02/03.12.1943 No. 460 Squadron (RAAF) Lancaster I W4881 AR-K P/O. James Herbert John English D.F.C.
Operation: Berlin, Germany
Date: 2/3 December 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron (RAAF)
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Location: Paderdamm, Göttin, Brandenburg, Germany
Pilot: P/O. James Herbert John English D.F.C. Aus/413843 Age 27 Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. W.L. Miller 1058755 PoW No. 267176 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg - Elbe - 4B (2)
Nav: P/O. Neville Jack Anderson Aus/24541 Age 23 PoW No. 1750 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang - L1 (3)
Air/Bmr: F/Sgt. Arthur Wellesley Catty 1585325 PoW No. 267152 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg - Elbe - 4B (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur George Cole 1311910 RAFVR Age 21 Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Fl/Sgt. Ivan Rodin R92002 RCAF Age 22 Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): F/Sgt. Alexander Elias Kan Aus/409716 Age 24 Killed (7)
War Correspondent: Mr Norman Stockton Age 40 Killed (8)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire at 16.44hrs on a mission to bomb Berlin.
The aircraft carried the following bomb load: 1 x 4000lb HC, 48 x 30lb Incendiaries, 720 x 4lb Incendiaries, 120 x 4lb Incendiaries 'X' filled.
Route as per RAF Night Raid Report: Bases - Mablethorpe - 5250N 0330E - 5235N 0440E - 5238N 1004E - 5236N 1220E - Berlin - 5230N 1350E - 5255N 1350E - 5238N 1004E 5235N 0440E 5250N 0330E - Mablethorpe - Bases.
The aircraft carried the following Special Equipment: IFF, Gee, Boozer - see abbreviations
A force of 458 aircraft comprised of 425 Lancasters, 15 Halifaxes and 18 Mosquitoes was sent on this the fifth heavy bombing raid on Berlin within a fortnight. The winds experienced differed considerably in direction from those forecast. Most crews failed to notice this change and basing their calculations on the original forecast were blown many miles south of the intended route thus arriving late over the target. Only a few of the Blind Markers recognised the start point of Rathenow and in the resulting confusion the Red TIs were scattered over a wide area to the south of Berlin. By coincidence there was a concentration of Red TIs 5-8 miles south east of the aiming point and this attracted most of the Backers Up and inevitable a great proportion of the main force which bombed over an area of 15 square miles centred many miles south east of the target area. Zero hour was 20.06 hrs and pathfinders scheduled to start at zero-2. Though main force bombing was scheduled from zero + 3 to zero + 18, due to the windy conditions the bombing continued well beyond this with aircraft reporting bombing as late as 20.49 hrs. A total of 1500 tons of bombs was dropped on Berlin during the raid.
Weather conditions over Berlin were generally good with thin low strata and clear patches. Visibility was moderate, the moon below the horizon.
Photographic statistics on the night showed 169 aircraft plotted off the target area and none plotted in the target area: moreover there was no photographic evidence to show that any aircraft bombed within the target area.
Photographic reconnaissance was not carried out until after the following raid on Berlin i.e. the 16/17th December 1943, thus the resultant damage shown was that inflicted by the first six raids of the Battle of Berlin. However it is known that the raid of 2/3 December included damage to two Siemens factories, a ball bearing factory and some railway installations.
In the Berlin area hundreds of searchlights were in operation many of them in blocks, the flak was heavy and additionally many light flak guns were in operation attempting to shoot down the pathfinder flares as they fell. From 50 miles out the way to Berlin was brightly lit by fighter flares, these extending right to the city itself where scores of fighters were massed.
361 aircraft reported bombing the primary target and 14 alternative targets. A total of 43 aircraft aborted the mission, 31 due to technical problems, 6 due to icing, 4 due to crew sickness and 2 due to being late. A somewhat high percentage, 8.7% of the total force, i.e. 40 aircraft, were lost including 9 due to fighters outbound, 5 more to fighters over the target and 5 to flak over the target whilst others are thought to have succumbed to flak as they flew over defended towns and to controlled fighters on the homebound journey.
