21/22.06.1944 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster I LL840 VN-M Sq/Ldr. Thomas B. Cole DFC
Operation: Gelsenkirchen Oil Refineries, Scholven-Buer
Date: 21/22nd June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 50 Squadron
Type: Lancaster l
Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Location: Oene, Holland
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Thomas Bernard Cole DFC 104459 RAFVR PoW No: 6497 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Herschel Callender Ingram 1400819 RAFVR Age 21. Evaded capture. (1)
Nav: F/O. Jack Craven DFC 127012 RAFVR Evaded capture and returned to England
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. A.G. Beresford RAFVR PoW No: 291 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Eric James Blakemore 169156 RAFVR Evaded capture and returned to England (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. John Frederick Lane 1376435 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Henry Shorter 1880037 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Paul Francis Hayes 1875976 RAFVR PoW No: 221 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg (3)
We would appreciate any relatives or friends to contact us regarding this loss – in order to inform them about this fantastic memorial erected by our Dutch friends.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 23:17hrs. from Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to attack the synthetic oil plants at Scholven-Buer. 123 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitoes took part. The target was cloud covered and heavily defended with flak over the target area. Just after leaving the target area, a night fighter attacked and badly damaged the aircraft. No claims have been identified for this loss as yet.
9 aircraft was lost on this raid - 43 aircrew were killed and another 13 made PoW. 7 being shot down by German night fighters including LL840. Another (Lancaster III 97 Squadron ND451 OF-L) was shot down by flak and crashed near Grieth, Germany, Lancaster I LL971 PO-N from 467 Squadron is also thought to have been shot down by flak and crashed on the Dutch / German border.
The post raid photographs showed no new damage (the area had been previously bombed) but secret German reports revealed a 20% loss of production. 9 aircraft were lost on this raid with 43 aircrew killed and another 13 made PoW. 7 aircraft were shot down by German night fighters including Lancaster LL 840, although no claims have been made to this loss.
(1) Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Herschel Callender Ingram was later caught, along with a member of the USAAF and six resistance fighters. All were shot by the Gestapo without a trial on the 2nd October 1944.
(2) P/O. Eric James Blakemore maybe a DFM holder, although, to date, we are unable to confirm this. Awarded whilst serving with 9 Squadron on the 23rd December 1941.
(3) Sgt. Paul Francis Hayes had been injured previously in Lancaster lll ND583 20/21st April 1944. He resumed flying shortly afterwards. (See "HERE")
Top left: Jan Kiesbrink and Teunis Nooteboom. Right: Michael Allman and his wife who painted the picture for presentation to the two Dutch researcher's shown below. (Courtesy Michael Allman)
Sgt. Hayes rear air gunner on this aircraft, wrote a diary and what follows is his description of the events of him first joining No. 50 Squadron and then on the night of the 21/22nd June 1944:
"Having been posted to No.50 Squadron I was allocated to flying with the leader of the flight Squadron Leader Cole (Old King Cole). The crew were all older than me and all had completed a “tour of duty” and must have been apprehensive about having to rely on me as air gunner if the aircraft was attacked. I did manage to allay their fears to some extent when flying over enemy territory when the wireless operator identified an aircraft was coming straight at us from behind closing rapidly and asking me to open fire. I had always been taught to identify your target before opening fire. It was black and I couldn’t see anything and I was still being told to open fire. Just them the pilot lost some altitude as the other aircraft gained some altitude and I was able to see that it was one of our own, a Lancaster. When we returned the skipper said it was a “good show”.
Later in my first tour of duty we were to attach the synthetic oil refinery at Gelsenkirchen, Germany which was still operating. It was heavily defended and we knew it was not going to be “a piece of cake”. Another bad omen was that we had an extra one more airman that night as he needed one more op to finish his tour of duty. Odd bods’ as they are regarded are “bad luck” but the skipper was duty bound to take him. This was to be our last op. As we flew to the target are all hell broke out with heavy flak over the target area. We managed to drop our bombs on target and on leaving the target area the night fighters were waiting. We were an easy target due to the glare of the fires, searchlights and all sorts of pyrotechnic displays that night which made it easier for them to attack. The aircraft was badly damaged and on fire. The skipper told us to “bail out” and I crawled out of the turret and made way to where the airmen were, and about to step out of the door. I landed with my chute over a wall with me on the other side. I’d landed near a reservoir and I started towards the water, but it soon became apparent that people were around; (in fact it was troops who were guarding the reservoir). I hid of course. I did not know this at the time until one shouted “hands hoch” and a riffle being fired. I was escorted to a dug-out a short distance away and later collected by a German policeman."
The aircraft crashed some 100 miles or 150 KM away from the target area and the other crew members were recovered close by the crash site. It appears that Sgt. Hayes bailed out almost over the target, a likely explanation for this was due to his earlier crash in ND583.
Sadly Paul Hayes died on 31st October 2009
Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Herschel Callender Ingram. Apeldoorn (Ugchelen-Heidehof) General Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 4. Grave 299. Son of Herschell Frank and Elizabeth Ingram of Fratton, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.
W/O. John Frederick Lane EPE Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 705. Son of Frederick Manuel and Gertrude Amy Lane, of Battersea, London, England.
Sgt. Frederick Henry Shorter EPE Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 704. Son of John and Matilda Catherine Shorter of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England.
Two Dutch researchers – Jan Kiesbrink and Teunis Nooteboom found the crash site and erected a memorial on behalf of the crew relatives. Sadly not all the relatives could be traced and we would like to appeal for the relatives of the following: Sq/Ldr. Cole, F/O. Craven, P/O. Blakemore, W/O. Lane and Sgt. Hayes to contact us in order that they can be informed of the memorial.
The Dutch researchers have also written a book about this loss and memorial with information received from people who lived in the area at the time of the crash. The publication is hard back and 197 pages – in Dutch only, currently out of print.
Michael Allman has played a large part in the tracing of these crew members and should be congratulated on his efforts to date. Researched by: Michael Allman, Kate Tame, Linda Ibrom and various other parties in order to trace missing relatives for Aircrew Remembered. Acknowledgments: "Broken Wings" from the Netherlands.