22/23.10.1943 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster III EE196 AS-Z Fl/Lt. Charles Neville Hammond DFC
Operation: Kassel, Northern Hesse, Germany.
Date: 22/23 October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 166
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire.
Location: Brakelsiek, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Charles Neville Hammond DFC 131082 RAFVR Age 23 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: P/O. Arthur Iden Pilbeam 158332 - PoW No.261472 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria L3 (2)
Nav: M/Sgt. John Murray Walton R/115217 (USAAF 10601391) Age 21 - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Roy Elkington Ault 134675 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Edward Ellis Jones 158408 RAFVR Age 32 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Ivan Keith Doncaster 1582238 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): F/O. Victor George Deacon 139373 RAFVR Age 35 - Killed (7)
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It appears that F/O. Charles Hammond and his crew probably joined 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire on 14 June 1943. The crew consisted of flight engineer Arthur Pilbeam aged 36 from Tonbridge in Kent: navigator John Walton, 21, a Canadian serving in the USAAF: wireless op, Edward Jones, 32, from Wembley but originally from Ammanford, South Wales, air gunners Keith Doncaster, 19, from Derbyshire and 34 year old Vic Deacon from Brixton, Surrey. Completing the crew was air bomber Leonard King Teitzel, a 29 year old former School Teacher from Yeronga in Queensland Australia.
It is the service record of Len Teitzel that provides not only the probable details of the formation and subsequent movements of the crew but which also poses a tantalising, unanswered question regarding Len's health.
Following training in Australia and Canada, Len Teitzel had arrived in the UK on 20 February 1942 and after further training at 3 Air Observer Navigation School at RAF Bobbington, Staffordshire, he was posted some 25 miles south west, to 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lichfield, where he presumably crewed up with persons unknown, and trained on Vickers Wellingtons.
On 5 August 1942 he was recorded as being posted to 12 Squadron at RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire and although other sources claim that he flew operations with 12 Squadron, this was not the case.
In the Hospital admissions and Discharges Section of his service record, it is stated that he was admitted to RAF Hospital Rauceby on 4 August 1942 where he remained until 15 September 1942 when he was transferred to RAF Hospital Gosford (Cosford) and from where he was ultimately discharged on 26 January 1943. Consequently, 12 Squadron Operations Record Book makes no mention of Teitzel throughout this period and it would appear, therefore, that he never actually joined the Squadron.
During the war, RAF Hospital Rauceby in Lincolnshire and RAF Hospital Cosford in Shropshire were both specialist crash and burns units, but the cause of, or reason for, Len's hospitalisation has so far, not been discovered.
Following his discharge from hospital, Len Teitzel was on leave until 1 February 1943 before being posted, on 13 March 1943, to 81 Operational Training Unit at RAF Whitchurch Heath in Shropshire, where he is believed to have crewed up as a member of the Hammond crew. On 14 May 1943 the Hammond crew was posted to 1656 Conversion Unit at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire for training on Lancaster's and on 14 June 1943 was posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds.
Delivered to 103 Squadron on 8 June 1943 was a brand new Lancaster Mark III, serial number EE196* and later coded PM-Z as the replacement for Lancaster ED914 PM-Z lost on 11/12 June. The Hammond crew were to fly all of their ops using Lancaster EE196.
A week after joining 103 Squadron Charles Hammond and his crew flew their first operation, a raid on Krefeld on the night of 21/22 June with a further four ops being flown before the end of June. During the month of July the crew flew five more ops and in August another seven. For reasons unknown Vic Deacon was replaced by various spare bods for the ten ops flown from 24 July to 14 August inclusive.
The Hammond crew flew no further ops with 103 Squadron and on 20 September 1943 was transferred to 166 Squadron at RAF Kirmington some 6 miles east of Elsham Wolds along with their faithful steed, Lancaster EE196 which was duly re-coded AS-Z to signify its new Squadron. Missing from the crew however, was Len Teitzel, who, on 22 September, was posted to 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre in Brighton pending repatriation to Australia. He duly embarked for Australia and arrived at Sydney on 22 January 1944. It is believed that his repatriation was on medical grounds.
For details of his further service and death see his biographical details below.
