The Story of Lancaster III ND421 OF-S for Sugar
ND421 OF-S for Sugar crash site memorial
Mission: Brunswick Date: 14th/15th January 1944
Unit: 97 Squadron
THE AIRCRAFT Type: Lancaster III Serial: ND421 Code: OF-S
Base: Bourn, Cambridgeshire
Location: Fonteinsnol, Texel Island, Netherlands
THE CREW Pilot: F/L Kenneth Munro (Steve) Steven DFC. Age 30. Killed Flt/Eng: F/Sgt Albert C (Ace) East. Survived, POW. Navigator: F/Sgt Samuel B (Paddy) Stevenson. Age 22. Killed Bomb Aimer: P/O Ridley R Brown. Survived, POW. Wireless Op: William Charles (Bill) Gadsby. Age 22. Killed. (Bill Gadsby’s age is incorrectly shown as 27 in most documentation and even on his grave in the War Cemetery on Texel). Mid Upper Gunner: W/O Clifford John (Jack) Skinner. Age 22. Killed Rear Gunner: Sgt Leslie Norman John Laver. Age 20. Killed The crew, on their 28th sortie, would have been regarded as a senior and experienced crew and would normally have been allocated their “own” Lancaster. Normally this was OF-P, Peter, but this aircraft was undergoing repairs after sustaining damage on its previous sortie. The none regular crew member or “spare bod” was the rear gunner, Leslie Laver. Poor Leslie only flew in combat twice. The first on Black Thursday, 16th/17th December 1943 when 5 of his original crew were killed when attempting to land at Bourn. As recorded here his second sortie cost him his life.
THE REASON FOR THE LOSS On the return from the target S Sugar was either hit by flack or was the subject of a night fighter attack. Different versions of the incident are inconclusive. Even the two survivors were unable to confirm the real reason for the crash. A monument to S Sugar has been placed in the pine forests at Fonteinsnol where the plane came down. The pine forest is roughly 100 years old and even in 2010 it was possible to see the track the plane took as younger trees have been planted which of course are lower than those of the original forest.
NB. It is now almost certain that S-Sugar was attacked by a night fighter piloted by Lt Kurt Matzak. (Tony walton)
Bill’s Grave in the War Graves Cemetery, Den Burg
The graves of Bill Gadsby and Jack Skinner in the War Graves Cemetery, Den Burg
The story below appears to have been translated from a Dutch original, but I cannot confirm that fact. I have left it in the same format as it appeared on the old 97 Squadron web site as I think the translation adds a little authenticity to the story. (Tony Walton)
Around the same time a Lancaster of the 97th (Pathfinder) Squadron crashed near the “Westerslag” on Texel Island (in fact on the slope of the wooded dune) Fonteinsnol). (The crashing of another Lancaster Pathfinder of Wing Commander N R Mansfield (Captain)). The crew was formed of F/L Kenneth Munro (Steve) Steven DFC (30), a former bank employee from Ilford Essex, the pilot commander; F/Sgt Samuel B Stevenson DFM, the navigator (22), a quiet and serious young man from Northern Ireland; P/O RR (Rid) Brown the bomb targetter from Hexham, North of England; F/Sgt Albert East, a former printer from London who was the mechanic; F/Sgt William (Bill) Gadsby (22) also from London serving a radio officer; F/Sgt Clifford John (Jack) Skinner (22), mid - upper gunner from Worsbrough Dale, Yorkshire and Sgt Leslie Norman John Laver (20), the tail gunner from Sydenham, London. Sgt Laver was a newcomer – he replaced the regular gunner, Ken Newman, who was kept on the ground as he was suffering from a skin disease. It was his second flight above enemy territory. Normally they were flying the “P for Peter” which however was damaged in the previous night so they were assigned to fly the “S for Sugar”. A row of bombs painted on the body (27) indicated the number of missions made. There is not much to tell about the flight itself, no events worth mentioning happened. When reaching the target, they released their “fire crackers” through the clouds, turned and prepared for the trip home. They were quite a bit on their way home and the flight undoubtedly would have been ended well if not Lt Kurt Matzak, flying a ME110 would have traced them. The attack was a professional one – no one of the crew noticed the danger before it was too late. Taking all into account they could be grateful to the German who did not fire at the plane’s body. F/Sgt Albert East, the mechanic didn’t notice at all that the plane was attacked. As he in a Pathfinder also had the care of the machine gun in the nose of the plane, he had moved himself to the nose compartment and laying on his belly, threw a glance through the Perspex (?) window. He didn’t see a thing. A short time later the skipper called him back to the cockpit by the intercom. One of the outer engines had caught fire and it was the task of the mechanic to put the propeller into idle position. Probably a night fighter has crept in their dead angle and fired a salvo at the engine, or did an AA gun hit them? Because the gunners