23/24.02.1945 No. 97 squadron Lancaster III PB588 OF-E Fl/Lt. Bernard J. Hines
Operation: Horten, Norway
Date: 23/24th February 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 97 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
Location: Bakkeåsen, Âsgârdstrand, Norway
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Bernard John Hines 195458 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. J. McDonald Sinclair 637117 RAF Age 32. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. Murray Robert McQuillan J/28958 RCAF Age 22. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: W/O. Allan John Marrable 1324141 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Denis Moroney 1134042 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. John Ray 162911 RAFVR Age 38. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Cyril Willie Palmer 2221381 RAFVR Age 36. Killed
On the 23rd May 2014 we were contacted by Mr. Arne Jørgen Ludvigsen who had, at the invitation of Mr Jan H. Steen of Åsgårdstrand Historical Society, been invited over to see the memorial that they had erected for this crew. We are delighted that the brother of the pilot, Peter Hines, contacted us in July 2014. We are keen to contact Jan Steen, as Thore Thoresen would like to make contact with his old school friend.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 16.50 hrs from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, joining 72 other Lancasters and 10 Mosquitoes to attack the shipyards at Horten.
Above left: Bernard Hines in Torquay on 24th August 1941 and right at 32 EFRS Saskatchewan 13th October 1941 (courtesy Peter Hines)
The raid was considered very successful with accurate bombing recorded with very little civilian damage and no reported civilian casualties. Lancaster PB588 OF-E had ben the only casualty this night. Shot down during as exchange of fire with Ju88G-6 B4+GA, crashing at Âsgârdstran.
Above and below: Pictures taken by the Norwegian resistance movement of the crash site (courtesy Peter Hines)
Other photographs have been submitted showing the crews bodies wrapped in parachutes - we have decided that we will not show them here.
The pilot, Fw. Kurt Keilig and his B.F. Fw. Kurt Schroter had taken off from Gardermoen at 20.10 hrs intercepting Lancaster PB588 at between 2030 and 20.50 hrs. They incorrectly identified the aircraft at the time as a Stirling his second of the war. It is known that he survived but no other information is currently available.
Best described by a young resident at the time, Mr. Thore Thoresen, who wrote to us in November 2013:
"Refreshing my memory of the wartime days in occupied Norway. My hometown, Horten, was the main base for the Norwegian Navy before the war, including a shipyard for building new warships as well as the maintenance of older ones.
The Germans took it over following the invasion in 1940, but it didn't really get into to limelight until after the Normandy invasion, when the Germans moved most of their U-boats from the French channel ports to Norway. Horten with its ready-made support facilities got its share, which gave rise to extensive RAF night raids beginning in the fall of 1944 and lasting all the way until the war ended.
Right: Pilot of Lancaster PB588, Fl/Lt. Bernard Hines (courtesy of Peter Hines)
I was in grade school during this time, and it was a rare night when we had no air raid alarm and thus no time in the basement shelter of our home. We kids loved this as we would be starting school an hour later the next morning for alerts lasting past midnight. The RAF air operations were mostly by Halifaxes for dropping mines into the Oslo-fjord, but an occasional target bombing mission would liven things up.
I remember Christmas Eve 1944 like it were today. We were at my grandfather's house, and right next to it was a German flak battery that never before had fired a shot during mining over-flights. This time we were out in the garden, listening to the Germans hollering through the droning of aircraft overhead.
It was a hazy, moonlight night, and suddenly I spotted the shady figure of a slow moving aircraft up there heading up the fjord. But so did the Germans at that precise moment, and they opened up from several 20 mm quadruple fours. We stormed back into the house, trampling on my grandfather who stumbled on the steps, and made it down to the cellar - my grandfather the last one to get there.
The next really big show I can specifically remember came on the night of December 28. The German flak crews were said to be rather angry because their Christmas rations at this point of the war had been rather meagre. So they dropped the waiting game and opened up in anger with everything as soon as aircraft droned overhead, Horten was a well defended town with everything from small-caliber machine guns to 20 mm, 37 mm, and the fearsome 88 mm flak guns.
The tracer streams rose like waving chains of pearls, and I picked up a bucketful of shrapnel as well as Windows strips from our lawn the next morning. We wondered what these strips were good for - our theory that time was that they would serve to reflect searchlight. Of course, radar was not known then.
On occasion, some of my more adventurous class mates would get to a mis-aimed parachute sea-mine and scrape out some of its sulphuric stuffing before the Germans could get there. Failing magnesium marker sticks were a favourite target for us for clandestine fireworks of our own.
Above are several shots of the raid in question. They were taken by Morten Bexrud (see acknowledgements below) who was next to us on the hill that night. His brother, Sverre Bexrud was a Navy torpedo specialist who launched two fishes that helped sink the German battle cruiser Blücher on the morning of the German invasion. During the bombing this night they bitt a bomb shelter, killing over 300 German soldiers - estimated that over 2,400 bombs were dropped by the bomber stream.
On one occasion, I saw an exchange of air-to-air fire between a German nightfighter and a bomber. The German came down from the direction of Oslo, and was visible only because his navigation lights were on - probably by mistake. I saw a stream of tracer fire coming at him from out of the dark in front of him, and then he disappeared from sight with no further action.
On the night of February 23/24th 1945, a force of Mosquito markers and Lancaster bombers destroyed the town's shipyard. After that attack was over, my father and I made it up to the top of the hill behind our house and looked down on the blazing inferno left behind. During this action, a Lancaster was shot down and hit the ground in Aasgaardstrand, some five miles south of Horten. The crew perished and was buried at our neighbouring town of Tønsberg. Hundreds of Norwegians came to the ceremony, greatly angering the occupants and the Norwegian nazis."
