30/31.03.1944 625 Squadron Lancaster III W5009 CF-Z Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls
Date: 30/31st March 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 625 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kelstern
Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Thomas Musgrove Nicholls 111973 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Norman Leslie Wallis 1809799 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Peter Raymond Beilby 1318936 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: WO2. Ernest Carl Johnston R/153793 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. Frank Raymond Smith 172030 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Lloyd George Anderson R/131824 RCAF Age 27. Killed
Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. Reginald Henry Pitman 171789 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
Considering the circumstances of this raid, it is not surprising that Theo Boiten offers two claimants for the loss of W5009:
Lt. Hans Raum: 6 9./NJG3 Lancaster 20 km SW Bonn 00.20 625 Lancaster W5009
Note: same claim as Lt. Fengler 00.24 hrs, victory Lt. Raum confirmed on 19.6.44
Lt. Georg Fengler: 1 Stab IV./NJG1 Lancaster Prüm area: 6,000m 00.24 625 Lancaster W5009
Note: same claim as Lt. Raum 00.20 hrs, victory Lt. Fengler confirmed on 14.7.44
Theo and Rod MacKenzie are in the process of publishing the Nachtjagd Combat Archives (NCA) with a completion date of 2020. This project will be concluded by two volumes on the Med and Eastern Front Nachtjagd (both due out in 2021).
Fg.Off. Nicholls and crew were posted from 1667 HCU to 625 Sqn RAF Kelstern on 23.10.43. By deduction they included Pilot; Fg.Off. T.M. Nicholls, Flight Engineer; Sgt. N.L. Wallis, Bomb Aimer; Sgt. E.C. Johnston, Navigator; Sgt. P.R. Beilby, WOP; Sgt. F.R. Smith, Mid-Upper Gunner; Sgt. W. Edwards and Rear Gunner; Sgt. L.G. Anderson. The transition to ops would not be smooth for this crew.
On 10.11.43 Fg.Off. Nicholls would do his ‘second dickie’ trip with Flt.Lt J. Day and crew in W5009 to Modane, France, on an uneventful raid.
The crew’s introduction to combat came on 18.11.43 when they were detailed to bomb Berlin. Due to a late take off they bombed the target of last resort, a flak battery at Groningen. Sgt. W. Edwards was the mid-upper gunner on this op.
The Battle Order for 23.11.43 sent them back to the Big City to bomb in 10/10th cloud conditions. Sgt. W.J. Martin manned the mid-upper turret.
They visited Berlin for a third consecutive op on 2.12.43, uneventful, but with Sgt. W. Edwards in the mid-upper and Sgt. R.A. Dix in the rear turret.
The identical crew with Sgts. Edwards and Dix manning the turrets, took W5009 to Leipzig for a low key trip on 3.12.43.
For their fourth trip to Berlin on 16.12.43, W5009 was their mount with Sgt. H. Cowan in the mid-upper and Sgt. Anderson in the rear turret, landing away at Blyton.
On 20.12.43 their detailed target was Frankfurt in W5009 with Sgt. F.R. Johnston in the mid-upper and Sgt. Anderson in the rear turret. The task was abandoned at 18.24 hrs, Mid Upper Gunner had a short circuit in his electric clothing. S gear could not be engaged and could only reach 16,000 ft. Mid Upper Gunner abandoned turret and went to rest bed. Bombs jettisoned safely at 18.36 hrs from a height of 13,000 ft.
The game of musical gunners was far from over. The Battle Order would have them visit Berlin for the next four consecutive ops, three in W5009.
On 23.12.43 the crew included Sgt. W.A. Footman as bomb aimer, Sgt. Anderson in the Mid Upper and Sgt. E.T. M. Rees in the Rear Turret.
For their eighth and uneventful trip on 29.12.43, Plt.Off. H.J. Watkins would operate the mid-upper and Sgt. Anderson the rear turret. (Plt.Off. Watkins would lose his life as the rear gunner of the crew of Flt.Lt. Spark, LWT on 28/29.1.44 - More here)
The Nicholls crew celebrated New Years Day 1944 with their sixth mission to the Big City, Sgt. J.T.G. Weaver in the mid-upper and Sgt. Anderson in the rear turret.
