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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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156 Squadron Crest
30/31.05.1942 No 156 Squadron Wellington III X3598 P/O. John D.N. Bain DFC

Operation: Köln, Germany

Date: 30/31st May 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 156 Squadron

Type: Wellington Mk.III

Serial: X3598

Code: GT-

Base: RAF Alconbury, Huntingdon.

Location: Oosterschelde West of Tholen, Holland

Pilot: P/O. John Douglas Norman Bain DFC. J/6027 RCAF Age 21. Killed

2nd Pilot: Fl/Sgt. William Thomas Cormack R/81453 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Obs: P/O. Leslie Newton 124001 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Andrew Turnbull Brunton 1056497 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derek Harry Normington 920538 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Emrys Evans 119172 RAFVR Age 25. Killed


Taking off from RAF Alconbury at 23:15 hrs to bomb Cologne (Köln) on a thousand bomber raid made up of 602 Wellingtons, 131 Halifaxes, 88 Stirlings, 79 Hampdens, 73 Lancasters, 43 Manchesters and 28 Mosquitoes. (1,047 aircraft.)

868 aircraft are said to have bombed the main target others bombing other targets. Huge losses were incurred on this raid with 41 aircraft lost which was classed as acceptable at the time!

Two possible claims for this Wellington but both interceptions took place over the North Sea at around 01:17 hrs.

Also lost from the Squadron Wellington Ic DV715 - Flown by 23 year old, Sgt. Peter Gordon Arthur Malin 1180129 RAFVR from Winston, Leicestershire, England - killed with all 4 other crew.

During this operation the skipper of Manchester I L7301 Z-ND of 106 Squadron 20 year old, F/O. Leslie Thomas Manser 66542 RAFVR (serving with 50 Squadron at the time) from Radeltt, Hertfordshire received a posthumous Victoria Cross:

The citation in the London Gazette of 20th October, 1942 gives the following details: Flying Officer Manser was captain and first pilot of an aircraft which took part in the mass raid on Cologne on the night of 30th May, 1942. Despite searchlights and intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire he held his course and bombed the target successfully from 7,000 feet. Thereafter, although he took evasive action, the aircraft was badly damaged, for a time one engine and part of one wing were on fire, and in spite of all the efforts of pilot and crew, the machine became difficult to handle and lost height. Though he could still have parachuted to safety with his crew, he refused to do so and insisted on piloting the aircraft towards its base as long as he could hold it steady, to give his crew a better chance of safety when they jumped. While the crew were descending to safety, they saw the aircraft, still carrying the gallant captain, plunge to earth and burst into flames. In pressing home his attack in the face of strong opposition, in striving against heavy odds to bring back his aircraft and crew, and finally, when in extreme peril, thinking only of the safety of his comrades, Flying Officer Manser displayed determination and valour of the highest order.

Burial details:

P/O. John Douglas Norman Bain DFC. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave: 12.F.1. From Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. William Thomas Cormack. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave: 12.F.3. Son of Robert and Isabella Cormack, of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Leslie Newton. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.7. Son of Charles Henry and Lilian Newton, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Andrew Turnbull Brunton. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.8. Son of David and Catherine Brunton, of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Derek Harry Normington. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.9. Son of Alfred Charles and Florence May Normington, of Richmond, Surrey, England.

P/O. Emrys Evans. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemeter. Grave: 3.D.6. Son of Gwilym and Anne Evans, of Johnstown, Carmarthen, Wales. B.Sc. (Welsh University); Diploma of Welsh Board of Education.

Researcher Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2016. With thanks to Jefrey Barnes for grave photographs, others from the Michel Beckers collection.

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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