29/30.07.1943 No. 97 Squadron Lancaster III ED862 OF-P P/O. Marks
Date: 29/30th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 97 Squadron (motto: 'Achieve your aim')
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire
Location: Netherlands - 20 kilometres North of Ameland.
Pilot: P/O. Douglas James Marks DFM. 148897 RAFVR Age 26. Missing - believed killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman 569932 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
Nav: F/O. George Noel Hammond 125985 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Dunbar 1348084 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Daniel McDonald 1366019 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Cumming 998050 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Henry Unwin 1318328 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:28 hrs from RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire bomb the port and city of Hamburg joining 776 other aircraft on the third raid on this target within the last five days. 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes made up the force. The Lancaster was carrying 6 x TI, 1 X 4,000 lb. and 3 x 1,000 lb. bomb load.
The idea was that the target be approached from the north to concentrate on the northern area of Hamburg which had not been bombed on previous occasions. The pathfinders dropped their markers too far east of the city. 707 aircraft got through to the target, dropping a total of 2,318 tons of bombs on residential areas - no figures are available as to the casualties on the ground for this raid although it is known that over 40,000 were killed during that week and over 16,000 residential buildings were destroyed.
The worst incident was when bombs hit a large department store in Wandsbek - the building collapsed and blocked exits from a shelter that was in the basement - 370 people died from poisoning by the fumes from a coke store nearby. 1,200,000 people fled the city after these raids.
The allies lost 31 aircraft on this operation with 176 aircrew losing their lives and a further 17 being made PoW.
Most of the aircraft were shot down by the Luftwaffe night fighters, although 14 were shot down by searchlight assisted flak over the target area.
List of operations carried out by the pilot, P/O. Marks DFM. (courtesy James Marks)
97 Squadron lost another crew on his operation:
Lancaster III EE172 OF-O Flown by 27 year old Canadian, P/O. Clifford Schnier, killed with all his crew.
This Lancaster III ED862 was lost without trace although it is classed as 'probably' shot down by the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace Maj. Helmut Lent (1)of Stab IV./NJG1 over the North Sea at 02.10. The combat is understood to have taken place at 3.800 mtrs 20 kilometres North of Ameland.
We have also been advised that the aircraft came down North of Hamburg. Awaiting confirmation of this.
According to the latest update (2019 - 1943 Part 2) of the Nachtjagd Combat Archive by Theo Boiten it is claimed a 'possible' by Uffz. Hans Krepp of 1./NJG3 with the aircraft coming down at 00:24 hrs over Sankt Peter-Ording.
(1) Oberst. (Posth) Helmut Lent went on to claim 102 night fighter kills and a further 8 kills before on the 7th October 1944 he died after suffering injuries sustained during a crash landing on the 5th October 1944 during a crash landing in his Ju 88 G-6 at Paderborn Airfield following engine failure and subsequent collision with a high tension cable.
His crew were rescued - injured from the crash.
Walter Kubisch (radio operator) and Hermann Klöss (2nd radio operator) died the same day, Werner Kark (War correspondent and Air/Gnr) died the next morning.
Above Runnymede memorial, taken during a visit by Aircrew Remembered May 2013
P/O. Douglas James Marks DFM. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 132. Son of George and Lily Kate Marks and husband of Elsie Mary Marks, of Breamore, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 149. Husband of Annie Fentiman of Romford, London, England.
Right: Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman (courtesy Barry Fentiman)
F/O. George Noel Hammond. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 124. Son of James and Kate Hammond, of Coventry, England.
Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Dunbar. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 136. Son of William and Elizabeth Dunbar, of Dallas, Morayshire, Scotland.
Sgt. Daniel McDonald. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 157. Son of Daniel and Violet McDonald, of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Husband of Jean McDonald.
Sgt. John Cumming. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 146. Son of James and Elizabeth Cumming, husband of A. W. Cumming, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Sgt. Peter Henry Unwin. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 168. Son of Henry and Ethel Jane Unwin, of Ilford, Essex, England.
Researched for James Marks and all the relatives of the crew with thanks to the following for additional information, Barry Fentiman, James Marks, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 4, 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', Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'.