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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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No 426 Squadron
27/28.01.1944 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron RCAF Lancaster II DS775 OW-W Ft.Lt. Arthur T. Martens

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 27/28th January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS775

Code: OW-W

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: 2km East of Kade, 8km ESE of Genthin and S of the Elbe-Havel-Kanel

Pilot: Flt.Lt Arthur Tempest Martens 121946 RAFVR Age 29. Killed (1)

Flt.Eng: Sgt William Leslie Pritchard 1582517 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (2)

Nav: WO2 Edward (Ed) James Houston R/125556 RCAF Age 26. PoW No 1062 * (3)

Air/Bmr: Flt.Sgt Frederick (Fred) James (Jackie) Trevithick 1586566 RAFVR Age? PoW No 911 ** (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Alfred Johnson Belton 1038227 RAFVR Age ? Killed (5)

Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. Alfred Brooks J/19860 RCAF Age 35. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt Ralph (Chris) Sherwin Chesters 647351 RAF Age 25. Killed

* Stalag Luft 6 - Heydekrug. Stalag Luft 4 - Sagan and Belaria

** Stalag Luft 6 - Heydekrug. Stalag 357 - Korpernikus


Part of a large force of some 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitoes. Lancaster DS775 took off at 1803hrs from RAF Linton-on-Ouse for a bombing operation on Berlin. It is thought that DS775 may have been shot down by a night fighter or hit by flak and crashed roughly 2km East of Kade, 8km SES of Genthin and South of the Elbe-Havel-Kanel. Three further aircraft from the Squadron were lost on this operation. Lancaster DS686, Lancaster LL688 and Lancaster LL721.

The following is an extract of a report by Flt.Lt. I R MacIntyre, Berlin Detachment No.4 MREU dated 15th September 1947.

During an exhumation trip in the Russian Zone of Germany as RAF Witnessing Officer with Capt J H M Lowenstein Team Commander and Capt Sherstnieff Russian Conducting Officer, I visited Kade to exhume and attempt to identify the British airmen buried there.
The following information regarding an aircraft which crashed in the vicinity of Kade was gathered from Herr Beesing, the Burgomeister of Kade. At about 2015 on 27th January 1944 a four engined aircraft approached the village of Kade from the West and crashed 1km East of the village on the edge of the wood. One bomb dropped from the aircraft before it crashed. The wreckage did not burn, but was scattered over a fairly large area. The entire remains of the aircraft were removed by the Wehrmacht to an unknown destination 3 months after the crash.Two members of the crew baled out, one was wounded and taken prisoner of War. The bodies of five dead were found by the Police who removed all papers and documents. Two days after the crash these casualties were buried in Kade village cemetery in coffins. The graves were situated by the northern wall of the cemetery and were found to be well tended. Each was marked with a separate cross inscribed with their names.

In an interview with the IRC WO2 Houston recalled that Sgt Pritchard’s parachute failed to open.

Extensive diversions had been put in place for this operation. Over 140 aircraft were sent to the Dutch coast, Heligoland area, and further aircraft were involved in various other operations to try and draw attention away from the main bombing stream. These actions had some effect with the attack on the main bomber stream being less intense than on recent nights. Bombing was spread over a wide area including some small towns outside the city limits. Large numbers people were made homeless and a large number of industrial premises were hit, with several war industries seriously damaged

The Squadron had arrived at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in June 1943 from RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire

Map showing the crash area of Lancaster DS775

W/O. Edward James Houston. WO Edward James Houston missing in Berlin raid. 1943 Edward in his flying suit at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (all courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

(3) WO2. Edward James Houston. Born on the 15th September 1918 in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario and educated at Arnprior High School and Arnprior District High School. Ed enlisted in the RCAF on the 26th August 1941 and completed part of his training at Rivers, Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia bound for the UK in May 1943. Ed was awarded his commission in 1944 which was back dated to December 1943. Edward James Houston died on the 27th May 2003

1942 Training at Regina, Canada. Ed Houston back row 2nd left. 1942 Bomber Crew Graduation. Ed Houston middle of front row (both courtesy of Bill Houston see credits)

(courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

Above: Air Crew Graduation May 1943. Back row L to R: 1.Louis Noel Lyndon Kerr R/135114. Late of No 76 Squadron KIA 22/23 September 1943. Lancaster V EB253. Operation Hanover. 2. Name ? R/119129. Lived at 192 Woodmount Ave, Toronto, Ontario. Are you able to identify this young man? 3. ? G. MacKinnon R/12248. Are you able to identify this young man? 4. Edward James Houston R/125556. Of No 426 Squadron POW No 1062 Camp Stalage Luft VI, Stalag Luft IV 27/28 January 1944. 5. Leonard Bruce Russell R/147158. Late of No 431 Squadron KIA 22/23 October 1943. Halifax LK639 SE-E. Operation Kessel. 6. Charles Grant Leatherdale J/19076. Late of No 156 Squadron KIA 30/31 March 1944. Lancaster ND476 GT-V. Operation Nurnberg. 7. Kenneth Douglas Wellwood R/107055. Late of No 106 (RAF) Squadron KIA 4 September 1943. Lancaster ED385 ZN-?. Operation Berlin. 8. Murray Clayton Craik R/110957. Late of No 467 (RAAF) Squadron KIA 23 September 1943. Lancaster EE135 PO-Y. Operation Mannheim. 9. Michael Costello R/123094. Late of No 75 (RAF) Squadron KIA 15 August 1943. Stirling EE891 AA-Q. Operation Gardening. 10. Lloyd Martin Stormer R/112684. Late of No 90 Squadron KIA 24 August 1943. Stirling EH937 WP-S. Operation Berlin

