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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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31/01.01.1943 No. 83 Squadron Lancaster I W4799 QL-S P/O. Jackson

Operation: Duesseldorf, Germany. 

Date: 31st / 01st January 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Time: 20.15 hours.

Unit: No. 83 PFF Squadron RAF

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4799

Code: OL-S

Base: RAF Wyton, Huntingdonshire.

Location: 1 mile south of Demen, Netherlands.

Pilot: P/O Leonard Thomas Jackson DFC J/15950 RCAF Age 21. Killed. (1)

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt David Smith 1008971 RAFVR Age 28. Killed.

Nav: Fl/Lt. James McMillan 109159 RAFVR Age 27. Killed.

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Basil Eldon Hargrove R/73175 RCAF Age 20. Killed.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Chadwick Taylor 1034269 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Daniel Crossthwaite R/127686 RCAF Age 20. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Robert Brettle 1382448 RAFVR Age 20. Killed. 

REASON FOR LOSS: 

Extract from No.83 Squadron ORB (Operational record Book) 30/31st December 1942. (Original also shown)

New years eve and a stand down. Our ideas of a party received a rude shock at noon when we were told to stand by. 

NFT's were carried out in a hurry, as not much time had been left for bombing up. We were reverted to main force of eight aircraft on Duesseldorf. Met forecast gave hopes of pretty good cloud protection which somewhat eased the situation especially as No.109 Squadron were going to find the target. Met. forecast broke down, there being very little thin cloud about. the defences spotted the marker flares and put up a barrage around them using quantities of "spider web" flak. The flak was accurate but somehow no one was even holed! Crews considered that this type of attack would be a real success provided flares are clear of cloud by about 3000 ft. That they can be above the flares, that the flares cannot be seen from the ground and that a fair size force be concentrated, (when used on heavily defended targets) even though the whole force cannot use the flares. 

In spite of all these draw backs the attack appears to have been successful and all crews showed much intelligence in allowing for position errors when bombing. No photo flashes were carried as the Met forecast was not suitable.



                   Above left to right: P/O. Jackson D.F.C., Fl/Sgt. Smith, Fl/Sgt. Les Brettle (courtesy Ian Robertson and Ray Brettle)

P/O. Jackson D.F.C. failed to return and he and his crew will be sadly missed. They are believed to have been shot down over Holland by a fighter and it seems had a fair chance of leaving the aircraft before it crashed. P/O Jackson was a favourite of the Squadron and his loss is sorely felt. He and his crew made a good example of co-operation and friendliness as well as determination! 

It is also worth mentioning that previously on the 31st July/1st August 1942, again on a raid to Duesseldorf P/O. Jackson with members of this crew were hit by heavy flak over the target area. Port and starboard engines failed at 6000 feet. Hydraulics U/S, aircraft had to make the return trip at a steady 6000 feet and returned safely. 

Note: It is believed that P/O Jackson and his crew were shot down by Hptm. Reinhold Knacke of I/NJG1. Reinhold Knacke was killed on the 2/3rd February 1943 following combat with a Short Stirling bomber, he and his R/Op, Feldwebel. Kurt Bundrock baled out and their damaged Me 110F-4 Wnr.4683. The lifeless body of Reinhold Knacke was found near the wreck of his aircraft which crashed 3 km E of Achterveld, Netherlands.

(1) Details of DFC P/O. Jackson - London Gazette 20th November 1942:

One night in July 1942, Pilot Officer Jackson was pilot of a four engined bomber detailed to attack the heavily defended town of Dusseldorf. 
While making his attack, his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and severely damaged. The port and starboard outer engines were put out of action but displaying expert airmanship, Pilot Office Jackson manoeuvred his aircraft way from the target area. 
On the return journey, he lost height until he was down to 6000 feet, when his aircraft was again engaged by searchlights and anti-aircraft fire, but by skilful evasive tactics, he was able to continue on his course and make a successful forced landing at his home base. Since this hazardous trip, Pilot Officer Jackson has taken part in many successful operations. By his high morale and fine conduct, both in the air and on the ground, he has set a valuable example.


                   Left: Original grave marker for the crew. Right: The graves at Uden Cemetery (courtesy Ray Brettle)

Burial details: 

P/O Leonard Thomas Jackson D.F.C. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of Leonard R. and Lillie May Jackson, of Riverside, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt David Smith. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of John and Catherine Knox Smith, of Markinch, Fife, husband of Elizabeth A.C. Smith. D.A. (Edi), Scotland.

Fl/Lt. James McMillan. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of Alexander and Margaret Slater McMillan, of Bathgate, West Lothian. M.A. (Edi), Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Basil Eldon Hargrove. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of John C. and Fronie A. Hargrove, of Baih, Carleton Co., New Brunswick, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Chadwick Taylor. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of John Albert and Eveline Taylor, of Littleborough, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Daniel Crossthwaite. Uden War Cemetery Grave 2.1.1.

Fl/Sgt. Leslie Robert Brettle. Uden War Cemetery Coll. Grave. 2.1. 2-7. Son of William Harvey Brettle, and of Grace Mary Brettle, of Hanwell, Middlesex, Englland.

Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to Ian Robertson for contacting us in May 2013 - also to Ray Brettle for information supplied. Thanks also to Douglas Wood for submitting information for the D.F.C citation of P/O Leonard Jackson and to Ian Robertson for the photo of his father. Nick and Carol Carter - "The Distinguished Flying Cross and how it was Won 1918-1995"

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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