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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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75 Squadron Crest
27/28.04.1944 No. 75 Squadron Lancaster III ND796 AA-J F/O. Herron

Operation: Friedrichshafen

Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (RNZAF)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND796

Code: AA-J

Base: RAF Mepal

Location: Langenhart near Stockach

Pilot: F/O. Robert Weir Herron NZ/422282 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John William Germing 1803074 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Matthew Roland Henderson NZ/427204 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival 553063 RAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Euan Wilfred McLachlan NZ/415266 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: W/O. Keith Alfred Smith NZ/416022 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Peter Ernest Chilman 155993 RAFVR Age ? Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 22:05 hrs from RAF Mepal to attack the small town of Friedrichshafen the reason being that it contained important factories manufacturing gearboxes and engines for the German tank force. The attack was arranged on a moonlit night to make the bombing more successful. Although more dangerous doing this the town was south of the country and on the very limit of Luftwaffe night-fighters.

The bomber stream approached and bombed the target with no interception from fighters. However, during the attack the Luftwaffe arrived. 18 of the 322 Lancasters were brought down.

It is estimated that 100 twin-engined night fighters were sent to intercept the 322 Lancasters in the bomber stream - Lancaster ND796 was shot down at 01:37 hrs by Fw. Gunther Bahr of 3./NJG6 with the aircraft crashing at Langenhart near Stockach.

The attack itself proved very successful with 1,234 tons of bombs being dropped resulting in an estimated 99 acres (67%) of the town being devastated - the gearbox factory was destroyed along with other important buildings. Civil reports state that 136 people were killed and a further 375 injured, with 656 houses destroyed and 421 damaged to a severe degree.

Above left: F/O. Euan Wilfred McLachlan. Right: rear - Russell Young, F/O. James Allan Fleming, Sgt. Francis Scott, centre - Bob Vancy, F/O. Euan McLachlan, front - Les Brown, ‘Bubs’ Richards, Dave Thomas, Fl/Sgt John Cecil Turner. (courtesy Jan Field-Dodgson)

(1) This was the 16th kill for Fw. Gunther Bahr who went on to claim a confirmed total of 37 kills. He survived the war, passed away on the 29th April 2009.

Burial details:

F/O. Robert Weir Herron. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of David Craig Herron, and of Edith Stewart Herron (née Smart), of Auckland City, New Zealand. M.A. (Otago University).

Sgt. John William Germing. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of Wilhelmus Joseph and Leah Elizabeth Germing and husband of Lilian May Germing, of Potters Bar, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Matthew Roland Henderson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of Matthew C. Henderson, and of Agnes Henderson (née Findlay), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.

Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of Wallis George and Ellen Elizabeth Percival, of Blackheath, London, England.

F/O. Euan Wilfred McLachlan. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of Wallace Lamorg McLachlan and Erica McLachlan, of Tinwald, Canterbury, New Zealand.

W/O. Keith Alfred Smith. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. Son of William James Smith and Elsie Mary Smith, of Pahiatua, Wellington, New Zealand.

F/O. Peter Ernest Chilman. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.C.11-7. No further details are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown below. Thanks also to Jan Field-Dodgson (relative of the pilot, Sgt. Francis Scott and whose album these photographs were scanned - April 2017) Auckland War Memorial Museum. Other sources as well as Errol Martyn - For Your Tomorrow Vol’s 1-3.

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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