Their tenth trip, seventh to Berlin, on 20.1.44 had Sgt. R.H. Pitman in the Mid Upper and Sgt. Anderson in the Rear Turret. Finally, after ten ops this crew had peace and harmony in the aft turrets. This upheaval and constant juggling are indicative of interpersonal conflict, not medical illness/incapacitation of a single crew member. More later.*
On 21.1.44, Fg.Off. Nicholls and crew took W5009 to Magdeburg: Target overshot and another circuit had to be made - Every crew’s nightmare with increased risk of collision and night fighter attack. Flt.Sgt. T.P. Bishop was their replacement navigator on the mission. Sergeants Pitman and Anderson manned the mid-upper and rear turrets respectively.
The Battle Order detailed the crew back to the Big City on 27 and 30.1.44, both uneventful - the latter being their thirteenth!
However, on 15.2.44 Flt.Lt. Nicholls and crew completed their tenth raid on the Capital with a minor crew adjustment: Sgt. Anderson in the mid-upper and Sgt. Pitman in the rear turret - perfect harmony, almost.
The Battle Order detailed them to bomb Leipzig on 19.2.44 in W5009. This uneventful op had them revert to Sgt. Pitman as mid-upper and Sgt. Anderson as the rear gunner for the last time. Their remaining ops would have Sgt. Anderson as mid-upper and Sgt. Pitman as rear gunner.
For their trip to Stuttgart on 20.2.44 in W5009, they were accompanied by Sgt. N. McA. McCaw for his ‘second dickie’ ride. Sgt. McCaw and his crew would perish in LM515 on the 3/4.5.44 Mailly-le-Camp raid.
Flt.Lt. Nicholls and crew would take W5009 to Schweinfurt on 24.2.44 on an uneventful op.
For the 25.2.44 op to Augsburg they would be hosts to Sgt. R.D.W. Jamieson for his ‘second dickie’ experience. One month later he and his entire crew would lose their lives during the last major Berlin raid on 24/25.3.44 (More here).
After their next raid on Stuttgart on 1.3.44 they were forced to land away at RAF Grimsby, along with three of their Sqn mates.
On 22.3.44 Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls, with his nav, Sgt. P.R Beilby and rear gunner Sgt. L.G. Anderson, would take W5009 to introduce Sgt. R.A. Clough and the balance of his crew to the defences of Frankfurt. Lady Luck would maintain a safe watch over Sgt. Clough and his crew - they would survive their tour of ops with 625 Sqn.
Unfortunately, she would not be as benevolent with Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls and his crew.
The Battle Order for 30.3.44 had them detailed to attack Nuremberg. At 21.44 they departed Kelstern with Sgt. Anderson in the mid-upper and now Plt.Off. Pitman in the rear turret: ORB- NUREMBERG. Failed to return - nothing heard after take off.
This was to be their twenty-first op as a crew - Their thirteenth in W5009.
This loss dealt a significant blow to the Squadron, as Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls was the Flight Commander of B Flight. It was a spirited Flt.Lt. Tom Nicholls that instigated the six pound bet with 1st. Lt. Max Dowden to perform a steep turn around the station water tower, keeping his lower wing tip below the top of the 30 foot tower! (More here)
It is noteworthy that the fickle finger of fate spared the life of Sgt. R.H. Pitman on 22/23.11.43 when he was replaced in the rear turret of LM424 by the Sqn Gunnery Leader, Flt.Lt. W.D. Crimmins DFC (More here) He survived an additional four months to become an integral member of SqnLdr. Nicholls’ crew.
Crew of W5009 L-R: Plt.Off. Frank Raymond Smith, Flt.Sgt. Lloyd George Anderson, unknown, Sqn.Ldr. Thomas Musgrove Nicholls, Sgt. Peter Raymond Beilby and probably WO2. Ernest Carl Johnston. (Courtesy of Eileen Edge and Kevin Ball)
The fate of W5009 and her courageous young crew is well documented in the 20 Missing Research and Enquiry Service Investigation Report, “P” 415383/44, by Flt.Lt. H.J. Goldstain, dated 19th August, 1948. A word of caution, it is not an easy read, nor for the faint of heart. Note that the aircraft serial number: W.3009 is a typo in the text as the other pertinent information of crew identification confirms that this report applies to the fate of W5009. In addition the Squadron ORB and CWGC indicate that the correct spelling for the bomb aimer’s surname is: Johnston.
20 M.R.E.S. Investigation Report
R.C.A.F. O/S H.Q.
A.M. Ref: “P” 415383/44
A.M. C.E. No. G1693
4 MREU Case Ref: 906/1693Kreis/Gemeinde Ref: 1116/24/21/P.4
A/C type and No: Lancaster Mk. III W.3009 - Target: NurembergDate Missing: 30/31st Mar. 44 - Place of crash with map ref: In forest, 2 miles south west of Udenbreth - 3/F.0402 - Cem. Disinterred Cem. Reinterred with Map Ref. with Map Ref.
