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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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115 Squadron Crest
24/25.04.1944 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster I HK542 KO-J Fl/Sgt. Bennett

Operation: Karlsruhe

Date: 24/25th April 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron (motto: 'Despite the elements')

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: HK542

Code: KO-J

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire

Location: Near Alken, Belgium

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Peter Anthony Bennett 1601570 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Frederick Plummer 1606785 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: F/O. Adolf David Leon Hoffman AUS/426598 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. James Eugene Zegarchuk J/89947 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Louis Forth 1510806 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William McKelvie 1567526 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Holt 2209128 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire at 22:05 hrs to attack Karlsruhe. 637 aircraft took part in the raid made up from; 369 Lancasters, 259 Halifaxes and 9 Mosquitoes. A total of 19 aircraft, 11 Lancasters, 8 Halifaxes were lost (1 from 76 Squadron) 3% of the force. According to reports, cloud over the target and a strong wind which pushed the Pathfinders too far north, spoiled this attack.

The markers appeared to be very scattered, consequently the bombing was not concentrated. However many large fires were seen reflected through the cloud and several explosions were also observed. Enemy fighter activity was also handicapped owing to the 10/10th cloud, and the ground defences were ineffective. Only the northern part of Karlsruhe was seriously damaged and most of the bombs fell outside the city.

It seems that Lancaster HK542 was intercepted by Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (1) of Stab IV./NJG1 at 02:03 hrs. over Aiken in Belgium, this being his 54th claim of the war.

Another crew was lost on this operation:

Lancaster II DS734 KO-Y Flown by 24 year old, P/O. Robert Roland Cagienard 174879 RAFVR from Ilford in Essex - killed with all his other six other crew

(1) Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer went on to obtain a total of an amazing 121 to his credit. Survived the war, killed in a car accident, France, 1945.

Burial details:

Crew initially buried on the airfield at Sint-Truiden on the 27th April. Reinterred after the war.

Fl/Sgt. Peter Anthony Bennett. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.14. Son of Cecil H. and Evelyn G. Bennett, of Long Acre, Frilford, Heath, Berkshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "For His Life And Love And Example We Thank Thee, O God".

Sgt. John Frederick Plummer. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.13. Son of George Percival and Florence Hilda Plummer, of Ashley Down, Bristol, England. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Him. Mum And Dad".

F/O. Adolf David Leon Hoffman. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.9. Son of Charles Solomon and Hinda Sadie Hoffman, of Ardmona House, Little Roma Street, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "With Courage, Truth And Labour, He Served His God And King".

P/O. James Eugene Zegarchuk. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.10. Son of Julia Zegarchuk, of 6th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Dear Jim, Not Just To-Day But Every Day In Silence We Remember. Mother, Myron & Olly".

Sgt. Norman Louis Forth. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.15. Son of Arthur Victor and Nellie Forth and husband of Ethel Forth, of 8 Stirling Road, Layton, Blackpool, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Son of Arthur Victor and Nellie Forth and husband of Ethel Forth, of Layton, Blackpool, Lancashire".

Sgt. William McKelvie. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.12. Son of William and Teresa McKelvie, of 122 Main Street, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "Like His Smile He Will Never Grow Old But Will Live Forever Young, In Our Hearts".

Sgt. Alan Holt. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.11. Son of Stanley and Muriel A. Holt, of 14 Napier Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport, Cheshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Dearly Loved Only Son Of Stanley And Muriel Holt, Heaton Moor, England".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Filip Doms for crew photographs. Filip runs a great website on 115 Squadron, a small group of local amateur historians in Belgium who honour our boys.

KTY 29.01.2019

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, 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', 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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