12/13.09.1944 625 Squadron Lancaster III LM512 Fg Off. Howard N. Cornish
Date: 12th/13th September 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: 625 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire
Location: Near Sessenheim, France
Pilot: Fg Off. Howard Norman Cornish 417807 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Pilot 2: Plt Off. David Samuel Tointon 177849 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Charles Herbert Ross 1877036 RAFVR Age 37. Killed
Nav: Flt Sgt. Richard Edward Leslie Askie RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Ronald George Evans RAFVR Age 21. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. James Watkins Douglas 424566 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Robert Grainger Barker 2220930 RAFVR Age? Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Bryant O'Connor 1629068 RAFVR Age? Killed
* Originally reported as CF:M, however this is a misinterpretation of the Loss card. The Squadron/aircraft code has been confirmed from the Flight Log Book of Stanley Beecroft who was a Gunner who has flown on LM512 on a number of missions.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18:34 hrs from RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire joining a total bomber force of 378 Lancasters. Instructions to the crews were made that they should fly low at around 3,000 ft. to avoid radar and also instructed to follow a strict radio silence during the run in.
Sgt. Arthur Bryant O'Connor second from left and possible crew whilst with 1662 HCU. Taken at RAF Blyton in the summer of 1944 (courtesy Anmacd see credits, for Aircrew Remembered)
LM512 or 622 Sqn Lancaster NF965 GI:S, flown by Fg Off. George W. Owen with the loss of all 7 crew, was claimed by Hptm. Gerhard Friedrich, his 15th Abschuss, from Stab I./NJG6 NE of Strasbourg at 5.100 m at 22:46 hrs. Note: Both aircraft also believed to have collided and crashed at 22:50 hrs. OKL Crash reports for the 12th September 1944 state cause of loss of NF965: "Nachjäger". (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten)
Both aircraft falling some two miles north east of Sessenheim. The Germans removed all the aircraft debris at the time.
Left 2: Plt Off. David Samuel Tointon (courtesy Tessa Sheridan) and right 2: Sgt. Arthur Bryant O'Connor (courtesy Anmacd and Michael Beckers)
Identification of the bodies proved difficult as the Germans insisted that they be buried without coffins and the crews of both aircraft were mixed, proving positive identification very difficult to the inquiry officer from the RAF inquiry Unit in May 1947. It is for this reason the crews from both aircraft share some of the same graves.
Another 625 squadron Lancaster was also lost this night:
Lancaster I LM103 CF:N flown by Flt Lt. Robert Banks 147209 RAFVR killed along with all his 6 other crew members.
622 Squadron also lost another crew on this operation:
Lancaster I LM291 GI:F flown by Fg Off. Edward D. Alexander 37691 RAAF killed along with all his 6 other crew members.
Regarding the raid itself, which took place later that night, the rescue effort for the bombing of the city was hampered as the fire crews and rescue teams were away in Darmstadt - covering the city for the previous night's raid by the allies. The bombing caused severe damage and a troop train was also hit. 470 people were killed on the ground including over 170 people taking shelter in the Bockenheim district.
Fg Off. Howard Norman Cornish. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Born on the 21st January 1923 in Gumeracha, South Australia. Son of Henry Denant Cornish and Esther Caroline Cornish, of Gumeracha, South Australia.
Plt Off. David Samuel Tointon. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Samuel John and Constance Tointon from Spalding, Lincolnshire, England.
Sgt. Charles Herbert Ross. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 6. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William James Ross. Husband of Winifred Lilian May Ross, of Chelmsford, Essex, England.
Flt Sgt. Richard Edward Leslie Askie. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 10. Son of Richard and Hilda Askie, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England. Husband of Gladys Florence Askie, of Edmonton.
Sgt. Ronald George Evans. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 12-14. Son of George Henry and Maude Edith Evans, of Walsall, Staffordshire, England. Husband of Edna May Evans, of Walsall, England.
Flt Sgt. James Watkins Douglas. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Born 14th July 1924 in Strathfield, New South Wales. Son of James Watkins Douglas and Sarah Elizabeth Douglas, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Robert Grainger Barker. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 12-14. No further details as yet, are you able to assist?
Sgt. Arthur Bryant O'Connor. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 12-14. No further details as yet, are you able to assist?
Researched by a volunteer (Anmacd - who has requested his correct name not be used) for Aircrew Remembered. Page dedicated to relatives of the crew. Acknowledgements: With thanks also to Michel Beckers for additional photographs on Sgt. Arthur O'Connor. Thanks to Tony Smith who advised us of the correct squadron code letters for this aircraft (Apr 2016). Thanks to Mike Gould for confirmation of the Squadron/Aircraft code (Jun 2021). Correction to loss information by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2021).
Letters from Sgt. O'Connor (courtesy Michel Beckers):