander Philip Haynes (later CO at RAF Wickenby) and his crew

Left to right - Paddy O'Meara, Bob Bond, Dick Tredwin, Johnny Neilson, Eric Simms, Bill Freeman, Pip Phillips

 

In November 1943 Wing Commander Phillip Haynes joined 626 Squadron as its first CO. He was a regular officer with previous service on the North-West Frontier and other parts of the world. He had arrived with his recently formed crew but his administrative duties meant that they frequently flew with New Zealander, Squadron Leader Johnny Neilson, as their pilot. 

Six months later Group Captain Phillip Haynes was promoted to Commanding Officer of RAF Wickenby. He received his DFO in November 1944.

 

His hand-picked aircrew consisted of E. (Eric) Sims (bomb aimer), Sergeant W. (Bill) Freeman (navigator), Sergeant Robert (Bob) Bond (wireless operator), Sergeant Kevin (Paddy) O'Meara (rear gunner), Flying Officer Richard H. (Dick) Tredwin (mid upper gunner), and Flight Lieutenant Humphrey. B. (Pip) Phillips (Flight Engineer). Humphrey Phillips was destined to fulfil the dual role of crew member and the 626 Squadron Flight-Engineer Leader. When selected by Philip Haynes he was Flight Engineer Leader at 1656 Conversion Unit, and supervising the training of flight engineers. He already had battlefield experience having flown on the first two 1000 bomber raids at Cologne and Essen in May and June 1942.

Dick Tredwin previously had been a staff instructor at Upper Heyford and already had a tour of thirty operations under his belt on Short Stirling's - "queens of the sky" as he called them. He now wanted a tour of twenty operations as soon as he could. The plane they normally flew was JB599 Queenie 2. 

This faithful aircraft was to serve them well until the 23rd March, when it was used by another aircrew. F/O Kewley and his crew had only been at Wickenby a little over a month and were shot down over Luebecke - one of 73 bombers lost that night. 

On the 26th of April 1944 Johnny Neilson took them in 'N-2' to Essen. There wasn't any cloud above the target, an armament factory, which was accurately marked by the pathfinders.

Just as the bombs were released a shudder ran through the Lancaster.

What follows is flight engineer Pip’s first-hand account of the dramatic events, as he did as instructed:

 

"As we were above 10,000 ft, I slipped on a portable oxygen bottle (only 10 minute’s supply) and, with shielded torch , proceeded. On reaching the mid-upper gun turret, I peered upwards (the turret seat was about 5 ft above floor level) and could see that Dick had shed his helmet and oxygen mask: the Perspex canopy of the turret was badly shattered. Prodding Dick’s legs produced no response, so I decided that, if still alive, he was unconscious. I started an attempt to get him out of the turret by dropping his seat with one hand, whilst supporting his weight with the other. At this point I felt a substantial movement of one leg and decided that he was alive. Simultaneously, I suddenly realised the futility of the enterprise and that in no way could I single-handed, safely lower this well-built six footer onto the aircraft floor. Hastily I pushed the seat back up onto its clips and commenced a rethink.

Stuck up there, under these conditions and without oxygen, Dick would probably die. So first we must come down from our present 18,000 feet to below 10,000 and then two of us must try to get him out and deal with his condition. I reconnected my intercom and reported to the skipper accordingly. It was agreed that we would immediately descend and that Eric would join me to move Dick from the turret to the rest-bed. Meanwhile I was to finish checking for damage and report back.

My inspection revealed a 4’ x 4’ gash in the fuselage port side, near the flare-shute, opposite the exit door. This was admitting a powerful and noisy blast of slipstream, which almost blew me off my feet. I could not find the object which "en-passage" had missed the main elevator and rudder control tubes by an inch or two!

It’s passage had continued downwards to wreck the flare-chute and (since it was nowhere to be seen), exited from the empty chute (Simms’ flare having left at "Bombs Gone" only seconds before!). Finding no further damage I returned to my crew station, reported my findings and updated my log.

