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You Are To Carry On, Good Luck Z-Zebra

CHAPTER 6 

Essen


A force comprising 12 Oboe Mosquitoes, 274 Lancaster, 151 Halifax and 81 Wellington bombers was despatched for this raid on Essen. The Battle of the Ruhr, as it later came to be known, had commenced with a raid on Essen on 5th March and this would be the fifth time that Bomber Command had turned its attention to the city in less than three months. 

One Mosquito returned early owing to Oboe failure but of the other 11, 6 attacked as planned, sky marking the target with TIs of red with green stars and one white for longer burning at four/five minute intervals commencing at 00.44hrs and though the others were not as accurate time wise there were only two periods of one and four minutes when no flares were visible. 

The main force began bombing at 00.45hrs and continued until 01.34hrs almost all of them bombing on release point flares, white flares or estimated position of flares that had just gone out. Nevertheless many aircraft appear to have bombed short of the target as much damage was caused north of Krupps along the line of approach. Reports of red decoy flares being shot up from the ground may have aggravated the tendency to undershoot. There was a continuous barrage of flak over the target area that was particularly intense near the release point flares and was responsible for at least 60 of the 107 aircraft returning damaged by flak. This was an exceptionally high proportion of aircraft to sustain flak damage, representing 20% of the total force. En route, flak defences were most active at Munster, Gladbach, Rheine, Egmont and Terschelling with searchlights operating intermittently. 461 bombers reported attacking the main target, 20 aborted due to technical and manipulative reasons and 22 were missing. Indications were, that of the missing aircraft 10 were brought down by flak and 11 or 12 by fighters. 

Later day-reconnaissance photographs showed that the damage was almost entirely confined to the Krupps Works and the North East part of Essen. There was huge fire damage with the Krupps Works still burning two days after the attack. 196 people were killed and 547 injured by the bombing and bombs were also reported falling in a further ten Ruhr towns.

                          

                             Essen, Germany. Aerial photograph showing ruins and damage after intense bombing by allied air forces in                                                                                                        April, May and June 1943.  Courtesy Australian War Memorial

The Operations Record Book does not give the take off time for Lancaster ED804 AR-Z but according to Bill Schrader it was 23:00hrs and this cannot be far off the mark. 

The bomb load carried by the aircraft was: 1 x 4000lb High Capacity Bomb, 48 x 30lb Incendiary Bombs and 600 x 4lb Incendiary Clusters Bombs. 

Special Equipment on board was: IFF and GEE - see abbreviations

The aircraft bombed the target but on the return journey was shot down by a German night fighter and crashed in Holland.

F/O. Charles Harrison, Sgt. William Alfred Blackwell, Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Grant, and Fl/Sgt. Ernest John Kerr were all killed whilst Sgt. Charles Richard Stanley Morris, Sgt. William Guthrie Schrader, and P/O. Colin Campbell Bates were captured by the Germans and sent to prisoner of war camps. 

  


After contacting John Schrader, Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock learned that during his time as a prisoner of war John's father had written a record of the events from take off on the 27 May 1943 until his capture the following day. The details had been recorded by Bill Schrader whilst a PoW in a booklet entitled 'A Wartime Log' that was issued to prisoners of war by the YMCA for them to record their experiences. Quite remarkably the booklet still survives and John Schrader very kindly gave Aircrew Remembered his permission to include his father's record of that fateful mission in its entirety. 

We are most fortunate that Bill Schrader left this very detailed account of the mission from take off to the ultimate demise of the individual crew members. Written so soon after the event there can be little doubt that its contents are an accurate record of exactly what happened during that fateful mission.  

The following chapter contains a transcription of the log and photographs of the actual booklet. 

                                                                             Contents                                                              Chapter 7

RW 04.10.2015

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon

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Last Modified: 04 October 2015, 15:34