25/26.05.1943 No. 431 Squadron Wellington X HE990 SE-Z Sgt. R.T. Barclay
Date: 25/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 431 Squadron (RCAF)
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire
Location: Venlo, Netherlands
Pilot: Sgt. R.T. Barclay 1343921 RAFVR PoW No: 60 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)
Obs: Sgt. K. Dix 1237232 RAFVR PoW No: 118 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Albert Carey Bonner 124717 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Michael Charles Jefferies 1280562 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Sweet 1230519 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Leaving RAF Burn, Yorkshire at 23:45 hrs to bomb Düsseldorf. 759 aircraft took part (323 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 142 Wellingtons, 113 Stirlings and 12 Mosquitoes)
The weather on leaving England was fine with showers, over the Dutch coast broken cloud, which increased as the target was approached. Dusseldorf was covered in 10/10 cloud at various heights.
The raid was considered a failure - there were two layers of cloud over the target and the pathfinders had great difficulty in marking it. It is also believed that the Germans were operating decoy markers and fire sites resulting in the main bomber force bombing became scattered over a large area. No concentrated bombing in the target area of Düsseldorf which recorded only 50 - 100 buildings destroyed and some 30 people on the ground killed.
It cost the RAF dear with 27 aircraft lost and 161 crew members were killed with another 7 injured (405 Squadron, Halifax II HR806 LQ-D crashing shortly after take off) with a further 27 being made PoW.
The night fighters were hampered by the cloud cover plus the half moon rose at about 03.00 hrs. when the crews were on their way home. However 21 were confirmed to have been shot down, mainly on the very slow return trip, when the allies suffering 40-60 mph head winds!
Wellington HE990 was intercepted and shot down by the night fighter ace, Oblt. Manfred Meurer (1) of 3./NJG1 at 01:24 hrs over Venlo, this was his 29th abschüsse of the war. (Some publications record it as being lost over Oostrum)
(1) Hptm. Manfred Meurer went on to claim a total of 63 night abschüsse before he was killed with his Funker Ofw. Gerhard Scheibe flying a Heinkel 219 A-O G9+BB during a collision with a Lancaster on the 21/22nd January 1944 over Magdeburg. (shown left - courtesy Kracker archives)
Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour - Sgt. Michael Charles Jefferies having been a former pupil.
Crew originally buried at Venlo - reinterred after end of hostilities.
F/O. Albert Carey Bonner. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 7.H.2. Son of Frank Bonner and of Elizabeth Mary Carey Bonner (nee Adams), of Aigburth, Liverpool, England. Grave inscription reads: “Sweet And Cherished Memories Of Our Darling Son Bert”.
Sgt. Michael Charles Jefferies. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Son of Charles Hayden Jefferies, of Merrow, Surrey, England. Grave 11.H.2. Grave inscription reads: “Gay, Beloved Michael Our Good Son And Brother. Mother Daddy and Paul. RIP”.
Sgt. Harold Sweet. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 7.H.1. Son of Valentine Stanley Sweet and Olive Sweet, of Ainsdale, Southport, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: “Rest In Peace Dear Harold Our Love And Thoughts Are Always With You”.
Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour - Aircrew Remembered have offered to provide basic information for the school records. Thanks also to Des Phillipart for grave photos. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.