Len's place in the Hammond crew was taken by Flying Officer Roy Ault, aged 22 from Kent. Roy Ault had formerly flown with 103 Squadron with the crew of Fl/Sgt. G. Bass.
The Hammond crew flew its first op with 166 Squadron on 29 September followed by six more up to and including 20 October.
On 22 October 1943, the Hammond crew was one of 12 crews briefed for an operation to bomb Kassel in central Germany that night.
*Lancaster EE196 was lost on its 40th operational flight.
REASON FOR LOSS
Lancaster EE196 with Charles Hammond at the controls took off 9th in line from RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire at 18:12 hrs on the operation to bomb Kassel, North Hesse, Germany.
Special Equipment on board was: Gee, Monica and Boozer - see abbreviations
The route briefed as per Bomber Command Report on Night Operations and RAF Loss Card was: East Coast 5215N 0300E - 5149N 0351E - 5030N 0610E - 5033N 0715E - Kassel - 5236N 0829E - 5313N 0452E - 5320N 0350E (North end of Texel) - East Coast.
A total force of 569 aircraft comprising 322 Lancasters and 247 Halifaxes was despatched for this raid on Kassel. All bases were fit for take-off with cloud base at 2-3000ft but en route the force encountered medium cloud to 18000' occasionally to 20-23000' with much static and moderate to heavy rain in cloud tops. Beyond 08deg. E. cloud broke rapidly to nil and over the target area there was only very small amounts of low cloud, with moderate visibility and no moon. The severe conditions en route however contributed to a high number of aircraft aborting the sortie i.e. 71 being 12.5% of the force and including 39 due to manipulative or technical defects and 20 due to icing. 444 aircraft reported bombing the primary area, 12 bombed the alternative area and 42 were lost. At least 5 losses occurred on the way out 3 due to flak and 2 to fighters. The main enemy fighter concentration however was over the target and the first 100 miles of the return route and was believed to have accounted for 30 of the losses. 5 aircraft were believed to have been brought down by flak over the target area. Heavy flak over the target was described as slight to moderate, light flak as moderate to intense with 60 to 70 searchlights also active.
Zero hour was 20:55 hrs with the blind markers leading the attack at Z-6 and the bombing continuing until 21:11 hrs. The blind markers overshot the aiming point but the visual markers concentrated their Target Indicators most accurately, admirably supported by the backers up. The main force bombed compactly within the built up area.
Seven days after the attack fires were still burning in Kassel and a smoke haze hung over the smouldering ruins of the town. The central city was a scene of utter devastation, with damage extending to the industrial districts on both sides of the river Fulda and into the suburbs. Some districts suffered as much as 96% of property destroyed. The well-known locomotive works of Henschel und Sohn suffered damage to all three of its factories and at least 48 other factories were also damaged including Salzmann & Co, clothiers to the Wehrmacht, 3 thermometer concerns and at least 5 businesses engaged in the manufacture of precision instruments and special machine tools.
Vertical photographic-reconnaissance aerial showing the centre of Kassel following the heavy raid by aircraft of Bomber Command on the night of 22/23 October 1943. This view shows devastated buildings in the vicinity of Konigsplatz and the main railway station, many of which were still burning seven days after the attack. The damage to the railway system, and to industrial and residential buildings, constituted the most devastating attack on a German city since the raids on Hamburg in July 1943. Courtesy IWM
Lancaster EE196 was 50 miles short of the target when attacked by a night fighter: Flight Engineer Arthur Pilbeam described the final moments.
'We were attacked and set on fire (one wing). While damage was done to the controls the Pilot tried to give the rest a chance to get out. But he failed and the aircraft went into a spin a result of one of (the) first bombs blowing up. Shortly afterwards the aircraft blew to pieces. The rest were either killed outright or had bad concussion and none of their parachute release handles had been pulled. Identified the four bodies which had been found next morning'.
The aircraft crashed at Brakelsiek, North Rhine-Westphalia. The six members of the crew killed in the crash, were initially buried at Schwalenberg Cemetery, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on 25 October 1943. The five British airmen were re-interred at Hanover War Cemetery, Germany, on 18 September 1947 and M/Sgt. Walton was reinterred at the Ardennes American Cemetery, Belgium, date unknown.