By this time we were below oxygen height and Eric joined me in proceeding aft to extricate Dick. To fully appreciate my reaction to what we found, one would need to be present and directly involved in the confined and "spooky" atmosphere, within the dark interior of the Lancaster fuselage, moving with the inadequate light of a torch. The turret was empty; Dick had gone!!

My first, perhaps stupid, reaction was that he had been sucked out of the turret by the slip-stream (remember the canopy was shattered) , but common-sense returned suggesting we search the fuselage on the assumption that Dick had regained consciousness and extricated himself. So, moving aft, we quickly found Dick, unconscious and slumped against the fuselage side, forward of the exit door. Torch light examination revealed a nasty head wound close to an ear. It was agreed that rather than attempt the hazardous move with Dick to the rest-bed, Eric would dress the wound and stay with him, in-situ, until we reached base."

 

Fortunately none of the bombs had ignited; not having fallen far enough for the strikers to overcome their creep springs and fire the detonators. It was a long and desperate flight back to Wickenby where ambulance and fire tenders were standing by. When he regained consciousness, Dick is alleged to have explained that, on reaching the exit door he intended to bale out, believing the crew had already done so and left him.

Johnny landed the aircraft with great skill, but its survival was a tribute to the aircraft workers of Britain. 

Dick, whose wife had died in childbirth only a few months earlier, now had to survive a road journey to the R.A.F. hospital at Rauceby as there were no medical facilities at Wickenby to deal with severe injuries. After a long convalescence he returned to Wickenby. 

He later married WAAF Sergeant Valerie Powell who was also serving on the station. 

Richard Tredwin received his DFC in June 1944.

 

My sincere gratitude to Humphrey 'Pip' Phillips for his first-hand account. T B 

 

 

Before his arrival at the newly formed 626 Squadron as Flight Engineer Leader and part of Wing Commander Philip Haynes, the squadron's CO, and RNZAF Squadron Leader Johnny Neilson's crew in early November 1943,  F/Lt Humphrey (Pip) Phillips was Flight Engineer Leader at 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit.

 

Initially with the rank of Sergeant, he was commissioned in 1943.

Pip was to fly on 27 missions with his 626 Squadron crewmates, which when added to the two "1000 bomber" raids on Cologne and Essen in 1942, brought his total to 29.

 

Their first five days flying with the squadron from 17th November 1943 included three hazardous 'ops' over Berlin.

 

The Heavy Conversion Units began forming in late 1941 to qualify crews trained on medium (2 engined) bombers to fly heavy (4 engined) bombers. On joining the Conversion Units, crews from Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.s) were expanded to 7 men by the addition of a mid-upper gunner and a flight-engineer. On completion of conversion, training crews were posted to Operational Squadrons.

 

1656 HCU had been formed between Autumn 1942 and Spring 1943 by merging 103 and 460 Squadron Conversion Flights and was based at RAF Lindholme near Doncaster.

One of Pip's preoccupations at 1656 HCU was developing training aids.

 

 

 

Pictured are two built in 1943 for which he later received official recognition.

On the left is his Lancaster fuel system with illuminated links to the fuel cocks, and right, his Lancaster undercarriage rig, with full electro-hydraulic operation, to demonstrate the function of the locking mechanism and micro-switches.

 

 

 

The loss of LM380 on the Berlin Raid of 27/28th of January 1944    On the night of 27/28th January 1944, Lancaster LM380 (S2) took off from RAF Wickenby at 1728 hours detailed to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. 

Homebound, the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter, and crashed at Katzenelnbogen, 8 kms south west of Galnstatten, Germany. 

Six of the crew were killed and Flt Sgt A P J Lee was a POW. 

Those killed are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, Locality Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany. Rheinbetg is 24kms north of Krefeld and 13 kms south of Wesel.

Flt Lt Belford had ditched earlier in the month when returning from Stettin.

 

RAAF 413945 Flt Lt Belford, W N  (Pilot) 

RAF Sgt H Hill, (Flight Engineer) 

RAF Flt Sgt A J P Lee, (Navigator) 

RAF Sgt J C Lee, (Air Bomber) 

RAF Sgt T S Trinder, (Wireless Air Gunner) 

RAF Sgt H H Mewburn, (Mid Upper Gunner) 

RAAF 427116 Flt Sgt R Gould, (Rear Gunner) 

 

Flt Lt Belford had ditched earlier in the month when returning from Stettin. He and the same crew were flying ME577 (T2) on January 6th and almost completed that mission but the aircraft, having been airborne for ten hours, ran out of fuel. They came down in the North Sea at 10 am approximately 100 miles off Withernsea on the Yorkshire coast.