Udenbreth Communal Rheinberg British Cemetery Cemetery - 3/F0404 K52/A1826
(111973 Acting Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls,T.M. Pilot )
(1809799 Sgt Wallis, N.L. Flt.Eng. )
(1318936 Sgt Beilby, P.R. Nav. )17 A 15
(R153793 WO Johnson, E. Bomb Aimer )
(172030 Plt.Off Smith, F.R. W.op )17 A 16
(171789 Plt.Off Pitman, R.H. Rear Gnr )
(R131824 Sgt Anderson, L.G. Mid Upper Gnr)
Graves 1 & 2
*If these two Multiple Graves for seven crew members are accepted, additional grave space will have to be allotted.
Reporting Officer: Flt.Lt. H.J. Goldstajn Date: 19th August, 1948
1. The Aircraft: Peter Stollenwerk, farmer of Udenbreth, states that in March 1944, an a/c approached from the East. The machine was on fire in mid-air and crashed at a shallow angle into the Hellenthaler Forest. Explosions were heard, part of the forest set on fire. The wreckage burnt all night. Inspecting the place of crash, I found a very large oblong hole, approximately the length of the fuselage of a bomber. The wreckage had been removed by the German Air Force shortly after the crash and although there was great amount of smaller parts found, no clues for full identification of the a/c could be gathered. Wreckage was also strewn in a wide perimeter up to a half a mile of the place of impact.
2. The Aircrew: There were no complete bodies found. Witnesses state that they found human remains as far as half a mile from the place of crash. They gathered these parts all day long and put them into two wooden boxes which they buried in the cemetery of Udenbreth. By the number of hands and legs found, they estimated the number of crew members killed at six. In records of the Burgomaster, it is stated that identity discs of Pickmann 171787 or 171789 and Innston 1537 were found. (distorted names of Pitman and Johnson, and first four of Service number of Johnson). A German Death Card states that a Lancaster crashed at 00:30 hrs on March 31, 1944, three kilometres South West of Udenbreth near Hellenthal. The burial, according to the death card, was carried out on 15-4-44 in the cemetery of Udenbreth, Field 4, Grave 2. Name of deceased unknown. At the place of crash, I could only find small parts of RAF battle dress, parts of one dark blue pullover, parts of a white pullover and parts of underwear. Digging in several parts of the crater for human remains proved negative. The grave in the cemetery of Udenbreth was neatly kept, there was a plain wooden cross with no inscription.
3. Exhumation: Exhumations were carried out by 39 G.R.U. on the 6th August 1947 in the presence of Flt.Lt. E. Hirth. Only burnt and decomposed remains were found and no clues registered which could lead to identification of this crew.
a) Although the a/c was not identified, German documentary evidence is conclusive enough to accept that Lancaster W.3009 crashed at Udenbreth, and partial remains of the crew were buried in the local cemetery.
b) As human remains were spread over a very large area of the forest, it is very likely that they were not all recovered after the crash and lying on surface have no doubt perished away during the last four years.
c) It is therefore suggested to register the two graves in Rheinberg for the seven members of this crew (as multiple graves).
d) Please inform this Section if further action in this case is required or if final 3372 action can be taken.
Flt.Lt. (unreadable) Search Officer
The March 30/31 1944 Nuremberg Raid- Death By Moonlight: Bomber Command
This raid would prove to be one of the most controversial of the Bomber Command campaign. Martin Middlebrook in his captivating book, The Nuremberg Raid, refers to it as: The worst night of the war March 30-31, 1944. Historian, Alfred Price, describes it as: the greatest air battle of all time. For the Nachtjagd crews this evening would be known as: The Night of the Long Knives.
The choice of Nuremberg as the target was puzzling taking into account the difficulty to accurately locate and mark and its relative low priority as a contributor to the war effort. However, the route to the target and weather forecast were going to prove to be much more problematic.
The outbound route included a 265 mile straight leg that extended from central Belgium, eastward into central Germany, threading ten to fifteen miles between night fighter beacons, Ida to the north and Otto to the south, before making an acute south turn to Nuremberg. In practical terms it would take the 200 Nachtjagd aircraft circling the beacons three to four minutes to infiltrate the bomber stream. This routing was opposed by Air Vice-Marshal Bennett of Group 8, Pathfinders - to no avail. Aircrew also had grave reservations of this “Long Leg”. The weather forecast for this raid included conditions of a half-moon for the proposed time frame, usually a contraindication for a deep attack into Germany without the protection of a high cloud layer. The mid-afternoon Mosquito meteorological flight revealed no high cloud, a straight vapour trail at 25,000-30,000 feet and large banks of stratocumulus clouds obscuring Nuremberg. Despite the route objections and unfavourable weather forecast, C-in-C Harris made the decision that Operation Grayling was a go. It is signifiant that the aircrew and in particular those of the Pathfinder squadrons were not informed of the weather, especially that the target would be obscured by cloud. The die was cast.
