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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 II DS734 KO-Y P/O. Robert R. Cagienard

Operation: Karlsruhe

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

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS734

Code: KO-Y

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire

Location: 3 km North East Mechleen, Belgium

Pilot: P/O. Robert Roland Cagienard 174879 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Philip Kelly 2204866 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Albert Foster 1321968 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Joseph Murdoch MacLeod J/92030 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Shorten 1508293 RAFVR Age 28? Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Albert Clayton Letcher J/92031 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Desmond King 1892896 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

We are indebted to Filip Doms and the 8th May Committee, Mechelen region in Belgium for the photographs used within this page of remembrance. (see links) We are pleased that we shall be working closely with Filip in the future.


Taking off at 21.51 hrs from RAF Witchford in Cambridgeshire, joining some 636 aircraft to bomb the city of Karlsruhe. Another operation to München with 265 aircraft taking part, was also taking place at about the same time. Strong winds and cloud over the target spoiled the operation with many bombs falling in open countryside. Only the very northern regions of the city was to suffer serious damage, with 900 houses destroyed or seriously damaged. Casualties on the ground were reported light at 118 killed, 133 injured.


Above L-R: P/O. Robert R. Cagienard, Sgt. Charles P. Kelly, Fl/Sgt. Frederick A. Foster.


Above L-R: P/O. Joseph M. MacLeod, Sgt. William Shorten, P/O. Albert C. Letcher, Sgt. Frank D. King.

The allies lost some 23 aircraft, some due to enemy action, others to aircraft defects caused by icing. 119 crew lost their lives, 24 taken PoW, with 5 others evading capture.

One of two Lancaster lost from 115 Squadron, the other:

Lancaster I HK542 KO-J Flown by 20 year old, Fl/Sgt. Peter A. Bennett 1601570 RAFVR from Frilford, Berkshire. Killed with all 6 other crew. After being shot down by the same Luftwaffe ace 22 year old, Oblt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer (4 abschüsse on this operation alone) at 02.03 hrs, near Alken. 

Lancaster DS 734 was attacked and shot down just 25 minutes later at 02.28 hrs. The SN-2 radar was inoperative following a fire at St. Elmo, however the night vision of his air gunner, Ofw. Willi Gänsler guided the ace to the four targets which he shot down with a single burst from his cannons.

Right: Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer

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.

The fine memorial erected by the 8th May Comité - Mechelen region (detailed below)


Burial details:

P/O. Robert Roland Cagienard. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Son of Alexander and Edith Ida Cagienard, of Ilford, Essex, England.

Sgt. Charles Philip Kelly. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.37. Son of Charles and Margaret Kelly, of Somme Drive, Cregagh, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Fl/Sgt. Frederick Albert Foster. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.36. Son of Albert Ernest and Annie Dorothy Foster (née Aldcock), of Alma Place, Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.

P/O. Joseph Murdoch MacLeod. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.8. Son of John George and Emma Justine MacLeod, of Capreol, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Shorten. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Of Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Married with one daughter and son. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

P/O. Albert Clayton Letcher. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.21. Of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Married with one daughter and a brother, Gordon. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Frank Desmond King. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Of Tenterden, Kent, England. Single, brother to Derek and Ronald. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

For further details our thanks to the following, Ken Switzer, Filip Doms of the 8th May Comité - Mechelen region, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page.

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), 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', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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