had not reported any fighter, he supposed an AA grenade caused the fire. He put the propeller of the hit engine into idle position and had hardly finished his job when the other outer engine caught fire. East handled this engine the same way and went back to the nose compartment. In a Pathfinder it was the task of the mechanic to open the front emergency door and jump as the first man; it seemed no bad idea for him to take the necessary precautions. It is impossible to trace what damage the night fighter did to the plane but probably no part of the plane body or crew was hit. The fire in the engines spread out and Flt Lt Steven, seeing both wings afire gave the order “parachute, parachute, jump, jump, jump” an order given under critical circumstances. Albert East had taken off the tube of his oxygen supply because it was not long enough to reach his place beside the pilot. In his excitement he forgot to reconnect the tube to the oxygen supply. As it had happened often that the crew members got strangled by the intercom wires in emergency cases. East, on his way back to the bomb-target compartment and kneeling at the “door” took off his helmet and threw it away to avoid being killed in this unlucky way. By lack of oxygen and because the ice cold air was streaming inside the “door”, he had a black-out and must have hit his head on the edge of the door opening. Being conscious again he was lying on the ground, what proved to be hard frozen little field with some bushes and stubby grass on the Wadden island Texel in the province of North Holland. According to eye witnesses on Texel, the plane came flying over afire; the clouds over the plane were reddish coloured by the shine of fire. Then it crashed vertically, probably after an explosion. The pieces came down on the Fonteinsnol (Fountains dune), a high dune between De Koog and Den Hoorr. Except for two, all the crew members lost their lives. Steven as well as Gadsby and Skinner were married. Leslie Laver, as mentioned before, was not a member of the regular crew, but had taken the place of the rear gunner who fell ill. They were buried in den Burg. One of the survivors (as it became clear later on, was the mechanic Albert East) knocked at the door of Mr Piet Smit, a sheep farmer living in the hamlet of Noord Haffel, just south of den Burg. The man was bare foot, his boots had slipped off his feet when jumping. Confused of the sudden appearance of a stranger, who he couldn’t understand, Smit took the Englishman to one of his sheep sheds near his house. The Englishman, nervous of the suffering he had gone through, shivering from cold, laid himself down in the layer of hay and tried to find rest and forgetfulness after the frightening adventure. There was something to think about: his mother celebrated her birthday and he imagined the whole family sitting together in her cosy room around the table. His own position was quite a contrasting one. Next morning, when Smit made his way to the shed with clean socks and hot tea for his protégée, he met a neighbour who told him that a stranger was sitting in one of his sheds. Soon it became clear that this was the second survivor. It was PO Brown the bomb targetter. That evening both men were brought together, a doctor was warned as East had his meniscus broken (concussion) – he had hit an obstacle while coming down. The doctor (Vellinga from the Weverstaat) knew English and he spoke with the men for some time. It was mainly by persuasion of a farmer, who was living nearby, and who was quite terrified about the thought that the Germans in Den Helder had undoubtedly seen the two parachutes in the searchlights that the proposition was made to present the two to the Germans. The doctor explained the situation in English, in particular that going underground would endanger the two wounded. The flyers agreed that the Germans would be informed. Not long afterwards they found themselves in German imprisonment. This is not the end of the story, 18 years later in 1962, one of the men, Albert East visited Texel for the 2nd time but this time in a more comfortable way and as a civilian. He visited Mr Smit with whom he still keeps contact through his daughter. It is one of those friendships born in distress. Note: Sadly Ace has now passed away.
NB: When Ridley and Ace were transferred to the Dutch mainland, they were transported to the ferry by bus. When the boarded the bus all of the Dutch passengers stood up as a mark of respect for the fliers. There was nothing the Germans could do to stop them! (Tony walton)
Pam Dawson and Bram Van Dyk at the crash site
Letter from Ridley Brown
A letter from Ridley Brown, the bomb aimer on S-Sugar, one of the two survivors can be found here. It was sent to the mother of the navigator, Paddy Stevenson, who was seeking information about her son. The content is poignant and self explanatory. There must have been many letters like this after the war.
