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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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115 Squadron crest
13/14.07.1943 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III DS660 KO-P F/O. Rod B. Larson

Operation: Aachen

Date: 13/14th July 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS660

Code: KO-P

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


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. 

Burial details:

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.

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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