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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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Bomber Command Crest
14/15.06.1944 No. 582 Squadron Lancaster III NE172 60-T Fl/Lt. John H. Hewitt D.F.C.

Operation: Douai

Date: 14/15th June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 582 Squadron (Pathfinder)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: NE172

Code: 60-T

Base: RAF Little Staughton, Cambridgeshire (formerly in Huntingdonshire)

Location: 4 km South West of Adinkerke, Belgium

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Henry Hewitt DFC. 161083 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Vincent Brian CrosbyDFM. 179049 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

Nav: P/O. Harry Louis Wilson DFM. 172790 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: P/O. Robert Lonsdale Clenahan DFC. 175564 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Denis Flynn DFC. 177272 RAFVR Age 31. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Walter Smith DFC. 1483335 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Gilbert Valentine Cottrell 1350378 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Albert Bouch DFM. 1336404 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Carolyn Thompson and her mother would like to make contact with relatives of any of the crew as they have no photographs or details of their friend W/O. Walter Smith DFC.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 00:24 hrs. as a pathfinder for some of the 330 aircraft attacking the railway installations at Douai, Cumbrai and St-Pol. 

All the targets were either cloud covered or haze with a result that the bombing was neither concentrated or accurate.

Lancaster NE172 was the master bomber for the Douai target and the only Lancaster lost on this operation. It was attacked by night fighters and shot down by the ace Oblt Werner Hopf (2) of 8./NJG5 with the aircraft engaged 10-20 kn North East of St-Omer at 02.24 hrs. The aircraft crashed some 4 km South West of Adinkerke, Belgium, killing all the crew.

(1) P/O. Denis Flynn DFC. had been trained as a Navigator.
(2) This was the 8th abschüsse for Oblt. Hopf (He also claimed a 78 Squadron Halifax LV874  a little earlier at 02:05 hrs) He went on to claim a total of 22 aircraft on night fighter operations, he survived the war but we have no further details what became of him.

       

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Henry Hewitt. DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Coll. Grave V.H. 2-5. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

P/O. Vincent Brian Crosby DFM. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 3. Son of Vincent and Charlotte Crosby, husband of Kathleen Crosby, of Collooney, Co. Sligo, Irish Republic.

P/O. Harry Louis Wilson DFM. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Coll. Grave V.H. 2-5. Son of Henry George and Minnie Wilson, of Peckham, London, husband of Ivy Anne Wilson, of Peckham, London, England.

P/O. Robert Lonsdale Clenahan DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 6. Son of Robert and Harriet A. H. Clenahan, husband of Vera Clenahan, of Derby, England.

P/O. Denis Flynn DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Coll. Grave V.H. 2-5. Son of Denis and Margaret Flynn. Address details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

W/O. Walter Smith DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 2. Son of Joseph and Jessie Smith, nephew of Edna Brookes, of Stretford, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Gilbert Valentine Cottrell. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Coll. Grave V.H. 2-5. Son of Samuel James Cottrell and Eliza Anne Cottrell, husband of Marjorie Ellen Cottrell, of West Cross, Glamorgan, Wales.

Fl/Sgt. Albert Bouch DFM. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 1. Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Bouch, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Carolyn Thompson and Gladys - very good friends of W/O. Walter Smith. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. 

For further reading we recommend books written by the Pathfinder specialist, Mr. Sean Feast - which include such titles as ’The Pathfinder Companion’, ‘The Experiences of a Pathfinder Squadron at War’ - all available on Amazon.

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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Last Modified: 25 March 2015, 10:38

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