15/16.02.1944 No. 12 Squadron Lancaster III ND404 Fl/Sgt. Jones
Date: 15/16.02.1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 12 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Wickenby
Location: Hille, Südhemmern, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John P. Jones 1339322 RAFVR PoW No: 1628 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Eric Auty 1675798 RAFVR Age 19. Missing
Nav: Lt. Leon Eugene Oldmixon T/223090 USAAF Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsangdetails
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ronalld Smithson 988522 RAFVR PoW No: 1641 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas H. Adderley 1035094 RAFVR PoW No: 1589 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Hamilton 1566733 RAFVR PoW No: 1606 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: P/O. Walter T. Maltby 169516 RAFVR PoW No: 3495 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17.08 hrs from RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire to bomb Berlin, one of the targets all Bomber Command dread because of the flak and massive night fighter activity possible.
891 aircraft took part in the first raid on the city for more than 2 weeks. This was the largest raid of the whole war on the German capital resulting in the greatest ever tonnage of bombs dropped on the city with 2,642 tons.
The city was covered in cloud for most of the raid but the raid still inflicted huge damage to the city with 599 large and 572 medium fires, 1,000 houses and a further 526 wooden barracks also destroyed. 320 people on the ground were killed. The small number of casualties is mainly due to the large scale evacuation which had taken place but a further 260 civilians were reported to have been buried alive - no reports how many of these survived. Some of Berlin's most important industries were also hit including the Siemensstadt area. 59 people were also killed in other area hit by scattered bombs.
The bombers suffered heavily with 48 aircraft being lost. A huge loss of aircrew with 266 killed and a further 54 made PoW.
This Lancaster ND404 was hit by flak after bombing the target from 6,700 mtrs. The starboard inner engine started to vibrate. Fl/Sgt Jones immediately feathered it. Around 8 minutes later the starboard outer engine caught fire - again the pilot feathered this engine.
The aircraft continued to lose height so with the decision to abandon the aircraft the crew all baled out. All made the ground safely except Sgt Aulty who's parachute was caught and ripped by the tail plane, he fell to his death.
The Lancaster continued for quite a while, eventually making a near perfect crash landing on its own at 22.30 hrs at Hille in the district of Südhemmern.
Left: Runnymede Memorial - taken by Aircrew Remembered 2013
Sgt. Eric Auty. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Son of Arnold and Maud Ellen Auty, of Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England.
With thanks to researcher Garf Bailey for pointing out an error with the aircraft code - updated February 2015. Also thanks to Annette Auty for contacting us in August 2015 - hoping for confirmation on discovery of Sgt. Auty's body. (daughter of brother of same)
Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks for further information from sources quoted below.