Front row L to R: 1. Martin Bailey R/119568. Late of No 75 (RAF) Squadron KIA 28 August 1943. Stirling EE955 AA-D. Operation Nurnberg. 2. Irvine Sydney Rothstein R/123638. Late of No 75 (RNZAF) Squadron KIA 6 August 1943. Stirling BK614 JN-H. Operation Gardening. 3. Herbert Kenneth Scott R/121944. Of No 207 Squadron POW No 27650 Camp IV-B 31 August 1943. 4. Donald Herbert Kelly R/113903. Late of No 24 OTU (Operationa Training Unit) killed while training 2 June 1943. Whitley Z6639. Operation Training. 5. "Gerry" E. Wilson R/150588 from Edmonton, Alberta. Are you able to identify this young man? 6. Nelson Albert Noble R/119448. Late of No 9 (RAF) Squadron KIA 22 September 1943. Lancaster R5700 WS-N. Operation Hanover. 8. Gordon Ivan Williams J/119950. Late of No 97 (RAF) Squadron KIA 31 January 1944. Lancaster JB659 OF-J. Operation Berlin. 9, "Hal" Tole J/94224. Late of No 433 Squadron KIA 18 April 1944. Kalifax LV971 BM-N. Operation Noisy-le-Sec.

Left: June 1943. RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Left to right: Gerry Wilson, Louie Kerr, Patty McCarthy, Grant Leatherdale, Len Russell, Ed Houston, ? This photograph was taken on the 2nd June 1943 after attending F/Sgt. Donald Herbert Kelly's funeral. Right: 1943 December RAF Linton-on-Ouse Ed Houston with Jim Burrows (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits)

Left: 1943 Crew mates. Chris Chesters, Fred Trevithick, Alf Benton and sitting Arthur T Martens. (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits)

Right: 1945 May: Just after our return to Canada. Ed Houston, Larry McCosham and ? (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits

8th May 1945. Ottawa Citizen by A. C. Cummings. (courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

"Life Outside Prison Camp Is Like Fantastic Dream. Reports Plt.Off. Ed. Houston, Former Arnprior Athlete

Pilot Officer Ed Houston, of Arnprior, Ont., was among a recent draft of released prisoners of war who were flown back to Britain. A navigator in the RCAF, he was shot down in January 1944, after a raid on Berlin, and was recently released by British 11th Armoured Division tanks.

A keen sports fan, he covered sports events in Timmins, Ont., for "Jackie" Koffman, Ottawa Citizen Sport's editor. Ed helped organize softball, touch rugby, basketball and such games as well as soccer leagues in different camps to which he was sent after the bomber in which he was a navigator was lost on a raid. Here he writes his impressions of life outside the barbed wire, for Citizen readers.

Bournemouth, England, May 8th - Hello, Ottawa! Speaking for the several Ottawa and district boys here, I may say that it still seems like a fantastic dream! As I write here in the beautiful surroundings of this pretty south coast town it appears that everything the poet wrote in "Oh to be in England now that April's here" was a vast understatement. Naturally every Canadian ex-POW can scarcely wait till the days we set eyes on Utopia, in the form of Canadian soil, once more. Back there in our Capital city it would be difficult to realize the terrific contrast between our present life and the existence of just over a week ago. Here our treatment has been the epitome of excellence. It seems, in fact, as though the dietitians and chefs must be angels dispatched from heaven for our benefit. But then, all the boys say "The RCAF is always on the ball"

No Molly Coddling. Up at the front, the impression this writer formed were of the magnificent organization and spirit of the British Army together with the thoroughness and efficiency with which they carry out their allotted tasks. It did one's heart good to see our Nazi "protectors" dealt with in this manner. You may rest assured that there are no molly-coddling tactics being used this time. Among Ottawa boys here with me are WO Welland Phipps of Western Avenue, WO Eldon Skuce of Britannia, WO Perrin "Colonel" Magwood, of Cornwalle one of the oldtimers among Canadian POW's. WO Sam Campbell, Renfrew, and WO Larry McCosham, who accompanied your correspondent when we departed from our marching column. All the boys have had most interesting experiences. Phipps was liberated in a woods in the Celle area, after being in the midst of a battle for a few hours.

