08/09.10.1943 No. 7 Squadron Lancaster III JB181 MG-V F/O. Macpherson
Date: 08/09th October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 7 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire, England.
Location: Westervelde, Netherlands
Pilot: F/O. Bruce Edwin Cornwall Macpherson 140922 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frederick Reginald Brine 1604770 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: F/O. Sydney George Burnam-Richards 139960 RAFVR Age 21. Missing
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Thomas Roy Spencer 1438166 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Maxwell George Smallridge 1314228 RAFVR Age 21. Missing
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Alfred Brinton 1850112 RAFVR Age 17. Missing (1)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Chris Zane Robert Christianson R/159411 RCAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire at 22:59 hrs. to bomb Hannover.
Of all the raids on Hannover, the one launched by Bomber Command on the night of 8/9 October, 1943, was the most destructive and caused the greatest loss of life in a single operation against the city.
The crew of Lancaster JB181 - identified by Gerrit Hazenberg, January 2020: Sgt. Eric Alfred Brinton, F/O. Sydney George Burnam-Richards, Sgt. Thomas Roy Spencer, Sgt. Maxwell George Smallridge, Sgt. Frederick Reginald Brine, Fl/Sgt. Chris Zane Robert Christianson and in the from kneeling, F/O. Bruce Edwin Cornwall Macpherson. (courtesy Barbara Cowtan)
Many thousands more inhabitants were injured and made homeless by the fires that consumed over 3,900 homes. The old city centre was accurately marked by the Pathfinders and the resulting bombing destroyed vital services such as the railway station, electricity, water and telephone systems. The Continental tire factory and the Hanomag factory producing military vehicles were also badly damaged.
The city was heavily defended by flak batteries and night fighters, and although a diversionary raid against Bremen was carried out, the German air defence controllers were not to be misled. Of the 504 aircraft that took off, 14 Lancasters and 13 Halifaxes were shot down over the target area or during the trip back to base.
Lancaster JB181 was the first to be shot down on the outbound route. Engaged by the German night fighter ace, Ofw. Heinze Vinke (2), shot down over Norg whilst flying at 5,000 metres. The action took place at 00:27 hrs with the aircraft crashing at Westervelde.
All the crew were killed, only four bodies were recovered and buried, the remainder are immortalised on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.
Above, pilot F/O. Macpherson on the steps of a Stirling on 3rd March 1943 (2) and right portrait of F/O. Bruce Macpherson (courtesy Barbara Cowtan)
(1) At just 17 years old, Sgt. Eric Brinton was probably the youngest aircrew member to have been killed with Bomber Command.
(2) This Stirling was in fact lost in September 1943 whilst with 149 Squadron
Above left: Uffz. Heinz Vinke and his W/Op/Gnr. Karl Schödel (courtesy Tom Kracker Archives) See Kracker Archive on this site.
(2) Heinz Vinke went missing on the 26th February 1944 some 15 km. north west of Dunkirk after being shot down by two Typhoons from 198 Squadron - Fl/Lt. Cheval L'Allemand and F/O. George Hardy.
The Crew who's bodies were recovered, are buried at the Norg General Cemetery. (courtesy of Mr. Peter van Buiten) We have these beautiful grave photographs available at a higher resolution, Peter has granted us permission to release them to any relative who would like a copy. Please email us.
Left: One of the many panels at the Runnymede Memorial (archives)
F/O. Bruce Edwin Cornwall Macpherson. Norg General Cemetery. Plot 6 South. Row 2. Grave 1. Son of Bruce Murray Macpherson and Bernice Olive Macpherson, of Regents Park, London, England. His grave family inscription reads ‘Let them wake whole again to new dawns, fired with sun, not war.’
Sgt. Frederick Reginald Brine. Norg General Cemetery. Plot 6 South. Row 2. Grave 4. Son of James C. and Mabel Brine, of Crewkerne, Somerset, England. His grave family inscription reads: ‘But O for the touch of a vanished hand. And the sound of a voice that is still.’
F/O. Sydney George Burnam-Richards. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of Frederick and Lilian M. Burnham-Richards, of South Molton, Devon, England.
Sgt. Thomas Roy Spencer. Norg General Cemetery. Plot 6 South. Row 2. Grave 2. Son of William and Elizabeth May Spencer, of Stockton Heath, Cheshire, England. His grave family inscription reads ‘At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.’
Sgt. Maxwell George Smallridge. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 165. Son of Frederick George and Hilda Winnifred Smallridge, of Barnstaple, Devon, England.
Sgt. Eric Alfred Brinton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 143. Son of Edgar William and Annie Brinton, of Newton Abbot, Devon, England.
Fl/Sgt. Chris Zane Robert Christianson. Norg General Cemetery. Plot 6 South. Row 2. Grave 3. Son of Charles James Christianson and Ruth Christianson, husband of Veronica Christianson, of Liverpool, England. Originally from Duchess, Alberta, Canada. His grave family inscription reads: ‘Most screed heart of Jesus, have mercy on him’ ‘Rest in peace, loving wife and son.’
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew, including the niece of the pilot, F/O. Bruce Macpherson, Barbara Cowtan, who supplied us with the crew photographs, with thanks to Mr. Peter van Buiten from the Netherlands who visited the graves on our behalf and took the photographs, John Hayes for log book entry for Sgt. Smallridge. Further information courtesy of sources mentioned below.
The final log book entry for Bruce Macpherson (courtesy Barbara Cowtan)
The final log book entry for Maxwell Smallridge (courtesy John Hayes)