21/22 December 1942 No. 106 Squadron Lancaster I R5914 Fl/Sgt. Brinkhurst DFM
Date: 21/22nd December 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 106 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Code: ZN-not known
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Location: Poelkapelle, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Derrick Brinkhurst DFM. 917837 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. N.J. Elsom 1282475 RAFVR PoW No: 27343 Camp:Stalag Lamsdorf (344)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Shepherd NZ/404582 RNZAF PoW No: 27344 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. S.P. Leedham 907623 RAFVR PoW No: 27360 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Trevor Mellors 940704 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. C. Ward MiD. 1330635 RAFVR PoW No: 27353 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Victor Greenwood 543208 RAF Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17:10 hrs from RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire for an operation on Munchen. One of 137 aircraft that took off on this operation to Munich. Most of the bombs fell outside the target area in open ground.
It is claimed by Lt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer with his Bordfunker Uffz. Fritz Rumpelhardt of Stab II./NJG1 - his seventh claim to date. It was first claimed by three flak units based at Poelkapelle, but as the aircraft was flying at 300 metres at the time it was clear it was already coming down. The Lancaster crashed near Poelkapelle at 23:53 hrs. Thought possible that they were first intercepted over St. Maria Lierde.
Two of the survivors made statements that after the pilot gave the order to abandon the aircraft he left the controls to try and free the front escape hatch for his crew to bale out. The pilot then retuned to the controls to try and keep the aircraft steady whilst his crew jumped.
The Squadron lost another crew on this operation:
Lancaster I R5574 Flown by 20 year old, F/O. Grimwood Choke Cooke DFC DFM 80346 RAFVR. Lost with 5 other crew, 1 taken PoW. Sadly, the family of F/O. Cooke also lost his twin brother, shortly before on the 26th June 1942. Sgt. Harold Cooke, an air gunner with 10 Operational Training Unit (just 1 of 4 losses from 10 OTU on this night) Flying in Whitley V AD689 on an operation to Bremen - all 5 crew killed. The twins were from Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.
Lt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (nicknamed the “Night Ghost of Trond”) went on to obtain a total of 121 to his credit. He survived the war taking over his family wine business, but was killed in a car accident, France, on 13th July 1950.
Fl/Sgt. John Derrick Brinkhurst. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave E. 438-439. Son of Howard Marchant Brinkhurst and Cicely Brinkhurst, of Slough, Buckinghamshire, England.
Sgt. Trevor Mellors. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave E. 438-439. Son of Joseph and Lilian Mellors, husband of Bertha Mellors, of Leicester, England.
Fl/Sgt. Victor Greenwood. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave E. 438-439. Son of George and Emma Greenwood, of Manchester, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Franky Mahieu who visited the crew graves for us and took these fine photographs. He has provided us with permission to permit high resolution copies of these to any of the relatives free of charge.