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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 582 Squadron Lancaster III ND714 60:T Flt.Lt. Hewitt DFC

Operation: Douai

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

Unit: 582 Squadron (Pathfinder)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND714

Code: 60:T

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

Location: 4 km South West of Adinkerke, Belgium

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

Flt Eng: Plt Off. Vincent Brian Crosby DFM. 179049 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

Nav: Plt Off. Harry Louis Wilson DFM. 172790 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Plt Off. Robert Lonsdale Clenahan DFC. 175564 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Denis Flynn DFC. 177272 RAFVR Age 31. Killed (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Walter Smith DFC. 1483335 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

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

Air Gnr: Flt 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 WO. 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 nor accurate.

Lancaster ND714 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.

ND714 was claimed by Oblt Werner Hopf of 8./NJG5, his 8th Abschuss, 5-30 km south of Duinkerken at 2.600 m at 02:24 hrs. The aircraft crashed some 4 km South West of Adinkerke, Belgium, killing all the crew. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

Oblt. Werner Hopf 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:

Flt Lt. John Henry Hewitt. DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Coll. Grave V.H. 2-5. He was living in Hersham, Surrey at the time of his death. His probate record left effects to a Harold Henry Hewitt, a company director, whose relationship has not been established. Next of Kin details currently not available.

Flt Lt Hewitt was awarded the DFC whilst with 156 Squadron. Gazetted 21st April 1944

Plt Off. 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. Grave inscription reads: "ALWAYS REMEMBERED BY HIS LOVING WIFE KAY".

977944 Flt Sgt Crosby was awarded the DFM whilst with 156 Squadron. Gazetted 2nd June 1944.

Plt Off. 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. Grave inscription reads: 'AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM'.

1398438 Flt Sgt. Wilson was awarded the DFM whilst with 156 Squadron. Gazetted 2nd June 1944.

Plt Off. 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. Grave inscription reads: "THERE'S SOME CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD THAT IS FOR EVER ENGLAND".

Plt Off. Clenahan was awarded the DFC (effective 14th June 1944) whilst with 582 Squadron. Gazetted 21st December 1945.

Plt Off. 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? Grave inscription reads: 'ON HIS SOUL, SWEET JESUS, HAVE MERCY R.I.P.'.

Plt Off. Denis Flynn DFC. had been trained as a Navigator. 1430873 WO Flynn was awarded the DFM whilst with 156 Squadron. Gazetted 2nd June 1944.

WO. Walter Smith DFC. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 2. Son of Joseph and Jessie Smith, nephew of Edna Brookes, of Stretford, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'GOOD NIGHT, BIG BOY, GOD BLESS YOU WHEREVER YOU MAY BE'.

WO Smith was awarded the DFC (effective 12th June 1944) whilst with 582 Squadron. Gazetted 21st December 1945

Flt 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. Grave inscription reads: 'DEEP IN OUR HEARTS A MEMORY IS KEPT OF ONE WE ALL LOVED WE WILL NEVER FORGET'.

Flt Sgt. Albert Bouch DFM. Coxyde Military Cemetery. Grave V.G. 1. Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Bouch, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'IN AFFECTIONATE MEMORY OF OUR DEAR SON AND BROTHER. LOVED AND MISSED BY ALL''.

Flt Sgt Bouch was awarded the DFM (effective 14th June 1944) whilst with 582 Squadron. Gazetted 25th January 1946.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Carolyn Thompson and Gladys - very good friends of WO. Walter Smith. With thanks to Johan Samyn for advising us the correct serial number of this aircraft - April 2018. Thanks to John Jones for the awards information and for the information regarding Flt Lt Hewitt. (Apr 2021).


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.

02.04.2021 - Narrative update

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
Reference Pages
Bomber Command Memories • Abbreviations • Gardening Codenames • CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained
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