(1) McQuillan Lake has been named after Fl/Lt. Murray Robert McQuillan on November 11th 2000
On the 23rd May 2014, Mr. Arne Jørgen Ludvigsen wrote to us and informed us of a telephone conversation he had with an eye witness of this crash, a Mr Jan H. Steen. Through a common acquaintance, I was put in contact yesterday night with Mr Jan H. Steen of Åsgårdstrand Historical Society, just across the Oslo Fjord from Moss.
He could supply me (us) with more very interesting info regarding both Maynard’s PB134 and the PB588 (23/24.02 1945, pilot Bernard J. Hines). This is what he said, in brief:
"I am 81 years old, born in 1933. Through my relatives in Moss, I have attended the Maynard memorial celebration at Moss Civil Cemetery around 2002/2003 and thought it was a pity that we in Åsgårdstrand didn’t also have a memorial stone, since both PB134 and PB588 crash-landed in our community, just 7 weeks from each other.
In fact I witnessed the crash-landing of PB588 myself as a 12-year-old boy.
You guys in Moss were drawn into this by pure coincidence, since Maynard didn’t go down with his plane and mates, but was found in Moss Bay later that year.
Mr Steen continued:
The two planes came down only about 1 kilometre from each other on those two occasions. Many elderly people in Åsgårdstrand still remember those two nights 31.12/01.01 and 23.02/24.02 1945 very well and know that the PB134 hit the sea at Østerskjær (south of Bastøy) and the PB588 hit the ground at Bakkeåsen, on land, but quite near the sea.
Today the place is Åsgårdstrand’s sports ground. When I returned from the Maynard event in Moss in 2002 (or 2003), I suggested for the other members of Åsgårdstrand Historical Society that we collect money for a memorial stone for ‘both’ crews.
We liked the idea and we succeeded after some time. On Liberation Day, 8th May 2006, our stone was erected.
Right: Close up of the memorial plaque:
Translation of the text on the memorial stone for the crews of PB134 and PB588
We have, for 9 years now, put down a wreath on ‘our’ stone and said a few words on that day. Unfortunately we don’t have a long tradition like you have in Moss, so only about 10-20 people turn up here, but we also try to keep the memories alive.
‘Per ardua ad astra’ = ‘Through struggle to the stars’ (RAF Motto)
This memorial was erected 8. May 2006
in memory of our allied airmen who
gave their lives for our freedom in the
following two plane crashes towards the
end of WW 2 1940-45:
Lancaster OL-N PB134 from 83 Squadron
Shot down at Østerskjær outside
Åsgårdstrand – the night between 31.12.44 and 1.1.45
(+ the 8 names of the crew)
Lancaster OF-E PB 588 from 97 Squadron
Crashed in Åsgårdstrand 23.02.45
(Translated from Norwegian by Jørgen Ludvigsen)
When I remembered to ask Mr Steen why the PB588 crew were not buried in Åsgårdstrand but at Tønsberg Old Cemetery (as the photo on this page shows us), he said:
There was already an Allied War Grave from the First World War in Tønsberg, so the airmen were buried there together with the seamen who died in ‘The Great Sea Battle of Jutland’ on 31st May, and 1st June 1916.
They share the tombs with the seamen, and the names of the aircrew were put below the other inscriptions. They only found 6 of the 7 men in PB588, one of them probably hit the sea before the plane hit the ground some 500 meters from the shore and has never been found.
Why don’t you come and see for yourself - if you have time, Mr Ludvigsen?"
I liked his proposal very much, so I have now just returned from a fantastic trip across the fjord by the ferry today (23rd May 2014) and I have included several fine pictures for you - of motives I did not know existed two days ago. (Sadly Mr Steen was leaving that day for a trip, so Jørgen never actually met up with him.)
All the best, Jørgen.
Jørgen kindly supplied us with photographs of the wonderful memorial that they have erected and also the crew graves (available at high resolution for relatives and friends of the crew)
note: Åsgårdstrand translated means 'The shore where the (old Norse) gods live.'
Fl/Lt. Bernard John Hines. Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.2. Son of Henry and Gertrude Lydia Hines, of Boscombe, Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. J. McDonald Sinclair. Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.5. Son of Jasper and Christina Sinclair, of Scarfskerry, Caithness-shire, Scotland.
Fl/Lt. Murray Robert McQuillan. Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.7. Son of Robert and Dorothy McQuillan. Brother of Edwin, Darrell, Warren, Bryce, Eleanor, Alma, Viola, Doreen, Marian, Helen and Leona McQuillan. From Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada. Born on December 30th 1922.
W/O. Allan John Marrable. Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.3. Son of William George and Rhoda Marrable, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Denis Moroney. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 272. Son of Francis and Thelma Moroney, of Lincoln, England.
Fl/Lt. John Ray Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.4. Husband of Winifred Kathleen Joyce Ray, of Chippenham, Wiltshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Cyril Willie Palmer Tonsberg Old Cemetery. Grave 10.6. Son of Willie Preston Palmer and Annie Palmer; husband of Nora Phyllis Palmer, of Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Peter Hines (brother of pilot) Thore Thoresen, Mr Jan H. Steen, Åsgårdstrand Historical Society, Arne Jørgen Ludvigsen, Morten Bexrud, Stian Ludvigsen, Kerry Walsh who contacted us in July 2015 - his wife is 2nd cousin to Cyril Palmer and he sent us the photo. 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 (for cemetery photograph and details). Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.