Lancaster ME331 (26/03/1945)

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was passed to AV Roe on 26th March 1945; it was repaired on site and returned to the squadron on 28th April 1945


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Squadron’s Operations Record Book

There are no details in the squadron’s Operations Record Book

AM Form 1180

There isn’t an AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) held at the RAF Museum and, as such, it has not been possible to establish any more details

Lancaster NG440 (18/03/1945)

Lancaster NG440 was one of fifteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Witten on the night of the 18th / 19th March 1945.

Its eight-man crew comprised:

  • John Campbell Blair (Pilot)
  • Derek Ian Jeffery (Navigator)
  • Thomas Henderson Hunter (Air Bomber)
  • “Yale Knox Carter” (Set Operator)
  • John Arthur Moore (Wireless Operator)
  • Harry Foxton (Air Gunner)
  • JS Johnson (Air Gunner)
  • (Possibly) Herbert Bailey (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows: When the aircraft was half way across the Channel, aircraft doing dog leg at 4,000 feet to waste time and an aircraft, believed to be a Lancaster, came in from starboard bow and hit starboard fin, ripped a piece off it, took part of an elevator and fin away. Aircraft went into steep dive and lost 2,000 feet. Aircraft set course for jettison area and returned to base. All personnel were uninjured.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The movement card does not show any details regarding classification as a result of the incident; it is known that the aircraft was back in operational use on 24th March 1945

AM Form 1180

There isn’t an AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) held at the RAF Museum and, as such, it has not been possible to establish any more details


Notes:

  1. Information suggests that the other aircraft involved was No. 640 Squadron Halifax NR289 which damaged its nose and landed at Manston

Lancaster ME361 (07/03/1945)

Lancaster ME361 was one of eight No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Deutsche Erdoel refinery at Hemmingstedt, near Heide on the night of 7th / 8th March 1945.

It was equipped with H2S, Fishpond, Loran and Carpet and was carrying 3 x 1000lb B2 Yellow, 3 x 1000lb B4 Yellow, 3 x 1000 ANM.59 and 4 x Cluster Projectiles. Its designated Path Finder role was Master Bomber

Its eight-man crew comprised:

  • Daniel Bulmer Everett (Pilot)
  • James Martin Aylieff (Navigator)
  • Charles George Mitchell (Air Bomber)
  • Clifford Owen Russell (Set Operator)
  • Reginald Clifford Chapman (Wireless Operator)
  • Albert Henry John Pidgeon (Air Gunner)
  • Reginald Martin Weller (Air Gunner)
  • Kelvin Gordon Munro (Flight Engineer)

The route to and from the target was as follows: 5330N 0045E, 5520N 0420E, 5545N 0900E, 5500N 1015E, Target, 5405N 0850E, 5440N 0700E, 5435N 0340E, 5300N 0100E, Base

ME361 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 8th March 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 7th / 8th March 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. 338 (Flight 20/09/1945) reported DB Everett, JM Aylieff, CG Mitchell, CO Russell, RC Chapman, AHJ Pidgeon, RM Weller and KG Munro as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 592 (Flight 11/07/1946) reported CG Mitchell “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 593 (Flight 18/07/1946) reported KG Munro “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 594 (Flight 25/07/1946) reported DB Everett, JM Aylieff, CO Russell, RC Chapman, AHJ Pidgeon and RM Weller “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 show that the remains of all the missing crew members were located at Hemmingstedt.

ME361 Concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at HAMBURG CEMETERY on 2nd August 1946 as follows:

  • AYLIEFF, James Martin Flying Officer ‘177980’ Grave 5A. J. 3
  • CHAPMAN, Reginald Clifford Flight Lieutenant ‘122930’ Grave 5A. J. 2.
  • EVERETT, Daniel Bulmer Squadron Leader ‘155223’ Grave 5A. J. 8.
  • MITCHELL, Charles G. Flight Lieutenant ‘J/20407’ Grave 5A. J. 7.
  • MUNRO, Kelvin Gordon Pilot Officer ‘7122’ Grave 5A. J. 1.
  • PIDGEON, Albert Henry John Flying Officer ‘171882’ Grave 5A. J. 6.
  • RUSSELL, Clifford Owen Flight Lieutenant ‘138894’ Grave 5A. J. 5.
  • WELLER, Reginald Martin Flying Officer ‘155190’ Grave 5A. J. 4.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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

[Master Bomber] Shot down at 22.00 in the target area

German Archives (Courtesy of Rod MacKenzie)

German documents (now held in archives around the world) record that ME361 caught fire in the air and crashed near Hemmingstedt at around 22.00hrs . It is understood that these files also contain unconfirmed claims for the loss by both a nightfighter and various flak batteries.

Map of Crash Location and Original Burials

ME361 Map

Lancaster ME333 (05/03/1945)

Lancaster ME333 was one of sixteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Chemnitz on the night of the 5th / 6th March 1945.

It was equipped with H2S 3a, GPI, Fishpond and Loran

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Fred Watson (Pilot)
  • Kenneth Samuel Smith (Navigator)
  • Stanley Owen Scott (Air Bomber)
  • Leslie George Holland (Wireless Operator)
  • Phillip James Pentelow (Air Gunner)
  • Victor Arthur Roe (Air Gunner)
  • George Cross (Flight Engineer)

The route was: Reading, 5000N 0200E, 5000N 0500E, 5030N 0720E, 5045N 0930E, 5138N 1132E, 5130N 1240E, Target, 5040N 1300E, 5105N 1200E, 5050N 1020E, 5000N 0200E Reading

ME333 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 6th March 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 5th / 6th March 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. 534 (Flight 30/08/1945) reported F Watson, KS Smith, SO Scott, LG Holland, PJ Pentelow and VA Roe as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 588 (Flight 20/06/1946) reported PJ Pentelow “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 593 (Flight 18/07/1946) reported G Cross, F Watson, KS Smith, SO Scott, LG Holland and VA Roe “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 show that the remains of the crew were not located and, as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:

  • CROSS, George Flight Sergeant ‘1534727’ Panel 270.
  • HOLLAND, Leslie George Pilot Officer ‘195246’ Panel 268.
  • PENTELOW, Phillip James Flying Officer ‘403024’ Panel 285.
  • ROE, Victor Arthur Warrant Officer ‘1813968’ Panel 269.
  • SCOTT, Stanley Owen Flying Officer ‘162469’ Panel 267.
  • SMITH, Kenneth Samuel Flight Lieutenant ‘165669’ Panel 266.
  • WATSON, Fred Squadron Leader ‘110889’ Panel 265.

[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd War Diaries)

Possible nightfighter claim: Fw. Schuster, 1./NJG5, Chemnitz, 21.51