21/22.06.1944 No. 630 Squadron Lancaster I ME782 LE-N P/O. Thomas G. Hart
Operation: Wesseling (Synthetic Oil Plant)
Date: 21/22nd June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 630 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF East Kirby
Location: North East Turnhout, Belgium
Pilot: P/O. Thomas George Hart J/86480 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ronald Merrick Jordan 1853154 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Michael John Macnaughton-Smith 1604049 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. John Joseph Scully J/91095 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Raymond Guy Harwood 1189042 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Richard John Walton J/92126 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Archie Harry Siemins J/92125 (R/218106) RCAF Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF East Kirby at 23:08 hrs. Although the weather forecast was clear the bomber stream encountered very low cloud over the target area.
Bombing was thought not to have been successful with only slight damage to the plant according to the post-raid reconnaissance. However it later transpired from German Secret reports that the bombing did in fact cause a 40% loss of production. 15 Germans, 5 foreign workers and a pow were killed in the surrounding area.
The allies lost a huge amount of aircraft with 38 Lancasters not returning. The loss of life from crew members totalled 207 killed. 42 being made PoW and 8 evading capture.
Lancaster ME782 was thought to have been possibly shot down by Hptm. Eckart Wilhelm von Bonin, of Stab II./NJG1 at 01:14 hrs - already a Luftwaffe night fighter ace with 35 abschüsse. He survived the war and died age 73, on the 11th January 1992 in Hamburg, Germany.
Right: Hptm. Eckart Wilhelm von Bonin, of Stab II./NJG1 (courtesy Kracker Archive)
On the 10th July 2008 a local historical society erected a fine memorial to this crew. (courtesy of Camille Vanhove from Belgium who sent this in August 2015)
The squadron were to lose 5 aircraft/crews on this operation, the others:
Lancaster I LM118 LE-V - Flown by 21 year old, P/O. John Henry George Smith 175502 RAFVR from Harcourt Oxford, England - killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I NE795 LE-G - Flown by F/O. L.N. Racily RAAF - all crew survived after abandoning the aircraft at 03:38 hrs over Henlow, Bedfordshire, England.
Lancaster I ME843 LE-U - Flown by 22 year old, P/O. Robert Cecil Hooper DFC 172176 RAFVR from Bridgewater, Somerset, England killed with all other 6 crew.
Lancaster III ND531 LE-K - Flown by 23 year old Sq/Ldr. Arthur Edgar Foster DFC 113416 RAFVR from Chertsey, Surrey, England - missing with all other 6 crew. Sadly the parents also lost his twin brother earlier in the war. P/O. Alec Leonard Foster 113415 RAFVR killed with 61 Squadron on the 03rd September 1942 on Lancaster W4136 flown by 28 year old Sq/Ldr. Douglas Sinclair Forsyth DFC 39077 RAF from Orpington, Kent, England - all 7 crew missing.
P/O. Thomas George Hart. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVa.F.12. Son of Maurice G. and Greta V. Hart, of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Ronald Merrick Jordan. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVa.F.13. Son of Robert Godfrey Merrick Jordan and Florence Agnes Jordan, of St. Denys, Southampton, England.
Sgt. Michael John Macnaughton-Smith. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVa.F.14. Son of Hubert John and Jessie Macnaughton-Smith, of Crawley Down, Sussex. Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford, England.
P/O. John Joseph Scully. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVa.F.11. Son of Bartholomew and Mary Scully, of 191 Kennedy Street, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Raymond Guy Harwood. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.F.8-10. Son of Herbert R. and M. B. Harwood, of Southampton, England.
P/O. Richard John Walton. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.F.8-10. Son of Richard and May Walton, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
P/O. Archie Harry Siemins. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.F.8-10. Understood to be from Warman, Saskatchewan, Canada - are you able to assist further?
With thanks to Camille Vanhove from Belgium for memorial photographs. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.