Gadsby, W.C. (W/Op) Sgt 1. 22/23 Aug 43 Leverkusen (S/L Garlick),
2. 23/24 Aug 43 Berlin (S/L Garlick),
3. 31 Aug/1 Sept 43 Berlin (W/C Nind),
4. 3/4 Sept 43 Berlin (F/O Steven),
5. 5/6 Sept 43 Mannheim (F/O Steven),
6. 6/7 Sept 43 Munich (F/O Steven),
7. 15/16 Sept 43 Montlucon (F/O Steven),
8. 16/17 Sept 43 Modane (F/O Steven),
9. 22/23 Sept 43 Hanover (F/O Steven),
10.23/24 Sept 43 Mannheim (F/O Steven),
11. 27/28 Sept 43 Hanover (F/O Steven),
12.7/8 Oct 43 Stuttgart (F/O Steven),
13.8/9 Oct 43 Hanover (F/O Steven),
14. 18/19 Oct 43 Hanover (F/O Steven),
15. 22/23 Oct 43 Kassel (F/O Steven),
3/4 Nov 43 Dusseldorf (F/O Steven) ret early,
16. 17/18 Nov 43 Mannheim (F/O Steven),
17. 23/24 Nov 43 Berlin (F/O Steven),
18. 25/26 Nov 43 Frankfurt (F/O Steven),
19. 26/27 Nov 43 Stuttgart (F/O Steven),
F/Sgt 20. 2/3 Dec 43 Berlin (F/O Steven),
21. 3/4 Dec 43 Leipzig (F/O Steven),
22. 23/24 Dec 43 Berlin (F/L Steven),
23. 29/30 Dec 43 Berlin (F/L Steven),
24. 1/2 Jan 44 Berlin (F/L Steven),
25. 2/3 Jan 44 Berlin (F/L Steven),
26. 5/6 Jan 44 Stettin (F/L Steven),
27. 14/15 Jan 44 Brunswick (F/L Steven) kia.
From the Operational record Book
22.8.43 Bombing and Y exercises. Air firing and high level bombing. 14 aircraft detailed for ops, also 2 reserve aircraft. One aircraft did not take off, the remaining 13 aircraft attacked Leverkusen near Cologne. Weather was fine over England but 8-10/10ths cumulous over the target. Bombs were dropped on glow of fires through the cloud, no results seen. One aircraft returned early owing to compass and repeater failures. All returned safely to base. Special Order of the Day by Air Commodore D.C.T.Bennett CBE, DSO, Commanding Path Finder Force “To all ranks of the PFF. On the 15th August 1942, five squadrons, each representing a group in Bomber Command, assembled on allotted aerodromes to form the PFF. In one year the PFF has played a large part in showing the enemy how effective bombing can be as a direct means of breaking his morale and thereby winning the war. It is conceivable that he can crack up tomorrow. On the other hand his Gestapo rule may make it possible for him to continue indefinitely. Bombing is our most rapid and effective method of preventing his continued struggle but only if it is effective. The PFF have done much but they must do more. The quality of our bombing is in your hands. Keep at it and good luck to you all.”
22/23 August 1943 Leverkusen – Bomb load 5 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb unless stated JA707V S/L J.M.Garlick, Sgts J.M.Anderson, A.G.Boyd, A.E.Charlton, Gadsby, F/Sgt T.M.Ward, Sgt F.Edwards. 1 x 4000lb 6 x 1000lb. Up 2112 Down 0159. Leverkusen area. 20,000’. 10/10ths cloud. Bombed on ETA and possible reflection of red TI markers. After leaving target very scattered bombing could be seen below cloud. Over an area of 10 miles, some 30 miles.
23.8.43 21 aircraft and one reserve have been detailed to operate against Berlin. Early briefing and take off at 0815 hours. 21 aircraft took off, 2 aircraft abandoned their sorties, in one case the rear turret was u/s and in the other the mid upper gunner was very sick. All the remaining aircraft attacked the target at Berlin. Large area of fires seen in target area after bombing and were well concentrated. Moon was just rising – no cloud and visibility good. W/Cmdr Burns DFC was selected and acted as Master of Ceremonies over the target. Bundles of windows were dropped. P/O Fairlie and crew failed to return. Sgt Chatten was attacked by enemy intruder when over Norfolk and was shot down, the aircraft catching fire. All the crew baled out except for the mid upper F/S Kraemer (Aus) whose body was found later in the wreckage. Sgt Chatten landed safely, but was wounded from gunshot in the leg and ribs and was taken to Ely Hospital – he is progressing favourably. The remainder of the crew baled out safely and were uninjured beyond minor bruises. P/ Dawson was hit by enemy flak which damaged his aircraft. The brake pressure which was damaged caused the aircraft to overshoot beyond the roadway and into a cornfield on landing. The undercarriage did not collapse and there were no injuries, but the aircraft was made Cat A.C. The remaining aircraft landed safely at base. The raid was considered very successful – much damage reported.
23/24 August 1943 Berlin – Bomb Load 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb JA707V S/L J.M.Garlick, Sgts J.M.Anderson, A.G.Boyd, A.E.Charlton, Gadsby, F/Sgt T.M.Ward, Sgt F.Edwards. Bomb load as Sgt Chatten. Up 2022 Down 0314. Target Berlin attacked. 18,300’. No cloud, ground haze. Illuminated buildings and roads visually identified. Bombed estimated centre of red and green TIs. Fires seen starting up.
