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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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514 Squadron Crest
20/21.07.1944 No. 514 Squadron Lancaster I LM181 JI-E F/O. Lamont W. McLean

Operation: Homberg

Date: 20/21st July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 514 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LM181

Code: JI-E

Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire

Location: Neukirchen, Germany.

Pilot: F/O. Lamont Weir McLean NZ/422420 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George William Bumstead 1852441 Age 19. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Thompson Stone NZ/425298 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Simpson Mcilraith NZ/428982 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Kerr Durie NZ/427967 Age 37. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Ernest Digby 9190935 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Malcolm Duncan 1826247 RAFVR Age 32. Killed


Taking off from RAF Waterbeach at 23:08 hrs as part of a group of 147 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes to attack the oil plant situated in the town of Homberg. German night fighters caught the Lancasters by surprise.

Above Sgt. Ronald Digby with his girlfriend Right: his brother, Reginald who is thought to have also served with 514 squadron.

Some of the bomber stream got through - Northern parts of the target were reported as badly damaged, but no further information on casualties on the ground.

22 aircraft were lost during this operation, resulting in 133 aircrew killed, 9 taken pow, 2 evading capture with 5 crew members surviving a crash landing on return.

Lancaster LM181 is thought to have ‘probably been shot down by Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt (1) of 2./NJG6 at 01:34 hrs with the aircraft coming down North West of the target, Homberg. Although other sources quote it as coming down at Neukirchen at 01:22 hrs. (where the crew were initially buried)

514 Squadron were hit particularly hard, 4 aircraft and crews failed to return home this night:

Lancaster I HK570 JI-P Flown by W/O. John Ludlow Lassam 1332109 RAFVR 22 years old, from County Durham, England. All six other crew also killed.
Lancaster I HK571 JI-l Flown by 170283 RAFVR F/O. Stanley Milton Anderson 23 years old, of Clarkson, Renfrewshire, together with the other six crew killed.
Lancaster I ME858 JI-J Flown by 28 year old F/O. Douglas Millar 53841 RAFVR from Stockport, Cheshire killed with all six other crew.
(1) This was the first confirmed abschüss for Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt who became an ‘ace’ with 15 abschusse to his score. He survived the war - no further details. 

Below, a series of photographs, believed to have been taken by Ronald Digby during his training in Egypt. Shown as others maybe able to recognise some. Perhaps some relatives may also have similar photographs that they wish to share.

Burial details:

The crew were initially buried at Neukirchen Cemetery - reinterred after war end. 

F/O. Lamont Weir McLean. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.7. Son of John and Elizabeth P McLean of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Brother of Jack and Nell McLean. Had at the time of his loss a total of 487 hours in his log book, but this his only 2nd operation.

Sgt. George William Bumstead. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.11. Son of George Henry and Ethel Kate Bumstead of Hastings, Sussex, England. Attended Mount Pleasant Junior School, Manor Road, Hastings, England also remembered on the Alexandra Park War Memorial in Hastings, England.

Fl/Sgt. Arthur Thompson Stone. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.9. Son of Arthur Thompson and Eva May (née Porter) Stone of Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. 262 hours flying time, his first operation.

Fl/Sgt. William Simpson Mcilraith. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.6. Son of William and Georgia (née Wright) McIlraith of Waimate,Canterbury,New Zealand. 325 hours - his first operation.

Fl/Sgt. Thomas Kerr Durie. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.12. Son of Andrew Gilroy and Catherine Scott (née Kerr) Durie of Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Husband of Myrtle Ruby Durie of Taradale, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. 197 hours flying time - his first operation.

Sgt. Ronald Ernest Digby. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.10. Son of Harry and Ellen Rigby and brother to Reginald, Maisie, Eric B. and Renee B. Digby of Brentwood, Essex, England. Ronald's father, Harry served in the RAMC, his brother, Reginald also served in the RAF, possibly in 514 Squadron also. Ronald trained in Egypt, where he took his final air gunners exam before returning to England and a posting to a squadron. Some of the photographs shown on this page are from that period.

Sgt. Malcolm Duncan. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.13. Son of Thomas and Barbara Duncan. Husband of Agnes Duncan of Broughty Ferry, Angus, Scotland.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Thanks to Aubrey Sinden for information on Sergeant Bumstead and Steve Brett for information on Sgt. Ronald Digby. Others sources used shown within section below.

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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