Halifax LV793 was one of seventeen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig on the night of the 19th / 20th February 1944.
It was equipped with IFF, Gee, H2S, Fishpond and Monica and was carrying 3 x 1000lb MC, 1 x 500lb MC and various target indicators. Its designated Path Finder role was Blind Backer Up
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- William McTurk (Pilot)
- Thomas Calistus Kerr (Navigator)
- Edward John Trickey (Air Bomber)
- Ronald Wright (Wireless Operator)
- Alfred Fred Poynton (Air Gunner)
- William Hugo McCormick (Air Gunner)
- George Forman (Flight Engineer)
The route was Cromer, 5400N 0440E, 5240N 0810E, 5237N 1152E, 5200N 1255E, Target (return route varied)
LV793 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after take off”
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 20th February 1944 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.
A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 19th / 20th February 1944”.
An example of the telegram that was sent
The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch, which was responsible for investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing aircraft and airmen, subsequently published the following information regarding the crew:
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 376 (Flight 27/04/1944) reported R Wright, WH McCormick, AF Poynton and G Forman as “missing”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 485 (Flight 05/04/1945) reported WH McCormick “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 591 (Flight 04/07/1946) reported R Wright, AF Poynton and G Forman “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 07/04/1944: Information received from the Air Ministry that W McTurk, TC Kerr, EJ Trickey, missing on 19th / 20th February 1944 are prisoners of war; also that WH McCormick and one unknown are dead.
Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
W McTurk, TC Kerr and EJ Trickey survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following:
- W McTurk (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
- TC Kerr (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug / Stalag 357
- EJ Trickey (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
Post War search for the missing crew members
After the war, an investigation officer from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was tasked with locating the remains of the missing crew member(s).
Original German documents, burial records and eye witness accounts were utilised to establish the location of the crash site, the cause of the loss and the initial fate of the crew; information was recorded in a MRES Investigation Report.
As part of the process, any remains that were located were exhumed, identified (wherever possible) and concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Cemeteries in the country that they fell, in accordance with Government policy at the time.
Graves were marked with a simple wooden cross, which was replaced by the familiar CWGC headstone during the 1950’s.
Missing airmen who could not be found, or formally identified, had their names commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, which was unveiled in 1953.
CWGC records show that the remains of R Wright and G Forman were located at Brandenburg Cemetery.
Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY on 11th January 1947 as follows:
- WRIGHT, RONALD Warrant Officer ‘1133855’ Grave 8. K. 4.
- FORMAN, GEORGE Flight Sergeant ‘1365898’ Grave 8. K. 5.
The remains of WH McCormick and AF Poynton were not found (or could not be formally identified); as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:
- McCORMICK, WILLIAM HUGO Flight Sergeant ‘710079’ Panel 220.
- POYNTON, ALFRED FRED Flight Sergeant ‘1671803’ Panel 221.
[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]
Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)
Probable Nightfighter Claim: Ofw. Walter Kammerer, 6./NJG5, W Berlin, 5600m, 03.26
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Outbound at 19000ft, picked up by a nightfighter operating near Stendal and later abandoned near Brandenburg