1" = 25 miles
166 Squadron lost one other aircraft on this raid: Lancaster ED366, piloted by Sergeant Kenneth Hurst, was shot down near Obermeiser, south east of Warberg. All the crew were killed except for the pilot, who was taken Prisoner of War. The six crew members killed in the crash, lie in Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 11. C. 8-12.
THE LAST LETTER
The day after joining 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds Sgt. Ivan Keith Doncaster, composed a letter to be given to his parents in the event of his death . It was quite a long letter, much of it very personal to his family. Keith's cousin, Mrs Marney Leverton, has kindly provided Aircrew Remembered with the following poignant extract from the letter.
RAF Station Elsham Wolds, Nr. Barnetby, Lincs. 15 June 1943
Dear Mother and Dad,
My feelings are a bit mixed as I write this letter, it is what is usually known as "the last letter".
Now that I am with the squadron anything may happen and I know that you would sort of treasure a last letter like this if anything did happen to me.
These ops are what we have been training for, for many months. Now is our chance to really do something to help towards a final victory and make this earth a place for decent people to live in. I hope that the seven of us can flatten a large number of German homes as well as factories during our tour of ops.
If I do have to go then I only hope I can have a good chance to do some damage over there first. If that happens I shall die in the way that any Englishman would want to - fighting for his country.
So cheerio, Mother and Dad, and God bless the pair of you. Keep smiling, you know that is what I would want you to do.
With much love from
In 1956 a stained glass window was installed in St. Giles Parish Church in memory of Keith Doncaster and all men of the RAF who gave their lives in the Second World War. The window incorporates an image of Lincoln Cathedral in deference to the county where Keith was based.
The Reverend Olaf Trelenberg, Rector of St Giles Parish Church, Sandiacre has most kindly provided Aircrew Remembered with photographs of the window. (below)
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Fl/Lt. Charles Neville Hammond DFC was born 27 September 1920 at Winchester, Hampshire the son of Lt-Col. Thomas Neville Hammond and Doris Emmeline Hammond nee Fox of Llanrug, Caernarvonshire, Wales and husband of Mary Hammond of Odiham Hampshire.
Leading Aircraftsman 971266 Hammond was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 9 October 1942 (London Gazette 1 December 1942). He was further promoted to Flying Officer on probation (war subs) on 9 April 1943 ( London Gazette 21 May 1943).
A pupil of the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys 1932-38, he is commemorated on the school war memorial. He was awarded the D.F.C. with effect from 23 October 1943 as promulgated in the London Gazette 28 March 1944.
It would seem that his D.F.C. was awarded for his heroic action in the final moments as he tried to give the crew time to get out and as a result of the statement given by Pilot Officer Arthur Pilbeam.
(2) Fl/Lt. Arthur Iden Pilbeam was born 7 March 1907 at Tonbridge, Kent the son of Arthur Iden Pilbeam, a baker, and Mary Pilbeam nee Walter. He had four siblings, Elsie Pilbeam born 1901,Grace Pilbeam born 1904, Jesse Walter Pilbeam born 1908 and James Pilbeam born 1914.
In 1911 the family lived at 66 St Mary's Road, Tonbridge.
In 1932 Arthur married Irene Lilian Abbott at Westhampnett, Sussex and they went on to have two children, Mary Pilbeam born 1933 and John Pilbeam born 1934.
Like his father, Arthur Iden Pilbeam junior, was a Baker and Confectioner and in 1939 he and his wife Lilian, lived at The Bakery in Church Road, Yapton, West Sussex.
1721526 Sergeant Pilbeam was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 3 August 1943 (London Gazette 9 November 1943). Whilst a prisoner of war his commission was confirmed and he was further promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) on 3 February 1944 (London Gazette 25 February 1944). In the London Gazette of 7 September 1954 it was promulgated that he had relinquished his commission under the terms of the Navy, Army and Air Force Reserves Act of 1954 and had been granted permission to retain the rank of Flight Lieutenant with effect from 10 February 1954.
After leaving the RAF he worked as a Fruiterers Manager. Arthur Iden Pilbeam died at Chichester, Sussex in 1999 at the age of 92.
(3) M/Sgt. John Murray Walton was born 19 January 1922 at Ontario, Canada the son of Melville R. Walton and Mable (Vanderburg) Walton. Entered service in Canada with RCAF. With 12th Replacement Depot USAAF. Awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart.