 

The sole survivor of LM380, Flt/Sgt Arthur P J Lee, later became one of the founder members of the Wickenby Register.

 

 

 

 

 

LL753 UM-Z2 3rd May 1944 -  Mailly-le-Camp raid

 

On the night of May 3-4, the military centre at Mailly-le-Camp was the target. In bright moonlight 346 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes dropped 1,500 tons of bombs with great accuracy. The main attack started late, and German night-fighters arrived during the delay. 626 Squadron sent out thirteen Lancasters; one aborted the flight, nine bombed the target and three went missing. 
In the German camp, 114 barracks, 47 transport sheds, and some ammunition buildings were hit; 102 vehicles, including 37 tanks were destroyed: and 218 German soldiers were killed and 156 were severely wounded. Most of the casualties were Panzer NCO's. 

Dogfights with the night fighters continued as the bombers left the target for their return. No.1 Group squadrons, who flew the second wave of the attack, suffered the most casualties: twenty-eight of the 173 Lancasters dispatched.

 

 

LL753 was one of three 626 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation. Airborne 2211 3rd May 1944 from Wickenby to attack the military camp. Shot down while closing on the AP and exploded with great force near Breuvery-sur-Coole (Marne), 12 km SSW of Cholons-sur-Marne. P/O Jackson and his Canadian Rear Gunner are buried in Breuvery-sur- Coole Churchyard. The others are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 

 

 Canadian Flt Sgt Ross MacFarlane is third from left and W/O Liebscher on his right

 

 Lancaster LL 753 took off from RAF Station Wickenby at 2211 hours on 3 May 1944 to attack a target at Mailey-Le-Camp, France. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. In 1947, following post war enquiries and interrogations of local authorities of Breuverysur-Coole, France, it was established that an aircraft exploded and crashed near that village on the night of 3/4th May 1944, and that two bodies were recovered viz. PO Jackson (RAF) and Flt Sgt McFarlane (RCAF). It was recorded that the remaining missing crew members had no known grave.

 

Crew:

RAF P/O Jackson, D S, (Pilot)

RAF P/O Riddle, H A (Navigator)

RCAF W/O Liebscher, J M B (Air Bomber)

RAAF P/O Watts, R H (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)

RAF Sgt Sutton, J A Y (Flight Engineer)

RAF Sgt Brooks, A G (Mid Upper Gunner)

RCAF Flt Sgt MacFarlane, R E (Rear Gunner)

 

 

DV281  UM-D2   3rd May 1944  Mailly-le-Camp raid

 

F/S P.J.W. Barkway RCAF,  Sgt F.W. Burton, WO2 R.D. Weller RCAF,  Sgt G.A. Coote, Sgt J.W. Hooper, Sgt O. Molzan RCAF, Sgt R.E. Hogan

 

DV281 was one of three 626 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation. Airborne 2157 3rd May 1944 from Wickenby to attack the military camp. Crashed, a few minutes after bombing, at the village of St-Remy- sous-Barbuise (Aube), 22 km N of Troyes. All are buried in the little churchyard at St-Remy-sous-Barbuise alongside nine other Bomber Command airmen who were killed on the same operation.

 

F/Sgt Percy James William Barkway - RCAF -Pilot. 

 

Sgt Frederick William Burton (aged 22) - Flight Engineer. Son of Jacob and Ida Blanche Burton, of Dagenham, Essex.

