14/15.01.1944 207 Squadron Lancaster I DV369 EM:D Plt Off. Balfour
Operation: Braunschweig (Brunswick)
Date: 14th/15th January 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit No: 207 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Spilsby
Location: Lamspringe, Germany
Pilot: Plt Off. Donald Campbell Balfour 416402 RAAF Age 21. Killed (1)
Pilot 2: Sgt. Ernest Colwill 1322921 RAFVR PoW No: 1014 */**
Flt Eng: Sgt. Eddy E.L. Richardson 1604586 RAFVR PoW Unknown camp
Nav: Sgt. Herbert Taylor 1563136 RAFVR PoW No: 270087 *
Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Edwin Victor Yeo 1315608 RAFVR PoW No: 270101 *
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Lyle Carmen Smart R130552 RCAF PoW No: 270082 *** (2)
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. John Francis Potter 1213197 RAFVR PoW No: 270072 *** (3)
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. John Henderson Fraser R172339 RCAF PoW No: 270032 *** (4)
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
** Stalag Luft 6, Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania)
*** Stalag 4b Mühlberg, Sachsen, Germany
The researcher for this loss, Mr. John Williams, would very much like contact with any relatives - please contact us in the first instance.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 16:32 hrs from RAF Spilsby, part of a force of 498 aircraft targeting the aircraft component and other armament manufacturing facilities in and around the city of Brunswick.
Being an important industrial area the target was heavily defended by flak installations and Luftwaffe night fighters.
Flying almost due east, the bomber stream crossed the North Sea and entered enemy held territory over North Holland. Turning south east toward Brunswick, in the region of Bremen, the bombers were met by many German night fighters infiltrating the stream. In all, 38 aircraft were lost during the raid which turned out to be very unsuccessful in terms of damage to the target and the loss of so many aircrews.
Of the many aircraft lost on this operation, very little information of claims can be identified from the Luftwaffe records.
(1) After training in Australia, Canada and the UK Don was posted to 207 Sqn on the 4th October 1943 (his 21st birthday). His first operation was as a second pilot with Flt Lt. K.H.L. Letford and crew to Stuttgart on 7/8th October 1943.
18th/19th October 1943 to Hannover. 3rd/4th November 1943 to Dusseldorf. 26th/27th November 1943 to Berlin. 2nd/3rd December 1943 to Berlin. 3rd/4th December 1943 to Leipzig. 20th/21st December 1943 to Frankfurt. 29th/30th December 1943 to Berlin. 1st/2nd January 1944 to Berlin. 2nd/3rd January 1944 to Berlin. 5th/6th January 1944 to Stettin (see newspaper cutting) 14th/15th January 1944 to Braunschweig. Failed to return. (Lancaster DV369).
On the return trip they came under attack by a night fighter flown by Hptm. Heinz-Martin Hadeball of 3./NJG6 for his 23rd Abschuss, the aircraft crashed at Lamspringe, 28 kms south of Hildesheim at 19:35 hrs. The only person killed was Plt Off. Balfour who was last seen at the controls as the rest of the crew bailed out to become PoW.
Hptm. Heinz-Martin Hadeball was himself shot down in his Bf110 G-4 by return fire from possibly this Lancaster. He survived after baling out wounded near Bad Gandersheim, one of his crew was killed. He survived the war with a total of 27 claims to his name. Died on the 13th January 1996, age 74.
Newspaper cutting from the Adelaide Advertiser, dated 15th January 1944. (courtesy Australian Archives) - Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten confirms that this was the BF110 G-4 flown by Hptm. Heinz-Martin Hadeball but tentatively attributes this loss to the front gunner of 49 Sqn Lancaster JB421.
(2) Flt Sgt. Smart exchanged identities whilst at Stalag 4b Muhlberg, Elbe with 6010059 Pte. E G Joslin (PoW No. 266767) from the Essex Regiment.
(3) In his PoW report, Sgt. Potter stated “I was the last person to leave the plane by the front entrance and then Balfour was preparing to leave the aircraft. Seeing myself coming along he returned to his seat and I saw him last at his controls. He appeared to be alright then but I could not be positive. The Germans told me that Balfour was dead beside the crashed aircraft.”
(4) Sgt. Fraser was granted a commission and promoted to J87474 Plt Off. whilst as a PoW.
Plt Off. Donald Campbell Balfour. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.A.14. Grave inscription reads “HIS DUTY FEARLESSLY AND NOBLY DONE. EVER REMEMBERED.” Born on the 4th October 1922 in Adelaide, South Australia. Son of Arthur Howard and Margaret Ethel Balfour, of 263 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia.
Enlisted in the RAAF on the 21st July 1941.
Researched by John Williams for aircrew Remembered (Aug 2016) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to John Jones for the additional inform regarding Flt Sgt. Smart & Sgt. Potter (Oct 2019). Review and update of crew information (Aug 2022)