Lancaster ND755 was one of sixteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Stuttgart on the night of the 19th / 20th October 1944.
Its eight-man crew comprised:
- Robert William Brown (Pilot)
- John Anthony Creemer Clarke (Navigator)
- Reginald Francis Jack Bright (Air Bomber)
- Dennis Thompson (Set Operator)
- Adam Linton (Wireless Operator)
- Edmond Joseph Kiely (Air Gunner)
- Frank David Thomas Phillips (Air Gunner)
- Colin Johnson (Flight Engineer)
EJ Kiely, RFJ Bright, C Johnson, FDT Phillips, A Linton, RW Brown, JAC Clarke
[Courtesy of Peter and Margaret Quirk]
Lancaster ND755 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 October 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 October 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. 578 (Flight 09/05/1946) reported RW Brown “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 582 (Flight 23/05/1946) reported JAC Clarke, RFJ Bright, D Thompson, A Linton, EJ Kiely, FDT Phillips and C Johnson “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to next of kin, along with any monies due.
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 do not show where the remains of RW Brown, JAC Clarke, RFJ Bright, D Thompson, A Linton, EJ Kiely, FDT Phillips and C Johnson were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at WINTZENBACH PROTESTANT CHURCHYARD as follows:
- BROWN, ROBERT WILLIAM Flying Officer ‘414768’ Grave 1.
- PHILLIPS, FRANK DAVID THOMAS Flight Sergeant ‘1128364’ Grave 2.
- BRIGHT, REGINALD FRANCIS JACK Flight Sergeant ‘1800892’ Grave 3.
- LINTON, ADAM Flying Officer ‘158128’ Grave 4.
- THOMPSON, DENNIS Warrant Officer ‘1090928’ Grave 5.
- JOHNSON, COLIN Sergeant ‘1819247’ Grave 6.
- KIELY, EDMOND JOSEPH Flight Sergeant ‘2211230’ Grave 7.
- CLARKE, JOHN ANTHONY CREEMER Pilot Officer ‘177263’ Grave 8.
At about 08.00hrs on the night of 19th October 1944, a four-engine bomber crashed in flames and exploded 2 km. NW of Wintzenbach. Eight bodies were found and buried in the Protestant Cemetery. The debris of the aircraft was removed by the Germans therefore no identification of this machine is possible locally.
Map showing crash area / original burial location