Four of the aircraft taking part in the raid that night each carried a war correspondent, among them the celebrated Journalist and Broadcaster Edward (Ed) R. Murrow. He and fellow American 23 year old Lowell Bennett of International News Services both flew on aircraft of 50 Squadron whilst Norwegian Johan Nordahl Brun Grieg a 41 year old journalist for the Daily Mail and Australian Norman Stockton, 40, a journalist for Australian Associated News (specifically the Sydney Sun), flew with aircraft of 460 Squadron (RAAF). Johan Grieg was aboard Lancaster LM316 piloted by Australian F/O A.R. Mitchell whilst Norman Stockton flew with P/O. English and the crew of Lancaster W4881.
Courtesy Australian War Memorial
Somewhere in Australia NORMAN STOCKTON Australian War Correspondent (far right) interviews General Scanlon, USA Air Chief of the area with Captain Kennedy and Captain Marburgh of the General's Air Staff.
Johan Nordahl Brun Grieg pictured during the war Edward R. (Ed) Murrow pictured in 1947
Twenty five Lancasters of 460 Squadron were designated to take part in this raid on Berlin. Taking off at one minute intervals twelve aircraft were already airborne when W4881 took off from RAF Binbrook at 16.44hrs. Captain of the aircraft was Australian P/O. James Herbert John English a 27 year old teacher from Thirroul New South Wales and veteran of 28 previous operational missions. His crew were equally experienced: Navigator Jack Anderson had also flown 28 missions, Air Bomber Arthur Catty, Wireless Operator Arthur Cole, Air Gunners Alexander Kan and Ivan Rodin had each completed 27, whilst Flight Engineer Sergeant W. Miller had 26 missions to his credit.
Although the crew reports make no mention of them, the aircraft seems to have come to grief immediately after running into the area where fighter flares were being deployed: in his report F/Sgt. Arthur Catty, the Bomb Aimer, describes what happened next.
' 50M outside Berlin when attacked by 2 night fighters and they shot away our tail plane and killed Cole and Rodin. Caught again (in the tanks?) port wing on fire and leaking. The escape hatch wouldn't open and we were spinning down with no way out. However petrol tank exploded and blew the nose off the plane and threw Dusty, Andy and me into the air. We pulled our chutes and down we went. I was pitched up in a small village. Bob Thomas shot down same night but was killed.'
( The only person of this name shot down on the raid was W/O. Robert Kyffin Thomas Aus/416296 Age 34 the Bomb Aimer on Lancaster JB472 of 103 Squadron. He is buried at Becklingen War Cemetery in Germany )
In his Repatriation Report to No. 11 (RAAF) PDRC Brighton F/O. Jack Anderson recalls the events of that night:
'Running 10 minute broken fight with night fighters fatal burst from underneath causing fires Incendiaries in Bomb bay and Port Inner Tank A/C later afire astern also - No order to abandon A/C was given only words from Pilot "Stick with it boys". My sincere belief that pilot was endeavouring to crash A/C on target but it was too well ablaze. Port side tailplane burnt off A/C went into spiral dive then "something" (Probably P.I. Tank) blew up and I was blown out. Rear Gunner (F/Sgt. Kan A.E.) shot in legs in first attack and unable to leave turret as doors jammed - unable to help him as evasive action too violent to move back. Also hoping to shake off fighter F/Engineer Sgt. Miller A. (RAF) nicked on leg by bullet but blown out too and O.K. Bomb Aimer F/Sgt, Catty A. (RAF) also blown out. Blown out at approx. 17000' when A/C was on fire in uncontrollable spiral dive. A/C crashes approx. 12 miles S.E. of Groningen. My belief that Pilot (who had an outstanding fighting spirit) hung on too long trying to finish the job after the time we should have abandoned aircraft.'
After landing safely with only 'Superficial wounds and bruises on right foot' he then 'Walked about 9 hours (approx 12 M in direct line) - Rested in deserted pigsty - Sighted and taken into custody trying to pass through Groningen in light misty weather'.
He adds that Flight Sergeant A Miller was captured with him and Fl/Sgt. Catty was also known to have been taken prisoner.
As for the others he says that:
'PILOT P/O. J.H. ENGLISH (RAAF) - probably killed in a/c when it crashed or was blown out but I am practically positive that he did not have his parachute on.