31.8.43 Squadron detachments again detailed 20 aircraft for ops. The target was an area in Berlin. Weather was 9/10ths cloud, visibility good, no moon. Bombs were dropped as detailed but too early for many results to be seen. Incendiaries were seen burning and scattered fires started. Moderate heavy flak rather more than on previous raid, when eased off searchlight and fighter co-operation was attempted. Many enemy aircraft seen. 4 aircraft and crews returned early., 3 due to crew personnel being sick and one due to mid upper turret u/s and intercom u/s. W/C Burns DFC and crew are missing, no news since being received. The remainder all returned to their bases. S/L Rodley’s aircraft had the bomb aimer’s panel shattered and a hole in the rear of the fuselage at Malenburg.
31 August/1 September 1943 Berlin _ Bomb Load 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 500lb unless stated A966S W/C E.F.Nind, P/O P.J. Roberts, P/O W.G.Wishart, P/O R.M.Nelson, Sgt Gadsby, F/O E.A.Adams, F/L L.G.Mussi. Up 2013 Down 0318. Target Berlin bombed. 18,500’. Considerable medium cloud. No moon. Visibility moderate. Bombed centre point between two red TI markers. Unable to observe results owing to cloud. 3.9.43 Runways at Bourn now serviceable – all detachments returned this morning to base from Oakington, Graveley and Gransden. Twenty aircraft detailed for operations against Berlin. All aircraft took off and 18 aircraft attacked the target. Weather was cloudy en route – target area was only clear gap. Early aircraft could see red TIs in good cluster and some fires already taking hold. The attack is considered well concentrated and fires were seen by crews homeward bound from 200 miles away. Defences were moderate and quickly died away and then many searchlights were operating in conjunction with fighters. Two aircraft returned early, one with oxygen supply u/s and another due to rear gunner’s oxygen supply failing, rendering him unconscious. After jettisoning bombs, a TI exploded, causing fire in bomb bay which was eventually put out and the aircraft landed safely. Sgt Nordhoff, the rear gunner of F/O Riches crew, was killed by cannon fire from an enemy fighter when over the target. Rear turret and hydraulic system were rendered u/s through damage caused by the fighter. All aircraft returned safely to base. Sgt Nordhoff’s body is resting at Oakington and will be conveyed by rail to Liverpool for private funeral.
3/4 September 1943 - Berlin EE179U F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, J.J.Zunti, K.D.Newman. Up 2011 Down 0433. 1 x 4000lb, 7 x 500lb. Target Berlin. No moon, no cloud, vis good. 17,000’. Bombed concentration of red and green TIs in bomb sight. Bombing seen to be in built up area. Good fires beginning – one large and well concentrated.
5.9.43 19 aircraft detailed to attack Mannheim – 15 of which successfully attacked the primary target and 4 returned early due to various technical failures. Weather – clear sky, visibility good, some haze. Bombing was concentrated and well placed. Fires seen to be taking hold and were visible for 100 miles on route home. The raid is considered to be well placed and effective. Defence, heavy flak moderate and some searchlight cones over town. Many enemy aircraft seen and several aircraft seen to fall in flames. All aircraft returned safely to base.
5/6 September 1943 - Mannheim JA846M F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, M.Sharp, K.D.Newman. Up 1938 Down 0155. 1 x 4000lb, 9 x 500lb. Mannheim bombed. 18,500’. No cloud, vis hazy. River seen. Bombed cascading Red TI marker - not actually in bomb sight. Bombs not seen to explode. One very big explosion seen – fires just starting.
6.9.43 17 aircraft detailed for operations against Munich. 2 aircraft were withdrawn due to rear gunner being sick and engine trouble in the other aircraft. One aircraft returned early, the navigator being sick – oxygen supply u/s. The remaining 14 aircraft attacked Munich but owing to 9/10ths medium cloud, tops 12-14,000’ – vis moderate, the results of bombing were generally unobserved. Reflection below cloud was seen of some HE bursts and glow of scattered fires. Moderate H/F inaccurate and many searchlights illuminating cloud. Fighters were very active. F/Lt Berridge’s aircraft was damaged by enemy flak. Enemy aircraft made paths of three lines of seven flares each at regular spaces denoting route taken by bombers. One aircraft landed at Upper Heyford, the remainder returned safely to base.
6/7 September 1943 - Munich EE176O F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, L.A.Drummond, K.D.Newman. Up 2000 Down 0343. 1 x 4000lb, 7 x 500lb. Munich bombed. 18,000’. 10/10ths cloud. One red TI marker in bomb sight at time of bombing. Large explosion seen after bombing. One or two scattered fires seen - cloud obscured detail.
15.9.43 Training programme cancelled for today owing to 16 aircraft being detailed for operations tonight. 16 aircraft took off to raid the rubber works at Montlucon, France. Visibility was good, quite a large amount of cloud over target. Bombing rather scattered, bursts seen between oil tanks and gasometers. Factory chimneys were identified and fires were soon starting and increasing in volume during first 10 minutes and later a major fire giving out flame and dense smoke. The raid was considered very successful from reports. Defences less than negligible. All aircraft returned to base.
