03/04.12.1943 No 431 Squadron Halifax V LK898 SE-O Sq/Ldr. Cook
Date: 3/4th December 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 431 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Tholthorpe, Yorkshire
Location: Target area
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Robert Geoffrey Cook DFC J/6276 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Galen Wood 1047841 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: P/O. Morley Vivian Snow J/16804 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. Eric Leslie Lister 131168 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert John Brookman 1337041 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Wilfred James Rattigan R/180461 RCAF Age 21.Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Williamson R/186329 RCAF Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
527 aircraft - 307 Lancasters, 220 Halifaxes - to Leipzig. The bomber force took another direct route towards Berlin before turning off to bomb Leipzig.
German fighters were in the bomber stream and scoring successes before the turn was made but most of them were then directed to Berlin when the Mosquito diversion opened there. There were few fighters over Leipzig and only 3 bombers are believed to have been lost in the target area, 2 of them being shot down by flak.
A relatively successful raid, from the point of view of bomber casualties, was spoiled when many aircraft flew by mistake into the Frankfurt defended area on the long southern withdrawal route and more than half of the bombers shot down on this night were lost there. 24 aircraft - 15 Halifaxes, 9 Lancasters - were lost. The Pathfinders found and marked this distant inland target accurately and the bombing was very effective; this was the most successful raid on Leipzig during the war.
A large area of housing and many industrial premises were severely damaged. One place which was hit by a large number of bombs was the former World Fair exhibition site, whose spacious buildings had been converted to become war factories, the largest buildings being taken over by the Junkers aircraft company.
Thought to have been brought down by flak, no night fighter claims identified for LK898. The Squadron lost 4 crews on this operation, the others:
Halifax V EB137 SE-N Flown by 20 year old, Fl/Sgt. Francis Albert Long 1335994 RAFVR killed with all 6 other crew.
Halifax V LK685 SE-C Flown by W/O 2 Robert William Ritchie R/119578 RCAF killed - remaining 6 crew PoW.
Halifax V LK968 SE-P Flown by 23 year old, F/O. Alexander William Edgar J/24430 RCAF killed with 2 other crew, 4 taken PoW.
(1) Snow Island in Shannon Lake, Manitoba, Canada was named P/O. Morley Vivian Snow after in 1995
Sq/Ldr. Robert Geoffrey Cook DFC. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.Z.23. Son of William Hamilton and Marguerite Agnes Cook of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “They Shall See His Face And His Name It Shall Be Engraved On Their Foreheads”.
Sgt. Galen Wood. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.Z.22. Son of Job Henry and Emma Wood of Bentley, Doncaster, Yorkshire, England.
P/O. Morley Vivian Snow. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.Z.26-27. Son of Vivian M. Snow and Evelyn Mary Pearl Snow of East Kildonan, Manitoba, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "And While He Sleep In Peaceful Sleep, His Memory We Shall Always Keep”.
Fl/Lt. Eric Leslie Lister. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.Z.26-27. The son of Edward Leslie and Daisy Victoria Lister and brother of Maisie and Daisy Beatrice (Betty) of Sandgate, Kent. His parents owned a hotel in Sandgate. Left college before going to Cranwell and the RAF with time at RAF Driffield in November 1942 (Eric’s brother LAC Edwin Lister 577769 RAF was killed serving with 462 Squadron RAAF in Tripoli on the 20th April 1943 (see notes). It is believed that Fl/Lt. Lister was posted from 1664 HCU along with Sq/Ldr. Cook and the rest of the crew and joining 431 squadron as a unit. They had only flown one previous op as a crew in Halifax Mark V LK 905 SE-D to Frankfurt on November 25th 1943 prior to this their final operation. Grave inscription reads: “In Proud And Treasured Memory Of Our Son, In Gods Keeping, Till We Meet Again”.
Sgt. Herbert John Brookman. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.Z.25. Son of Arthur John and Helen Frances Mary Brookman of Wing, Buckinghamshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “He Is Not Dead, But Sleeping”.
Sgt. Wilfred James Rattigan. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.Z.24. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William James Rattigan of Sleeman, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son Who Gave His Life That Peace Be Won”.
Sgt. Jack Williamson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.Z.21. Understood to be from Muncey, Ontario, Canada.
Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Linda Ibrom in June 2017 with thanks to Maisie Edwards (née Lister) sister of the pilot, Simon Toynbee and Caroline Hooper, Bill Heron (‘A Yorkshire Squadron,The History of 431 RCAF Squadron’) Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details.
Halifax II BB325 was being ‘bombed up’ at Gardabia Main in preparation for a night operation. It appears that the bomb dropped from the bay and exploded - killing some 12 airman at the base. It is thought the following were amongst the casualties:
34 year old, Cpl. George Thomas Atkinson 1112942 RAFVR. Son of James Nelson Atkinson and Florence Marion Atkinson, of South Shields, Co. Durham and husband of Esther Atkinson (née Stephenson), of South Shields, England.
20 year old, LAC. Thomas Boan 1551256 RAFVR. Son of William and Elizabeth Boan, of Catrine, Ayrshire, Scotland.
22 year old, AC 1. Victor Courtney 1557703 RAFVR. Son of Joseph and Elizabeth Courtney, of Liverpool, England.
38 year old, LAC. Henry Dyne 1204592 RAFVR. Son of Frederick and Agnes Dyne.
LAC Edwin Roland Lister 577769 RAF. Son of Edward Leslie and Daisy Victoria Lister and brother of Maisie and Daisy Beatrice (Betty) of Sandgate, Kent, England.
25 year old, Sgt. William Henry Mason 525479 RAF. Son of Henry and Elizabeth Mason.
18 year old, LAC. Truman Joseph Merricks 1299118 RAFVR. Son of John and Annie Merricks and husband of Joyce Kathleen Merricks, of Hockley. Birmingham, England.
27 year old, LAC. John Scott 994763 RAFVR. Son of James and Jane Scott and husband of Constance Jessie Scott, of Wolvercote, Oxford, England.
35 year old, LAC. Peter Thomas Robert Spry 1279389 RAFVR. Son of Thomas R. Spry and Mary Spry, of Westminster, London, England.
LAC. Robert Gray Thompson 1551979 RAFVR. No further details.
22 year old, LAC. Joseph Roy Watts 1352287 RAFVR. Son of Thomas and Ellen Watts, of Porthcawl, Glamorgan, Wales.