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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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cecil Armstrong
75 Squadron Lancaster III ND768 AA-F All crew lost over target

Operation: Dortmund

Date: 22/23rd May 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND768

Code: AA-F

Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire

Location: Dortmund, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Cecil Ernest Armstrong NZ/42354 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. David Sleightholm 1684309 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Douglas Beardsley Payne 426917 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Eric William Elliot Marshall NZ/415637 RNZAF Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Carl Arthur Warburton 1484107 RNZAF Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy Joseph Davies 1603898 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Pepper 1682572 RAFVR Age 23. Killed


Relatives of Sgt. Carl Warburton are seeking any photographs of him or his crew, are you able to assist please?


REASON FOR LOSS:

Leaving RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire at 22.57 hrs. to bomb the city of Dortmun, the first large operation for a year. 361 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes taking part in one of three major bombing operations on this night. 225 Lancasters also attacked Brunswick with a further 133 aircraft attacking the railway yards at Le Mans.

The results of the bombing on Dortmund were mainly on residential areas. 852 houses, 6 industrial buildings were destroyed, 788 houses seriously damaged. 335 Germans, 26 prisoners of war were killed with another 1,697 people injured.

             

              75 squadron Lancaster bombing up prior to operation (courtesy IWM)




Left: the pilot, P/O. Cecil Armstrong. Prior to joining the RNZAF he was the Greenkeeper at the Maraenui Golf club in Napier, New Zealand.(archives)


Bomber Command lost some 19 Lancasters on this single operation. 101 crew members killed, 29 taken prisoners of war with 3 others evading capture to eventually return home.


75 Squadron lost two aircraft this night, the other, Lancaster I ME690 AA-Z flown by P/O. Edgar Burke from New Zealand was killed with all 6 other crew after being attacked by a night fighter over Belgium. ND768 was hit by the ferocious flak over the target area prior to releasing its bomb load and exploded in the air.



              

The crew were buried initially at the local cemetery in Dortmund on the 30th May 1944, all being later moved to Reichswald War Cemetery. (courtesy Adriaan de Winter and Ton van Alphen and Weekly News, New Zealand)

Burial details:

P/O. Cecil Ernest Armstrong. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.14. Son of Charles and Gertrude Armstrong, of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, husband of Elsie Isabella Agnes Armstrong. Prior to joining the RNZAF in January 1942 he worked as greenskeeper at the Maraenui Golf club in Napier. After training at Harewood and Wigram in New Zealand moved to an advanced Flying Unit in England then to 11 Operational Training Unit at RAF Westcott, Buckinghamshire. Final training at 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit, at RAF Waterbeach prior to joining 75 squadron.

Sgt. David Sleightholm. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.13. Son of John W. and Gertrude Sleightholm, of Carlisle, husband of Rosanna Sleightholm, of Carlisle, England.

Fl/Sgt. Douglas Beardsley Payne. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.12. Son of James Thomas William and Elizabeth Alice Payne, of Limehills, Southland, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Eric William Elliot Marshall. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.18. Son of Harold W. and Eva M. Marshall, of Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Joined to be trained as a pilot in October 1941, but then went on to Air Observer training in Canada. Then went on to train as an air bomber at Dafoe in Saskatchewan, qualifying in April 1943 and then transferring to 75 Squadron. Eric had completed 29 operations prior to being lost over Dortmund.

Sgt. Carl Arthur Warburton. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.15. Son of Carl H. and Nellie Warburton, of Darlington. Co. Durham, England. His brother, Harry also served with the RAF and was injured during his service. Further research underway.

Sgt. Roy Joseph Davies. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.16. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Davies, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. James Pepper. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.17. Son of Samuel and Christina MacDougall Pepper, of Glasgow, Scotland.

Researched for Sarah Llewellyn, relative of Sgt. Carl Warburton and dedicated to all members of the crew. With thanks to Kate Tame for her continued research into Sgt. Warburton, Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 5", Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - "Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2", Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries", Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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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