23/24.09.1943 No. 77 Squadron Halifax II JD301 KN-L Sgt. William J. Grant
Date: 23/24th September 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 77 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Elvington, Yorkshire
Location: Not known - Target area?
Pilot: Sgt. William Joseph Grant 1388923 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Bown 1042659 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Nav: F/O. J.R. Coombs RCAF PoW No: 2608 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Bmr: Sgt. I.P. Murty PoW No: 605 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Francis Manley 1210634 RAFVR. Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.R.A. Little PoW No: 365 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cecil Dickinson 629625 RAF Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 20.43 hrs. as part of a force of 628 aircraft (312 Lancaster,s, 193 Halifaxes , 7 Wellington,s, 8 Mosquitoes and 5 B-17's from the 8th USAAF) to destroy the northern part of Mannheim.
A total of 927 houses, 20 industrial premises, 11 schools, 6 public buildings and a church were destroyed in this raid. 25,000 people were bombed out of their homes, 102 people on the ground were killed and a further 418 injured.
77 Squadron Halifax KN-R at RAF Elvington (courtesy I.W.M.)
There were more than 2,000 fires started. It is also reported by local records that during the later part of the bombing stages the bombers hit the northern part of Ludwigshafen where the I.G. factory was severely damaged and also smaller outlying towns of Oppau and Frankenthal were also hit with 47 people killed and 260 injured.
A total of 8,000 people were bombed out of which 4,289 were foreign workers. The centre of Frankenthal was completely burnt out and a further 38 people were also killed.
During this raid 32 aircraft were lost. (18 Lancasters, 7 Halifaxes and 7 Wellingtons) A german nightfighter force of 153 x Bf110's, 17 x Ju88's and 16 x Do217's were scrambled to intercept them. 7 of the bomber force were shot down before they reached the target zone and another 20 were shot down over the target area by this force. During the many engagements 7 German night-fighters were shot down.
This Halifax JD301 is also thought to have been intercepted by a night fighter but no record can be found for a claim and nothing was heard from the aircraft.
Rheinberg War Cemetery (archives)
Sgt. William Joseph Grant. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 21.B.4-10. Son of William Joseph and Caroline Grant, of Mottingham, Kent, England. Husband of Elenor A. Grant.
Sgt. George Bown. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 21.B.4-10. Son of Harry and Mary Kate Bown, of Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England.
Sgt. Leonard Francis Manley. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 21.B.1. Born on 9th February 1921. This is understood to be only his second operation. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Cecil Dickinson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 21.B.4-10. Son of R. F. Dickinson and Nellie Dickinson, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Researched for Mark Manley and relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission.