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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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75 Squadron Crest
10/11.09.1942 No. 75 Squadron Wellington III BJ974 Sgt. Thomas O. Metcalfe

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 10/11th September 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 75 (NZ) Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BJ974

Code: AA-?

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, England.

Location: Klasheider Weg in the Königsforst, Germany.

Pilot: Sgt. Thomas Otto Metcalfe NZ/414386 RNZAF Age 19. Killed

Obs: P/O. Kevin John Devlin NZ/413334 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Desmond James Walshe NZ/412912 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Walter Foch Kelcher NZ/411908 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander John Lock 928200 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Mildenhall between 21.09 - 21.2 hrs to bomb Düsseldorf. A huge force took off – a total of 479 aircraft mad up with 242 Wellingtons, 89 Lancasters, 59 Halifaxes, 47 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens and 14 Whitleys. 

      

Area of loss, with insert Sgt. Thomas Metcalfe

The pathfinders marked the target area successfully using the ‘Pink Pansies’ (1) in converted 4,000 lb. bomb casings. The city was hit in all areas apart from the north, also hit was the neighbouring town of Neuss. Reports are that 39 industrial firms in Düsseldorf and a further 13 in Neuss were damaged to the extent that no production could take place for various periods, 8 public buildings were destroyed and 67 damaged. 911 houses were also destroyed, 1,506 seriously damaged and another 8,340 lightly damaged.

On the ground 132 people were killed, made up of 120 in Düsseldorf and 12 in Neuss. A further 11 people were classed as “missing” 2 days after the raid. 19,427 people were made homeless.

The raid took it’s toll on the R.A.F. though with 33 aircraft lost. (20 Wellingtons, 5 Lancasters. 4 Stirlings, 3 Halifaxes and 1 Hampden) 60 crewmen were killed or missing, 1 injured and 13 made P.o.W.

Wellington BJ974 is understood to have come down in the Königsforst 15 km West of Cologne. No night fighter claims have yet been confirmed for the loss such were the fierce air battles taking place.

      

75 Squadron crews at R.A.F. Feltwell (courtesy I.W.M)

Also lost on this trip from 75 Squadron:

Wellington III BJ828 Flown by 21 year old Sgt. Eric Lees from Oldham, Lancashire, missing with all 4 other crew.
Wellington III BJ968 Flown by Canadian Fl/Sgt. Frank Burrill, missing with all 4 other crew members

(1) “Pink Pansies” an incendiary bomb – 2,800 lbs. – used as a target marker made up from Benzol, rubber and phosphorous)

      

Rheinberg War Cemetery (courtesy Sylvia McDonald)

Burial details:

Understood to have been buried initially in Cologne, reinterred after hostilities ended.

Sgt. Thomas Otto Metcalfe. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.A.20-21. Son of Joseph William Metcalfe, and of Dorothy Mary Metcalfe (nee Moore), of Norsewood, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, nephew of Ellis Todd, of Hastings, Hawke's Bay. 336 hrs flying experience and his 4th operation.

P/O. Kevin John Devlin. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.A.20-21. Son of Joseph Calixtus Devlin and Dorothy May Devlin, of Wellington City, New Zealand. 261 hrs flying experience and his 2nd operation on this is 26th birthday.

Sgt. Desmond James Walshe. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.A.20-21. on of James and Gertrude M. Walshe, of Wellington City, New Zealand. 177 hrs flying experience and his 2nd operation.

Sgt. Walter Foch Kelcher. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 4.A.22. Son of Leonard and Isabella Mary Kelcher, of Maheno, Otago, New Zealand. 176 hrs flying experience and his 2nd operation.

Sgt. Alexander John Lock. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.B.3-19. Son Of Thomas William and Maud Mary Lock, no further address details, can you assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew, including a Mr. John Price from New Zealand who is the cousin of the pilot, Sgt. Thomas Metcalfe. With thanks to Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Auckland War Memorial Museum, Errol W. Martyn ‘ For Your Tomorrow’.

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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