15/16 September 1943 – Montlucon ED875R F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, L.A.Drummond, K.D.Newman. Up 2045 Down 0218. 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb, 5 x 500lb. Primary objective attacked. Moonlight. 5,000’. 10/10ths cloud above. Bombed on concentration of green and red TIs – greens in bomb sight. Own results not seen. Scattered fires and black smoke observed.
16.9.43 15 aircraft detailed for ops later being reduced to 4 non-markers. Training flights during the afternoon. The four aircraft attacked the marshalling yards at Modane in the Alps. The raid was carried out very successfully in good weather with no flak or searchlights reported. All aircraft identified visually the TIs as being well placed and concentrated. Bomb flashes lit up valley and target details could be identified. All aircraft returned safely to base.
16/17 September 1943 - Modane ED875R F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, L.A.Drummond, K.D.Newman. Up 2011 Down 0315. 1 x 4000lb, 10 x 500lb. Modane bombed. Moonlight. Clear sky, vis good. 14,000’. Target identified visually and red markers – bombs released on red TIs. Many bomb bursts seen. One fire seen near TIs. Bursts well concentrated.
22.9.43 “Y” cross countries, SBA, fighter affiliation and bombing training. 20 aircraft detailed to attack a target at Hanover and three aircraft to attack Oldenburg. Three aircraft failed to attack Hanover, F/O Moodie dropping bombs on Emden, having oxygen failure. G/C Fresson jettisoned bombs owing to electrical failure, bombs were forced off by hand; and F/S Roberts jettisoned, port inner being u/s also bomb sight u/s. The attacks were made in good visibility. Very little flak reported but many enemy fighters about. Attacks reported scattered but all in built up area. Numerous fires developing. All aircraft and crews returned safely to base.
22/23 September 1943 - Hanover JA846M F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, F/Sgt C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1915 Down 0030. 6 x 2000lb. Target hanover attacked. 18,000’. No cloud, slight hhaze. One green TI marker in bomb sight at time of bombing. Several large fires observed – glow seen from coast on way back.
23.9.43 F/O Wilson on NFT had trouble with undercarriage when coming in to land. Aircraft was circled round the airfield for some while trying to lock the undercarriage. Owing to operations taking place the aircraft was diverted to Newmarket where F/O Wilson carried out a successful landing without damage to aircraft. Sixteen aircraft detailed to attack Mannheim and five aircraft on Darmstadt. Both targets were successfully bombed – flak was negligible but many searchlights were operating with fighters. Visibility was good. Two crews are missing from the attack on Mannheim. F/L Fletcher and crew and W/O Stevenson and crew. S/L Foster and the Gunnery Leader S/L McKinna were with F/L Fletcher. No news has been received since leaving base. All other crews returned safely.
23/24 September 1943 – Mannheim JB174S F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, F/Sgt C.J. Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1954 Down 0143. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 5 x 1000lb. Target Mannheim bombed. 17,500’. No moon, visibility good. Bombed on centre of cluster of green TIs – in bomb sight. Very large explosion seen at 2240 hours followed immediately by another.
27.9.43 14 aircraft detailed to attack Hanover and 4 aircraft (one of which was cancelled) on Brunswick. These targets were successfully bombed. Visibility was good. Many fires were seen by crews on return over enemy coast. There was one early return – P/O Dawson reporting faulty rear turret. All aircraft and crews returned safely to base.
27/28 September 1943 – Hanover JB174P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, F/Sgt C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1953 Down 0032. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Hanover attacked. 19,200’. No moon, no cloud, vis good. Bombed on centre of cluster of green TI markers. Numerous fires seen burning among TIs with considerable smoke pall.
7.10.43 16 aircraft attacked Stuttgart and four aircraft Friedrichshaven. The target at the former had bad cloud conditions which prevented observation of TIs with any certainty. Glow of fires was seen which were probably from scattered incendiaries. Heavy flak varied from slight to moderate. No searchlights seen and fighter activity was negligible. F/O Cameron’s aircraft had damage from incendiaries dropped from above. One incendiary hitting the armour plating behind the Pilot nearly cuasing disastrous results. At Friedrichshaven there was 10/10ths cloud and no results observed. Defences – heavy H/F, no S/Ls seen, little fighter activity.
7/8 October 1943 – Stuttgart JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 2106 Down 0404. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb. Stuttgart bombed. No moon, 10/10ths cloud. Visibility fair. Bombed on centre of cluster of green TI markers. Good fires were going. TIs scattered. 8.10.43 21 Lancasters detailed for operations with one aircraft reserve. One aircraft was withdrawn, the navigator being sick, another returned early due to oxygen supply being u/s. 19 aircraft attacked the target at Hanover in clear sky and some haze. Good concentration of fires seen. Generally the raid would appear promising but later smoke and haze prevented observations. Slight to moderate H/F and fighters not so active. 17 photos attempted. P/O Nicolls and crew failed to return from this operation. No news has been received.
