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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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106 Squadron Crest
08/09.10.1943 106 Squadron Lancaster III DV272 ZN:F Sqn.Ldr. David Howroyd

Operation: Hanover

Date: 08/09th October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 106 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: DV272

Code: ZN:F

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: Ronnenberg, Germany

Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. David William Southam Howroyd 40115 RAF Age 25. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Alan Williams 1677696 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Thomas Herbert Davies 159934 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Air Bmr: Plt.Off. Lester David Cromb J18230 RCAF Age 27. PoW No: 3219 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria.

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Stanley Knox Chappell 976906 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Ronald Glendinning Kelly 1559792 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air Gnr: Fg.Off. Alan James Horobin RAFVR 127862 Age 21 Killed


Took off from RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire at 22:51 hrs. joining a force comprising 282 Lancasters, 26 Wellingtons and 188 Halifaxes. This total force of 496 aircraft was despatched on this mission whilst the largest diversionary raid of the war thus far, was carried out on Bremen by 95 Stirlings and 24 Pathfinder heavies. A second diversionary raid was carried out on Berlin by 7 Mosquitoes. The raid on Hanover was to be the last in which Wellingtons took part.

Above: This photograph was apparently taken during May 1943 and depicts some crew members from DV272. The only individuals that can be identified are: Standing 1st from left: Sgt. Howard John Taylor. Sitting 3rd from left: Fg.Off. Alan J. Horobin. (Information courtesy of Clive Smith)

Sgt. Howard John Taylor 1379964, was aboard 106 Sqn Lancaster I W4842, which lost on the 27th May 1943. He and his crew became PoWs.

430 of the aircraft designated to attack Hanover delivered a most concentrated attack against the city whilst 7 reported attacking the alternative areas. For various reasons 32 aircraft aborted the sortie and 27 did not return.

Weather over the target was described as cloudless but hazy. The searchlights were hampered by the haze and flak was reported as being only moderate. Though initially deceived by the diversionary attacks a significant number of enemy fighters met the main bomber stream near Hoya about 60km north of Hanover and followed it. Thus, considerable fighter activity was reported during the latter stages of the route and over the target. Perhaps not surprisingly only one of the 27 losses was definitely attributable to flak and though only 8 of the rest were actually observed being shot down by fighters it is probable that most of the other losses were owing to enemy fighters.

The pathfinder force commenced bombing at 01:26hrs, the H2S groundmarking being exceptionally accurate. The main force attacked from 01.34hrs until 01:50hrs devastating two square miles of the city centre and damaging 62 factories, much railway, commercial and residential property and numerous military installations.

Photographs and location details our sincere thanks to German researcher Mr. Dirk Hartmann who also interviewed an eye witness to the crash and has carried out extensive work on this and many other losses.

Mr. Dirk Hartmann went to the crash area in February 2016 and met an eye witness Mr. Fricke. He explained that the tail unit was severed from the fuselage and was seen to be hanging from trees opposite the field where DV272 fell. Both photographs above show a panoramic view of both the field and the trees where the tail unit fell.

Prior to service Alan Horobin worked at the famous Claridges Hotel, Mayfair, London.

DV272 was coned by Scheinwerfer Rgt. 56 (Werfer 62), hit by 2.-5./schw. Flak Abt. 521, 3./schw. Flak Abt. 461 and 1./schw. Flak Abt. 418 (Eisb.). The aircraft crashed at Ronnenberg at 01:41 hours. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 September - 31 December) 1943 Part 3 - Theo Boiten)).

2 Lancasters were lost from 106 Squadron on this raid, the other:

W4242 ZN:A Flown by 20 year old Plt.Off. John Edwin Hay 412958 RAAF from Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia. Killed with all his 6 other crew.

Some of this crew survived earlier ditching in the North Sea just over a month previously. Lancaster III JA893 ZN:C

Burial details:

(Grave photographs kindly supplied by Dirk Hartmann)

Sqn.Ldr. David William Southam Howroyd. Hannover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.3. Son of Bernard William and Marjorie Helen Howroyd and husband of Barbara Arm Lester Howroyd, of Kelvedon, Essex, England. Epitaph reads: "There's Some Corner In A Foreign Land That Is Forever England".

Sgt. Alan Williams. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.5. Son of Edwin and Rose Williams, of Cockerham, Lancashire, England.

His 18 year old brother, Sig. Owen Williams 14913071 also died on service whilst with Royal Corps of Signals. Buried at Yeovil Cemetery. On a trooping flight to India on the 22nd November 1945 when after take off from RAF Merryfield, Liberator VIII KH126 from 53 Squadron struck a hill side at Whites Farm, Broadway some 4.5 miles from the airfield. All 27 passengers and crew were killed. See Allied Losses and Incidents Database.

Sgt. Thomas Herbert Davies. Hannover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.4. Son of Herbert L. and Martha A. Davies, of St. David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Epitaph reads: "Blessed Are The Pure In Heart For They Shall See God".

(Grave photographs kindly supplied by Dirk Hartmann)

Sgt. Douglas Stanley Knox Chappell. Hannover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.6. Born Hythe, Kent on 25 Nov 1911, he was the son of Harold Stanley and Ethel May (née Knox) Chappell of Southwark, London.

At the start of hostilities in 1939, Douglas was employed as an electrician. He married Margaret MacDonald at Biggleswade in the September 1943 Qtr. Daughter Ann arrived in the June 1944 Qtr.

Flt.Sgt. Ronald Glendinning Kelly. Hannover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.1. Next of Kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Fg.Off. Alan James Horobin. Hannover War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.2. Alan James Horobin was the only child of Theodore Horobin (born in 1892 in Paddington, London) and Kathleen Julia James.

They were married in West Ham, London in 1921 and Alan was born on 22nd May in 1922 in Hampstead, London. His parents sadly divorced and Theodore Horobin died in June 1932 aged 40 in Paddington, London. His mother, Kathleen remarried in 1949 (a Samuel McLachlan who died in 1953) in Nottingham (where she had been living with her sister Annie and her family). She eventually returned to the London area and her death is registered in Battersea in December 1962 aged 67. Mary Gauntlett-Munn contacted us in January 2018 and as the only living relative she has managed to keep a lot of details and photographs.

Plt. Off. Lester David Cromb was born on 26 June 1916 at Regina , Saskatchewan, Canada the son of James Cromb and Jessie Cromb nee Esther. He had two siblings: Dorothy Cromb and Evelyn Cromb.

On 8 August 1940 he married Doris Mary Cowan.

Lester David Cromb died on 6 August 1964 at Brandon Manitoba aged 48

Newspaper cutting from the Regina Leader Post 21 December 1943 kindly contributed by David Champion.

With many thanks to Mary Gauntlett-Munn (née James - cousin of Fg.Off. Alan James Horobin), also to Dirk Hartmann for his valuable research for Mary. To our Roy Wilcock for his research on this Hanover operation. Thanks to Clive Smith for highlighting the inconsistencies and duplications for this report and that of the report for Lancaster III JA893 ZN:C (Feb 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Feb 2021).

RS 06.02.2021 - Reviewed and updated

RW 05.09.2022 - News cutting and bio details of Lester David Cromb.

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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.
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