Plt.Off. J.E. Goldsmith participated in this raid as the navigator of Plt.Off. C.J.K. Bradshaw’s crew in ND407. Contrary to regulations, he kept a personal record after each of his trips:
"This was a nerve wracking raid in which Bomber Command suffered its greatest losses of the war. The condensation trails from the bombers, which had seldom occurred before, were thick and persistent and in the light of a bright moon the bombers appeared to be travelling along a well-travelled highway. The German night fighters had a field day as they flew along the trails picking off the bombers. We had an aircraft unserviceability on start up so were late getting airborne. Fortunately, as it turned out, I had to cut the corner at the first turning point to catch up to our place in the bomber stream and we ended up paralleling the track and 25 miles north of it. We saw lots of fighter activity and bombers going down, all south of us, so we decided to keep north. This worked out well as we didn’t see any fighters close to us until nearing Nuremberg and then one almost rammed us head on. Over the target flak was moderate and searchlights were not very effective. The bombing seemed to be very scattered and the raid didn’t appear to be a success.
On return to base and after completion of the mission debriefing, some of us went to the Officer’s Mess to listen to a German radio station to hear their bomber loss claim. We were shocked to hear the Germans say that 135 bombers had been shot down. After hearing that, our squadron losses of 1 missing and 2 damaged from the 13 dispatched didn’t seem too bad".
Later the loss figures announced by Bomber Command were: 95 aircraft missing and a further 13 crashed in England for a total of 108 lost. The loss rate was 13.6%, for all bombers taking part in this raid. A post-war breakdown of the losses shows that:
Crashed on take off - 1
Shot down by night fighters - 79
Shot down by flak - 13
Hit by both night fighters and flak - 2
Collision - 2
Shot down by a ‘friendly bomber’** - 1
Crashed or crash landed in England - 9
Written off after battle damage - 1
The loss in human life was equally appalling: 545 aircrew members killed and 200 wounded. A further 159 became prisoners of war. Of those killed 109 were Canadians.
Bomber Command’s assessment of the heavy losses was that it was a night on which an unhappy coincidence of clear skies to guide the night fighters and bad tactical planning, gave the German fighter-controllers an uncommonly easy task.”
Besides W5009 with Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls and his crew, the Squadron would lose one other Lanc, ED940, following an off airfield landing in England due to fuel starvation. As a result of 1st Lt. Max Dowden’s superb airmanship and combat moxie, his crew escaped without injuries. (More here)
The German Controller ignored all diversionary attacks and assembled his fighters at 2 radio beacons which happened to be astride the route to Nuremberg. The first fighters appeared just before the bombers reached the Belgian border and a fierce battle in the moonlight lasted for the next hour. Eighty-two bombers were lost on the outward route and near the target. The majority fell to Me 110s equipped with SN-2 AI radar and the deadly Schräge Musik (Tame Boar). The action was much reduced on the return flight, when most of the German fighters had to land. Note: Tame Boar refers to the German night fighter tactic of ground controllers vectoring twin engined aircraft equipped with SN-2 airborne interception radar into the bomber stream to hunt independently - similar to a shark with night vision goggles in a school of fish. This tactic coupled with the Schräge Musik weapon system in the hands of an experienced crew was devastating (See here and scroll down to Schräge Musik)
Wild Boar tactic refers to night fighting single engined fighters being vectored to the confirmed target to use their night vision, aided by the target markers and fires as well as fighter flares, to intercept and attack the bombers - much less of a threat to bomber aircrew survival. These fighters usually were not radar equipped and totally dependent on the timely and correct determination of the target.
Most of the returning crews reported that they had bombed Nuremberg but subsequent research showed that approximately 120 aircraft had bombed Schweinfurt, 50 miles north-west of Nuremberg. This mistake was the result of badly forecast winds causing navigational difficulties, and 2 Pathfinder aircraft dropping their target markers on Schweinfurt.