 

Sgt George Alfred Coote - Bomb Aimer

 

Sgt Russell Eugene Hogan (aged 20) -Air Gunner. Son of Richard & Martha Hogan of Pen-y-Lan, Cardiff

 

Sgt Otto Molzan -RCAF - Air Gunner - from Windsor, Ontario. (Pilot Officer from 2nd of May)

 

Sgt John William Hooper, (aged 21) -Wireless Operator. Son of John & Evelena Hooper, and husband of Joyce Grace Hooper of Rochester, Kent 

 

W/O Ronald Duncan Weller - RCAF- Navigator - Pilot Officer May 2nd.   On Hamilton, Canada, Roll of Honour

 

 

EE148 UM-S2 on the Mailley-le-Camp raid - one of the seven aircraft from RAF Wickenby lost on that raid. 3rd May 1944

Three 626 Squadron aircraft were among five Lancasters lost after being shot down over the Northeast fringes of the camp. The others were DV281 UM-D2 piloted by Canadian Flight Sergeant PJW Barkway and LL753 UM-Z2 with Pilot Officer DS Jackson's crew. Not a single airman survived.  

It was a bad night for RAF Wickenby, four of 12 Squadron's aircraft, JB405, JB748, LM514, and LM516 were also lost. Six of LM514's crew managed to evade capture after being helped by local people.

 

Airborne 2208 3rd May 1944 from Wickenby to attack the military camp. Shot down by a night-fighter whilst homebound, and crashed at Montigny-le-Guesdier (Seine-et-Marne) some 4 km SSE of Bray-sur- Seine. All are buried in Montigny-le-Guesdier Communal Cemetery. The brother of P/O Fisher, Kenneth George Fisher, also lost his life on Active Service. 

 

HOWARD MEASOR  CROOKS   Sergeant (Flt. Engr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. Age: 19.  Son of William and Hilda Crooks, of Sunderland, Co. Durham.

NORMAN JAMES FISHER Pilot Officer (Pilot) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. Age: 29.  Son of George Phillip and Mabel Louisa Fisher, of New Southgate, London. His brother, Kenneth George, also died on service.

ROBERT FREDERICK GODFREY   Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. Age: 20.  Son of Frederick Herbert and Beatrice Maud Godfrey, of West Ham, Essex.

NOEL HATTON  Sergeant (Nav.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. Age: 21.  Son of William Charles and Beatrice Eveline Hatton, of Rottingdean, Sussex.

KENNETH THOMAS LARMAN Flying Officer (Air Bomber) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. Age: 21.  Son of Thomas and Margaret Larman, of Hull; husband of Beryl Caley Larman, of Hull.

VICTOR RONALD ROPER   Sergeant (W. Op. [Air]) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Squadron age 22. The son of Harold and Eleanor Roper, of Salford, Lancashire; and husband of Elsie Margaret Roper, of Higher Broughton, Salford.

JOHN WAITES   Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 626 Sqdn. 

 

 

MONTIGNY le GUESDIER Communal Cemetery (Seine et Marne France)

 

Left to Right :  J. Waites - R. F. Godfrey - H. M. Crooks - K. T. Larman - V. R. Roper - N. Hatton - N. J. Fisher

 

 

A letter from Edmond Henry, Priest of Montigny-le-Guesdier dated 10th of March 1946. To Denzil Ede W.R member No. 389 relating to the loss of 626 Squadron Lancaster EE148 UM-S2 on 3rd of May 1944. Passed to me by Christine Jones, a relative of Noel Hatton the navigator. It was originally obtained by Bob Burness-Smith who was given a copy  in February 2000 by the Wickenby Register. 

 

Dear Sir  

After the events that took place in May 1944 on the territory of my parish, I must frankly admit that I have been waiting, not without some impatience, for a letter such as yours, either asking me for details of the great misfortune that befell your comrades or to thank the people of Montigny and the surrounding area for their devotion to the Allies cause and particularly for the courage that they showed at the time.

I had been in the "Resistance" since 1941 and I always fought the Germans with all my strength; with some of my comrades, I sought to supply the Allies with information on German troop movements, and we sent this information by radio or carrier pigeon. Several times I had occasion to take in English or American airmen.

On the night of 3rd/4th May 1944 all was quiet in Montigny, and there was no reason to anticipate any trouble, when at one o'clock in the morning we were wrenched out of our sleep by a dreadful din, at the same time a red ball streaked across the sky to crash a few seconds later about 800 yards from the village.

