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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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431 Squadron Crest
16/17.06.1944 No 431 Squadron Halifax III LK837 SE-L F/O. Johnson

Operation: Sterkrade

Date: 16/17th June 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 431 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LK837

Code: SE-L

Base: RAF Croft, Yorkshire

Location: Meijel, Netherlands

Pilot: F/O. Elmer Orville Johnson J/19424 RCAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Donald Shenton 177165 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. Richard C.B. Garrity J/20923 RCAF Evaded capture (1)

Air/Bmr: F/O. Rowland Woolley Jones 151373 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. William Risden Chapman 175750 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Calvin Green J/90088 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Vernon Patrick Obright J/90421 RCAF Age 21. Killed


Taking off from RAF Croft in Yorkshire at 23:14 hrs. joining 320 aircraft raid on the Sterkrade synthetic-oil plant in Northern Germany. 162 Halifaxes, 147 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes left to find the target area covered by a thick cloud and the markers dropped by the pathfinders very quickly disappeared. The main bomber force could do very little but bomb the demising glow of the markers through the cloud.

RAF photographic reconnaissance and the German reports agree that the bombing was scattered, although some bombs did hit the oil plant. This had little effect on production. 21 Germans were killed on the ground and a further 6 foreign workers. 18 Houses were destroyed.

The loss to the allies was huge with a total of 21 bombers shot down by the German night fighters and another 10 by flak. This amounted to 159 aircrew being killed, 53 being made PoW. Flak batteries reported that a total of 14,244 rounds were fired at the bomber stream.

Halifax was possible intercepted by Hptm. Günther Wagner of 7./NJG2 at 01:13 hrs with the aircraft coming down at Meijel in the Netherlands. This was the 1st claim for the Luftwaffe night fighter pilot - he survived the war, making no further claims.

(1) F/O. Richard Garrity evaded capture and returned on the 07th September 1944 at RAF Northolt. After the war lived at 186 Westcliffe Road, Point Claire, Quebec, Canada. Above very interesting video explaining his evasion.

Burial details:

F/O. Elmer Orville Johnson. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Grave X.11.F.9. Son of Benjamin Franklin and Zella Allred Johnson and husband of Beryl Gwendoline Johnson of Sanderstead, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: “He That Believeth On Me, Hath Everlasting Life”.

P/O. Donald Shenton. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Collective Grave 12.F.2-3. No further details - are you able to assist?

F/O. Rowland Woolley Jones. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Collective Grave 12.F.2-3. Born in 1924 in Surrey, England and originally posted to 431 Squadron on the 18th September 1943 as a member of the Craig crew, with whom he flew 13 operations. Rowland joined the Johnson crew after their regular bomb aimer, P/O Gordon Beverley Jose J/85356 RCAF was killed while serving as a mid under gunner with the Artyniuk crew during an operation to Versailles on June 7/8th - Halifax III MZ602 SE-U)

P/O. William Risden Chapman. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Collective Grave 12.F.2-3. Son of William and Elizabeth Ruth Chapman of Cheam, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: “Forever In Our Thought, Au Revoir”.

Sgt. Edward Calvin Green. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 12.F.1. Son of Mrs. J.G.C. Green of 793 Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Vernon Patrick Obright. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Grave X.11.F.10. Son of Wilfred and Magdalen Obright of Walkerton, Ontario, Canada.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Linda Ibrom - June 2017 and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Claire Jones, sister in law of F/O. Jones. Also our thanks to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for photograph of Sgt. Obright. Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details.

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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Last Modified: 11 June 2017, 17:19

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