23/24.08.1943 83 Squadron Lancaster Mk III ED984 OL:A Flt.Lt. Ivor Charles Brian Slade DFC
Date: 23/24th August 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 83 Squadron
Type: Lancaster Mk III
Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire
Location: Nunsdorf, Germany
Pilot: Flt.Lt. Ivor Charles Brian Slade DFC. 121451. RAFVR. Age 19. Killed
Flt.Eng: Flt.Sgt. Vernon Charles Lewis DFM. 570550. RAF. Age 22. Killed
Nav: Flt.Lt. Alexander Niven Macpherson DFM. 124539. RAFVR. Age 24. Killed
Air Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Clifford Robinson. R146401. RCAF. Age 22. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: WO. William Charles Baker DFM. 642079. RAF. Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: WO. Harold Edward Allen. 1054029. RAFVR. Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Lt. Ronald Frank Weston Turner. 126809. RAF. Age? PoW No. 12726. Camp L3 - Sagan.(1)
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Avro Lancaster's of 83 Squadron is signalled off and ready for take off. (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
A map showing the area of the crash
W.R. Chorley’s RAF Bomber Command Losses of WW2 documents that the aircraft crash site was at Woltersdorf. However, research carried out by Uwe Benkal has determined that the actual crash site was in what is now the municipality of Nunsdorf, some 21 miles to the south of Berlin and about 1½ mile to the south of Dorfkirche Nunsdorf where the crew were probably buried. This cemetery was probably the one documented by the Graves Registration record as the Nunsdorf Cemetery.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Between 23/24th August and the 3/4th September 1943 over 1,600 operation were flown in three waves on Berlin.
Lancaster ED984 took off from RAF Wyton at 20.21hrs on the first operation to Berlin. The aircraft was coned in searchlights and was shot down by Luftwaffe night fighter and crashed into a wooded area near Woltersdorf. Much damage was caused to the city of Berlin, but flak and the Luftwaffe attacks were fierce and caused carnage to the attacking force. Of the 727 aircraft that took part in this operation 56 failed to return from this operation with the loss of 276 lives, 110 crew became PoW's, 2 managed to evade capture, 9 were interred and 8 crew were injured. These aircraft may have been hit by flak, run out of fuel or shot down by night fighters. This was Bomber Command's greatest loss of aircraft in one night so far in the war
As a PFF (Pathfinder Force) crew they had collectively 330 operational flights. To become a member of the Pathfinder Force crew members could volunteer, be seconded or be transferred when needed. PFF crews had to complete 45 operations rather than the usual 30 ops and they had a step up in rank and an increase in pay. Part of the roll of the PFF at RAF Wyton was to find and mark targets
(1) Ronald Frank Weston Turner DFC was promoted to Flt.Sgt on the 25th June 1942 and was awarded the DFC as per London Gazette dated 14th September 1943. On the 8th August 1946 Fg.Off. Ronald Frank Weston Turner extended his service for four years (seny. 25th June 1943) Promoted to Flt.Lt. 9th August 1946 (seny. 25th December 1945) Ronald transferred to the Secretarial Branch on the 13th May 1949 and was promoted to the rank of Sqn.Ldr. as of 1st January 1954. On the 1st January 1968 Sqn.Ldr. Turner was promoted to the rank of Wg.Cdr. and he retired on the 11th July 1975. He passed away on the 13th January 1990 and is remembered by a memorial bench over-looking the sea on a path between Durlston Castle and Tilly Whim Caves just about the SW Coastal Path near Swanage in Dorset. It gives his details as Wg.Cdr. Pathfinder and states he loved this place.
Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. (courtesy of the CWGC)
The crew were later reinterred at the Berlin Heerstrasse Cemetery which later became the Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery.
Flt.Lt. Ivor Charles Brian Slade DFC. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Son of Horace Bernard and Emily Caroline Slade of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Sgt. Ivor Charles Brian Slade was promoted to the rank of Plt.Off. on the 1st May 1942 and was awarded the DFC as per London Gazette 12th September 1942.
