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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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44 Squadron Crest
17.04.1942 No. 44 Squadron Lancaster I R5510 KM-A F/O. Arthur John Garwell DFM. DFC

Operation: Augsburg (Operation Margin)

Date: 17th April 1942 (Friday - Day operation!)

Unit: No. 44 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5510

Code: KM-A

Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire

Location: 3 KM West Augsburg, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Arthur John Garwell 65503 DFM. DFC. RAFVR PoW No: 117 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Laurence Laver Dando 778173 DFM. RAFVR PoW No: 150 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6)

Nav: Sgt. Frank Skipwith Kirke DFM. NZ/39864 RNZAF PoW No: 165 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. James Watson DFM. 999623 RAFVR PoW No: 186 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert James Flux DFM. 646896 RAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Douglas Haig McAlpine R/68396 RCAF Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ivor Edwards 1168677 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


We are in contact with the son of the pilot (Arthur Garwell) - further information / photographs will shortly be added - January 2017. He is very keen to hear from relatives of John Cordwell who had been in touch with his father post war, having served together at Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria. (further research continues with his PoW days)


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off on a daylight operation at 15:12 hrs. to bomb the MAN diesel factory at Augsburg (Codename - Operation Margin). The factory was a major producer for engines used in the U Boats. A diversionary raid by some 30 Bostons was put in place together with dozens of fighter squadron sorties to protect the 12 Lancasters from 44 and 97 squadrons. Sadly, this never happened, it only encouraged the Luftwaffe up and right into the path of the oncoming Lancasters.

Each aircraft was loaded with 1,154 gallons of fuel (maximum load) with 4 x 1000 lb. bombs.

97 Squadron’s six Lancasters were following behind, conserving precious fuel, so were mostly unhindered by the fighters although two were brought down by the vicious flak.

Four of the six 44 Squadron Lancasters were brought down by the Luftwaffe, the two remaining Lancasters from 44 continued with the low level attack.

The aircraft flown by Sq/ Cdr John Nettleton and F/O. Garwell were the first to hit the target. They approached from south then made their bomb run from the east. The factory showed up clearly but they immediately met light flak and both Lancasters were hit repeatedly. Nettleton climbed to drop his bombs then started evasive action. Garwell followed but, after dropping his bombs, the Lancaster was hit.

The fuselage to the rear of the cockpit was totally ablaze. Garwell crash-landed the Lancaster some 3 km west of the target, he and three of his crew survived, but the other three crew members died. The only remaining Lancaster from 44 squadron flown by Sq/Ldr. Nettleton, although also hit by flak, managed to return to England. He was to receive the VC for his efforts this night with many other awards going to many other crew members of other aircraft.

Above and below: Photographs as described - we are currently researching the chaps shown in these wonderful photographs sent in by John Garwell - January 2017, all have a story to be told! And they will be! L-R: John D. Cordwell, F/O. Arthur John Garwell, Davidson, Hamilton, F/O. Ronald Frank Jessop, Fl/Lt. Van Toen, F/O. Ronald Robert Mitchell. Front: ?, ?, W/O. William Richard Samson, P/O. Arnold Stanley Meara DFC. May 1943

Notes from these Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria photographs;

W/O. William Richard Samson 110660 RAFVR PoW No: 128. 405 Squadron Wellington WR5390 LQ-X - 14th April 1942 on an operation to Dortmund. (All 5 crew taken PoW)
Fl/Lt. Reginald Van Toen 48110 RAFVR PoW No: 39675. 10 OTU Whitley V BD201 ZG-L - 26th June 1942 on an operation to Bremen. (4 of the crew taken PoW, 1 killed)
F/O. Ronald Robert Mitchell 80082 RAFVR PoW No: 868. 44 Squadron Lancaster I R5666 KM-F - 17th December 1942 on operation to Nienburg. (5 of the crew taken PoW, 2 others killed) Commissioned on 05th March 1941.
F/O. Ronald Frank Jessop DFM 121528 RAFVR PoW No 549 25 OTU Wellington Ic DV434 - 02nd June 1942 on operation to Essen. (5 of the crew taken PoW, 1 other killed)
John D. Cordwell RAF (approx 1941)
P/O. Arnold Stanley Meara DFC 115989 RAFVR PoW No: 771 106 Squadron Lancaster I W4771 - 16th October 1942 on an operation to Köln. (4 crew taken PoW, 3 killed)

Right photo: Davidson and F/O. Arthur John Garwell taken at Stalag Luft February 1944 (courtesy John Garwell)

The others lost from 44 Squadron:

