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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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635 Squadron Crest
05/06.01.1945 No. 635 Squadron Lancaster III PB564 F2-H Fl/Lt. J.B. Hayes

Operation: Hannover

Date: 05/06th January 1945 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 635 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB564

Code: F2-H

Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk

Location: Zuidvelde, Netherlands

Pilot: Fl/Lt. J.B. Hayes RAFVR PoW No further details

Pilot 2:  Fl/Lt. J. Hendry RAFVR PoW No further details

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. A.R. Hall 1522487 RAFVR PoW Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang, Germany.

Nav: Fl/Lt. W.M. Douglas DFC. 151153 RAFVR Evaded (1)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. James N. Steel 182373 RAFVR PoW No further details

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. R.B. Warner 1431279 RAFVR PoW No: 150024 Camp: DL/3A Dulag Luft Wetzlar / Luckenwalde

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Jack W. Emms DFM. 1604689 RAFVR PoW Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang, Germany. (2)

Air/Gnr: W/O. A.D. Clayton DFC. RAFVR Evaded (3)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Downham Market, Norfolk to attack the city of Hannover, Germany. 

This was the largest raid on Hannover since 1943 with 664 aircraft taking part - 14 Mosquitoes, 340 Halifaxes and 310 Lancasters. 

Above L-R: Fl/Lt. J.B Hayes, Fl/Lt. W.M Douglas DFC, Fl/Lt. J.N Steel, W/O. R.B Warner, Fl/Sgt. J.W. Emms DFM, W/O. A.D Clayon DFC and Fl/Sgt. B. McMasters.

The bombing was reported as widespread over the city with 3,605 apartments/flats destroyed, 250 people killed on the ground The fatalities included 229 foreigners or prisoners of war. Over 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped.

The allies losses were huge, mainly due to night fighter attacks but also to heavy flak.

33 aircraft were lost this night, 111 aircrew killed, 85 made PoW, 7 evading capture and a further 5 injured.

No claims for this aircraft by night fighters but many records have since been lost during this stage of the war. The crew all escaped from the aircraft by parachute prior to it crashing at 18:50 hrs, Zuidvelde, some 10 km. north west of Assen.

(1) Fl/Lt. W.M. Douglas DFC awarded on the 16th January 1945 - picked up on or around the 15th January 1945, arriving back in England in April.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Jack W. Emms DFM awarded 23rd March 1945.
(3) W/O. A.D. Clayton DFC awarded on the 18th September 1945 (w.e.from 4th January 1945) - picked up on or around the 15th January 1945, by Polish tank crews, arriving back in England in April.

Hannover showing devastation - 1945

As an important railroad and road junction and production centre, Hannover was a major target for strategic bombing during World War II, including the Oil Campaign. Targets included the AFA (Stöcken), the Deurag-Nerag refinery (Misburg), the Continental plants (Vahrenwald and Limmer), the United light metal works (VLW) in Ricklingen and Laatzen (today Hanover fairground), the Hanover/Limmer rubber reclamation plant, the Hanomag factory (Linden) and the tank factory M.N.H. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen (Badenstedt). 

Forced labourers were sometimes used from the Hannover-Misburg subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. 

Residential areas were also targeted, and more than 6,000 civilians were killed by the Allied bombing raids. More than 90% of the city centre was destroyed in a total of 88 bombing raids. 

After the war, the Aegidienkirche was not rebuilt and its ruins were left as a war memorial.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Hanover in April 1945. The US 84th Infantry Division captured the city on 10 April 1945.

Note: Hannover is now the popular spelling version rather than Hanover.

Burial details:

None - all survived.

Researched for: Christine Merritt - niece of Fl/Sgt. Jack W. Emms and dedicated to all relatives of the crew.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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