Lancaster ME335 (21/02/1945)

Lancaster ME335 was one of eleven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Duisburg on the night of the 21st / 22nd February 1945.

It was equipped with H2S, Fishpond and Carpet and was carrying 1 x 4000lb HC, 5 x 1000lb MC and 14 Cluster Projectiles. Its designated Path Finder role was Blind Secondary Marker

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • John James Osmond (Pilot)
  • Albert Western Wolk (Navigator)
  • Bernard John Bedford Carr (Air Bomber)
  • Archibald Clarence Aston (Wireless Operator)
  • Bert William Golden (Air Gunner)
  • Geoffrey Arnold Perry (Air Gunner)
  • James Keith Spedding (Flight Engineer)

ME335 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 22nd February 1945 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 21st / 22nd February 1945”.

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. 521 (Flight 05/07/1945) reported BW Golden as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 591 (Flight 04/06/1946) reported BW Golden  “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.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

JJ Osmond, AW Wolk, BJB Carr, AC Aston, GA Perry and JK Spedding 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 details:

  • JJ Osmond
    • Captured: Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-D, Nuremburg Mar-45 to Apr-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • AW Wolk (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg
    • Repatriated:
  • BJB Carr (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg
    • Repatriated:
  • AC Aston (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned:
    • Repatriated:
  • GA Perry (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg
    • Repatriated:
  • JK Spedding (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg
    • Repatriated:

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 BW Golden were located at Neukirchen Community Cemetery.

ME335 Concentration

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY on 2nd June 1947 as follows:

  • GOLDEN, BERT WILLIAM Flying Officer ‘179878’  Grave 15. D. 14.

[Courtesy of Klaus Steffensen]

JJ Osmond’s POW Liberation Questionnaire (Australian Archive)

Aircraft attacked from below which sustained strikes on fuselage and starboard wing. The starboard inner engine and trailing edge were on fire. I then took necessary action but the fire did not go out. I then gave the command to prepare to abandon aircraft, followed shortly by order to jump. All members replied, excluding mid-upper gunner; attempts to contact him by call-light not successful. All crew left aircraft successfully, I then left at 10,000 with the aircraft under control but juddering badly with fires still burning. Aircraft crashed approx 30-40 miles west of Duisburg.

All those that baled out landed safely and were captured. The mid-upper gunner crashed in aircraft. WO Aston was told by his captors that he was found dead in his turret.

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd War Diaries)

No information recorded

WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)

No additional details on the loss