30/31.03.1944 N0. 514 Squadron Lancaster II LL645 A2-R P/O. Chitty
Date: 30/31st March 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 514 Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: At base - RAF Waterbeach
Pilot: P/O. Walter Evan Chitty AUS/410039 RAAF Age 22. Survived - Scalp and hands lacerations
Fl/Eng: Sgt. L.A. Ive RAFVR Survived - broken ankle, concussion
Nav: Sgt. R. Fox RAFVR Survived - bruises, slight concussion
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Allen Bruce Pattison J/94414 RCAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. C. Pratt RAFVR Survived - broken clavicle, concussion
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Shepherd 2209614 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Calder Guy 1565396 RAFVR Age 21. - bruises, slight concussion
REASON FOR LOSS:
This raid on the City of Nuremberg resulted in Bomber Commands heaviest loss of the war.
Despite the fact that it was a period of bright moonlight and an earlier meteorological flight had warned that there would be no cloud cover for the bomber stream, conditions that normally would have ordered a cancellation of the mission, no such order was made. Nuremberg was an important industrial target as well as a centrepiece of the Nazi Party that had not been attacked for seven months. Air Chief Marshall Harris was not to be deterred from his plan.
Nuremberg was a distant target and even though the route chosen was to be one of a direct nature it still represented a round trip of between 1300 and 1600 miles dependant upon the base airfield. Additionally, it was one that would lead the bomber stream between the Ida and Otto radio beacons located near Cologne and Frankfurt respectively which in hindsight turned out to be a fatal mistake. German intelligence had monitored the bomber force taking off in England and plotted their course by intercepting their H2S transmissions. Suspecting that the intended target was somewhere in south eastern Germany, the Luftwaffe commanders had ordered their fighters to assemble at the Ida and Otto beacons.
Left: A detailed account of this operation has been described in Martin Middlebrooks publication” ‘The Nuremberg Raid’ ISBN-13: 978-1844158751 (Also available in softcover)
The leading Pathfinders were able to pass through the gap before the consolidated force of over 200 night fighters converging on the beacons hit the middle of the bomber stream.
At two minutes before ten o’clock on the night of March 30 Fl/Lt. Cracknell and the crew of Lancaster DS840, “C” for Charlie, left the runway at Linton on Ouse. The aircraft, with its seven crew members who were on their fifth operation together, was on its final approach to the target when it was attacked by an unknown night fighter (4) and crashed near the village of Ermreuth 15 miles to the north of Nuremberg. There were no survivors. One other Lancaster from the thirteen aircraft that were despatched from 426 Squadron failed to return two of the crew members being killed and five others taken as prisoners of war.
Of the 795 aircraft making up the attacking force 82 of their number would be lost due to enemy action en-route and near to the target. While some of these were brought down by flak by far the majority was as a result of night fighter action. Another nine bombers were brought down by the night fighters and flak on the return leg. Fourteen more were lost, eleven in crashes on take off or on their return to base, one due to friendly fire and two to mid-air collision.
In all 543 aircrew were killed and a further 157 captured as prisoners of war.
The operation was a total failure not only in terms of the loss of so many brave aircrew and aircraft but little damage was sustained by the City of Nuremberg.
Although the bombers flight path had been clear and moonlit, by the time the Pathfinders arrived in the vicinity of the target thick cloud cover and strong winds prevailed. The thick cloud made the target indicators all but invisible and, combined with the unexpected winds blowing the Pathfinders off course, caused much of the main force bombing to be cantered on the small town of Lauf and the surrounding villages to the north east of Nuremberg. In the confusion some crews dropped their bombs on Schweinfurt causing minor damage to the ball bearing factories but again many of the bombs fell in the outskirts. Damage in Nuremberg itself was relatively light. Several smaller fires were set in the city centre and a few buildings hit including the railway station, post office and some houses but the main objective of setting the city ablaze and bombing the M.A.N. and Siemens factories failed completely.
The Squadron was particularly hit hard on this operation losing some 6 aircraft, the others:
Lancaster II LL738 JI-D Flown by 25 year old, P/O. Garth Stewart Hughes DFC AUS/413614 RAAF - Killed with 5 other crew, 1 PoW.
Lancaster II LL698 JI-J2 Flown by 31 year old, Fl/Sgt. Frederick Gregory 1283636 RAFVR - Killed with 5 other crew, 1 PoW.
Lancaster II LL696 JI-A Flown by P/O. P.J.K. Hood 125519 RAFVR - Taken PoW with 5 other crew, 1 killed.
Lancaster II LL683 JI-P Flown by W/O. W.L. McGown - All 7 crew survived after a forced landing, however 1 broke his back and never flew again.
Lancaster II DS836 JI-L Flown by 29 year old, P/O. Donald Charles Cameron Crombie AUS/414654 RAAF - Killed with 4 other crew, 2 PoW.
This Lancaster LL645 on return to base was baulked by another aircraft during final approach. They crash landed during an attempt to go round again. The impact was so severe the undercarriage was torn away, two of the crew were sadly killed.
Sadly, the pilot and the twin brother of the rear gunner on this trip were both to lose their lives on the 30th July 1944. Lancaster LL733 JI-S went missing without trace.
Sgt. Joseph Shepherd. Heywood Cemetery. Grave 883. Son of Lawrence and Hettie Shepherd, of Heywood, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. Allen Bruce Pattison. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 48.D.2. Son of Daniel John and Mary Hope Pattison, of Billings Bridge, Ontario, Canada. His brother, 25 year old John D. Pattison C/3065 1 Cdn. Div. Sigs died during service in Canada on the 15th December 1943. Buried at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery. Grave V.F.14.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Roger Guernon for crew details, Colin Bamford for raid description.