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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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576 Squadron Crest
24/25.03.1944 No. 576 Squadron Lancaster III LM471 UL-J2 Fl/Sgt. Leslie Collis

Operation: Berlin

Date: 24/25th March 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 576 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM471

Code: UL-J2

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire

Location: Beeck, Duisberg, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Leslie John Collis 1284701 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Edward Smith 1818735 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Sgt. R.J. Roper 1576408 RAFVR PoW No: No details Camp Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Bmr: F/O. A.C. Harper J/25585 RCAF PoW No: 3819 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. P. McDougall 1458525 RAFVR PoW No: 3828 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Gnr: Sgt. B. Warren 2200072 RAFVR PoW No: 43396 No further details.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Robinson 1078798 RAFVR PoW No: 2187 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 18.51hrs Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire to bomb the heart of Germany - Berlin. Another huge raid with 811 Allied bombers formed up to bomb Berlin. The weather was extremely good with very high visibility which resulted in many losses to the german Night fighters who were already closing in on the bomber stream as early as 19.45 hrs! Un-forecasted jet stream winds scattered the bombers to the South of the intended route and many of the aircraft were flying without the protection of "Window". 

The night became known as “The night of the strong winds".

Wedding of Sgt. Joseph Robinson with some of LM471 Crew (courtesy of Claire Brown)

The raid itself resulted in the usual damage to civilian properties with 150 people being killed on the ground in the target area (A further 30 people killed in other areas bombed by the scattered force.) No major industrial targets were hit although some damage was done to 5 military establishments - including the Waffen-S.S. depot in Lichterfield

A total of 72 aircraft were lost in this last major raid on Berlin of the war including 2 from 576 Squadron the other flown by F/O. Peter Brooke who together with 6 of his crew were killed.

LM471 was blown well of course after the bombing run and it is thought likely that it was shot down by the radar controlled flak inside the Ruhr defences. (No Luftwaffe claims have been made for this loss) The Lancaster came down 5 km north of the city of Duisberg.

Left: Reichswald War Cemetery


Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Leslie John Collis. Reichswald War Cemetery. Grave 7.B.4. Son of Joseph Benjamin and Edith Collis, husband of Constance Mary Collis, of Sidcup, Kent, England.

Sgt. Edward Smith. Reichswald War Cemeter.y Grave 7.B.5. Son of Edward and Florence Smith, husband of Winifred May Smith, of Foleshill, Warwickshire, England.

Researched for Claire Brown (Granddaughter of Sgt. Joseph Robinson) and relatives of the crew.

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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