01/02.02.1945 No. 101 Squadron Lancaster III PB256 SR-P F/O. Robert J. Clark
Date: 01/02nd February 1945 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 101 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Ludford Magna
Location: Maudach 2 miles west of Ludwigshafen
Pilot: F/O. Robert John Clark NZ/4210919 RNZAF Age 27. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Wilfred Higginson 1897585 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Keith Robert Hendren AUS/434787 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. James Martin Manning McGinn NZ/425582 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Richard Ironmonger 2202044 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Special Duties: P/O. Jack Kenny J/47772 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Charles Gordon 2235366 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Randall Roy Etherton 2227596 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 15:50 hrs to attack the town of Ludwigshafen. 382 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes took part from which 6 Lancasters were lost (3 from 101 Squadron alone) with 56 crew members killed, 3 more being made PoW.
The raid destroyed or damaged 900 homes but also the railway yards were seriously damaged and one of the Rhine bridges was hit by 2 bombs and was temporary closed. 25 people were killed on the ground and a further 6 injured. The lack of casualties on the ground suggest that the town had been evacuated or were well protected with shelters.
Perhaps you may recognise some of them? Sadly not able to enlarge it any further.
The other two from the Squadron collided in the air over occupied France - US troops from the 7th Army handled the burials at Epinal before being moved after the end of the war to Choloy War Cemetery.
Lancaster I ME863 SR-K Flown by 24 year old, Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Boyd AUS/419026 RAAF from Finley, New South Wales, Australia - killed with all the 7 crew members.
Lancaster III JA715 SR-C Flown by Fl/Lt. R.A.W. Harrison RAFVR who survived along with another crew member, the remaining 6 were killed.
Strange that this crew had been made up from members from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England and the USA.
It is recorded that this Lancaster, PB256 was shot down by either Hptm. Gerhard Friedrich (1) of Stab I./NJG5 or Oblt. Johannes Engels (2) of 4./NJG6 at 19:20 hrs. Fl/Lt. P. Adams of the No. 2 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit RAF state though that witnesses from the village informed them that they thought the time of the crash was 20:30 hrs (This report was dated 28th March 1947). (Our Luftwaffe Victories by Pilot Name database records Gerhard Friedrich claiming a Lancaster 1945-02-1 at 19.20 hours)
(1) This was Hptm. Gerhard Friedrich’s 19 confirmed claim of the war. He went on to claim a total of 30 kills before he was himself killed on the 16/17th March 1945 near Stuttgart after a collision with a 576 Squadron Lancaster PB785 UL-L2. The pilot of that aircraft Fl/Lt. Frank Dotten J/12642 RCAF and all 7 crew were also killed. (6 Canadians and 1 British)
(2) Oblt. Johannes Engels survived the war with a total of 6 claims (see Kracker Archive on this site)
Buried initially at the cemetery in the target area of Ludwigshafen - moved to Durnbach it is believed either late 1947 or early 1948.
F/O. Robert John Clark. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of Robert and Annie Clark, husband of Lilian R. Clark, of Auckland City, New Zealand.
Sgt. George Wilfred Higginson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.7. No further details - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Keith Robert Hendren. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of George Robert and Eunice Augusta Hendren, of 41 Ascog Terrace, Toowong, Queensland, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. James Martin Manning McGinn. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of James Henry McGinn and of Violet May McGinn (née Manning), of London, England, stepson of William George Longney, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Richard Ironmonger. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of Frank E. Ironmonger and Margery Ironmonger, of Lincoln, England.
P/O. Jack Kenny. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of Joseph Leo and Francis Roy, of New York City, USA.
Sgt. Norman Charles Gordon. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 2. C. 9-12. Son of James Henry and Ethel Mary Gordon, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.
Sgt. Randall Roy Etherton. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.8. Son of Benjamin Edmund and Mary Etherton, of West Kirby, Cheshire, England.
Researched for Susan Higginson, daughter of the flight engineer. With thanks also to Michelle Brown for photo of Sgt. Randall Etherton - May 2016. Further sources as quoted below.