19/20.02.1944 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster III DV220 AS-J P/O. Frances Frederick George (Frank) Allan
Operation: Leipzig, Germany
Date: 19/20 February 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 166 Squadron (Motto: "Tenacity")
Badge: A bulldog affrontée. The bulldog was chosen because of its reputation for courage and tenacity.
Authority: King George VI, September 1944.
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire
Location: Near Krahne, Brandenburg, Germany
Pilot: P/O. Frances Frederick George (Frank) Allan J19942 RCAF Age 26 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: F/Sgt. Thomas Henry Lee 1157645 RAFVR PoW 1728 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6 (2)
Nav: W/O. James Joseph (Jim) Yelland R144272 RCAF Age 22 - Missing believed killed (3)
Air/Bmr: W/O. F.J. Hughes R165160 RCAF PoW No. 1729 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6 (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Arthur Dykes 1575431 RAFVR Age - Missing believed killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): W/O. Joseph Manuel DFM 1087197 PoW 1897 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (6)
Air/Gnr (R): F/Sgt. Alan Rose 1818912 PoW No.1613 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (7)
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A total force of 823 aircraft comprised of 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes and 7 Mosquitoes was sent on this long distance bombing raid on Leipzig. As well as being an important railway intersection Leipzig was home to the Erla Maschinenwerk that was producing the Messerschmitt Bf109 under license at three locations in the city namely Heiterblick, Abtnaundorf and Mockau. Diversionary attacks were made by Mosquito aircraft on Berlin, Stendal and Minden together with a minelaying operation in Kiel harbour.
In support of the operation 16 Oboe Mosquitoes attacked night fighter airfields in Holland but in the event may well have been counter-productive. Night fighters were assembled in the Hamburg area in wait for the mine-layers moving towards the Danish coast but the attacks on the Dutch airfields probably deterred the fighter controllers from diverting the whole force to Kiel and those that were diverted were quickly recalled.
The result was that the bomber stream was met by almost 300 night fighters soon after crossing the enemy coast and continued to be harassed all the way to the target and for a good deal of the homeward journey. The problem was further compounded by winds not being as forecast thus causing some aircraft to arrive early over the target and having to orbit whilst waiting for the pathfinders to arrive.
The target was covered in 10/10ths cloud; there was a quarter moon and visibility described as fair. The sky-marker flares were at first well concentrated but later became more scattered and the subsequent bombing was spread over a wide area.
Zero hour was 04:00 hrs and at Zero-2 30 Primary Blind Markers and 55 Supporters commenced the attack. 14 Blind Markers, 11 Special Blind Markers and 25 Visual Backers Up were spread throughout the main force that continued the attack until 04:19hrs. 650 aircraft reported bombing the target and dropped a total of 2300 tons of bombs.
Active opposition from ground defences was encountered at Emden, Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt and Rotterdam as well as over the target itself. Flak accounted for at least 20 bombers and 27 were known to have been brought down by the night fighters. Most of the other 31 losses were also thought to have been due to night fighters. The 78 aircraft lost represented an extraordinarily large 9.5% of the total force and a further 70 aircraft aborted the mission. 420 aircrew were killed and 131 captured.
This was the heaviest Bomber Command loss of the war so far, easily exceeding the 58 aircraft lost on 21/22 January 1943 when Magdeburg was the main target.
During the afternoon of the same day more than 200 American Flying Fortresses attacked the aircraft factories of Leipzig with great accuracy and much of the damage revealed in the reconnaissance photographs taken later in the week must be attributed to them. A total of 970 people were killed by the two raids most of them by the British night raid.
REASON FOR LOSS
Lancaster DV220 was one of 22 aircraft detailed from 166 Squadron to attack Leipzig on the night of 19/20 February 1944.
Special equipment on board was Gee, IFF and Boozer (see abbreviation) and the bomb load carried was 1 x 4000 HC, 56 x 30lb, 1320 x 4lb and 90 x 4lb "x" type.
The aircraft took off from RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire at 23.21 in favourable weather conditions that prevailed en route. Nothing was heard of the missing aircraft after taking off from base. Returning aircraft reported large numbers of enemy fighters in action and four of the squadron aircraft had been involved in combat.
It was later learned via the International Red Cross that pilot Frank Allan, navigator Jim Yelland and wireless operator William Dykes had been killed whilst the other four were prisoners of war.
Post war investigations by the RAF Missing Research and Enquiry Service together with the captured crew members' PoW liberation statements revealed what had happened.
The aircraft was attacked and shot down by a night fighter, probably a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and according to German documents, crashed at 03.30 hours 3 km south east of Krahne, Zauch-Belgig area near the church wood at Krahne.
Witnesses reported seeing the Lancaster approaching in flames from the direction of Magdeburg and after hitting the ground the aircraft exploded.
