24/25.03.1944 No. 44 Squadron Lancaster I ME672 KM-A P/O. Bernard M. Hayes
Date: 24/25th March 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 44 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire.
Location: Lage Mierde, North Brabant, Holland
Pilot: P/O. Bernard Michael Hayes 169583 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Maurice Ella 1622371 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Richard Henry John Wellfare 1397598 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Michael Fedoruk R/15950 RCAF Age 23. - Evaded (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Wilfred Keith Walker 1076680 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Lloyd Radcliffe R/184322 RCAF Age 19. Killed (2)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Griffin Perrie 1552400 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Leaving RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire at 19:02hrs.
811 aircraft took part in what has become known as the "night of the strong winds" as a very strong wind took the bomber stream further south at every stage of the outbound flight. The bomber stream became very scattered in particular on the homeward bound stages where the radar controlled flak batteries were able to score many successes.
A total of 72 aircraft were lost, Berlin reported that 14 Aircraft were shot down by night fighters over the target area. Bombing was very scattered with over 100 towns and villages around Berlin being bombed and very little commercial damage done in Berlin itself. Civilians were hardest hit again with 20,000 made homeless and 150 people on the ground killed.
This was the last major bombing raid on Berlin of the war although it was of course attacked on many smaller raids using Mosquitoes.
As explained previously 72 aircraft were lost on this raid but the true horror being 220 aircrew killed and a further 133 made PoW.
(1) Sgt. Michael Fedoruk's evasion story has been published. "Evasive Action" is the story of Dutch heroism and the downed Canadian's airman’s 13 months evading capture.
Michael Fedoruk has also contributed his memories of the war to "The Memory Project"
Lancaster ME672 was probably shot down by Oblt. Josef Nabrich (3) a nightfighter ace with 6 abshcüsse to his credit at this stage. From 3./NJG1 with combat taking place at 5,800 mtrs the Lancaster crashed at 00:30 hrs at Lage Mierde, North Brabant, Holland.
(2) Radcliffe Lake, east of Nejanilini Lake, Manitoba, named after Sgt. Kenneth Radcliffe in 1974. Radcliffe Island in Stoney Lake, Manitoba named after his brother in 1975.
(3) Killed on the 4/5th November 1944 in a crash near Ibbenbüren/Westphalia after being shot down by a Mosquito. (17 Abschüsse when he was killed.)
P/O. Bernard Michael Hayes. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot KK. Grave 23. Son of Michael and Alice Hayes and husband of Ena Beatrice Hayes of Putney, London, England.
Sgt. James Maurice Ella. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot KK. Grave 22. Son of James and Malinda M. Ella of West Butterwick, Lincolnshire, England.
Sgt. Richard Henry John Wellfar. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot KK. Grave 24. Son of James and Winifred Edith Wellfare of Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
Sgt. Wilfred Keith Walker. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot KK. Grave 26. Son of William and Annie Elisabeth Walker of Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England.
Sgt. Kenneth Lloyd Radcliffe. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. XVI.B.13. Son of John and Ethel Florence Radcliffe of Rivers, Manitoba, Canada. Sadly, the family also lost another son, just 5 months earlier, LAC Albert John Radcliffe during a transportation flight on the 19/20th October 1943. What has been described as the largest loss of life to Canadian service personnel in an air accident.
Sgt. William Griffin Perrie. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot KK. Grave 27. Son of Mitchell and Margaret Griffin Perrie of Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to William Czuboka of Find-A-Grave for use of photograph. With thanks to Glynn Jones for the references to Sgt. Michael Fedoruk's evasion story. Other sources as quoted below.