(4) F/O. Roy Elkington Ault was born 23 December 1920 at Stamford, Lincolnshire the son of Reuben John Ault (a Police Detective Sergeant) and Olive Eugenie Ault nee Wade, of Sidcup, Kent. He had two siblings: Geoffrey G. Ault born 1922 and Eric D. Ault born 1932. In 1939 the family lived at 11, Willersley Avenue, Sidcup, Kent.
Leading Aircraftsman 1330716 Ault was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 20 November 1942 (London Gazette 2 February 1943) and promoted to Flying Officer on 20 May 1943 (London Gazette 16 July 1943).
(5) P/O. Edward Ellis Jones was born 16 November 1910 at Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the son of Evan Jones and Mary Ellen Jones nee Roberts. He had ten siblings: Thomas David Jones (1907-1985), Mary Ellen Jones (1909-2003), John Evan Jones (1912-1987), Annie Martha Jones (1915-2010), Sarah Glenys Jones (1918-2007), Daniel Jones (1920-2001), Gladys Elizabeth Jones (1921-1925), Richard Maldwyn Jones (1924-1971), Owen Maurice Jones (1925-2002) and Nesta Jones (1928-1960).
In 1939 Edward Jones married Margaret Holloway at Hendon Middlesex. Afterwards the couple lived with Margaret's father, Henry J. Holloway at 150 Maybank Avenue, Wembley. Before joining the RAFVR Edward Jones was a Bank Clerk.
Sergeant 1222561 Jones was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 4 August 1943 ( London Gazette 16 November 1943).
(6) Sgt. Ivan Keith Doncaster was born 17 October 1923 at Sandiacre, Derbyshire the son of Raymond Doncaster and Evelyn Mary Doncaster nee Fell and grandson of Sir Robert Doncaster, Chairman of the South Derbyshire Conservative Party and founder of the Sandiacre Screw Company. Keith Doncaster lived at the family home "Shenstone" 108 Longmoor Road, Sandiacre and was a pupil at Wellington Street Infants School, Long Eaton. In September 1933 aged 9 years he was admitted to the Nottingham High Preparatory School where he won the Drawing Prize. He later moving to the senior school and during his time there was a Lance-Corporal in the Officer Training Corps and took his Cert A in 1939. He left Nottingham High School in 1940 after form 5B where he was 8th out of 27 students. His tutor recorded that his conduct was very good and academically he did his best having passed his School Certificate. He considered that had he not left to undertake war work on a farm he would have also passed his Higher School Certificate the following year. Keith was a member of the Long Eaton A.T.C and later transferred to the Stapleford and Sandiacre A.T.C. before volunteering for air crew in 1941. He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial, the Sandiacre St Giles Parish Church War Memorial and Book of Remembrance, and on the War Memorial in The Memorial Institute in Sandiacre.
(7) F/O. Victor George Deacon was born 1908 at Brixton, Surrey the son of George Victor Deacon and Edith Elizabeth Deacon nee Maddock. He had one sibling: Ivy Primrose Deacon (1907-1999).
In 1933 he married Lilian Elizabeth Ruskin at Lambeth, Surrey. A son, James V. Deacon was born in 1934 and died in 1953.
In 1939 the family lived at 24 Denmark Road Camberwell at which tine Victor was a Manager (further detail unknown) and a ARP Warden.
Leading Aircraftsman 1181626 Deacon was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 20 February 1943 (London Gazette 20 April 1943) and promoted to Flying Officer on 20 August 1943 (London Gazette 27 August 1943)
(8) F/O. Leonard King (Len) Teitzel was born on 14 July 1913 at Warwick, Queensland, Australia the son of School Teacher Harry King Teitzel and Florence Mary Teitzel (nee Porter). He had three siblings: Robert King Teitzel (1911-1962), Louis james King Teitzel (1915-1942) and Florence King Teitzel (1918-2008).
Len was educated at the Ipswich Boys Grammar School and later, like his father, became a School Teacher.
When he enlisted at Brisbane on 29 March 1941 he was described as being 6' ½" tall weighing 150 lbs with a fair tanned complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.
