17/18.12.1944 No 463 Squadron Lancaster I LL847 JO-D F/O. Kenneth E.H. Bennett
Operation: Munich, Germany
Date: 17/18th December 1944 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 463 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Location: Le Gros-Theil, Eure, France
Pilot: F/O. Kenneth Edwin Harold Bennett AUS 424117 RAAF Age 22. Killed
2nd Pilot: F/O. James Henderson Ogilvie AUS 418559 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald George Nuttall 1592205 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav/W/Op: Fl/Sgt. Samuel Easton 1522162 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Thomas Nicholson Watson 187732 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Robert Wentworth Byrnes AUS/28766 AUS RAAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Fowler 1826506 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gordon Abercromby Center Frizzell 1787720 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 16:31hrs from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, for a night raid on Munich, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000lb. 9 x 150 x 4lb. incendiaries.
Some of the crew of Lancaster LL847 (courtesy Alistair Taylor)
A total of 288 aircraft (280 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitoes) took part in this raid with 8 aircraft lost totalling some 49 air crew killed, 2 others surviving as PoW. A total of nineteen aircraft from 463 squadron took part in this raid with only this loss. Nothing was heard from this aircraft after take off.
Left: Sgt. Thomas Nicholson Watson with pilot F/O. Kenneth Edwin Harold Bennett right Sgt. Watson (courtesy Alistair Taylor)
On the long southerly approach to the target no night fighters were encountered. None of the force were attacked by the Luftwaffe over the target area although they were seen. Two aircraft are known to have been brought down by flak over the city, four others lost to flak on the return journey, with two Lancasters assumed to have been lost to night-fighters, although no claims have been filed for these.
Very little is known from the German reports as to the damage and casualties on the ground but the RAF intelligence reported severe and widespread damage in the old centre of the city and railway targets.
Air Bomber training course - we are sure that is P/O. Thomas Watson rear row extreme left - pointed out by his nephew, Tom Watson. (courtesy Alistair Taylor)
Notes: LL847 Built at the Armstrong Whitworth factory, fitted with the Merlin 24 engines and delivered to this squadron on the 10th March 1944. Previously had taken part in the following operations: Stuttgart 15/16 March 1944 -Berlin 24/25 March 1944 - Nuremburg 30/31 March 1944 - Schweinfurt 26/27 April 1944 - Lille 10/11 May 1944 - Duisburg 21/22 May 1944 - Courtrai 20/21 July 1944 - Dortmund Ems 4 November 1944 - Duren 16 Nov 1944 (daylight mission) - Urft Dam 11 Dec 19 44 (daylight mission) - Munich 17/18 December 1944 (Lost)
Grave marker and grave today
Memorials to some crew members
Below: Le Gros-Theil residents and dignitaries making their way to the memorial site for the dedication service on the 8th May 2015
W/Cdr. Adamson RAF, Regis Biaux and W/Cdr. Garside RAAF
The new memorial and the memorial information board which tells the story of what happened to the aircraft and crew
F/O. Kenneth Edwin Harold Bennett. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of Harold and Ethel Louisa Bennett of Annandale, New South Wales, Australia. Joined 463 squadron on the 23rd November 1944.
Left: Note: we do have some copies of the log book pages supplied by Alistair Taylor from P/O. Watson If any relative contacts us we would be happy to supply you with them.
F/O. James Henderson Ogilvie. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of Gilbert Primrose Ogilvie and Daphne Ogilvie of East Malvern, Victoria, Australia. This was his second trip as a second pilot prior to taking over his own crew.
Sgt. Reginald George Nuttall. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of Albert and Ethel Nuttall of Doncaster, Yorkshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Samuel Easton. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of James and Esther Easton of Glasgow, Scotland.
P/O. Thomas Nicholson Watson. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of David and Mary J. W. Watson of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
P/O. Robert Wentworth Byrnes. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of Robert Wentworth Byrnes and Ena Louie Marie Byrnes of Blanchetown, South Australia.
Sgt. Henry Fowler. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of Annie Fowler and stepson of William Douglas of West Calder, Midlothian. Husband of Christina Fowler of West Calder, Scotland.
Sgt. Gordon Abercromby Center Frizzell. Le Gros-Theil Communal Cemetery, Eure, France. Collective grave. Son of George Graham Frizzell and Mary Jane Frizzell (née Donaldson) of Galashiels, Selkirkshire
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Kate Tame for relatives of this crew. Acknowledgements: Alistair Taylor for the collection of photographs. Regis Biaux for the memorial photographs. Also to Tom Watson, the nephew of P/O. Watson who contacted us in March 2107. Other sources quoted below.