Lancaster NE175 was one of sixteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Stuttgart on the night of the 24th / 25th July 1944.
It was equipped with IFF, Gee, Nav Aid Y (H2S), Fishpond and Carpet and was carrying 5 x 2000lbs MC bombs. Its designated Path Finder role was Supporter
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Arthur Samuel Morton (Pilot)
- James Percy Graham (Navigator)
- Ivor Edward Hurley (Air Bomber)
- Dennis Stanley Jones (Wireless Operator)
- John Webster (Air Gunner)
- Joseph Mactavish Miller (Air Gunner)
- Stanley Brook (Flight Engineer)
The route was 4840N 0922E, 4825N 0415E, 4250N 0700E, 4805N 0505E, 4730N 0335E, 4250N 0130E, 4900N, 1000E, Reading, Base (needs confirmation as some coordinates unreadable)
NE175 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 25th July 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 24th / 25th July 1944”.
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. 449 (Flight 07/12/1944) reported AS Morton, JP Graham, IE Hurley, DS Jones, JM Miller, J Webster and S Brook as “missing”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 563 (Flight 21/02/1946) reported JP Graham, IE Hurley, DS Jones, J Webster and S Brook “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 567 (Flight 04/04/1946) reported AS Morton “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.
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 08/09/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that JM Miller, missing on 24th / 25th July 1944, was killed
- 10/11/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that JM Miller and two unknown, missing on 24th / 25th July 1944, were killed
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 all the crew members were located at Steinhalle Civ. Cemetery.
Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at DURNBACH WAR CEMETERY on 24th June 1948 as follows:
- BROOK, STANLEY Sergeant ‘1674979’ Grave 8. A. 16.
- HURLEY, IVOR EDWARD Flight Sergeant ‘1323550’ Grave 8. A. 17.
- GRAHAM, JAMES PERCY Flying Officer ‘136874’ Grave 8. A. 18.
- MILLER, JOSEPH MACTAVISH Flight Sergeant ‘R/193144’ Grave 8. A. 19.
- MORTON, ARTHUR SAMUEL Flight Lieutenant ‘52754’ Grave 8. A. 20.
- JONES, DENNIS STANLEY Flying Officer ‘155338’ Joint grave 8. A. 21-22.
- WEBSTER, JOHN Sergeant ‘1559239’ Joint grave 8. A. 21-22.
[Courtesy of Dom Howard]
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Crashed at 01.48 onto Fuchseckstrasse 23, Stuttgart