There was no possible doubt about it, an aircraft, probably caught by a burst of machine-gun fire, had crashed down in flames. What nationality was the aircraft? If it was English, swift action was needed to conceal any airman who had managed to escape from the German search parties. I just took time to get dressed and I was on the spot a few minutes later together with many of my comrades. We could see from the size of the aircraft that it was a bomber, and an Allied bomber, since its tricolour roundels could be seen shining in the flames. In falling the bomber had broken into four pieces: there was the fuselage with one wing, the a little further on the tail, still further a wing, and finally came an engine.

When we reached the spot, the fuselage and tail were a blazing torch. We had to be very careful when approaching as the heat was causing bullets to go off on all sides. On leaving the village, we thought we had seen some parachutes in the glow of the fire; I therefore organised a few patrols in order to find them and bring them help. Unfortunately we discovered nothing. When day had dawned the bodies of the seven crew members were discovered. Three in the front of the aircraft, probably the Pilot, Navigator and Flight Engineer, and the other four in the vicinity of the aircraft.

Those were the brutal facts. Now here is how a little French village guided by its priest, paid tribute to seven allied airmen who had fallen on French soil in the fight against the Boches.

I decided on my personal responsibility to take the bodies to the town hall. The occupation authorities had formally forbidden touching anything before they arrived at the scene of the disaster. No matter, I listened only to my own conscience and patriotism and detailed one of my comrades, a farmer, to go and find a car, in which the bodies were carried to the town hall.

Then I informed the mayor of what had happened and of the responsibility I had assumed. To begin with, he criticised the steps I had taken which he considered dangerous as there might be reprisals, but in the end he was to agree that I had done the right thing.

A burial permit had to be obtained. It was granted for the following Saturday. 

As soon as I knew this I got out my bicycle and went off on a little propaganda trip through the region to tell people when the burial would take place, and to get as many people as possible to come.

I had ordered seven coffins, and some of the young people of Montigny had dug graves in the communal cemetery.

 

Montigny-le-Guesdier has 250 inhabitants.

Well, there were more than one thousand people at the burial.

Never since I have been here had I seen so many people around.

Never has the church been so full.

There were people everywhere; at the doors, on the three flights of steps leading up to them, and I have never seen so many flowers in the church.

What followed was even finer; it brought tears to every-ones' eyes.

The seven coffins were carried on the shoulders of 28 young people who I had selected; they were all in or sympathised  with the Resistance.

The church was all draped in black.

I had brought out the most beautiful hangings for the occasion.

One of my friends, a neighbouring priest, was at the harmonium, and the young people of the parish sang "The Office for the Dead", while I presided over the service.

As we came out of the church my comrade played "God Save the King", "the American Anthem", and "The Marseillaise" on the harmonium.

You must not forget that all this took place 4 Kilometres from Bray-sur-Seine where Gestapo agents were permanently stationed.

All the personal items found on the dead men were collected by the British Red Cross.

That, quite simply is the unhappy story I have undertaken to tell you.

I should be very happy for the British people to learn that it was at Montigny-le-Guesdier that its airmen, killed while on a mission, were paid the finest homage.

Indeed I am sure that in no other region did Allies receive a finer burial during the Occupation.

I should be very happy to know if this information has been of use to you.

In the meantime I remain,

Yours faithfully,   Edmond Henry, Priest of Montigny-le-Guesdier, par Bray/Seine, Seine et Marne, France

 

From Christine Jones 31st July 2013

Last year I emailed to you a scanned copy of a letter received by my family in relation to the above loss, which I am pleased to see is now on your website. Thank you.

Earlier this month returning by car from a holiday in France, my husband and I called in at the small village of Montigny le Guesdier where the crew are buried in the village cemetery alongside French locals.

It was a calm environment in a very small village surrounded by open fields. Sadly the village church where the extraordinary funeral was held was not open, although I intend to write to the Mairie to ask whether we could visit the church at a future point.I have also come across the following link which points out that on 2 May 2014 there will be a large commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Mailly Le Camp raid, and the visitors to your website may like to be aware of this.Please see the attached link: http://community.lincolnshire.gov.uk/maillylecampmemorialcommemoration/index.asp