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:

  • JJ Osmond (Pilot)
  • AW Wolk (Navigator)
  • D Carr (Air Bomber)
  • AC Aston (Wireless Operator)
  • BW Golden (Air Gunner)
  • GA Perry (Air Gunner)
  • JK 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”.

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. 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, D 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:

  • To be obtained from TNA

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]