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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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100 Squadron Crest
02/03.01/1944 No 83 Squadron Lancaster III JB114 OL-Q Fl/Lt. Lindsay W. Munro MiD

Operation: Berlin

Date: 02/03rd January 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 83 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB114

Code: OL-Q

Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire.

Location: Zehrensdorf, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Lindsay Will Munro Mid. 40776 RNZAF Age 30. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Donald Cromar DFM 616136 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: F/O. Peter Herbert Ewing J/17210 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Charles Douglas Wall J/18044 RCAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. John Thomas Hitchen 157742 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert John Hunter 1084601 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. George Richard Harris 144712 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Leaving RAF  Wyton, Cambridgeshire at 00.03 hrs to attack Berlin.

The second night that the allies chose this target.Together with 383 aircraft, 362 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitoes and 9 Halifaxes. 

Fl/Sgt. Donald Cromar 3rd from left, with others also whilst he was with 192 squadron flying Halifaxes (see credits) 

The German controllers were following the stream all the way to the capital - they realised the target about 40 minutes prior to the bombing taking place. Night fighters were sent to intercept between Hannover and Bremen, but they missed them and they were then redirected to Berlin. Most of the allied bombers were shot down over the German capital with 27 aircraft being lost.

Fl/Sgt. Donald Cromar DFM, 4th from left, 2nd row down - with ground crew taken whilst with 192 squadron (see credits)

Aircrew killed on this raid amounted to 158 killed and a further 29 made PoW.

The raid was largely ineffective though with bombing scattered over a large area. Reports from Berlin list 82 buildings (residential) were destroyed and 36 people on the ground killed. The damage to the industrial areas was classed as insignificant!

             

Left: Donald Cromar seated with friends - do you recognise the others? (see credits) Right inscription reads 'To Girlie and Chas and Jean with love from Don' see details below for explanation.

This Lancaster is listed as missing without trace, no details can be found to claim this as being shot down, but such was the ferocity of the night - very few claims were positively identified to the German night fighters. This Lancaster was to crash at Zehrensdorf, 6 k.m South East of Zossen, killing all the crew. Originally buried at Zehrensdorf, they were later laid to rest in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.

Wedding day Donald Cromar with Gwendoline Barnes - Donald's older brother, Eddie, a fireman next to Donald. His parents are the couple on the left of the photograph. (see credits)

  

Newspaper cutting reference Donald Cromar - (Mistake as DFM awarded, not DFC - at this time the DFC was only awarded to officers, this changed at a later date - see credits)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Lindsay Munro MiD. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.Z.22. Son of William Fitz James and Jean Munro and husband of Vera Munro of Broadway, Worcestershire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Donald Cromar DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.Z.22. Further information: Son of Charles and Sarah Cromar and husband of Gwendoline Joyce (née Barnes) Cromar. Donald had two brothers and two sisters. His older brother, Eddie was a member of Henry Hall’s BBC Jazz Orchestra, while his two sisters were also well known West End stage and theatre artists. He was brought up by his sisters Girlie and Gertie who were devastated at his death and never really got over the loss of their 'baby brother'. He worked as an assembler before enlisting in 1938 and trained as a Flight Engineer. He married Gwendoline Joyce Barnes in June 1943 (After Donalds death, she married Leonard Henry Bradshaw in 1949) Donald had recently flown on a special duties tour with 192 Squadron and his DFM was gazetted on 19th October 1943:

Cromar, Donald 613136 No. 192 Squadron. Sorties-28, Flying hours 191.
The citation states-
“This Flight Engineer has completed 28 sorties and his energy, cheerfulness and understanding of his aircraft has been of the highest order throughout. His keenness to enter on operational flying is outstanding and Cromar seems happiest when flak is bursting near his aircraft, and on other occasions when the element of danger is great. This spirit has had a tremendously good effect on the morale of the remainder of the crew. The care and interest that he takes in his aircraft, whether it is on the ground or in the air, has always been of an exceptionally high standard and has been an inspiring influence to the ground maintenance personnel as well as giving added confidence to his aircrew.”
20th August 1943
Remarks by Station Commander-
“An exceptionally keen and courageous NCO who is held in high esteem by his crew and also by the ground crew for his constant cheerfulness and personal interest in his aircraft. Award recommended”

F/O. Peter Herbert Ewing. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.Z.25. Son of Frederick and Mary Ewing and husband of Betty Irene of Huxley, Alberta, Canada.

P/O. Charles Douglas Wall. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.Z.27-29. Son of Andrew H. and Edith S .Wall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada.

P/O. John Thomas Hitchen. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.Z.27-29. Son of James Thomas and Hilda Hitchin of Stafford, England.

Fl/Sgt. Robert John Hunter. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.Z.30-35. No further information as yet.

F/O. George Richard Harris. Son of Leopold Charles and Edith Harris of Sheerness, Kent, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks to Graham Bassett (great nephew) and Jean Bassett (niece) of the flight engineer Fl/Sgt. Donald Cromar DFM.

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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