12/13.09.1944 No. 625 Squadron Lancaster III LM512 F/O. Howard N. Cornish
Date: 12/13th September 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 625 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
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.
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 Walsall, 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):