20/21.01.1944 No. 434 Squadron (RCAF) Halifax V LL141 WL-H F/O. James T. Clinkskill
Operation: Berlin Germany
Date: 20/21st January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 434 Squadron (Bluenose-RCAF)
Type: Halifax Mk.V
Base: RAF Croft
Location: 1 miles SW of Hohenahlsdorf, Germany
Pilot: F/O. James Thomas Clinkskill J/23522 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Victor George Baker 1719963 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: F/O. William Russell Sloan J/20416 RCAF Age 29. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Charles John Jones 1391880 RAFVR Age 34. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Colin Campbell Cassy 1322250 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward William Harold McCaffrey R/194245 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. David James Gillam 1607197 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Croft at 16:16 hrs joining some 769 aircraft in the largest operation against Berlin of the war so far.
The German radar ship ’Togo’ stationed off the Dutch coast correctly plotted the bomber stream course as early as 17:09 hrs when they were still 160 km out over the North Sea, despite a diversionary raid to Kiel by some Mosquitoes.
Weather conditions were poor to start with, many of the night fighters decided not to attack at the early stages.
Once over Berlin, it was a different matter, although no moon the night was very clear with clouds at approx 12,000 ft - the searchlights picked up the bombers silhouetted in these ideal conditions. 35 allied aircraft fell victim to some of the attacking 100 twin-engine and 70 single engine night fighters. These numbers match the number of claims by the Luftwaffe.
Possible claim by Hptm Leopold Fellerer from Stab II./NJG 5.
The aircraft crashed in a field 1km SW of Hohenahlsdorf Kreis Luckenwalde Juterbog. It caught fire on impact and burnt for several hours. The wreckage was removed by the Luftwaffe a few days later, presumably to Juterbog/Damn air Base.
Several bodies were recovered in all, five in the aircraft and two near the wreckage, all were badly burnt. As far as the Burgomeister of Hohenahlsdorf knew the Luftwaffe was not able to identify any members of the crew. The Burgomeister was instructed to bury the seven bodies in the Hohenahlsdorf communal cemetery, this was done the next day in a communal grave and without coffins. This grave which was situated in the North East corner of the cemetery was in poor condition and there were no crosses or markings of any kind. No records were held. (Extract from report by Fg.Off. R P Hunter No.4 MREU not dated).
Above as described with David James Gillam front row, 3rd from left (courtesy Tim Dench)
434 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone this night, the others:
Halifax V LK656 WL-C Flown by Fl/Sgt. F. Johnson injured with one other crew member after crew baled out near Driffield after serious damage to the rudders - aircraft crashed at 23:59 5 miles WSW of Filey.
Halifax V LL135 WL-R Flown by F/O. Clarence Samuel Brest J/21331 RCAF from Canada but schooled in San Fransisco - killed with 4 other crew, 2 taken PoW. (with thanks to Jack Kindrachuk - September 2017)
Halifax V LL179 WL-K Flown by Fl/Sgt. Gordon Charles Mould R/143768 RCAF from Ontario, Canada - killed with 3 other crew, 3 others taken PoW.
F/O. James Thomas Clinkskill. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave: 8.L.34-37. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Victor George Baker. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave: 8.L.34-37. Son of George Victor and Annie Isabel Baker, of East Ham, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: "Gone But Not Forgotten".
F/O. William Russell Sloan. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave: 8.L.34-37. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Sloan, of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. B.A. Grave inscription reads: "The Eternal God Is Thy Refuge And Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms".
Fl/Sgt. Charles John Jones. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave: 8.L.34-37. Son of Charles David and Clara Jones, husband of Edith Jones, of Willesden Junction, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "We Who Knew And Loved You, Dear, Never Thought The End So Near. Rest In Peace".
Sgt. Colin Campbell Cassy. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave: 8.L.33. Born Hampstead, London December 1924 Qtr. Son of Colin and Joan (nee Cox) Cassy.
Sgt. Edward William Harold McCaffrey. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave: 8.L.32. Born Montreal, Quebec, 16 June 1913. Son of William and Agnes née Hogan McCaffrey. Both parents deceased when he enlisted. His sister, Eileen McCaffrey, was given as next of kin. Married Madeline Isabel Merrigan.
Sgt. David James Gillam. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave: 8.L.31. Son of James and Emily Florence Gillam, of Winton, Bournemouth, Hampshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "God Is My Refuge And Strength... Therefore Will I Not Fear".
Researcher, Michel Beckers - submitted to Aircrew Remembered January 2016. With thanks to Steve Williams, and Uwe Enrich for various photographs - others Michel Beckers collection. With thanks to the niece of Sgt. Baker, Sue Cranmer who submitted his photo in November 2018. Further detailed information our thanks to Dave Champion - April 2016. Also to Tim Dench - relative of Sgt. James Gillam for photographs - February 2019. Thanks to John Jones for the information from No.4 MREU