8/9 October 1943 – Hanover JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 2304 Down 0415. 5 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Primary target Hanover bombed. 18,000’. Vis hazy, clear sky. Bombed on tight cluster of green TIs. 2 or 3 small fires were soon developing. Blue explosion observed at 0141 hours.
18.9.43 Training as per schedule in the morning and NFTs. 15 aircraft detailed for operations. Briefing at 1500 hours. 15 aircraft attacked Hanover. One aircraft – F/L Moodie and crew is reported missing. Weather 9/10ths cloud tops 15,000’, vis good. Defences moderate, H/F predicted up to 22,000’, heavy at 12,000’, searchlights mainly ineffective, fighter opposition reported great. Generally, owing to cloud, success of raid cannot be assessed. Crews reported glow of fires on cloud and fires were seen as crews were leaving target under cloud.
18/19 October 1943 – Hanover JA963Q F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1741 Down 2236. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Hanover bombed. 18,800’. No moon, 9/10ths cloud. Bombed between two cascading green TI markers. Own results not observed. Big dull orange explosion seen at 2019 hours. Cloud prevented further observation of results.
22.10.43 16 aircraft detailed to attack Kassel and two aircraft detailed to attack Frankfurt as spoof target, one of which returned early. The raid on Kassel was highly successful, 4/10ths cloud, tops 10,000’, vis good, some haze. Marshalling yards were visually identified and many fires were seen. H/F was encountered, S/L cones – some scattered. Fighter opposition did not seem so active. 16 photos attempted. Fires were seen to start at Frankfurt. All aircraft returned safely.
22/23 October 1943 – Kassel JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1836 Down 2332. 6 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Primary target bombed. 17,800’. 1/10th cloud. Vis good. Bombed on concentration of red and green TIs – in bomb sight. One really good fire burning with orange flame and much black smoke. Several other fires starting up.
3.11.43 NFTs and flying training in the morning. 16 aircraft detailed for operations tonight. P/O J.K.McAvoy DFM and Act W/O R.J.Williams reported POW (were missing with W/C Burns crew 31st Aug). F/Sgt T.Lancashire and F/Sgt S.Powell reported POW (were missing with F/L Covington’s crew 10th Aug). Operations : 7 aircraft to attack Dusseldorf, 9 aircraft to attack Cologne. At Dusseldorf 6 aircraft bombed the primary target, 1 aircraft returned early due to turrets being u/s. The attack was made in good weather – clear sky, vis good, ground haze with slight to moderate H/F and L/F. S/Ls ineffective. Fighters not reported over target. Fires reported but generally the attack is considered scattered. At Cologne (spoof target) the attack was made in good weather. Defences – desultory, H/F and S/Ls mainly ineffective – no fighters reported. Ground detail was not seen owing to haze or smoke. 14 photos were attempted in all. All crews returned safely.
3/4 November 1943 Dusseldorf JA243P F/O K.M.Steven, P/O A.J.Coleman (2nd Pilot), Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgts W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgts K.D.Newman. Up 1742 Down 1943. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Mission abandoned – both turrets u/s.
17.11.43 P/O Fairlie, Sgt Ball and S/L Parrott reported by IRCC as killed. W/C Alabaster DFC, S/L Rodley DFC and S/L Sauvage DFC awarded the immediate DSO. Y bombing training, SBA and fighter affiliation. 15 aircraft detailed for operations tonight, target being Mannheim. The attack was carried out in 2/10th cloud, vis good, hazy. PFF Group operated with blind bombing, no markers being used. Explosions were seen and fires started and seen on return 30 miles away. From reports of fires and explosions generally it would appear that a fairly good margin of success had been achieved. Defences slight. H/F inaccurate and many S/Ls ineffective. Many fighter flares but no fighter activity seen otherwise. All aircraft returned safely to base. G/C Fresson DFC carried out night training.
17/18 November 1943 – Mannheim JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, F/Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1721 Down 2241. 5 x 2000lb. Mannheim. No moon, no cloud, vis hazy. 17,000’. Target located by H2S. Many HE bomb bursts seen among fires. Own bombs dropped blind. 23.11.43 16 Lancasters detailed to again operate against Berlin. Weather was better although 10/10ths cloud, there were patches of visibility. Markers reported to be well concentrated – owing to cloud no details were possible but the attack is considered very scattered. Some incendiaries were seen through clouds. A good red glow could be seen for 20 minutes on route home. Fires were still believed to be burning from the previous raid. H/F moderate and barrage light. Many fighter flares and fighter activity. F/Sgt Penny and crew failed to return. All other aircraft returned safely to base encountering bad weather and gales. Minor damage was sustained by some aircraft – F/L Riches had two engines shot up over the target but the aircraft was brought back to base safely in the remaining two engines, the third one cutting while still on the runway.
