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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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576 Squadron Crest
23/24.12.1943 No. 576 Squadron Lancaster III ED713 UL-W2 P/O. Richard L. Hughes

Operation: Berlin

Date: 23/24th December 1943

Unit: No. 576 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED713

Code: UL-W2

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds

Location: Near Hanover, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Richard Lloyd Hughes 144946 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Eric Frederick Paton 1804153 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Jack Woodruff 1231482 RAFVR PoW No. 269805 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe

Air/Bmr: Sgt. D A H Morris 1322619 RAFVR PoW No. 269793 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Phillip Gray 1314934 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Francis Edgar Arthur Rivett 1804254 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank H Lanxon 1312692 RAFVR PoW No. 269785 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria.

REASON FOR LOSS:

ED713 had taken off from Elsham Wolds at 00:32 on the 24th December 1943, destination Berlin, on what was to be their first and only operation, this aircraft had a total of 485 hours.

Photographs of Lancaster ED713 (courtesy Richard Edie who’s father, we understand took these photographs)

Sgt. Frank H Lanxon RAFVR PoW at Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria. (courtesy Jenny Hick)

ED713 crashed into deep snow in a thickly wooded area near Hannover. Sgt Lanxon who, with two other comrades managed to bale out of the stricken Lancaster, landed close by and despite losing blood from his wounds, carried out a search of the wreckage in the hope of finding survivors. Exhausted and without his flying boots, which had been ripped off as his parachute opened, he had to give himself up to local villagers.

(courtesy Richard Edie who’s father, we understand took these photographs)

In the morning, it was confirmed that his comrades had died and they now rest at Hannover War Cemetery. Sergeants Woodruff, Morris and Lanxon all managed to escape by parachute and spent the rest of the war as prisoners of war.

Bomber Command dispatched 379 aircraft to Berlin that night and 16 Lancasters failed to return which was not as heavy as usual due to the night fighters encountering difficult weather and also a successful Mosquito diversion to Leipzig which confused the German controller. The raid was not a success due to cloud cover over the target and the fact that more than half the Pathfinders had trouble with their H2S radar sets.


(courtesy Richard Edie who’s father, we understand took these photographs)

Also on that night, flying from RAF Elsham Wolds:
103 Squadron lost a Lancaster III JB730 PM-P - Flown by 30 year old Fl/Sgt. Michael McMahon AUS/414070 RAAF from Townsnville, Queensland, Australia, all crew of 7 killed.
Lancaster III ED913 UL-U2 - Flown by 29 year old F/O. John Henry Richards 129228 RAFVR, from Sandford, Somerset, England - killed with 6 crew, 1 taken PoW.

Confirmed by the leading Luftwaffe night fighter research authors Dr. Theo Boiten and Mr Roderick Mackenzie that Oblt. Paul Szameitat (2) shot down this aircraft.

Oblt. Paul Szameitat (Archives)

(2) This was the 6th claim by Oblt. Paul Szameitat who went on to make a total of 29 kills before he lost his life on the 1/2nd January 1944 at Obernkirchen near Bückeburg during an air combat.

Burial details:

P/O. Richard Lloyd Hughes. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 3.H.16. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. James Eric Frederick Paton. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 3.H.16. Son of Clara Emmeline Paton, of Brighton, Sussex, England.

Sgt. John Phillip Gray. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 3.H.18. From Bristol, England. Further information: Born on the 11th September 1923 at 1 Highbury Buildings, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset the son of Herbert Gray (1897-1986) and his first wife, Lily Bridget Williams (1898-1931). Address at date of loss 116 Wordsworth Road, Horfield, Bristol, 7. Had been a Choirboy at St.Gregory The Great Church. Horfield. Bristol.

Prior to service worked at the Wills Tobacco Plant in Bristol.

The telegram was delivered to his parents house on Christmas Eve, his father Herbert and his wife had gone for a drink and had told the three remaining children to go upstairs and not come down. The telegram boy knocked the door and a daughter shouted out of the window for the boy to post it through the letterbox.

Herbert and Doris returned but didn't find the telegram until Christmas morning. This was the reason why Herbert hated Christmas so much.

Telegram 24th December 1943:

Regret to inform you that your son Sgt. John Philip Gray is reported missing as the result of air operations on the night of 23/24 Dec 43. Stop. Letter follows. Stop. Any further information received will be immediately forwarded.

The death was not confirmed until March 1944.

He drew up a Will and left money to his girlfriend Miss Edna May Fare (1923-2012) of 39 Thanet Road. Bedminster. Bristol.The remainder of the Estate went to his sister Ruby Ann and his Father was appointed Executor of the Will.

Sgt. Francis Edgar Arthur Rivett. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 3.H.19. Son of Arthur Henry and Isabella Rosalind Mary Rivett, of Thetford, Norfolk, England.

Left: Original grave marker for Sgt. Rivett at Hannover War Cemetery (courtesy Tarr family)

Researched Jason Jenkinson and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Jenny Hick for photograph of Frank Lanxon, also to Martyn and Annette Harris for extensive information on Sgt. John Gray - February 2017.

KTY 25.04.2016 New information added regarding Luftwaffe claim. 19.02.2017 new information added on Sgt. John Gray.

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: 19 February 2017, 20:52

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