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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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514 Squadron Crest
21.11.1944 No. 514 Squadron Lancaster I PD265 JI-G F/O. Geoffrey France

Operation: Homberg, Germany

Date: 21st November 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 514 Squadron

Type: Lancaster 1

Serial No: PD265

Code: JI-G

Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire

Location: Moers, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Geoffrey C. France 179705 RAFVR Age ? PoW: ? Camp: 6J (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Peter Andrew Gosnold 1891510 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: F/O. Frederick J. Eisberg 161585 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 6876 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang.

Air/Bmr: F/O. Kenneth Hubert Barker J/29701 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald William Harding 1705084 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Peter Coles 1894366 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Peter Slater 172026 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Reason For Loss:

Aircraft took off from Waterbeach at 12:28hrs. Whilst approaching the target, the Rheinpreussen synthetic oil production plant at Meerbeck outside Homberg, the aircraft was hit by flak, initially in one engine.

There was a fire and the aircraft became uncontrollable, crashing in the waterway surrounding the Guildhall at Moers.

PD265 Crew Left to right: Two air gunners, one of whom is known to be Sgt. Coles and the other thought to be a Sgt. Meredith who had left the crew in October 1944 - reasons unknown, Sgt. Gosnold, F/O. France, Sgt. Harding, F/O. Barker and F/O. Eisberg (courtesy Simon Hepworth)

The pilot, F/O. France together with the navigator, F/O. Eisberg, bailed out and were captured. The remainder of the crew were killed.

With the exception of F/O. Slater who joined the crew part way through their tour, the crew had served as a unit for their entire tour.

This operation would, had it been completed, been the crew’s 29th towards their tour of thirty. The crew had trained as G-H leaders, a bombing technique pioneered by 3 Group Bomber Command.

Left: Luck and a Lancaster - written by a 75 Squadron pilot, F/O. Harry Yates DFC. He witnessed PD265 going down, revealing further information on this and others in his highly rated publication. Published by The Crowood Press 1999. ISBN No: 978-1840370799. The crash location was provided by a German historian in Moers.

The brief details of the damage were supplied to the family of Sgt. Gosnold by F/O. Eisberg in a letter after the war. F/O. France became a vicar after the war and died in Norfolk in approximately 2004. It is not known what became of F/O. Eisberg.

514 Squadron lost two other aircraft on this raid:

Lancaster I NG121 JI-H Piloted by F/O. Tolley - all crew survived and manage to crash land the aircraft. One crew member baled out and was taken PoW.
Lancaster III LM684 JI-C Piloted by F/O. Ronald Limbert DFC Killed along with all 6 other crew members. Buried in the same cemetery as PD265 crew, some sharing the same collective grave.

(1) F/O. Geoffrey C. France had his right leg amputated by a Polish surgeon during captivity.

Burial details:

Sgt. Peter Andrew Gosnold. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16. From Hornsea, Yorkshire, England. Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. Kenneth Hubert Barker. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 25.G.6. From Killdeer, Saskatchewan, Canada. Son of Mr. Brooks and Berth (nee Johnson), husband of Doris Elsie Isobel (nee Bailey) of Perth County, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Ronald William Harding. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16. Son of Ernest Fred and Beatrice Harding, of Rumney, Cardiff, Wales.

Sgt. Leslie Peter Coles. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.C.4. Son of Albert George and Hilda Maud Coles, of Highgate, Middlesex, England.

F/O. Peter Slater. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16. Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Researched by Simon Hepworth (Great nephew of Sgt. Peter Andrew Gosnold) for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew.

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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Last Modified: 14 June 2017, 22:38

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