23/24 November 1943 – Berlin JA963Q F/O K.M.Steven, Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1730 Down 2340. 1 x 4000lb, 5 x 1000lb. Aiming point in Berlin bombed from 18,200’. Target located with aid of “Y”. Routemarkers considered accurate and helpful. Fires seen starting but no spectacular results. 25.11.43 19 aircraft detailed for ops and night training cross countries which were carried out.
The following signal has been received from AOC-in-C – “I have received the following message from the Secretary of State which please convey together with my reply to all ranks”……….”My warmest congratulations to you and to all ranks serving under your command on two crushing attacks on the Nazi citadel. Berlin is not only the home of Prussian militarism and the capital of the Nazi government, but it is also the greatest single centre of war industry in Germany. Often before, your squadrons have hit it hard. The most convincing measure of this success has been the huge deployment of the enemy’s resources for its defence. Nevertheless your attacks these last two nights have reached a new level of power and concentration and have proved that however much he may marshall his guns, searchlights and fighters, the enemy cannot match your skill and determination of your crews.”
AOC-in-C’s reply “On behalf of all ranks of Bomber Command I thank you for your encouraging message. The Battle of Berlin progresses. It will continue as opportunity serves and circumstances dictate until the heart of Nazi Germany ceases to beat.
Out of the 19 aircraft detailed for operations, which were to attack Frankfurt, three aircraft were withdrawn. Remainder bombed in 9/10ths cloud top about 1,800’ in thin layer – vis good. Defence – H/F moderate – barrage bursting 16-18,000’. S/Ls ineffective, some enemy aircraft fighter activity. First TIs were fairly well concentrated, later flares were seen wide of target and scattered bombing followed. Fires were scattered over an area of some 8 miles radius. Fires were seen reflected in the clouds from 40 miles away but a good concentrated attack was not achieved. F/L Brown (Can/USA) and crew failed to return. This crew was operating for the first time with this Squadron.
25/26 November 1943 – Frankfurt JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 0020 Down 0550. 4 x 2000lb. Frankfurt attacked from 18,100’. 10/10ths cloud tops at 10,000’ to 18,000’. Vis fair. “Y” used to locate aiming point.
26/27 November 1943 – Stuttgart JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1735 Down 2350. 6 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 5 x 1000lb. Target attacked from 18,600’. Vis fair. 7/10ths cloud tops at 10,000’. Concentration of TIs quite good. Glow from fires reflected on clouds visible about 10 – 20 miles away.
2.12.43 17 aircraft detailed for tonight’s operations, the target being Berlin. One aircraft was withdrawn, another P/O Billing and crew returned early, the captain having collapsed but recovered sufficiently to land back at base. The remaining aircraft raided the target in quarter moon – 7/10ths cloud top 5,000’ – vis good. Defences H/F predicted moderate, about 200 S/Ls around the city forming cones when cloud breaks permitted. Many fighter flares and activity. TIs fairly well concentrated and many incendiary bombs and bombs burst in area. Later the markers appeared to be scattered. Reports vary considerably, some saw no fires, others saw fires and much smoke in three columns to 10,000’. No good concentration was maintained and results are difficult to assess. S/L Garlick DFC B Flight Commander and his crew failed to return. No news has since been received. The remaining 14 aircraft returned safely to base in the early hours of the morning. F/L Riches’ aircraft was peppered by flak, the pilot himself having a knock on the head which rendered him unconscious – on coming to, the aircraft was in a vertical dive but he managed to bring it under control.
2/3 December 1943 - Berlin JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1705 Down 2320. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Target bombed from 18,500’. Quarter moon, 7/10ths broken cloud at 5,000’. Vis good. Several fires and plenty of smoke observed when leaving the target area.
3.12.43 16 aircraft have been again detailed for operations tonight. The crews have been briefed to attack targets at Leipzig. The attack took place 7-9/10ths cloud tops 5,000’. Vis good. Defences – moderate predicted H/F, S/Ls about 50 mainly illuminating cloud base. Considerable fighter activity. Owing to cloud, no definite results were seen. P/O Coleman and crew failed to return, no news having been since received. One aircraft returned early due to rear gunner being sick. The remaining aircraft returned safely to base.
3/4 December 1943 - Leipzig JB243P F/O K.M.Steven, Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1720 Down 2330. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 400lb, 3 x 1000lb. Target bombed from 17,600’. Red TIs appeared to be well placed. Black smoke rising above cloud tops seen from point 20 miles from target.
23.12.43 17 aircraft detailed to attack Berlin. Two aircraft returned early due to engine trouble and 15 aircraft attacked the primary target. 7/10th – 10/10ths cloud at 8,000’, vis go
23/24 December 1943 - Berlin JB712U F/L K.M.Steven, F/Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, F/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, F/Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 0017 Down 0739. 7 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb, 1 x 500lb. Bombs released on Berlin from 18,400’. 10/10ths cloud tops at 10,000’. TI reds well concentrated. No results of bombing seen.
