12/13.10.1941 15 Squadron Stirling I N6047 LS:P Plt.Off. Colbourne
Date:12/13th October 1941 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: 15 Squadron
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire (formally Huntingdonshire circa 1941)
Location: Mariembourg (Namur), 12 km. SSW of Philippeville, Belgium
Pilot: Plt.Off. Victor Charles Henry Colbourne 45444 RAF Age 28. Killed
Pilot: Plt.Off. Harold Mohr-Bell 10158216 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Sidney Bentley 586024 RAF Age? Killed
Obs: Plt.Off. Thomas Edward Wootton 61024 RAFVR Age? Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Ivor Llewellyn Evans 918268 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Bernard William Wareham 1164194 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. George Joseph Goodwin R1961 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Alexander Lamb 1171689 RAFVR Age? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
Stirling N6047 took off from RAF Wyton on the night of 12th October 1941, part of a bomber force consisting of 152 aircraft targeting Nuremberg. This bomber stream was made up of 82 Wellingtons, 54 Whitleys, 9 Halifaxes and 7 Stirlings for the first large raid on this city. In all, 13 aircraft were lost on this mission, 8 over enemy held territory and 5 crashing in England.
15 Squadron RAF began the war as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, making it one of the first squadrons to be sent to France. By the time the fighting began in May 1940, the squadron had returned to Britain and re-equipped with the Bristol Blenheim, with which it made a series of desperate attacks on the German columns, from RAF Wyton. After the collapse of France the squadron’s Blenheims were used to make attacks on the German invasion barges, gathered in the channel ports. In April 1941 the squadron became the second to receive the Short Stirling. Between June and August those bombers were used in the RAF’s efforts to “lean over the channel” as bait for German fighters. However, too many Stirlings were lost to anti-aircraft fire, and the squadron turned to night bombing, and then to mine laying.
In actuality, very few bombs fell on the city doing minor damage. By contrast, the town of Schwabach 10 miles to the south of Nuremberg suffered considerable damage where 50 buildings were destroyed and a number of citizens killed. Even more significant, illustrating the difficulty that the bomber crews had in identifying their intended targets at night was the fact that the village of Lauingen, which is 65 miles from Nuremburg, was under bombardment for four hours.
Craters from 200 high-explosive bombs were later found as well as evidence of 700 incendiaries falling in the village, with many more falling in the surrounding countryside.
Forty four houses were destroyed and four villagers killed. In addition, the town of Lauffen, near Stuttgart, 95 miles away from Nuremburg, was also hit suffering a loss of 46 houses. It is suspected that as both Lauingen and Lauffen are situated on wide rivers similar to Nuremburg, the crews mistook the communities for the intended target.
Left: Plt.Off. Harold Mohr-Bell (courtesy of his nephew, Michael)
N6047 was one of two Stirlings lost on the operation being shot down by Fw. Reinhard Kollack of 1./NJG1 at 21.44 hrs, crashin g south of Mariembourg. The other, N3667, aborted the mission due to mechanical difficulties and crashed at Wyton while trying to land.
Fw. Reinhard Kollack, (pictured right) was already an ace at this time with 8 victories to his credit. He survived the war with a total of 49 victories.
Born on the 29th March 1915. He entered the Luftwaffe in 1935, joining I./ZG1 in time to take part in the western campaigns. He transferred to night fighting in October 1940 with 1./NJG1 and moved to 7./NJG4 on 1st April 1942. He won the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold on 12th April 1943 and in August moved to 8./NJG4, being awarded the Ritterkreuz on 29th August 1943. He survived the war having flown over 250 sorties. He was nominated for the Eichenlaub but, due to his persistent refusal to take a commission, this was not granted. After the war he joined the Budes Luftwaffe where he retired with the rank of Oberstabsfeldwebel. He died on 6th February 1980. (Luftwaffe Aces Biographies and Victory Claims- Mathews and Foreman).
Plt.Off. Victor Charles Henry Colbourne. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Born July 1913 in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Husband to Vivien Muriel Annie (née Sayers) Colbourne from Portsmouth, England.
Plt.Off. Harold Mohr-Bell. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Born 2nd November 1915 in San Rafael, Argentina. Son of Flora May Mohr-Bell from Argentina.
Sgt. Sidney Bentley. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Next of kin details currently not available.
Plt.Off. Thomas Edward Wootton. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Son of Bertha A Wootton and the late Edward B Wootton. He was a solicitor and his mother was the school dental nurse. He attended Worthing High School for Boys. The family home was at 54a South Farm Road, Worthing. He is also remembered on the Tarring Church memorial.
Sgt. Ivor Llewellyn Evans. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Born on the 30th July 1918 in Brixton, London. Son to Evan Timothy and Daisy Evans and one of seven siblings. His mother predeceased him in 1940.
Sgt. Bernard William Wareham. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Son of William Henry and Selina Elizabeth Wareham, of Winton, Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. George Joseph Goodwin. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. Born on the 11th March 1914 in Ottawa, Ontario. Survived by his wife Mrs. G.J. Goodwin of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
Sgt. Frederick Alexander Lamb. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Collective Grave 12-21. From Evesham, Worcestershire, England. No further information available.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. Thanks to Chris Thorn, grand nephew of Sgt.Ivor Llewellyn Evans, for his NoK and DoB details (May 2020). Thanks to Raymond Staley for further information for Plt.Off Wootton (Oct 2020). Additional research and information by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2020)