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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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625 Squadron Crest
12/13.09.1944 No. 625 Squadron Lancaster III LM512 F/O. Howard N. Cornish

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 12/13th September 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 625 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM512

Code: CF-M (note)

Base: RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire

Location: Near Sessenheim, France

Pilot: F/O. Howard Norman Cornish 417807 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Pilot 2: P/O. David Samuel Tointon 177849 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Herbert Ross 1877036 RAFVR Age 37. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Richard Edward Leslie Askie RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ronald George Evans RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/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

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)

It is not clear what caused LM512 to crash. Some reports state that it was hit by German flak, near Stathmothen and then collided with another Lancaster from 622 Squadron NF965 GI-S flown by F/O. George W. Owen with the loss of all 7 crew. Others that it collided after taking evasive action.

It is clear that these two aircraft did collide and exploded in the air at around 20:00 hrs. Both aircraft falling some two miles north east of Sessenheim. The Germans removed all the aircraft debris at the time.

Left 2: P/O. 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 Fl/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 F/O. 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.

Note: Some publications list this aircraft as CF-H.

Burial details:

F/O. Howard Norman Cornish. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Son of Henry Denant Cornish and Esther Caroline Cornish, of Gumeracha, South Australia.

P/O. David Samuel Tointon. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Samuel John and Constance Tointon, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. NEXT OF KIN DETAILS UNDER REVIEW!

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.

Fl/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 Walsal, England.

Fl/Sgt. James Watkins Douglas. Sessenheim Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. 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. Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 5", Les Allison and Harry Hayward - "They Shall Grow Not Old", Commonwealth Graves Commission. Also, thanks to Tony Smith who advised us of the correct squadron code letters for this aircraft - April 2016.

Letters from Sgt. O'Connor (courtesy Michel Beckers):

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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