28/29.07.1944 No 75 Squadron Lancaster III ND756 AA-M P/O. Blance
Date: 28/29th July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron (NZ)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire
Location: East bank of the Moselle at Millery
Pilot: P/O. Ian Edward Blance NZ/421496 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. William J. Hyde 1895228 RAFVR Evaded capture (1)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Colin Johnson Greig NZ/422281 RNZAF PoW No: 25136 Camp: Stalag Luft (2)
Air/Bmr: W/O. Ronald Howard Spencer 1575186 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Frederick Walter Percival Climo NZ/4210148 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Frederick Francis Arthur Jenkins NZ/429888 RNZAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Aubrey Charles Kirk NZ/425845 RNZAF Evaded capture (3)
We are indebted to the family of Fl/Sgt Aubrey Charles Kirk for large selection of photographs sent.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:00 hours from RAF Mepal in Cambridgeshire, joining 494 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitoes to bomb the German city of Stuttgart - the third of a series of bombing operations on the city.
The Luftwaffe night fighters numbering over 200, aided by a bright moon intercepted the bomber stream on the outward flight over France. The city was devastated with these raids. Over 1,100 people killed on the ground, 1,600 injured with most of the cites buildings destroyed.
40 Lancasters were lost during the raid and 203 aircrew killed with a further 50 made PoW, some 24 other aircrew evaded capture.
Lancaster ND756 was claimed by Luftwaffe night fighter ace Oblt. Martin ‘Tino’ Becker (4) of 2./NJG6 who intercepted and shot down the Lancaster at 01:25 hrs reported at a height of 4.500 mtrs.
Above: The crew of ND756: Rear L-R: Fl/Sgt. R.H. Spencer, Sgt. W.J. Hyde, Fl/Sgt. C.J. Greig, Fl/Sgt. F.F.A. Jenkins. Front L -R: Fl/Sgt. A.C. Kirk, P/O. I.A. Blance, Fl/Sgt. F.W.P. Climo. (courtesy Kirk family)
The Squadron lost another crew during the operation, the other:
Lancaster III NE148 AA-H Flown by 25 year old, Fl/Lt. Noel Alfred Deal Stokes NZ/421403 RNZAF from Wellington City, New Zealand (555 flying hours logged and on his 28th operation) - killed with his tail gunner, 19 year old Sgt. Norman Vaughan Wilding 1836301 RAFVR from Brockweir, Gloucestershire, England. The six other crew members evaded capture despite one of the crew suffering serious injuries. The crew killed share a grave at the Yevres Communal Cemetery in France, the only two CWGC graves in the village Cemetery.
Left: Oblt. Martin Becker (courtesy Kracker Archives)
(1) Sgt. W.J, Hyde evaded capture and left for England on Thursday, 07th September 1944 via Paris.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Colin Johnson Greig Liberated and returned to England on Monday, 14th May 1945.
(3) Fl/Sgt Aubrey Charles Kirk evaded capture and left for Hendon, England on Tuesday, 05th September 1944 via Paris on a Dakota.
(4) Oblt. Martin Becker, born on the 12th April 1916 in Wiesbaden. Survived the war accounting for some fifty two Allied aircraft shot down (other sources quote more). Understood to have flown some 110 wartime operations. As an observer he flew 27 operations and as a night fighter pilot he flew on 83 interceptions. He became a commercial pilot and passed away on the 8th February 2006, age 89. Further details here.
Above: Course 72B - Anyone have details, date - location etc? (available in higher resolution should a relative recognise anyone) (courtesy Kirk family)
As you are able to see. the funeral had a huge presence of locals - despite being under German occupation! It is thought that over 1.500 people attended with two halls filled with flowers from the surrounding villages.
P/O. Ian Edward Blance. Millery Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of John William and Ivy Bertha Blance, of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. A total of 471 flying hours logged and understood to be on his 3rd operation.
W/O. Ronald Howard Spencer. Millery Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of William H. Spencer and Elsie Spencer, of Bescot, Staffordshire, England.
Fl/Sgt Frederick Walter Percival Climo. Millery Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Frederick Linton Climo and Alice Mary Climo, of Timaru, New Zealand and husband of Margaret Eva Climo (née Ireland), of Timaru, Canterbury, New Zealand. Understood to be on his 3rd operation.
Fl/Sgt Frederick Francis Arthur Jenkins. Millery Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Frederick Charles Jenkins and of Marie Jenkins, (née Ashley), of Okato, Taranaki, New Zealand and husband of Joan Jenkins, of New Plymouth, Taranaki. A total of 162 flying hours logged and understood to be on his 3rd operation.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the Kirk family for crew photograph and the many others placed in this page of remembrance. Auckland Museum Cenotaph, for details and images. Traces of War for crew grave photo insert. Also to our Tom Kracker for his comprehensive archive on Luftwaffe crews.