14/15.02.1945 No. 153 Squadron Lancaster I NN803 P4-O Fl/Lt. Clement R. Mills
Date: 14/15th February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 153 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Location: Between the villages of Arnsfeld and Grumbach
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Clement Robert Mills J/6675 RCAF Age 27. Missing
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. John Joseph O’Brian Heady 1615776 RAFVR Age ? Missing
Nav: F/O. Lorne Albert MacDonald J/42188 RCAF Age 19. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Ross Samuel Stanzel J/42702 RCAF Age 20. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Henry Wicks 1866506 RAFVR Age 19. Missing
Air/Gnr: W/O.1. John Howard Wilson R/130331 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Charles Joseph Anthony Caryi R/183314 RCAF Age 21. Killed
The 85 year old brother of Sgt. William Wicks, Joseph, would very much appreciate a copy of a photograph of him or the crew.
REASON FOR LOSS:
T/O at 20.05 hrs from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire as part of the second wave to bomb Chemnitz on "Operation Thunderclap" (1) 717 aircraft from 1,3,4,6 and 8 group taking part.
The bombing was hampered by cloud, even though very little is available as to the results of the raid many parts of the city were hit. Although the majority of the bombs fell in open country.
The diversionary tactics used by the allies resulted in relatively few aircraft losses, 13 in total during the Chemnitz raid.
Lancaster NN803 was intercepted and shot down by Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt (2) of 2./NJG6 (Although other reports state Oblt. Engelbert Heiner as the possible night fighter pilot)
(1) "Operation Thunderclap" - In August 1944 plans were drawn for an operation code named Thunderclap but it was shelved and never implemented. The plan envisaged a massive attack on Berlin that would cause 220,000 casualties with 110,000 killed, many of them key German personnel, which would shatter German morale. But on consideration it was decided that it was unlikely to work, so it was shelved.
153 Squadron Lancaster with ground crews, RAF Scampton 1945
The plan was reconsidered in early 1945, to be implemented in coordination with a Soviet advance, but again was rejected again as impractical, and instead a number of coordinated smaller attacks against cities in the communications zone of the Eastern Front, through which key routes to the east converged, were chosen. The cities designated as choke points where the bombing would be most effective were Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig. Intensive bombing of these targets was carried out with the intention of disrupting the rear areas of the German Eastern Front lines, to aid the Soviets advance as had been requested by the Soviets at the Yalta Conference. These raids were large ones, but were not the massive raids envisaged in the original Thunderclap plan.
(2) Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt survived the war. 15 abschüsse in total.
(3) Oblt. Engelbert Heiner of 12./NJG6 was shot down and killed the following month by 157 Squadron Mosquito NT364 - flown by W/O. Taylor and his navigator Fl/Sgt. Radford. 15 abschüsse in total.
Above pieces of the Lancaster I NN803 on display (courtesy Jan Zdiarsky, Ph.D - see below)
Fl/Lt. Clement Robert Mills. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 278. Son of Clement and Percie Mills, husband of Marjorie Alberta Mills, of Baie Comeau, Province of Quebec, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. John Joseph O’Brian Heady. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 271. From England we understand. No further details - are you able to assist?
F/O. Lorne Albert MacDonald. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.16. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Lorne W. MacDonald, of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. Ross Samuel Stanzel. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 280. Son of Oscar Milburn and Ethel Sarah Jane Stanzel (née Saunders), of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Brother to Ruth Olivia. Born on the 24th April 1924 - enlisted October 29th, 1942. Before ejoining he worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia.
Sgt. William Henry Wicks. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 277. Son of Walter and Jessie Wicks, of Brixton Hill, London, England.
W/O.1. John Howard Wilson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.13. From North Bay, Ontario, Canada - no further details - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Charles Joseph Anthony Caryi. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.12. From Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Born February 10th 1923 - no further details - are you able to assist?
Page dedicated to the brother of Sgt. William Wicks and all relatives of the crew. Also to Jan Zdiarsky, Ph.D and the great Museum - “Museum of Air Battles over the Ore Mountains”. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below. Grave photo courtesy Uwe Jenrich.