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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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103 Squadron
23/24.02.1945 103 Squadron Lancaster III, RA515, PM:N, Flt.Lt. Reginald F. Dobson

Operation: Pforzheim, Germany

Date: 23rd/24th February 1945 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 103 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial No: RA515

Code: PM:N

Location: 3¼ km south of the target

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, North Lincolnshire, England

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Reginald Frederick Dobson 177257 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

2nd Pilot: WO Ernest Edwin Standing 1335462 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Anthony Keith Parker 1850978 RAFVR Age? Killed

Navigator: Plt.Off. Leo Patrick Curtin 432953 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Plt.Off. Alan Noel Fletcher 420554 RAAF Age 21. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt.Off. William John Milne Baillie 423585 RAAF Age 21. PoW (1)

Mid-Upper Gnr: Sgt. Richard Nolan 1890587 RAFVR Age? Killed

Rear Gnr: Sgt. Derek James Reeves 1890497 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

RA515 took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 15:46 hrs on the 23rd February 1945 to bomb Pforzheim in Germany. The circumstances of the aircraft’s loss were reported to be unknown.

Above left: Image of Plt.Off. Baillie from his service record. Right: As a Flt.Sgt. (Credit: Michael Boyne)

(1) Plt.Off. Baillie in his PoW statement described the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft:

We were on our bomb run at a height of 7000 ft. Collision occurred between our aircraft and another. Other aircraft come in from the starboard side passing under us. Our nose was crunched in and most of the port wing torn off; presumably main petrol fuel line was cut because all the engines stopped just after the collision. H2S scanner was missing, this I noticed when bailing out.

I wasn’t on the intercom at the time of the collision, but switched on immediately it happened, and asked the captain what happened and if we were bailing out. He told me we had collided and we were abandoning the aircraft.

Bomb Aimer and Engineer were in the nose at the time; both were either killed or too injured to move to bail out. No one bailed out prior to my leaving aircraft because they had lost their chutes (Nav and both gunners). I bailed at about 3000 ft. The aircraft was spinning and turning on its back and the incendiaries in bomb bay were burning.

The aircraft crashed about 2 miles south of the target, near where I landed because bushes I landed on were smouldering and ground was very warm. Suffered lacerations to face and forehead either in the aircraft or in the act of bailing out. I presumed that the other members of the crew went down with the aircraft. No contact was made with any of them, nor was any information received about them.

An entry in the Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie, has an unconfirmed report that Lancaster NG266 BH-L from 300 Sqn may have been the aircraft which collided with RA515. Flt.Lt. Filipek and his crew, all members of the Polish Air Force, perished.

Plt.Off. Baillie reported in his War Crimes Questionnaire an attempted lynching by German civilians the day after he was captured at a place named Ettlingen, 22½ km WNW of Pforzheim.

The next day after capture I was taken to a small village about 6 miles NW of the target* (Pzorzheim [sic]) and asked for treatment of my eye and forehead and was taken to a first aid post in the main street by a soldier. After receiving treatment I was taken out into the main street again, where I was attacked by four middle aged men, I managed to knock one down and the guard warded two more off with his rifle, but the fourth one sneaked up behind me with a small milk can and swung it at me, I happened to see it coming out of the corner of my eye and attempted to dodge it, but the corner just caught me on the right side of my head, cutting an inch long wound. Eventually the guard warded all four men off and we proceeded back to my cell.

* Could have been Remchingen or Königsbach-Stein

He was held in the following PoW camps: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt from 29th February until 2nd March; Stalag 13d, Nuremburg from 7th March until 4th April; Stalag 7a, Moosburg from 18th April until 29th April 1945 when he was liberated. He returned to England on the 23rd May 1945.

An investigation appears to have been carried out as there is a file at The National Archives in Kew; WO 309/1980 entitled “Attempted lynching of W J M Baillie (airman) by civilians at Ettlingen, Germany, February 1945”. However, the results of the investigation are unknown.


We have been contacted by Michael Boyne, the Grandson of Plt.Off William J.M. Baille who was affectionately known as "Pop", who tells us that William passed away on the 5th October 2000 and his wife Nan "Betty" on the 3rd January 2013. They had two daughters, Pamela who was Michael’s mother and Margret who both went on to have their own families.


Burial Details:

Flt.Lt. Reginald Frederick Dobson. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Born on the 9th October 1923 in Brentford, Buckinghamshire. Son of Frederick Arthur and Ellen (née Bunce) Dobson, of Broadstairs, Kent, England

WO Ernest Edwin Standing. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Born on the 15th November 1921 in East Preston, Sussex. Son of Herbert and Margaret (née Sarney) Standing, of Littlehampton, Sussex, England

Sgt. Anthony Keith Parker. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. No further details

Plt.Off. Leo Patrick Curtin. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Born 18th December 1924, Murrumburrah, NSW, Australia. Son of Leo Micheal and Mary Irine Rose Curtin, of Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Plt.Off. Alan Noel Fletcher. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Born 2nd December 1920, Miranda, NSW, Australia. Son of Charles John and Pearl Elizabeth Fletcher, of Miranda, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Richard Nolan. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. No further details

Sgt. Derek James Reeves. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Son of James Manley Reeves and Esther Margaret Reeves, of Eastbourne, Sussex

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks to Michael Boyne for the information and image of his grandfather, Plt.Off. Baillie.

RS & TV 25.04.2020 - New image of Plt.Off. Baillie

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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