31.12.1944 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Lancaster I NG330 Fg Off. Robert H. Kench
Operation: Vohwinkel, Germany
Date: 31st December 1944 (Sunday)
Unit No: 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk
Location: Leichlingen, Germany.
Pilot: Fg Off. Robert Harold Kench 437135 RAAF Age 20. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Victor Thomas Phillips 2211498 RAFVR Age 38. KiA
Nav: Flt Sgt. Celt Williams 1316112 RAFVR Age 23. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Sgt. John Barton 1622233 RAFVR Age? Murdered
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Fred Bennett 434492 RAAF Age 27. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Dennis Walter Maycock 1899304 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Roy Morley 1866330 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 11:15hrs to Chedburgh on the crews’ first operation in a new aircraft. It is believed that the crew got lost and were off-loading their bombs when a stray bomb hit them, causing them to crash by the town of Leichlingen.
Left: Fg Off. Robert Harold Kench (courtesy Christine Baxter) Right: Sgt. Victor Thomas Phillips (courtesy Andrew Scialpi-Sullivan)
(1) The only survivor, Sergeant Barton was passed on to the Wermacht, but firstly to Polizeimeister. Karl Bertram who was ordered to take him to the mayor’s office in Leichlingen. Instead, on the way, Karl Bertram shot him twice in the back and at his post war trial said that the prisoner was trying to escape. When asked why he did not shoot the prisoner in the legs, Bertram replied that it was difficult in the dark to be so accurate when a person was running away.
Bertram was acquitted of the war crime charge.
At 38, Sgt Phillips was well above the average age of Bomber Command airmen. In contrast, Sgt Morley was half his age.
This was one of two Lancaster lost on this op to Vohwinkel.
The other was Lancaster I NF926 HA:X. Flown by Fg Off. Roy W. Woodrow, also killed with all 8 crew.
Above Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (courtesy Geoff Swallow)
Above: Village sign in Chedburgh, Suffolk, England.
Fg Off . Robert Harold Kench. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 1.E.2. Inscription: "THEY ARE NOT DEAD WHO LIVE IN OUR HEARTS". Born on the 18th January 1924 in Riverton, South Australia. Son of Harold Owen and Madaliene Hilda Kench, of Auburn, South Australia.
Worked with his father and brothers (David John and Arthur Kench) on their farm in Auburn, Southern Australia. One of his hobbies was Aussie rules football.
Sgt. Victor Thomas Phillips. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.3. Inscription: “HUSBAND OF CONSTANCE, SON OF J.V. AND E.PHILLIPS. "WORTHY OF EVERLASTING MEMORY"”. Born on the 27th July 1906 in Manchester. Son of John Victor and Elizabeth Ann Phillips; husband of Constance M. (née Andrew) Phillips, of Northenden, Lancashire, England.
Flt Sgt. Celt Williams. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 11.D.18. Inscription: "DY ABERTH DRUDFAWR A FAWRY GWN A'TH GOFFADWRIAETH HARDD ANWYLWN". Son of Griff and Betty Williams, of Ponthenry, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Sgt. John Barton. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.2. No further information.
Flt Sgt. Fred Bennett. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.13. Inscription: "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE". Born on the 5th April 1917 in Branxholm, Tasmania. Son of John Henry and Madelene Kate Bennett, of Branxholm, Tasmania. Australia.
Sgt. Dennis Walter Maycock. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.5. Born 3rd Qtr of 1924 in Reading, Berkshire. Son of Walter Arthur Maurice and Florence May (née Jones) Maycock of Reading, Berkshire, England.
Sgt. Roy Morley. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.4. Inscription: ""UNTIL THE DAY BREAK, AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY" NOT FORGOTTEN. MUM AND DAD".Son of William Ernest and Bertha Agnes Morley, of Dagenham, Essex, England.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Special thanks to Andrew Scialpi-Sullivan, grandson, for the uniformed photo of Sergeant Victor Phillips. Thanks also to Oliver Clutton-Brock for the information on Sergeant Barton from - ‘Footprints on the Sands of Time’. Also to Christine Baxter (née Kench) niece of the pilot.