Lancaster I L7536 KM-H Flown by 29 year old Sgt. George Thomas Rhodes 938642 RAFVR from Leeds, Yorkshire, England - killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I L7565 KM-V Flown by 22 year old W/O. John Frank Beckett DFM 120331 RAFVR from Oxford, England - killed with all 6 other crew
Lancaster I R5506 KM-P Flown by 24 year old Fl/Lt. Reginald Robert Sandford DFC 42380 RAF from Twickenham, Middlesex, England - Killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I L7548 KM-T Flown by W/O. Hubert Victor Crum DFM RAFVR - taken PoW with all other 6 crew. (Hubert Crum died on the 16th November 1990 age 77. His brother Sub-Lt. George Edward Crum RNVR was killed during training in the USA, HMS Saker on the 22nd June 1943.)

Notes: F/O. Arthur John Garwell DFM. DFC. had two earlier lucky escapes:
On Sunday 3rd November 1940 - Whilst with 83 Squadron out of RAF Scampton, piloting Hampden I P4381, crashed at low level after banking at low level at 12:30 hrs, flying into a tree. just a mile from Fiskerton.
Saturday/Sunday 09/10th November 1940 - Whilst with 83 Squadron taking off at 01:35 hrs piloting Hampden X2964 OL-X on an operation to Lorient, crashed during take off, out of control hit a Nissan hut. His crew all survived unhurt - two of them, Sgt. Kirke and Sgt. Flux served with him on this Lancaster R5510.

(1) F/O. Arthur John Garwell - Further information (sent in by his son, John): Born on 7th February 1920 in Hexham, Northumberland, England - only son of Arthur and Sarah Garwell.

Joined RAF Volunteer Reserve in May 1939 - Posted to 83 Squadron flying Hamdens out of RAF Scampton in Sept 1940 - Completed a full tour of operations - Posted as a flying instructor (No 25 OTU) at Finningly and awarded the DFM. - Joined the 'Intensive Flying (Lancaster) Flight at Boscombe Down in Nov 1941 - Promoted to Flight Lieutenant in 1942 and posted to 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington - Shot down at Augsburg on the 17th April 1942 - interned at Stalag Luft III - Awarded the DFC. - Escaped with 25 others in 1943 - re-captured after one day and held in solitary confinement for 56 days (12 June to 8 August) - Liberated in May 1945 after the 'Long March' from Sagan to Lubeck.

Re-joined H.M. Customs and Excise in 1947 (Investigation Dept.) - Joined East African Customs and Excise in 1957 - moved to Mombasa and then Nairobi - Became head of Customs and Excise for East Africa (until Kenyan Independence) - Became a Kenyan citizen in 1964 - Established a business growing and supplying mushrooms to the hotel trade - Died in March 1969 aged 49, apparently of a sudden heart attack when running after his dog - Left a widow in Kenya and two sons in the UK.

(2) Sgt. Dando is understood to be from Southern Rhodesia.

DFC and DFM Citations - London Gazette 05th June 1942: On I7th April, 1942, Flying Officer Garwell, Warrant Officer Kirke and Sergeants Dando and Watson were members of the crew of a Lancaster aircraff which took part in the daring daylight attack on Augsburg, involving a flight of some 1,000 miles across enemy territory. Soon after crossing the enemy's coast their aircraft was damaged in a running fight with 25 to 30 enemy fighters. Despite this they pressed on until the target area was reached. In the face of fierce and accurate anti-aircraft fire which further damaged the bomber and set it on fire the bombs were released on the objective. The task accomplished, it was necessary to make a forced landing in a field some 2 miles from the target. In the most harassing circumstances this very gallant crew displayed great fortitude and skill which has set a magnificent example.

DFM Citation Fl/Sgt. Robert James Flux - London Gazette 18th July 1941 - awarded his DFM whilst with 83 Squadron.

Burial details:

Initially buried locally at Augsburg - reinterred after the war at Durnbach.

Fl/Sgt. Robert James Flux DFM. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. grave 6.G.7-15. Son of Fredrick William and Lottie Flux, of Maybush, Southampton, England.

Fl/Sgt. Douglas Haig McAlpine. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. grave 6.G.7-15. Son of Edwin Fletcher McAlpine and Kathleen McAlpine of London, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Ivor Edwards. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.G.6. Son of Joseph and Mary Edwards, of Newbridge, Monmouthshire, Wales.

For further details our thanks to John Garwell - son of the pilot. Other sources as quoted.

KTY 14.01.2017 Further details/photographs added

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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