Appreciates Red Cross: I would like to say how much we owe to our Canadian Red Cross as part of the International Red Cross. Without their aid, none of us would be here. Also, Mrs Asselin, as president of the POW Relatives Association, deserves unlimited credit for her untiring efforts on our behalf. The cigarettes which numerous organisations sent were of immense value to us too. Unfortunately one of the bad impressions I have pained in a short stay here is that people have more or less concluded that the war is over. It is difficult to subdue such a feeling bit it is a fatal one. Most of our boys are still in German hands and they need a maximum effort from everyone to get this struggle over with as quickly as possible. People in Canada may well be proud of the showing of her sons in German prison camps. Canadian organizations functioned very smoothly and efficiently. New prisoners were supplied with immediate necessities by them. In all spheres of camp administration, Red Cross work etc. Canadians were always well to the fore. As a group they got along together and had very little discord - a magnificent achievement under such strained circumstances. the percentage of Canadians who have escaped from our columns is a high one, too.

Sometime in May our Group should arrive in Ottawa - for some of the boys, after four years absence. Every one of us has learnt to appreciate our native land and customs to a much greater extent than previously. Most of us have learned at least one good lesson - never take anything for granted!

(courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

(4) Flt.Sgt. Frederick James (Jackie) Trevithick. Before the war in 1931 Fred Trevithick was working as an Assistant Preventive Officer with the Customs and Excise Department in Plymouth. In March 1944 the Customs Journal reported: "That many in the Waterguard Department will be both sorry and glad to learn that Mr. F. J. Trevithick , ex APO, Plymouth, has been reported a prisoner of war in Germany" Jackie worked in many location - Plymouth, Cardiff, Southampton and abroad. Frederick James Trevithick was still working as a Preventive Officer in 1965. Are you able to provide any further details?

Left: Plymouth Notes. The Customs Journal June 1944. Right: The Plymouth Notes. The Customs Journal June 1945

Burial details:

All the crew were first buried in Kade, Germany and reburied in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, 10th September 1947

Flt.Lt. Martens, Sgt. Pritchard, Sgt. Belton, Sgt. Brooks

Sgt. Chesters. (headstone photographs courtesy Uwe Jenrich) All are buried in Berlin 1939 - 1945 War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

(1) Flt.Lt. Arthur Tempest Martens. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 4. Son of Arthur Herman and Helen Camilla Martens of Bishopgate, London (1) Born on the 27 December 1914 in Toronto. Arthur completed part of his education 1928 - 1933 at Upper Canada College, Toronto. His parents presented a pair of Grinling Gibbons carved limewood architectural decorations to the school in memory of their son. A tablet is to be inscribed as follows: "These Grinling Gibbons carvings, circa 1685, from the mansion within Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, were given as a memorial by the parents of Flt.Lt Arthur Tempest Martens, RAF, killed over Berlin on the night of January 27-28, 1944"

Enlisted in the RAF in 1939. Arthur completed part of his training in 1942 at No 32 Service Flying Training School, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and at No 10 OTU (Operational Training Unit), RAF Abingdon, training in Armstrong Whitworth Whitley aircraft. Promoted to Pilot Officer 27th November 1941 and then on the 1st October 1942 Arthur was promoted to Flying Officer and to Flight Lieutenant on the 27th November 1943

The Three Grinling Gibbons carved limewood architectural carvings presented to Upper Canada College, Toronto by the Martens family. (courtesy of Upper Canada College) Ft.Lt. Arthur Tempest Martens (courtesy Bill Houston)

(2) Sgt. William Leslie Pritchard. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 2. Son of George and Amy M. Pritchard of Shrewsbury, Shropshire (2) William's brother Cyril also lost his life while serving in the RAF on the 19th April 1942. Both boys are remembered in the book of Remembrance in St Peter Church, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Far left: The Daily Mail Wednesday 12th April 1944, Sgt. Alfred J Belton missing (courtesy British Newspaper Archive)

Right: The Belton family headstone. Goole Cemetery, East Riding, Yorkshire

Sgt. Alfred Johnson Belton. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 3. Son of Johnson and Grace Belton of Hook. Goole, Yorkshire (5) At the time of his death Alfred's address was Manor Farm, 91 High Street, Hook, Goole, Yorkshire

(5) Plt.Off. Alfred Brooks. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 1. Husband of Olive Grace Brooks (nee Watson) of Outremont, Province of Quebec, Canada

Sgt. Ralph Sherwin Chesters. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 5. Son of Ralph and Charlotte Chesters. No further information as yet. Are you able to help?

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew

With special thanks to: William (Bill) Houston son of WO2 Edward James Houston for all the information and pictures of his father and crew. Uwe Jenrich for all the headstone photographs. John S Brehaut - Canadian Virtual War Memorial for updating Flt.Lt. Martens details. Thanks to John Jones for the information from the No.4 MREU report

RS 22.11.2019 - Inclusion of No.4 MREU information and editorials

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, 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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