WAR CORRES. CPT. N. STOCKTON: Cannot understand why he did not "Get away with it" as he had "SYDNEY SUN" - his parachute on and the last I saw of him he apparently was O.K. up to time of going into spiral. Didn't see him afterwards.
M.U.G. F/SGT. RODIN I. (RCAF) - Did not hear from him after last burst from Fighter. Probably killed in turret.
R.G. F/SGT. KAN A.E. (RAAF) Probably died in Turret either at time, of last attack or killed when a/c crashed.'
He says that the aircraft crashed '12 miles S.E. of Groningen (small Place N. of Brandenburg in the Province of Mark Brandenberg).'
Approaching from the direction of Berlin the Lancaster circled Göttin and exploded on impact at the cross roads near Paderdamm
The Missing Research and Enquiry Unit Report of 13 January 1947 tells of the final moments of the crash and the aftermath as follows:
The aircraft was seen by the Goettin (sic) Cemetery keeper coming from the direction of Berlin, burning fiercely. It circled Goettin and exploded on impact at the small village of Paderdamm at the cross roads leading to Brandenburg N53 Z2834, Belzig N53 Z3204, Pruetzke N53 Z3328 and Goettin N53 Z2729. The aircraft was scattered over a wide area.
The Goettin Cemetery keeper stated that two of the bodies were blown into the Gemeinde (i.e. Commune or township) of Goettin and three into the Gemeinde of Pruetzke. Two parachuted to safety. Your Casualty Enquiry however gives three as being safe F/O Anderson, W/O Catty and F/S Miller.
In Goettin the Cemetery Records had been destroyed but the two relevant graves were found in the cemetery there. The graves were tidily kept with the traditional fern branch decoration. Frau Tiele, a local inhabitant looked after them during the war and decorated them this and preceding "Totensonntag" (Memorial Sundays). Totensonntag is the Sunday after Advent.
In Pruetzke the following entry was found in the Cemetery Records: Cole S.G. "Funker" or W/A.G. Kan Sgt. and unknown RAF crashed 3.12.1943 at Paderdamm and buried 4.12.1943.
The graves were again tidily kept and had been decorated this Totensonntag.
Exhumation Report Pruetzke Cemetery.
On body 2 RAAF. B/D was found and an A/G's brevet, proving it to be the body of F/S Kan the only Australian A/G in the crew.
On body 3 Sgts chevrons were found also "sparks" and an A.G. brevet proving it to be the body of Sgt. Cole and the W/A.G.
The tunic on body 1 also had an A/G's brevet on it, making it the body of W/O 2 Rodin the third A.G. in the crew.
Exhumation Report Goettin Cemetery: In grave 2 RAAF B/D a pilot's brevet and P/O's braid was found proving it to be the body of the captain of the aircraft F/O. English. By elimination the body in Grave 2 wearing a Khaki shirt, red pullover and canvas flying suit, is the body of War Correspondent Captain Stockton.
Bodies reburied at Berlin/Heerestrasse.
Of the four War Correspondents who set out on the mission only Ed Murrow returned. As well as Norman Stockton, killed on board Lancaster W4881, Johan Grieg and all the crew of Lancaster LM316 were killed when the aircraft was brought down by flak and crashed at Machnower See at Kleinmachnow between Potsdam and Berlin. Lowell Bennett on board Lancaster DV325 was however, rather more fortunate: shot down over the target area by a fighter, he and the crew baled out: two of them were killed and the rest taken prisoner. Lowell Bennett spent the next eighteen months in Stalag Luft 1. After his release in 1945 he wrote of his experiences in his book 'Parachute to Berlin' now sadly out of print.
Ed Murrow arrived back in England reportedly badly shaken by his experience. The next day he made a 17 minute broadcast for CBS that took his American listeners with him on the mission to Berlin. Dubbed "Orchestrated Hell" the broadcast stands the test of time and evoking a feeling of the fear, trepidation, raw courage and the love for each other felt by those young heroes who flew into that hell night after night after night. It is well worth 17 minutes of your time, to listen to it Click here
(1) P/O. Officer James Herbert John English D.F.C. - Born 8 July 1921 at Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia the son of James Charles Joseph English and Eileen Susan Amilda English nee McPhail. A teacher by profession he lived at 22 Phillip Street, Thirroul, New South Wales and enlisted at Sydney 13 September 1941. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (As announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette 28 March 1944) and with effect from 28 November 1943: the citation reads: 'For skill and courage in operations against the enemy'. The medal was presented to his father by the Governor General of Australia at Admiralty House, Sydney on 23 July 1945.
