24/25.09.1944 No. 626 Squadron Lancaster I LL797 UM:B2 Fg.Off. Jack P. Hutchinson DFC
Date: 24/25 February 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 626 RAF Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire.
Location: Marsal, France.
Pilot: Fg.Off. Jack Pierce Hutchinson DFC 416501 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. Bryan Robert Bowditch 1322645 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Arthur Hodgson 1686419 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
Nav: Plt.Off. Leonard Earl Goodkey J19575 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: Fg.Off. Peter Henry Wilson Young 135656 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Robert Edgeworth 1508681 RAFVR Age 18. Killed
Air Gnr: WO2. Hector Frederick Binder J72273 RCAF Age 33. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Kenneth Joseph Macey 1320991 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Bomber Command planned a large raid for the night of Thursday, February 24 to follow up on an earlier daylight attack by bombers of the USAAF on the ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt.
In all, a force of 734 aircraft comprised mainly of Lancasters with some Halifaxes and a few Mosquitos took off in two distinct waves. The first wave of a little more than half of the total force, started to take off just after 18:00 hours with the remainder following two hours later.
Crew photo: Standing L-R Sgt. Edgeworth, WO. Binder, Fg.Off. Young, Sgt. Macey. Front row L-R Fg.Off. Hutchinson, Plt.Off. Goodkey, Sgt. Hodgson (courtesy of Wickenby Register-see credits)
The first wave, of which LL797 was one, took the brunt of the night fighter defences losing 22 of their number compared to eleven in the second wave.
Witnesses interviewed after hostilities ended stated that the bomber was hit by fire from a night fighter at an altitude of approximately 1500 feet and exploded in mid air. Wreckage was spread over a wide area between the villages of Marsal, Haraucourt and Saint Medard with the main part of the fuselage diving straight in and coming to rest in a 15 foot crater.
Although unconfirmed, it is believed that LL797 was a victim of Luftwaffe ace Stabs Fw. Reinhardt Kollack who, over the course of the war, downed 49 Allied aircraft. Kollack survived the war re-inlisting in the Luftwaffe when the Bundeswehr was founded in 1956. He passed away at the age of 65 in 1980.
Hutchinson and Goodkey, when flying together with 12 Squadron, had a narrow escape on the 6 of September, 1943 when their Lancaster ED392
suffered engine failure and a subsequent fire over the North Sea. Whilst attempting to return to base, they were forced to ditch the aircraft which broke in two and sank. Air Sea Rescue were dispatched and managed to retrieve five members of the crew from a rubber dinghy. Sadly the bomb aimer and rear gunner were lost.
Right: Newspaper regarding earlier crash of the pilot.
Fg.Off. Hutchison’s citation on the award of his DFC effective 15 February 1944, just ten days prior to his death, reads:
"Pilot Officer Hutchinson has attacked such important targets as Berlin, Milan, Peenemunde and Munich.
Whilst on the way to attack Munich an engine caught fire and the aircraft had to be brought down on to the sea. As a result, he and his crew had to spend some 18 hours in the dinghy. On another mission damage was sustained over Frankfurt and only by superb airmanship did this officer succeed in flying the aircraft back to base.
This officer’ determination, skill and endurance have set a fine example to his crew."
One of the more unique aspects of this crew was the fact that it was comprised of an Australian, two Canadians and five British airmen. It is also significant to note the wide age difference in that the flight engineer Sgt. Hodgson, was almost twice the age of the wireless operator Sgt. Edgeworth who at 18 years would be one of the youngest to be killed on operations with Bomber Command.
Sgt. Bowditch was an extra member of the crew taken along for operational experience. All of the others except Sgt. Edgeworth were on their final sortie of their first tour.
(1) Goodkey Island near Parry Sound, Ontario is named after Plt.Off. Leonard Earl Goodkey.
Fg.Off. Jack Pierce Hutchinson DFC. Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Son of George Pierce Hutchinson and Ruby May Hutchinson of 28 Northgate Street, Unley Park, Glenelg, South Australia.
Sgt. Bryan Robert Bowditch, Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Son of Robert Thomas Bowditch and Florence Mabel Bowditch of Bognor Regis, Sussex, England.
Sgt. Arthur Hodgson, Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Born on the 3rd August 1908 in Yorkshire. Son of Hubert Alexander, and Ethel (née Lightowler) Hodgson and husband to Winifred (née Boardman) Hodgson of Low Moor, Yorkshire, England. He and Winifred had three children, Arthur, Eileen and Barrie.
Plt.Off. Leonard Earl Goodkey, Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Born on the 24th December 1920 at Long Branch, Ontario. Son of Charles C. and Elsie M. Goodkey of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.
Fg.Off. Peter Henry Wilson Young Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Son of Harry and Ethel Adeane Young of Woodford Green, Essex, England.
Sgt. Robert Edgeworth, Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Son of Harold and Dorothy Edgeworth of Liverpool, England.
WO2. Hector Frederick Binder, Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Grave 3. Son of Albert and Elizabeth Binder; husband of Irene Rose Binder of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Flt.Sgt. Kenneth Joseph Macey Marsal (Moselle) Churchyard Cemetery Collective Grave 1-2. Son of John and Mary Macey of Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Researched by Colin Bamford, Canadian researcher for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to relatives of the crew. Crew photograph courtesy of the Wickenby Register. Map update (Jul 2025). Thanks to Louise Baker for the family details for Sgt. Hodgson (Nov 2020).