The citation for this award reads "This officer has completed many attacks on most important targets. On the night of July 2nd 1942, he captained an aircraft detailed to attack Breman. Having successfully accomplished his mission, he had just crossed the Dutch coast when his aircraft was heavily subjected to fire from two armed ships. The hydraulic system was rendered unserviceable, undercarriage, bomb doors and flaps falling down; the rear turret and the elevators were also damaged. Almost immediately an attack was made by a Ju.88. Further damage was sustained, and a fire of alarming proportions broke out near the main spar, and was only extinguished after considerable difficulty by two other members of the crew. The aircraft was now only 200 feet above the sea, and the position seemed hopeless, but Plt.Off. Slade was determined to fly on as far as possible towards his country. Displaying superb skill, he succeeded in reaching an airfield, where he successfully crash landed his damaged aircraft. Though young in years, this officer has shouldered the responsibilities of operational captain in the manner of a veteran"
(Left: courtesy of Stephen Farnell) Flt.Sgt. Vernon (Vernie) Charles Lewis DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Son of Hubert William Lewis VC and Edith Evelyn Lewis of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.
Flt.Sgt. Vernon Charles Lewis was awarded the DFM while serving with 83 Sqn with effect from the 23rd August 1943 as per London Gazette 20th March 1945.
Vernon's father Herbert William Lewis had been awarded the Victory Cross (VC) and the Medaille Militaire for his bravery during WW1 while serving in the Welsh Regiment in France. The London Gazette citation states "No 16224 Pte. Herbert William Lewis, Welsh Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during a raid. On reaching the enemy trenches Private Lewis was twice wounded, but refused to be attended to, and showed great gallantry in searching enemy dug-outs. He was again wounded and again refused attendance. At this point three of the enemy were observed to be approaching, and Private Lewis immediately attacked them single-handed, capturing all. Subsequently, during the retirement, he went to the assistance of a wounded man, and under heavy shell and riffle fire brought him to our lines, on reaching which he collapsed. Private Lewis showed throughout a brilliant example of courage, endurance and devotion to duty" .
Flt.Sgt. Lewis was due to get married when he took his last flight, his fiancé was a WRAF who went on to give birth to a boy. It was decided that the baby would be adopted and brought up as Herbert W. Lewis’ son (not grandson). Tragically Young Vernons’, as he was known by his family, life was also cut short as he too was killed. He was crushed waiting for a bus at Hobbs point Pembroke Dock on the way to work at a power station in Pembroke. He was just 27yrs of age.
Herbert William Lewis died on the 22nd February 1977 aged 80. His funeral was held at St Katharines Church. and buried with his wife and adopted son Vernon Lewis in Milford Haven Cemetery Thornton Road. Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Grave No 111.
Flt.Lt. Alexander Niven Macpherson DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Son of Alexander Niven Macpherson and Marion Macpherson of Clarkston, Renfrewshire.
Sgt. Alexander Niven Macpherson had served with 9 Sqn in 1940 and while returning to RAF Honington after an operation to Hanau, Germany the aircraft crashed killing two of the crew. Sgt. Macpherson was safe. For further details (see Wellington T2472)
(Left: from his service record) Plt.Off. Clifford Robinson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Born on the 23rd March 1921. Son of Peter Herman and Mary (née McArthur), Robinson of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
Promoted to Plt.Off. on the 23rd August 1943 with a Service No. J50179
WO. William Charles Baker DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Son of William Henry and Florence Baker of Birmingham. Husband of Betty Elsie Baker of Lozells, Birmingham.
Sgt. William Charles Baker was awarded the DFM while serving with 15 Sqn as per London Gazette 22nd November 1940
WO. Harold Edward Allen. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 8. D. 22-27. Son of Albert Edward and Amy Elizabeth of Birkenhead. Husband of Dorothy Elizabeth Allen of Rock Ferry, Birkenhead
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - Bomber Command Diaries 1939 - 1945, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Imperial War Museum, London Gazette archives, Flightglobal Archives, Stephen Farnell, W R Chorley - Bomber Command Losses 1943. Thanks to Bob Bunyar for the information regarding Ronald Turner’s memorial bench (Sep 2019). Thanks to Graham Waterton for the information regarding the crash site sent to him by Uwe Benkal (Dec 2019). Thanks to Maureen Hardaker for the updated information regarding the Lewis family. (Nov 2020).