13/14.07.1943 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III DS660 KO-P F/O. Rod B. Larson
Date: 13/14th July 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 115 Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF East Wretham, Norfolk
Location: Grevilliers, France
Pilot: F/O. Rod B. Larson J/5829 RCAF Survived POW No: 1778 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Mervyn Jones 1653104 RAFVR Age. 20. Killed
Nav: P/O. Chester Armstrong 138396 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Frederick Leonard Yates 131977 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Williams 1077619 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derick Murphy 1044231 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Albert Thomas Newton 1601296 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 00.24 hrs from RAF East Wretham, Norfolk to attack the German town of Aachen with devastating results.
Over 1000 people on the ground were either killed or injured and many cultural buildings destroyed including the cathedral and the town theatre. Over 16,000 flats or apartments were destroyed - following this raid over 18,000 people fled the town.
The German night fighter force were extremely active enjoying very good visibility, the result being 20 aircraft shot down (15 Halifax's, 2 Lancasters, 2 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling) The number of casualties from the Allied losses was 93 killed, 8 known injured, 39 PoWs and 8 evading capture.
Above the navigator. P/O. Chester Armstrong (courtesy W/Cdr. Chester Armstrong - son)
Left: Hptm. Hubert Rauh (archives)
DS660 was claimed to have been shot down by Hptm. Hubert Rauh already an ace at this time with 7 kills to his credit (1). From 3./NJG4 he engaged this Lancaster at 5,400 mtrs. over Metz-en-Couture, 18 km. South West of Cambrai at 02.35 hrs.
Eye witness reports state that two of the crew had baled out and their bodies were found the following morning, one in a tree and another found by three girls in a field - photographs were taken by them of the boy. A local, Msr. Lecap tried to remove the bodies of four of the crew before they were destroyed in the fire. This was in the area of Grevilliers we understand.
German troops arrived in the early morning to guard the area and the bodies were removed during the afternoon. During transportation, locals threw flowers onto the bodies unhindered by the Germans.
The Germans provided the crew members killed a full military funeral with a firing party with guard of honour. The coffins were lowered into the graves with respect from the German soldiers, who also laid wreaths on the graves.
Sgt. Mervyn Jones. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Grave 18.E.25. Son of John and Harriet E. Jones, of Morfa, Llamlelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
P/O. Chester Armstrong. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Grave 18.E.26. No further details
F/O. Frederick Leonard Yates. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Grave 18.E.24. Son of Thomas Frederick and Ada Yates, of Hampstead, London; husband of Enid Yates, of Hampstead, England.
Sgt. Peter Williams. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Joint grave 18.E.21-22.Son of Arthur and Margaret Williams, of Bolton, Lancashire, husband of Nellie Williams, of Bolton, England.
Sgt. Derick Murphy. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Joint grave 18.E.21-22. No further details
Sgt. John Albert Thomas Newton. Grevillllers British Cemetery. Grave 18.E.23. Son of George James Newton and Mabel Frances Newton, of Beckenham, Kent, England.
For the nephew of the same name as the navigator P/O. Armstrong, W/Cdr (Ret) Chester Armstrong. Further information supplied by Michel Bacquet and the Mayor of Cambrai. With thanks also to the following: Bill Chorley - Bomber Command Losses, Theo Boiten - German Nightfighter War Diaries, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - Bomber Command War Diaries, the CWGC
Note: Rodney Boyd Larson died in 1988 in California, he left a wife, Miriam, sons, Rodney and Timothy and several Grandchildren. All of whom visited the site of the crash between 1991 and 2007.