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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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424 Squadron Crest
14/15.02.1945 No. 424 Squadron Lancaster I PB899 QB-A Fl/Lt. Frank Carter Aldworth

Operation: Gardening.

Date: 14/15th February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 424 Tiger Squadron (RCAF)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PB899

Code: QB-A

Base: RAF Skipton on Swale, North Yorkshire.

Location: Between Nyborg and Trelleborg

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Frank Carter Aldworth J/13051 RCAF Age 26. Missing (1)

Fl/Eng: P/O. Lawrence Fortnam Davis 196719 RAFVR Age ? Missing 

Nav: F/O. Elias Eldon Reaney J/38761 RCAF Age 31. Missing 

Air/Bmr: P/O. Kenneth Alexander Miller J/94348 RCAF Age 23. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. George Scott Guthrie J/94241 RCAF Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: P/O. Vernon Beverley Smith J/95491 RCAF Age 19. Missing (2)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Cameron McMurchy R/253156 RCAF Age 19. Missing (3)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Lancaster PB899 took off at 17:58 hours en route for a gardening sortie code named ‘Willows’ (4) over the Pomeranian Bay armed with six 1500 lb. mines. Four other Lancasters from Tiger Squadron also participated, each taking off at intervals and flying alone. The total force for the operation consisted of an additional four Halifaxes each from 427 and 429 Squadrons plus five Lancasters from 433 Squadron. 


Nothing further was heard from Captain Aldworth and crew after take off and it is assumed that they went down in the sea, possibly due to a mechanical malfunction, as the four other Tiger Lancasters completed the operation without encountering any enemy action or adverse weather conditions.

A claim for this loss has been identified from the latest publication of the Nightfighter War Diaries (see below) as that from Oblt Herbert Koch (5) of 1./NJG3 at between 21.04 hrs and 21.45 hrs.


At the time of the loss Fl/Lt. Aldworth had completed 20 operations against the enemy while the remainder of the crew had completed 18 sorties each.

Although four of the Halifaxes and two Lancasters from the other squadrons aborted the mission due to various technical difficulties and two others were shot down, the remaining aircraft mined the bay area between Cape Arkona and The Dziwna successfully returning to base. 

Altogether, three aircraft and sixteen aircrew were lost with an additional five airmen captured as PoW.

Left: P/O. Kenneth Alexander Miller Right: P/O. Vernon Beverley Smith (courtesy Library and Archives Canada, via Colin Bamford)

(1) Aldworth Creek on Vancouver Island, British Columbia is named after Fl/Lt. Aldworth.
(2) Smith Bay in Saskatchewan is named after P/O. Smith.
(3) McMurchy Lake in Manitoba is named after Fl/Sgt. McMurchy.
(4) See Gardening codes.
(5) Oblt Herbert Koch survived the war as an "ace" with a total of 17 night kills plus a further 3 day kills. Lived in Waldbröl and joined the new Luftwaffe in the 1950's flying transport aircraft. Died in the 1990's we understand.

The Reaney’s hometown of Creighton Mine, Ontario is now a ghost town (shown above), all the buildings and businesses having being moved or torn down by 1988 when it was deemed uneconomic to continue servicing the community. Ironically, the residents from what was to become a ghost town, relocated in a nearby town aptly named Lively. The mine at Creighton still exists and is the deepest nickel mine in Canada.

Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. Frank Carter Aldworth, Runnymede Memorial Panel 278. Son of Tom and Anne Aldworth of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Lawrence Fortnam Davis, Runnymede Memorial Panel 268. No further details.

F/O. Elias Eldon Reaney, Runnymede Memorial Panel 279. Son of Thomas Eber Reaney and Edith (Goheen) Reaney of Creighton Mine, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. Kenneth Alexander Miller Runnymede Memorial Panel 280. Son of John William and Bessie Winifred Miller, husband of Joan (Thompson) Miller of Weston, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. George Scott Guthrie Runnymede Memorial Panel 280. Son of Samuel James Guthrie and Sarah Louise Guthrie of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

P/O. Vernon Beverley Smith Runnymede Memorial Panel 281. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. No further details, are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Cameron McMurchy, Runnymede Memorial Panel 282. Reston, Manitoba, Canada. No further details, are you able to assist?

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to the Library and Archives Canada. Dr Theo E.W. Boiton and Mr Roderick J. Mackenzie - "Nightfighter War Diaries Vol. 2".

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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