Thomas Lee said that he was the last member of the crew to leave the aircraft to bale out and when he left three crew members were still in the aircraft namely F/Sgt. [sic] Allan, W/O. J.J. Yelland and Sgt. W. A. Dykes. He added "I personally am certain that F/Sgt. Allan was killed, as the port wing detached itself just as I had left the aircraft. At the interrogation centre I was told that there were 2 or 3 bodies in the wreck of the aircraft".
In his PoW liberation statement he said:
"At Brandenburg aerodrome I was shown two wrist watches, one belonged to F/Sgt. Allan and also his charred identity disc and the second watch was definitely that of W/O. Yelland. The Germans said there was the remains of 2 bodies in the wreck, one of which they buried as F/Sgt. Allan and the other just as an unknown English Flyer.
I have no information as to the fate of Sgt. Dykes if his body had been in the machine, they would have found the watch he was wearing, one I had loaned him.
This is supposition only, but I landed close to a lake and I think it probable that Dykes landed in the lake".
W/O. Manuel, W/O. Hughes and F/Sgt. Rose had no further information regarding the fate of the three missing crew members.
On 9 January 1947 Krahne was visited by Investigating Officer, Fl/Lt Saager of the RAF Berlin Detachment, Missing Research and Enquiry Service. He found two bodies buried at Krahne Cemetery and the entry in the Church Register read:
"From a 4 engined aircraft which came in flames from Magdeburg and crashed near the church wood Krahne on 19.20.44 [? 19.02.44] the remains of two crew members were recovered."
The burial had taken place on 22 February 1944 withe local pastor, the Reverend Guenther officiating with an Air Force detachment from Werder also present. The cross over the tidily kept grave, decorated with fir branches read:
"Here rest in peace two English soldiers killed on 20.2.44"
On exhumation both bodies were found to be badly burnt and there were few remains. However there was an officer's shirt on the first body and an OR [other ranks] shirt on the second*. Fl Lt Saager had learned from Thomas Lee's evidence and the identity disc that one of the deceased was Flight Sergeant F.F.G. Allan R141655 RCAF he obviously assumed that the second body must be him.
*[Unfortunately the records do not explain how, despite the bodies being so badly burned, the shirts, or parts thereof, survived]
The bodies were reburied at the British Military Cemetery, Berlin-Heerstrasse.
However 12 months later, possibly following appeals from the mother of Jim Yelland for further clarification, the matter of identification of the bodies remained unresolved and in March 1948 after further investigation by Fl/Lt. B. Aptroot and cognisant of the fact that Frank Allan had been commissioned prior to the crash it was determined that the first body in the officer's shirt, must be that of P/O. Allan. However since there was no trace of a third body and witnesses had no knowledge of a third casualty and the round stainless steel wrist watch loaned to Sgt. Dykes by W/O. Lee had not been found, it was determined that it was impossible to identify the second body as being that of W/O. Yelland or Sgt. Dykes. In the event they are both commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as having no known grave.
Three other Lancasters of 166 Squadron were lost on this operation.
ME627 AS-Z captained by F/Sgt. Roy Albert Kingston - all seven crew killed
ME637 AS-F captained by S/Ldr. Ronald Bows - all seven crew killed
LM382 AS-Q captained by P/O. James Henry Catlin - badly shot up by night-fighters, 2 crew severely wounded, jettisoned bomb load and returned. Crash landed at RAF Manston. All seven crew were injured.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) P/O. Frances Frederick George (Frank) Allan was born at Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 2 July 1917 the son of William Alexander Allan (a Foreman for Canadian Pacific Railways) and Jane Allan nee Pounden. He had a brother Anthony William Allan born 1915, a Sergeant in the RCAF and three sisters Veronica Allan born 1919, Patricia Allan born 1924 and Sheila Allan born 1931. The family lived at 9954 St. Vital Blvd. Montreal.
He was educated at St Michaels Public, Elementary and High Schools (1923-1933)after which he attended Technical School for 1 year and took a four year Boiler Maker's course with the Inter-Correspondence School.
He was employed by Canadian Pacific Railways as a Boilermaker's Apprentice (1936-1940) a Draughtsman (1940-1941) and a Material Tracer during 1941 until he enlisted in the RCAF on 1 December 1941 at Montreal. When he enlisted he was 5'7½" tall weighing 155 lbs with a fair complexion, grey eyes and blond hair. He stated that he enjoyed skiing, swimming and playing tennis all moderately and his hobbies were golf hunting and fishing.
From No. 1 Manning Depot RCAF Toronto he was posted to the No. 6 Initial Training School Toronto Board of Education on 14 March 1942 for three months. He was then trained at No. 3 Elementary Flying School (EFTS), RCAF London, Ontario; No. 9 EFTS, RCAF St. Catherine's, Ontario and No. 14 EFTS at RCAF Portage la Prairie, Manitoba where, on 18 December 1942 he received his Pilot's Badge and promoted to Sergeant.
