15/16.02.1944 No. 76 Squadron Halifax V LL140 MP-A Fl/Sgt. D.A. Eaton
Date: 15/16th February 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 76 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire
Location: Schwerin Lake
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. D.A. Eaton 1319077 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1610 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert S. Becker 1812596 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1467 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey K. Wilson Injured 1394412 RAFVR Age 26. PoW No: 1472 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (2)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. R. Neal 1385050 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 2190 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Charles Harding 1338230 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1470 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Basil Upton 1809229 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt 'Ginger' J.A. Watson 1586049 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1472 Stalag Kopernikus
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 17:30 hrs to attack the heart of Germany, Berlin. 891 aircraft took part in the first raid on the city for more than 2 weeks. This was the largest raid of the whole war on the German capital resulting in the greatest ever tonnage of bombs dropped on the city with 2,642 tons. The city was covered in cloud for most of the raid but the raid still inflicted huge damage to the city with 599 large and 572 medium fires, 1,000 houses and a further 526 wooden barracks also destroyed.
320 people on the ground were killed. The small number of casualties is mainly due to the large scale evacuation which had taken place but a further 260 civilians were reported to have been buried alive - no reports how many of these survived. Some of Berlin's most important industries were also hit including the Siemensstadt area. 59 people were also killed in other area hit by scattered bombs.
The bombers suffered heavily with 48 aircraft being lost. A huge loss of aircrew with 266 killed and a further 54 made PoW.
Halifax LL140 was one of many shot down during this raid. Intercepted during the inbound trip to the target by Hptm. Leopold Fellerer (3) of Stab II./NJG5 with combat taking place at 6,000 mtrs. over the lake, Schweriner at 20:46 hrs.
All the crew baled out but Sgt. Upton, who tragically drowned after falling through the ice covered Schweriner lake. He was standing in for the usual crew member, Sgt Wallis.
Left: Sgt. John Harding (Courtesy Nikki Harding)
Right: Hptm. Leopold Fellerer
(1) The original crew of this aircraft crashed during an air test a few days earlier on the 11th February, when during take off at 11:00 hrs, Halifax LL189 MP-C the port outer engine lost it's coolant and caught fire. The pilot Fl/Sgt. Eaton closed the throttles but was unable to prevent the aircraft from swinging to port - it left the runway at high speed and crashed, slightly injuring Sgt. Becker and Sgt Wallis.
(2) A Fl/Sgt. G.K. Wilson is described on the 76 squadron ORB to be on this aircraft - which is correct. However with information supplied, we incorrectly identified him previously as Fl/Sgt. Kenneth George Wilson - who, although with the same squadron, was an air gunner and killed a few days later on the02nd March 1944 on Halifax III LW629 MP-M. With many thanks to Graham Eaton for pointing out this error.
(3) Hptm. Leopold Fellerer, already a well established ace at this time with 27 kills - survived the war with a total of 35 night kills and a further possible 2 day kills. Other publications list the Luftwaffe pilot as Major Werner Hoffman - he is also credited at shooting down another at exactly the same time.
Above: Squadron Operation record book for the days leading up to and including this loss
Sgt. Eric Basil Upton. Runnymede Memorial Panel 239. Son of Arthur Thomas Upton and Dorothy Upton, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England.
For Nikki Harding, daughter of Sgt. Harding, Graham Eaton, son of Pilot Fl/Sgt. Eaton (Graham correctly advised us on the identification of Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey K. Wilson - June 2017), and for all the relatives of the crew. With thanks for further information to, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2'.