13/14.05.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II DT777 EY-T Sgt. G.E. Clay
Date: 13/14th May 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire
Location: Radevormwald, Germany
Pilot: Sgt. (Later W/O) G.E. Clay 1086886 RAFVR PoW No: 1173 Camp: L1-Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie Jakes 930627 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Nav: Sgt. (Later W/O) John Francis O’Reilly 1269442 RAFVR PoW No: 1263 Camp: L4-Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Bmr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) L.D.E. Marriot 658181 RAFVR PoW No: 1256 Camp: 357-Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) E.A. Coates 650905 RAFVR PoW No: 1237 Camp: L1-Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang
Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) Charles Leverett 146624 RAFVR PoW No: 201 Camp: L6-Heydekrug / L3-Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later W/O2) W.J.H. Perry R/110347 RCAF PoW No: 1195 Camp: L4-Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire at 23:15hrs to join 441 aircraft made up from 135 Halifaxes, 104 Wellingtons, 95 Stirlings and 10 Mosquitoes.
The raid did start well but the bombers were drawn away by decoy markers made by the Germans. It is reported that 394 buildings were destroyed a further 716 seriously damaged with 302 people killed on the ground.
29 allied aircraft were lost on this raid with total crew killed of 102 with a further 54 taken PoW. Just a single crew member evading capture.
78 Squadron lost two other crews on this operation:
Halifax II JB873 EY-J Flown by 20 year old P/O. Gerald Herbert Dane (1) MiD 146425 RAFVR from Belvedere, Kent. Killed with his flight engineer, 5 other crew also lost their lives, 1 managing to evade capture and return to England.
Halifax II JB924 EY-M Flown by 26 year old P/O. Richard Edward Bragg 145473 RAFVR from Nuthall, Birmingham. Killed with 6 other crew, 1 taken PoW.
It is known that the Halifax was hit by German Flak Abteilung 371 and crashed at Radevormwald, the crew were forced to abandon the aircraft. It seems that the flight engineer also jumped from the aircraft but his parachute failed to open successfully.
Sgt. Leverett was standing in for the usual mid upper gunner. The usual air gunner, Sgt. A. Scott 1559133 RAFVR was with his usual crew on an operation to Duisberg the previous night. After the bomb run due to a technical problem with the intercom he thought the he had been given the order to bale out - the order was in fact, 'we've got to get out if here'. Sgt. Scott was captured and held in Stalag Kopernikus PoW No: 1199.
(1) His brother, 23 year old F/O. Eric John Dane 144340 a navigator with 103 Squadron was also to lose his life almost 1 year later on the 4th May 1944. A double blow for his parents.
Reunion of 4 of the crew - John Francis O’Reilly at the head of the table - are you able to recognise nd place names to the others. We do know that one had the nickname of 'The Bishop'. (courtesy Julia Robinson)
Burial details: Sgt. Leslie Jakes. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 1.D.25. Son of Alfred and Annie Jakes, of Enfield Wash, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads:
"In Alien Soil The English Airman Lies He Fought & Fell In The Battle Of The Skies".
Researched for Julia Robinson - relative of W/O. O’Reilly. Also to Aran Ramsell who contacted us in February 2018 (Great Grandson of Charles Leverett). With many thanks to Darren Sheerin and Tony Hibbered - 78 Squadron researchers who identified the crash area more accurately and supplied details of the former rear air gunner of this crew. For further details our thanks to the sources as shown.