22/23.05.1944 No. 630 Squadron Lancaster III JB546 P/O. Champness
Operation: Braunschweig, Germany
Date: 22/23rd May 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 630 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire.
Location: Quakenbrück, Germany
Pilot: P/O. Edward Frank Champness AUS/421858 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Peacock Craig Johnstone 1822545 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Vernon Stanley John Zucker RAAF PoW No: 105 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
Air/Bmr: P/O. Gerald Melbourne Naugler J/92151 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E. Adair 1822545 RAFVR PoW No: 71 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf
Air/Gnr: Sgt. L. Jones 2209587 RAFVR PoW No: 29 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Leslie Pickering 1623919 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:40 hrs. from RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire. Part of a force of 225 Lancaster and 10 Mosquitoes to attack Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany.
The raid was considered a failure as although the weather forecast was for clear skies - the marker aircraft found a complete covering of cloud - there was also interference on the master bombers radio communications.
Most of the bombing fell in the country areas around the city. Records show that only a few bombs fell on the city and no ground casualties. A reconnaissance aircraft flying through the target area an hour later found that the cloud had completely cleared.
14 Lancasters were lost on this raid. 81 crew members being killed and a further 18 being made PoW.
Lancaster JB546 is thought to have been shot down by Oblt. Heinz Ferger of 2./NJG3 - combat occurred at a height of 5,400 mtrs. South East of Quakenbrück at 00.30 hrs. Oblt. Ferger went on to become a night fighter ace with over 23 claims (23 confirmed - 3 probables) - killed on the 13/14th April 1945, shot down by a Mosquito on finals to Lübeck airfield.
Left: East Kirkby Airfield
Right: RAF Rauceby Hospital, Lincolnshire - during the demolition process.
It would seem that P/O. Gerald Melbourne Naugler took over as Bomb aimer for this flight as the regular B/A. Sgt. N.C. Scullard was injured on a training flight with the Lancashire Finishing School (LFS) on the 13th March 1944 on a dual flight training mission.
Right: Fl/Sgt. Vernon Stanley John Zucker
The instructor was at the controls when after taking off from Syerston, Nottinghamshire during the flight the aircraft suffered an engine failure as it approached the runway at 18:05 hrs. The Instructor (Fl/Lt K. Ruskell) banked steeply to avoid a building when a gust of wind lifted the starboard wing and a crash landing followed almost immediately.
Four of the crew were injured, 1 seriously (Sgt. Scullard) and he was taken to RAF hospital in Rauceby, Lincolnshire. It is understood that he recovered and survived the war, however we have no further information on him.
Rheinberg War Cemetery - insert: P/O. Edward Frank Champness
P/O. Edward Frank Champness. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 17.C.6. Son of Edgar Frank and Vera Champness, of St. Marys, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. John Peacock Craig Johnstone. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 17.B.12. No further details, are you able to assist?
P/O. Gerald Melbourne Naugler. (shown left) Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 17.B.13. Son of Melbourne Charles and Etta May Naugler, of Upper La Have, Lunenburg Co., Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sgt. Alan Leslie Pickering. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 17.A.5. No further details, are you able to assist?
Researched for Dave Knowler relative of P/O. Gerald Melbourne Naugler. With thanks to the sources quoted below. Also thanks to Dave Champion for further information - April 2017.