He embarked for the UK on 7 January 1943 arriving on 15 January and proceeding to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre. On 6 April he was posted to No. 18 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Church Lawford, Warwickshire followed by No. 30 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hixon, Staffordshire on 8 June. No. 1667 Conversion Unit at RAF Lindholme, West Riding of Yorkshire on 30 August and to No. 166 Squadron at RAF Kirmington in Lincolnshire on 14 November 1943.
He was promoted to Flight sergeant on 18 June 1943 and commissioned as a Pilot Officer 2 February 1944.
(2) F/Sgt. Thomas Henry Lee was probably born in 1916 at St. Thomas, Devon, the only child of Frederick G. Lee and Edith A. Lee nee Stephens. In 1940 he married Gladys E. Ching at Exeter. They lived at 94 Latimer Road, St. Katherine's Priory, Exeter and had a daughter Beryl A. Lee born at Exeter in 1941.
Thomas Henry Lee died at Teignbridge, Devon in 2000 aged 83.
(3) W/O. James Joseph (Jim) Yelland was born on 8 November 1921 at Peterboro County, Ontario, Canada the son of Wilbert Henry Yelland and Mary Estelle Yelland nee Bailey, of Penetanguishene, Ontario. He had one sister Gloria Frances Yelland born 1924 and three brothers Gerald Franklin Yelland born 1923, Robert Henry Yelland and John Bailey Yelland both born 1927. Wilbert Yelland was an Assistant Manager for Grew Boat Works and the family lived at 102 Poyntz Street.
Jim Yelland was educated at Penetanguishene Protestant Separate School (1927 - 1934) and Penetanguishene High School (1934-1938). After leaving school he worked as a Hotel Desk Clerk until January 1940 and then as a Stock-keeper at Fern Shoe Co. until
September 1940. He was then employed by Canadian National Express as an Express Messenger until enlisting in the RCAF.
When he enlisted at Toronto on 25 November 1941 he was 5'8" and weighed 120 lbs. He liked to swim, ski, play baseball and hockey and enjoyed building model aircraft.
After training at No. 6 Service Flying Training School, RCAF Dunnville, No. 1 Initial Training School RCAF Toronto and No 1 Air Observer School, RCAF Malton (all Ontario stations) he was awarded his Air Observers Badge and promoted to
Sergeant 23 October 1942. The following day he married Florence Violet Doyle at Midland, Ontario. She lived at 367 Queen Street, Midland.
On 23 November he embarked for the UK and on arrival was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on 1 December 1942. Promoted to Flight Sergeant on 23 April 1943 he was later posted to No. 1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit, RAF Wigtownshire, Scotland on 10 May, No. 30 Operational Training Unit at RAF Hixon, Staffordshire on 8 June. No. 1667 Conversion Unit at RAF Lindholme, West Riding of Yorkshire on 30 August and to No. 166 Squadron at RAF Kirmington in Lincolnshire on 14 November 1943.
He was promoted to Warrant Officer second class on 23 October 1943 and commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 18 February 1944
(4) W/O. Frank? J. Hughes was a married man who lived at 1836 Queen Street Toronto. Nothing further known; if you have any information please contact our helpdesk
(5) Sgt. William Arthur Dykes probably born in 1921 at Nottingham the only child of Maurice A. Dykes and Mabel C. Dykes nee Stanley. He married Florence Bowden at Manchester in 1943 and they lived at 99 Kenyon Lane, Moston, Manchester.
(6) W/O. Joseph Manuel DFM was born on 25 December 1920 at Stanley, Co. Durham the son of Joseph Manuel and Harriet Manuel nee Storey. Prior to joining the RAFVR he worked as a miner. In 1946 he married Phyllis Brown at Durham West.Joseph
Manuel was posted to 142 Squadron on 2 October 1942. He was a member in the crew of Sergeant Cook posted to North Africa on 26 December 1942.
No. 166 Squadron was re-formed 27 January 1943, at Kirmington, Lincolnshire from detachments of No.142 and No.150 squadrons as an operational night bomber squadron.
Whilst with 166 Squadron Joseph Manuel took part in 7 operations against Berlin prior to the Leipzig raid, flying with 2 different crews
His DFM was promulgated in the London Gazette of 9 July 1943 for gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations.
(7) F/Sgt. Alan Rose - Nothing further known: if you have any information please contact our helpdesk
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
(1) P/O. Frances Frederick George Allan was originally buried at Krahne Cemetery, Germany and re-interred on 11 January 1947 at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave ref: 8.K.12
(3) W/O. James Joseph Yelland - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 253
(5) Sgt. William Arthur Dykes - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 228
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - May 2017
With thanks to the sources quoted below.