(2) Sgt. W.L. Miller - Nothing further known, can you assist?
(3) F/O. Neville Jack Anderson D.F.C. - Born 29 December 1919 at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia the son of Nils Anderson and May Marion Anderson nee Hazlehurst. Prior to enlisting at Brisbane on 27 January 1941 he worked as a Law Clerk. Promoted to Flying - Officer whilst a prisoner of war. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (As announced in the supplement to the London Gazette 15 August 1944): the citation reads: 'For skill and fortitude in operations against the enemy'. He was discharged on demobilisation 26 September 1945. After the war he qualified as a Solicitor and lived at View Street, Enoggera, Brisbane, Australia. He suffered from Emphysema and died at Brisbane from Stomach Cancer (probably in 1975).
(4) Fl/Sgt. Arthur Wellesley Catty - Born 25 December 1906 at Wandsworth, London the son of Samuel Rayner Catty, a Newspaper Traveller and Alice Maud Catty. He married Ivy M Barnes at Kensington, London in 1964 and died at Fulham, London in 1986 aged 80.
(5) Sgt. Arthur George Cole - Born at Pennington, Hampshire 1922 son of Arthur Cole and Annie T. Cole nee Smith.
(6) W/O2. Ivan Rodin - Born at Calgary, Alberta, Canada 26 April 1921 the son of Constantine Rodin and Domna Rodin nee Weber of Cloverdale, British Columbia, Canada. Enlisted 1940.
(7) Fl/Sgt. Alexander Elias Kan (MID) - Born at Whitechapel, London, England on 22 September 1919 the son of Hartog Kan and Rachel Kan nee Santen. A tobacco worker, he lived at 322 Barkley Street, Elwood S3, Melbourne and enlisted at Melbourne 10 October 1941. Promoted to Sergeant on 25 June 1942 he embarked Sydney on 24 August and on arrival in the UK on 18 November 1942 was posted to RAF Station Bournemouth. Promoted to Flight Sergeant 25 December he was posted to 7 Air Gunnery School on 16 January 1943, 20 Operational Training Unit on 2 March, 1656 Conversion Unit on 20 May and ultimately to 460 Squadron on 25 June 1943. Flight Sergeant Kan was Mentioned in Dispatches the letter and Certificate being sent to his father on 19 October 1944.
(8) Mr. Norman Stockton - Born at Mulline, Western Australia 20 March 1904 the son of Charles of Carisbrooke, Victoria, Australia and Maud Stockton nee Edwards of New Zealand. Norman Stockton married first Jean Atherton of Cairns, Queensland, Australia in 1935 and second Maree Patience Eccleston Bishop (known as Pat) in 1937. Norman and Maree Stockton lived at Elwood, Victoria. He was an editor with the Hong Kong Telegraph and later Chief Correspondent Far East for the London Daily Express during the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 when he covered the Japanese side of operations in South China. For a brief period in 1942 he was war correspondent attached to General MacArthur's General Headquarters South West Pacific Area and later that year became the London representative of the Sydney Sun newspaper where he covered the London Blitz. He was later assigned to 460 Squadron (RAAF) by the Sydney Sun.
P/O. James Herbert John English D.F.C. - buried at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany - Grave No. 8. K. 11
Sgt. Arthur George Cole - buried at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany - Grave No. 8. K. 9
W/O. Class II. Ivan Rodin - buried at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany - Grave No. 8. K. 7
Fl/Sgt. Alexander Elias Kan (MID) - buried at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany - Grave No. 8. K. 8
Mr. Norman Stockton (War Correspondent) - buried at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - Grave No. 8. K. 10
Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Roy Wilcock - June 2015. Sources: RAF Loss Card, Bomber Command Report on Night Operations, Commonwealth Graves Commission, National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial.