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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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25/26.02.1944 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I LL775 QR-O Fl/Lt. Einarson DFM DFC

Operation: Augsburg

Date: 25/26th February 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL775

Code: QR-O

Base: RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire

Location: Lagarde, North East Luneville, France

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Johann Walter "Wally" Einarson DFC. DFM. J/17276 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Maurice "Maurie" Leonard Worth 1623406 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: P/O. Allan James Collins AUS412112 RAAF Age 27. Killed

Air/Bmr: W/O. P.R. "Barney" Greatrex RAAF Age ? Evaded (2)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Thomas Gill 408367 RAAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Phillip Llewellyn Jones 865682 RAFVR Age 35. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Herbert "Paddy" Rankin DFM. 173840 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 18:17 hrs from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire to to bomb the Man works at Augsburg. 594 aircraft took part including 461 Lancasters, 123 Halifaxes and 10 Mosquitoes. This was the first large raid on this target and the success of this raid was considered as outstanding with clear weather conditions and very light flak defences. The pathfinders ground marking was very accurate and 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the target area.

2,920 houses were destroyed and another 5,000 were damaged resulting in over 85,000 bombed out of their homes. Much of the city was destroyed including 16 churches and 11 hospitals. Over 700 people were killed on the ground and another 2,500 people were injured in what the Germans described as "extreme example of terror bombing". Damage on the second wave caused considerable damage to a important aircraft component factory and also to some former paper and cotton mills that had been taken over by the MAN engineering company.

21 allied aircraft were lost on this raid, 16 Lancasters and 5 Halifaxes although 4 of these losses were due to collisions. 102 aircrew were killed, 43 were made PoW and another 6 were interred in Switzerland.

Lancaster LL775 was intercepted on the outward part of the trip and shot down by Oblt. Wilhelm Engel (3) 3./NJG6 Lagarde, North East Luneville at 21:29 hrs.

Another 61 Squadron Lancaster I was also lost on this raid, that of DV294 QR-K flown by 21 year old F/O. Francis J. Nixon RAFVR killed with all 6 other crew members.

The crew of an Avro Lancaster B Mark I of No. 61 Squadron RAF walk towards their aircraft at Syerston, Nottinghamshire, before taking off for a raid on Hamburg, Germany. (courtesy IWM)

Avro Lancaster B Mark I, DS604 QR-W, of No. 61 Squadron RAF taxying past the windsock at Coningsby, Lincolnshire. (DS604 later joined No. 115 Squadron RAF and was lost over Frankfurt on 10/11 April 1943) (courtesy IWM)

(1) His twin brother, Fl/Sgt. Harold Bjorn Einarson was killed earlier in the war. Flying a Lancaster I R5628 EM-Q, on the 10th September 1942. All crew killed after being shot down and crashing at 04:09 hrs into the North Sea off Thyboron, Denmark.

29th April 1942 piloting Whitley Z6641 with 19 OTU forced to land on a beach at Inver drouth east of Tain. No injuries.

25th July 1943 piloting a Whitley LA878 ZV-A also with 19 OTU ditched ten miles south of Largo Bay in the Firth of Forth while attempting to reach Drem airfield with one engine serviceable. Crew of seven took to their dinghy and were picked up by a trawler at 12:18. Transferred to a naval vessel and taken into Methill.

His DFC Citation published on the 25th January 1944 reads:

"This officer has completed a very large number of sorties including five attacks on Berlin. On the last occasion one night in November 1943, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and sustained damage. Nevertheless, Flying Officer Einarson pressed home his attack. Soon after the bombs had been released, the aircraft was struck, the starboard wing tip and part of the aileron were torn away and the aircraft went into a steep dive. Flying Officer Einarson succeeded in regaining control and afterwards flew safely to an airfield in this country. Throughout his tour of operations this officer has invariably displayed a high degree of skill, courage and determination."

(2) W/O. "Barney" Greatrex managed to escape after parachuting from the aircraft. He joined and fought with the Marquis before returning to England on the 13th October 1944. He described his amazing escape and evasion story in an article he wrote (submitted to us by Richard Mort, nephew of Barney Greatrex)

(3) This was the 11th abscess for Oblt. Wilhelm Engel who went on to claim 20 abschüsse before he was injured flying a Ju88 with his crew mate Uffz. Fux also slightly injured, on the 23/24th February 1945 in the Pforzheim area during an air combat - no further details as to his fate.

Left: Choloy War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Johann Walter Einarson DFC. DFM. Choloy War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.2. Son of Haraldur B. Einarson and Elin Einarson of Wynyard, Saskatchewan, Canada

Sgt. Maurice Leonard Worth. Choloy War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.3. Son of Leonard and Daisy Worth, of Widnes, Lancashire, England.

P/O. Allan James Collins. Choloy War Cemetery. Joint grave 1.G.5-6. Son of Thomas James Collins and Mabel May Collins, of Canterbury, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Reginald Thomas Gill. Choloy War Cemetery. Joint grave 1.G.5-6. Son of Thomas Henry and Violet May Gill, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Phillip Llewellyn Jones. Choloy War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.4. Son of Samuel and Mary Ann Jones, of Cardiff, Wales.

P/O. Herbert Rankin DFM. Choloy War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.1. Son of Hugh and Agnes Rankin, of Dublin, Irish Republic.

Researched for Richard Mort, nephew of Barney Greatrex and Barney himself - still around, aged 94 in 2013. Hoping that we will receive further information / photographs from him soon that we are able to add.

With thanks to sources as shown.

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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