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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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9 squadron badge
No. 9 Squadron Lancaster W4157 WS-V Runnymede 2013 - they never forget

Operation: Berlin

Date: 17/18th January 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4157

Code: WS-V

Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.

Location: Not known, sadly lost without trace.

Pilot: P/O. Trevor Leslie Gibson AUS/402858 RAAF Age 24. Killed

Pilot 2: F/O. Eric William Mitchell Jacombs NZ/413422 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Stanley Wescombe 527172 RAF Age 29. Killed

Nav: F/O. Cyril Garnett Tilson 127792 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Bernard Kenneth Skinner 1112266 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry Goodwin Jenkins 1186208 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John William Robinson Broadley 1067031 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: W/O. II Francis Arthur Webb R/93492 RCAF Age  20. Killed

Relatives of F/O. Jacombs would like contact with any relatives of any of crew - please contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded.


Taking off at 16:58 hrs from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. A small force of 187 heavy bombers setting out from various squadrons to bomb the heart of Germany, the second consecutive night the city was to suffer. Again the bombers missed the target with the main bombing falling on the southern outskirts of the city.  A B.M.W. factory that was making aircraft engines in Spandau was hit by some incendiaries and slightly damaged. The Daimler-Benz factory was also hit but unable to confirm it was from this nights operation or from Saturday. 8 people were killed on the ground and 41 injured according to German reports.

Bombing taking place fairly early in the evening between 20:30 hrs and 21:25 hrs. 


9 Squadron Lancaster 'Bombing up' not a great task in the height of winter! (courtesy IWM)

The allied formations were attacked very fiercely both outbound and homeward. Flak and night fighters interceptions were intense with no less than 22 bombers lost, a further 20 managing to return home with damage from fighters. 9 Squadron alone lost 4 Lancasters, 24 boys dead, 5 taken PoW, not able to return home for a number of years:

Lancaster I W4379 WS-A Flown by Sgt. Carswell RCAF taken PoW with 4 other crew, 2 killed
Lancaster I W4761 WS-P Flown by Fl/Sgt. Anderson Storey RCAF killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I ED436 WS-G Sgt. John G. B. Chilvers RAFVR killed with all 6 other crew.

A total of 22 aircraft were lost, no accurate night fighter reports are available for this night and it is thought that W4157 was hit by flak.

The BBC broadcaster Richard Dimbleby flew as an observer on this operation in a 106 Squadron Lancaster, flown by W/Cdr. Guy Gibson.

Left: Runnymede March 2013 - a visit made ny Aircrew Remembered. Insert left: P/O. Gibson and right, F/O. Jacombs

We have not made the words visible from the relative, they are private - but they touched us, hence this page of remembrance!

Burial details:

P/O. Trevor Leslie Gibson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 191. Husband of G. E. Gibson, of Kingsford, New South Wales, Australia.

F/O. Eric William Mitchell Jacombs. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 197. Son of William Henry Jacombs and of Frances Mary Jacombs (née Howell), husband of Joan Winifred Jacombs, of Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. Further information: Eric was born in Palmerston North, but grew up in Auckland. He was working as a chemist for Sharlands in 1941, still living at his parent's house at 6 Dunedin St, Ponsonby, Auckland.  In early 1942 he married Joan Hill, but they were not together for long. Eric left on overseas service on 8th March 1942, serving as a Flying Officer for the RNZAF. There were reports of him being seen in Europe soon after, but they came to nothing.

Right: F/O. Eric Jacombs (courtesy Rex Sinnott)

Sgt. Stanley Wescombe. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 169. Son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Wescombe, of Liverpool, England.

F/O. Cyril Garnett Tilson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 129. Son of William Garnett Tilson and Alice Louisa Crouch Tilson, of Southampton, England.

Fl/Sgt. Bernard Kenneth Skinner. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 139. Son of Albert Ephraim and Rosamond Lillie Skinner, of York, England.

Sgt. Harry Goodwin Jenkins. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 155. No further details available as yet, are you able to assist?

Sgt. John William Robinson Broadley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 144.  No further details available as yet, are you able to assist?

W/O. II Francis Arthur Webb. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 180. From Homewood, Manitoba, Canada. Further information: Just before this operation F/O. Mike Downs, met Francis - who was adopted by his Aunt and Uncle when he was 8 years old. This was because his mother, Mrs. Downs had died. F/O. Mike Downs was a pilot with No. 3 Squadron when he was shot down in a Tempest on the 13th September 1943 and taken PoW. We hope that we will be able to research this and place a page to F/O. Downs in the near future. Perhaps you can contribute information?

Researched for relatives of the crew after Aircrew Remembered visited and paid their respects at Runnymede in March 2013. With thanks to Rex Sinnott for information and photograph on his relative, F/O. Eric Jacombs. Additional information courtesy sources quoted.

KTY 03.10.2015 New information and photo 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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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