29.12.43 “Y” training, bombing on range and air firing during day. 18 aircraft detailed to attack Berlin. Two aircraft were withdrawn, one of which had a tyre burst just before the take off which blocked the dispersal of the other. One aircraft returned early, oxygen being unserviceable for rear gunner. 15 aircraft attacked the primary target. Weather 10/10ths vis good. Defences moderate H/F barrage predicted. S/Ls nil, slight fighter activity. Crews report good concentrated attack. Two were shot up by flak, F/L Steven returning on three engines. F/L Roberts damaged his wing tip over target, another four engined aircraft hitting him. All aircraft returned safely to base.
29/30 December 1943 - Berlin JB728P F/L K.M.Steven, F/Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, F/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 1706 Down 2349. 3LBTI Red, 3 x TI Red, 1 x 5 flares. Attacked target from 19,200’. 10/10ths cloud, vis good. Nothing seen through cloud except flares going down. Hit by heavy flak. Port outer damaged and caught fire. Airframe holed.
1.1.44 20 aircraft Lancaster IIIs are detailed to attack Berlin. Two aircraft were withdrawn owing to engine troubles. The remaining 18 aircraft set out to attack the primary target. Weather was 10/10th cloud at 12,000’, vis good. Defences moderate H/F to slight – S/Ls ineffective. Slight fighter activity and many scare crow flares. No results of bombing were seen and some scattered markers were reported. It appears that no good continuous concentration was achieved. One aircraft and crew – Captain F/O Mooney DFM is missing, no news being received since leaving base. Another aircraft, F/Lt Owen and crew landed at Tangmere with a burts tyre and damage by enemy action. The rear gunner has been admitted to hospital suffering froma shell wound in the lower right leg. The remainder of crews returned to base.
1/2 January 1944 - Berlin MD351P F/L K.M.Steven, F/Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, F/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt J.Newton. Up 0020 Down 0723. 4 flares, 6 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 5 x 500lb. Primary target attacked from 19,400’. Bombs released on H2S. Rear gunner reported TIs drifting in a long line after target was left. Vis good, 10/10ths cloud over target.
2.1.44 17 aircraft are detailed to again attack Berlin. Breifing was in the evening with a very late take off. One aircraft was withdrawn being too late. The remaining 16 aircraft set out to attack the primary target but one had to return after 3 hours owing to trouble. Weather and defences were much the same as the previous raid. Little was seen owing to cloud but the reports show it as a good raid and generally concentrated and successful. F/O Snell claims that his rear gunner, Sgt O.D.Wood, shot down an enemy sircraft believed to be a FW190. The attack was made from astern about 20 miles south of Berlin. All crews returned safely to base.
2/3 January 1944 - Berlin ND351P F/L K.M.Steven, Sgts A.C.East, S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 2343 Down 0607. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Berlin bombed by H2S. 10/10ths cloud tops at 9,000’. Rear gunner reported TIs drifting in a long line after target was left. No results observed.
5.1.44 No flying training as detailed due to poor visibility. 20 aircraft have been detailed for tonight’s operations. Two aircraft did not take off owing to a burst tyre on perimeter track and gyro instruments u/s. The remainder attacked Stettin in good visibility and clear sky. Defences were moderate H/F to L/F, S/Ls ineffective – some fighter activity. Four engined bombers seen over target laying flares. TIs were concentrated and bombing good. Ground detail could be seen. Fires started early and one crew claim to have seen direct hits on the railway station. Large areas of fire could be seen by crews leaving the target 150 miles en route home. The raid is regarded as being a great success. F/O Anstee and crew and P/O Flack and crew failed to return from this operation. Nothing heard since.
5/6 January 1943 – Stettin ND351P F/L K.M.Steven, Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.S.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, F/Sgt K.D.Newman. Up 2327 Down 0827. 24 flares, 3 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 2 x 1000lb. Stettin bombed from 18,000’. A thin patch of cloud covered target although inlet to town was seen. No results observed.
14.1.44 Training programme for today has been cancelled in lieu of tonight’s operations for which 21 aircraft have been detailed, the target being Brunswick. The weather was 10/10ths cloud with tops from 5,000/8,000’, visibility good. Defences slight H/F inaccurate and below, S/Ls ineffective. Fighters were very active from coast to target and on the return. No bombing results were seen but some scattered fires were reported. Markers were however scattered and no continuous concentration was achieved. F/Lt Stevens and crew, P/O Hodgson and crew are missing, nothing heard since.
14/15 January 1944 – Brunswick ND421S F/L K.M.Steven, F/Sgt A.C.East, F/Sgt S.B.Stevenson, P/O R.R.Brown, F/Sgt W.C.Gadsby, W/O C.J.Skinner, Sgt L.N.J.Laver. Up 1646 – missing.