27/28.08.1943 No. 15 Squadron Stirling III EH985 LS-O F/O. Jefferies
Date: 27/28th August 1943
Unit: No. 15 Squadron
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: Hesselberg, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Lionel J. Jefferies RAAF PoW No: 3134 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kelsall George Gunn 578387 RAF Age 19. Killed
Nav: P/O. Edward A. Nestor RAFVR PoW No: 2628 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Bmr: Sgt. J.M. Taggart RAFVR PoW No: 222786 Camp: 4B - Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. ‘Bill’ M.H. Bailey RAFVR PoW No: 569 Camp: 357 - Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Duncanson 1554603 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald George Malley 1456067 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk at 21.31 Hrs on route to Nürnberg with another 673 bombers. 33 were lost on this attack. weather for the raid was clear with a starlit sky - not good as far as attacks from the German night fighter were concerned.
Above: Sgt. Donald George Malley (courtesy Andrew Malley - see credits)
However to assist the allied bombers as soon as the first wave hit Nürnberg ‘window’ was dropped to jam the commentary by the German controllers on the ground and in addition the RAF sent four PPF Mosquitoes to make a harassing raid on Duisburg. This was timed badly as the Mosquitoes dropped their bombs some two hours before the main force attacked.
Above the officers taken PoW (courtesy Mrs. Irene Lederer via Michel Beckers)
Most of the bombers that did not return were attacked during the run in and five were lost on the return trip. Ten German night fighters were shot down during a fierce battle over the bombing area which lasted over thirty minutes.
Children playing around Stirling EH985 as it was loaded on the carts for transporting for scrap. (courtesy Dr. Manfred Welker - see credits)
The aircraft was attacked and hit by night fighters, damaging the fuel lines allowing fuel to enter the aircraft. Also one of the engines caught fire. The pilot, F/O. Jeffries tried to extinguish the flames by placing the Stirling into a dive, this failed so he gave the order to abandon the aircraft.
During training: Donald George Malley (courtesy Andrew Malley - see credits)
Photos showing damage to Nuremberg after allied bombing (courtesy Robert H. Jackson Centre)
It is known that the pilot suffered a broken leg during the landing also suffering burns to his hands and face and on landing shouted his surrender to the local inhabitants. Some offered assistance to the injured pilot - these were threatened with jail for their efforts.
The Air bomber managed to evade capture for a few days but was captured and rescued from a lynch mob at Nürnberg station.
Notes: W/Cdr Harry "Wings" Day, a famous PoW, forwarded the following report on behalf the Senior British Officer of the PoW camp to the British Red Cross for onwards transmission to Air Ministry and next of kin. PoWs were not permitted to be in contact with the Air Ministry except through the Red Cross:
F/O. E.A. Nestor states: "On the night of 27th/28th August 1943, the aircraft in which I was flying was attacked over enemy territory and set on fire. I was sitting alongside the Captain, F/O. L.J. Jeffries who gave the order "prepare to abandon aircraft". i unplugged my intercom and went back to the navigation table to get F/O. Jeffries parachute from the stowage. I gave it to him and then collected my own. Sgt. Taggart who was in the front part of the fuselage, had opened the escape hatch and was awaiting the order to abandon. Sgt. Bailey passed me and went to this escape hatch. Just after this the fuselage was filled with flames and I jumped down to the hatch and found it had closed. I opened it and threw myself out. I don't know what went on in the rear part of the fuselage. While at Dulag Luft however, I was told by the German authorities that Sgt. Malley, Sgt. Duncason and Sgt. Gunn were dead. I must emphasis that this is the only information I have got as to their fate as I have not seen their bodies or personal effects and I was not told where they were buried."
Post war Sgt. Malley's father talk to the pilot of the aircraft who told him that there was not room in the rear turret for both Sgt Malley and his parachute. Mr Malley contacted the Air Ministry for an explanation of this as he felt it was because his son was big. The Air Ministry explained to Mr Malley that it was standard practice on all bomber aircraft for the rear gunner's parachute to be in its stowage within arm's reach of the turret at the rear of the fuselage. It was not possible for rear gunners to operate the guns whilst wearing a parachute. In the event of the order to bale out being given rear gunners could either go up the fuselage to an escape hatch or other exit or rotate the turret 909 and, after jettisoning the doors, roll out backwards. The fact that Sgt. Malley was not wearing his parachute in the turret was nothing to do with his size.
The British Army of Occupation recovered from the German authorities an identity bracelet belonging to Sgt Malley and this was returned to his father. It was also established post war by the RAF Missing Research and Enquiry Service that Sgt. Malley was buried in Herzogenaurach Cemetery. Members of another crew lost the same night were also buried there and a crash location was given of 500 metres north of Hesselberg. A witness said that a four engined bomber was shot down by fighters but there is confusion as to whether this was Stirling EH985 or Stirling EF439. The witness spoke of a member of the crew being found in the cockpit but the front end crew of Stirling EH985, bar Sgt. Gunn survived.
However, both aircraft are likely to have crashed close together as both crews are buried at Herzogenaurach.
Stirling EH985 was ‘probably’ shot down by Oblt. Manfred Tischtau (1) of Stab I./NJG5 at 02..08 hrs. Engagement taking place at 3000 metres. The aircraft crashed at Hesselberg where the Stirling continued to burn because of the phosphorus bombs carried. German soldiers guarded the wreck until it was removed for salvage to Herzogenaurach.
(1) This was the first abschuss for Oblt. Manfred Tischtau who went on to become an ace with 6 victories until the 20/21st April 1944 when he was killed after being shot down (his crew survived after bailing out), probably by a Mosquito from 169 Squadron flown by Fl/Lt. G.D. Cremer and F/O. R.C. Farrell at Altenkirchen.
The crew killed were initially buried at Herzogenaurach, then after war end, reburied at Durnbach.
Sgt. Kelsall George Gunn. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 11.G.13. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. William Duncanson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 11.G.12. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Donald George Malley. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 11.G.13. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Researched for Andrew Malley, nephew of rear gunner Sgt. Donald G. Malley and for all relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to the following, Dr. Manfred Welker. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Also to Mrs. Irene Lederer via Michel Beckers for PoW crew photos.