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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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9 squadron badge
27/28.01.1944 No. 9 Squadron Lancaster I LL745 WS-M Fl/Lt. James

Operation: Berlin

Date: 27/28th January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster Mk.1

Serial: LL745

Code: WS-M

Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire

Location: Forest of Sulzthal (Bavaria)

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Stanley James 128908 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Georg Robert Tomlinson 172564 RAF Age 21. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Austin William Archer 1029029 RAFVR Age ?. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. A. Howie 1552456 RAFVR PoW No. 1063 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Ernest Burke, 1313837 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Mike W. Chivers 1600002 RAFVR PoW No. 977 (Camp Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Hal Croxson 1332776 RAFVR PoW No. 1016 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

Update November 2018: Mr. Mike Rutter contacted us - if you could contact us again Mike as the email address is not working?

We would like to appeal for photographs of this crew and any further information. We hold photographs of several smaller pieces recovered from the aircraft crash site which, we are not showing, but willing to send to relatives. The reason we do not want to place on the website is to avoid 'souvenir hunters' going to the area.

In August 2014 we have been contacted by a relative of the pilot, Fl/Lt. Stanley James.


Taking off at 17:15hrs. Raf Bardney, Lincolnshire, to join a total of 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitoes on the first night of 3 continuous night bombing on the German capital, Berlin.

Lancaster WS-M LL745 as drawn by Holger Wörner

The city was covered in cloud and sky matching had to be used. No assessment of the raid was possible by Bomber Command except that the bombing was widely spread. Local reports confirmed that some 61 small towns and villages outside the city were hit with 18 people on the ground being killed.

Left: Pilot, Fl/Lt. Stanley James (courtesy Elizabeth Cawthorn) Right: Artist impression of Fl/Lt. James in the pilot seat (courtesy Holger Wörner)

In the city itself a further 567 people were killed including 132 foreign workers. 20,000 people were bombed out of their homes.

No claims have been identified by the Luftwaffe nightfighter diaries but it is known (from a survivor Hal Croxon) that the Lancaster was hit underneath:

'We were hit over Berlin by a fighter using “Schräge Musik” and flying under us; and we flew on hoping to get home but it was not to be, we eventually crashed at Sulzthal.'

The crash time was about 22.00hrs. 3 crew members bailed out. The other four died in the air plane when it crashed in the forest (shown above) and burned out. The pilot, it seems, tried to make an emergency landing.

Trimburg Castle, close to where the air gunner Fl/Sgt. Hal Croxson landed. as drawn by Holger Wörner

Burial Details:

Those killed were initially buried at Sulzthal prior to moving them to Durnbach at the end of hostilities.

P/L Stanley James. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll grave 6.C.26-28. Son of Francis Percival and Hilda James. Of Harrow, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Georg Robert Tomlinson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll grave 6.C.26-28. Son of Albert George and Selina Tomlinson, of Clitheroe, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Austin William Archer. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll grave 6.C.25. Next of Kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Ernest Burke. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll grave 6.C.26-28. Son of Patrick and Dora Burk, of Andover, Hampshire, England.

Researched by Holger Wörner for relatives of the crew. Holger's friend lives near the crash site. With thanks to the following for further information supplied; Elizabeth Cawthorn relative of Fl/Lt. James. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 5, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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, 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', 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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Last Modified: 27 March 2021, 13:02

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