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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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431 Squadron Crest
12/13.08.1944 467 Squadron (RAAF) Lancaster I PD230 PO:X Fg Off. Rodney J. Mellowship

Operation: Russelsheim

Date: 12th/13th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 467 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PD230

Code: PO:X

Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire

Location: Gouvy, Belgium

Pilot: Fg Off. Rodney James Mellowship 417870 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Thomas Cromwell Berry 1391597 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: WO. Francis White 425252 RAAF Age 28. Evaded capture (1)

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Albert Hankinson Baldwin 1579824 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Ronald Wentworth Hore 419509 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Charles Ernest Currie 437402 RAAF Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Trevor Ian Ramsey 428124 RAAF Age 20. Evaded capture (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 21:30 hrs from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire - joining some 296 other aircraft flying deep into southern Germany to bomb the Opel works at Russelsheim (The factory was thought to be manufacturing the wings for the V1 flying bombs). The bomber stream encountered night fighters from Brussels all the way to the target and also on their homeward bound flights.

The allies lost some 20 aircraft in the onslaught.

The target was only slightly damaged, most of the bombs landed in open countryside. However the tyre and dispatch departments and powerhouse were hit - some 9 people killed on the ground with a further 31 injured.

PD230 was claimed by Hauptmann (Capt) Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, his 90th Abschuss and the 3rd of four this night, from Stab IV./NJG1 over Gouvy, 28 km SSW Malmedy at 4.300 m at 01:05 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten).

Maj Schnaufer was captured by British forces in May 1945. He ended the war with 119 Abschüsse from 164 sorties. After his release a year later, he returned to his home town and took over the family wine business. In July 1950, Schnaufer was on a wine buying visit to France. On the afternoon of the 13th July, he was heading south on the Route Nationale No. 10 in his Mercedes-Benz 170 convertible. Just south of Bordeaux, at about 18:30 hrs, he was involved in a collision with a Renault 22 truck. Schnaufer never regained consciousness at Saint-André Hospital in Bordeaux and succumbed to his injuries at the hospital two days later on 15th July 1950. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 4)

Statements made by the 2 evaders later wrote (October 1944) that about 45 minutes after the aircraft had dropped its bomb load on the target an explosion on the aircraft occurred which caused the Lancaster to dive from 15,000 ft to approximately 13,000 ft. At that height the pilot managed to temporarily steady the aircraft, but then shortly afterwards the rear gunner reported fire within the fuselage. The pilot instructed the crew to bale out and all of the crew acknowledged his order.

When at about 12,000 ft the engineer and bomb aimer attempted to open the escape hatch but that they were experiencing considerable difficulty. The navigator struggled through an opening in the side of the aircraft and baled out at 10,000 ft. but he hit part of the aircraft and was rendered unconscious - he has no recollection of how his parachute opened, but he landed safely. The resistance advised him that they had found the pilot still at the controls and that 4 other bodies were recovered. They also that another crew member was being sheltered in France by the resistance.

Investigations by the No. 2 section, Missing Research and Enquiry Unit (MREU) on January 2nd 1946 state that the bodies of 4 of the crew were recovered by the Germans and initially buried at the Justine Cemetery in the village of Rosee. They thought that they had recovered all the crew and ordered 7 coffins - locals fooled the Germans by placing other items in two of the coffins - they were already aware that 2 were evading capture.

(1) WO. Francis White born on the 18th August 1916 in Many Peaks, Queensland and was from 21A Peel Street, Mackay, North Queensland, Australia. Flt Sgt. Trevor Ramsey was born on the 16th October 1923 in Launceston, Tasmania and from 95 High Street, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Burial details:

Fg Off. Rodney James Mellowship. Hotton War Cemetery. Joint Grave V11.E3-4. Grave inscription: “OUR ONLY LADDIE”. Born on the 9th August 1923 in Evandale, South Australia. Born on the 9th August 1923. Son of Leslie James Mellowship and Agnes Mellowship, of 15 Paxton Street, Semaphore, South Australia.

Previous flying experience -Tiger Moth, Wirraway, Oxford, Wellington, Stirling and Lancaster.

Sgt. Thomas Cromwell Berry. Hotton War Cemetery Grave V11.E.2. Born on the 26th July 1911 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Son of James Webster (killed in France in July 1917) and Agnes Ellen (née Sutherland). Husband to Ettie Calladine (née Walker) Berry of Bramcote, Nottinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Albert Hankinson Baldwin. Hotton War Cemetery Grave V11.E.5. Son of Albert Edward and Alice Baldwin, of Arrow, Warwickshire, England. Husband of Elizabeth Mary Baldwin.

Flt Sgt. Ronald Wentworth Hore. Hotton War Cemetery. Joint Grave V11.E3-4. Grave inscription: “HONOUR AND EVERLASTING GLORY TO ONE WHO ALWAYS DID HIS DUTY”. Born 11th January 1923 in Albury, New South Wales. Son of Arnold Wentworth Hore and Frances Mary Hore, of Little Billabong, New South Wales, Australia.

Flt Sgt. Charles Ernest Currie. Hotton War Cemetery Grave V11.E.1. Grave inscription: “LOVED SON OF MR AND MRS N.C.E. CURRIE OF SALISBURY. STH AUSTRALIA". Born on the 10th February 1924 in Bankstown, New South Wales. Son of Nicholas Charles Ernest and Agnes Sarah Currie, of Haigh Road, Salisbury, South Australia.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to the families of the crew. Special thanks to the Australian Archives for further information. Grave photographs courtesy Des Philippet. With many thanks to Didier Petit for pointing out the correct region (Dec 2017). NoK details and Fighter claim information updated by Aircrew Remembered (Mar 2022).

Further sources as below:

RS 31.03.2022 - Update to Fighter claim and NoK details

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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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