20/21.12.1943 No. 76 Squadron Halifax V LK732 MP-F P/O. William D.V. Cable
Date: 20th/21st December 1943
Unit: No. 76 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire.
Location: Dachsenhausen (10 miles SE of Koblenz) Germany
Pilot: P/O. William Douglas Vernon Cable 169109 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.
Air/Bmr: F/O. John Blair 151237 RAFVR Age 21. Killed.
Nav: F/O. J.O. Pakeman PoW No.3271 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. G.J. Castleton. PoW No. 269754 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe and Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. I.J. Evans PoW Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman William Edward Blatch 1890052 RAFVR Age 19. Killed.
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. L.H. Rollingson PoW Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe
This article is dedicated to Bryan Williams who was the original W/Op who was replaced on this sortie.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 1618hrs from RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor to bomb the german city of Frankfurt. Part of a force of 650 aircraft made up from; 390 Lancasters, 257 Halifaxes and 3 Mosquitos.
The German control rooms were able to plot the bomber force as soon as it left the English coast and were able to continue plotting it all the way to Frankfurt. The bombing at Frankfurt did not go according to plan.
The Pathfinders had prepared ground markings on the basis of a forecast giving good weather but they found up to 8/10th cloud. 466 houses were completely destroyed and 1,948 seriously damaged in Frankfurt and in the outlaying townships of Sachsenhausen and Offenbach. 117 bombs hit various industrial premises but no important factories. 27 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters – lost, 6.3 per cent of the force.
Halifax LK732 was shot down by night-fighter flown by Hptm. Eckart-Wilhelm Von Bonin of Stab II./NJG1 at a height of 5.500m, crashing at Dachsenhausen (10miles SE of Koblenz) at 17.45hrs. He survived the war with 35 kills on night fighter operations.
The three crew members who were killed on impact are laid to rest in the Rheinberg British Military Cemetery. The remaining four were taken prisoner of war and later repatriated to the UK.
One of three No.76 Squadron Halifax's lost on this operation, the others:
LK911 MP-Y - Flown by 20 year old Fl/Sgt. Jack T.S. Boddington, killed with 2 other crew, 4 taken PoW.
LK926 MP-C - Flown by 20 year old Fl/Sgt. Charles W. Matthews, killed with all 7 crew.
Fl/Lt. Evans was the Squadron Signals Leader and had taken the place of the crew's regular Wireless Operator, Sgt Bryan Williams who was suffering from bronchitis. In turn, Fl/Lt. Evans was stricken with ill health in captivity and was subsequently repatriated in September 1944.
76 Squadron crews preparing for a raid to Kassel 22/23 Oct 1943. Sgt Blatch can be seen centre front, F/O. Blair directly behind to the right. From the publication. ‘From Hull, Hell and Halifax’ written by Chris Blanchett.
Left: Hptm.Eckart-Wilhelm Von Bonin II./NJG1 (courtesy Tom Kracker collection)
Rheinberg War Cemetery (courtesy Sylvia McDonald)
Sgt Norman William Edward Blatch. Rheinberg War Cemetery 10. A. 12. Son of W. B. Blatch and Minnie Blatch, of Lancaster Gate, London.
P/O William Douglas Vernon Cable. Rheinberg War Cemetery Joint grave 10. A. 13-14. Son of Stanley Samuel and Elsie Cable, of Crickhowell, Brecknockshire.
F/O John Blair. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Joint grave 10. A. 13-14. Son of Robert James Blair and Elizabeth Dick Blair, of North Kelvinside, Glasgow.
Researched by Mike Harrison for Aircrew Remembered dedicating this article to Bryan Williams. For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Chris Blanchett - "From Hull to Halifax".