After training 2 Initial Training School at RAAF Bradfield Park, New South Wales he embarked at Sydney for Canada on 17 July 1941. Disembarking on 16 August 1941 he was posted to 1 Air Observer School at RCAF Malton, Ontario and later to 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Jarvis, Ontario where he was awarded his Air Observer badge and promoted to Sergeant on 20 Dwcember 1941.
Following further training at 2 Air Navigation School, RCAF Penfield Ridge, New Brunswick he embarked for the UK on 9 February 1942 and disembarking in England on 20 February 1942 was posted to 3 Personnel Reception and Despatch Centre at Bournemouth. He was posted to 3 Air Observer Navigation School at RAF Bobbington in Staffordshire on 14 April 1942 and to 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lichfield on 12 May 1942 for night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons. He was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant on 20 June 1942 and to Warrant Officer on 20 June 1943.
Details of his service in the UK can be found in the Introduction section above.
On 16 November 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for service with 103 Squadron.
The citation reads:
Warrant Officer Teitzel has completed many successful operations against the enemy in which he has displayed a high degree of skill, fortitude and devotion to duty.
Having disembarked at Sydney on 22 January 1944, Len was posted to 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park from where, on 10 March, he was posted to 3 Embarkation Depot at Sandgate in Queensland, and on 21 March to 3 Stores Depot at Brisbane.
On 29 April he was posted to the General Reconnaissance School at Bairnsdale in Victoria on a General Reconnaissance Navigator’s Course.
On completion of the course the Chief Instructor of the School reported that:
This Warrant Officer has displayed a keenness and a cooperative spirit whilst undergoing a General Reconnaissance Course which is worthy of particular note. Although he appears at times to be slow in his manner, he is possessed of ability and a pleasing personality which are not at first apparent. He will make a loyal and dependable officer. He is engaged on full flying duties.
On 1 September 1944 Len was duly commissioned as a Pilot Officer and 2 days later posted to 7 Operational Training Unit at RAAF Tocumwal, New South Wales for training on Consolidated B-24 Liberator Bombers. On completion of training he was posted, on 12 November, he was posted to the Heavy Bombardment Replacement Training Unit and on 2 December 1944 to 24 Squadron (RAAF) in the Northern Territory for operational flying against Japanese land and sea forces in the Dutch East Indies.
On 23 January 1945 he was the navigator/air bomber of Liberator A72-70 which was lost on a reconnaissance operation at Cape Chater, Timor. It was later established that the aircraft, having been hit by anti-aircraft fire, disintegrated and crashed into the sea near the village of Lautem. No remains of the crew were found. Prior to the loss, Len Teitzel had completed 5 operations with 24 Squadron.
Having no known grave, Leonard Teitzel is commemorated on the Northern Territory Memorial to the Missing. He is also commemorated on Panel 102 of the Australian War Memorial at Canberra and the Ipswich Boys’ Grammar School World War 2 Honour Board.
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
Fl/Lt. Charles Neville Hammond DFC - Buried at Hanover War Cemetery, Lower Saxony, Germany - Grave No. 16.E.5
In the high untrespassed
Sanctity of space
Put out my hand
And touched the face of God
M/Sgt. John Murray Walton - Buried at Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupré (Neuville-en-Condroz) Liège, Belgium - Grave No. D.10.54.
F/O Roy Elkington Ault - Buried at Hanover War Cemetery, Lower Saxony, Germany - Grave No. 16.E.3
So that England might live
P/O. Edward Ellis Jones - Buried at Hanover War Cemetery, Lower Saxony, Germany - Grave No. 16.E.2
He gave his life
That others might live.
God bless him
Sgt. Ivan Keith Doncaster - Buried at Hanover War Cemetery, Lower Saxony, Germany - Grave No. 16.E.1
To live in hearts
We leave behind
Is not to die
F/O. Victor George Deacon - Buried at Hanover War Cemetery, Lower Saxony, Germany - Grave No. 16.E.4
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
Aircrew Remembered wishes to thank Mrs Marney Leverton, Reverend Olaf Trelenberg, Mrs Sheila Hickingbotham (Chairman of Sandiacre History Group) and Nottingham High School Archives for their kind contributions re Ivan Keith Doncaster.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - November 2015
With thanks to the sources quoted below.