To make matters worse, the most tragic incident occurred nearly 400 miles from Nuremberg. In the event that crews had to turn back before reaching Germany, they were given a ‘last resort’ target. For this raid it was the docks at Ostend on the Belgian coast. Two Lancs dropped their bombs on this target, one a Pathfinder! Their aim was off and they unleashed their bomb loads into a densely populated area of the town: eighteen houses completely destroyed, 391 damaged in an area one mile from the docks - thirty-six Belgian civilian fatalities, ranging from a lady aged eighty-six to a six month baby!
First to depart at 21:16, March 30th was Fg.Off. Gus Johnston of 103 Sqn in Lanc JB736, for a preliminary air test. On their third op, they were 28th downed by flak at Westerburg, only one gunner survived as a PoW. Last to ‘land’ was WO. Bill McGown at 07:25 on March 31st and it was not pretty. After two diversions due to fog, two of the crew baling out into fog below 1000 feet, he put his Lanc into a Hertfordshire field, writing it off in the process but most important there were no casualties. These two incidents are symbolic of the tenor of this raid. Martin Middlebrook’s map of the 108 losses is testimony to the outcome of a raid that should have been cancelled when the updated forecast of clear skies along the Long Leg came in. This was one time when safety in the bomber stream was the exception. The seasoned Skippers did not hesitate to disobey orders and climb to shed their condensation trails. Max Dowden did this and in addition, after his third night fighter attack, elected to corkscrew for an hour. He dealt with the critical fuel situation with a wheels down forced landing - no injuries or casualties!
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
As Middlebrook points out, if the Germans had delayed scrambling their fighters by twenty minutes the British casualty list would have been a fraction of what it was. If this were the case then the Nuremberg raid and route would have been described as bold an imaginative. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris would find it difficult to accept that his role as the sole individual responsible for the decision to press on despite clear skies with a half-moon and a long leg straddled by Nachtjagd beacons. It is significant that the Nuremberg raid of Mar. 30/31 1944 was not mentioned in his book, Bomber Offensive. However, it was only one blemish in an otherwise exemplary career as the Air Officer Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command and his ‘old lags’ would not desert him.
As usual Lady Luck was her fickle self. It is remarkable that of the 782 heavy bombers that had departed on this op, 500 bombed either Nuremberg or Schweinfurt and returned safely to England without a night fighter encounter or a Flak hit. Ten of the squadrons dispatched had no casualties. Ten, thirteen and eight squadrons suffered the losses of one, two and three aircraft and crews respectively. Two squadrons reported four missing and 101 Squadron was decimated with the failure of seven of their twenty-three Lancs dispatched, to return to their Base at Ludford Magna - a crippling 30% loss rate! Lancaster, DV264, piloted by Plt.Off. W.I. Adamson DFC and crew was 7th downed that evening after being hit by fire from a Halifax. This crew was on their 29th op. The pilot and four crew mates lost their lives.
The bomb aimer, wireless operator and mid-upper gunner, Sgt. Donald Brinkhurst bailed out. He provided a vivid recount of the events leading to their demise:
'A Halifax came right over the top of us; he was about 300 feet up, crossing from starboard to port. He was roughly ten o’clock from us when I last saw him and, just as he disappeared, I saw one long burst of tracer come down at us from that direction. German tracer was bluish but this was the pink and red that we used. It caught us all down our port side and we were soon on fire. At the time we were weaving and I expect that to a gunner who was on edge and jumpy we could have looked like a fighter making an attack.
I tried to contact the skipper on the intercom but got no joy. I got out of my turret; the rear gunner was already out of his and sitting on the Elsan - he was not using it - only resting. I indicated to him to get his parachute on, but he didn’t seem to take any notice. I got mine on and managed to reach the door by pulling myself upwards for we were going down steeply. I could feel the ‘special’ (the ABC operator) holding onto the back of my harness and felt sure that he would follow me out.'
Unfortunately, the special operator was found two days later, dead and hanging from a tree by his parachute harness. Presumably he was injured by the machine-gun fire before leaving DV264 (More here) Theo Boiten attributes the loss of DV264 to a combination of a Nachtjagd attack by Oblt. Hans-Joachim Witzleb and Flak. He notes that he does not have a detailed combat report by Oblt. Witzleb. Unfortunately, Martin Middlebrook was not able to sleuth out the rear-gunner of the mystery Halifax. The obvious explanation would be that he did not return from this op.
After consideration there is a plausible interpretation of the dynamics of this loss: With conditions of high visibility, estimated at 1000 yards, the overflying Halifax's rear gunner observed the Lanc below, about to be attacked from below by Oblt. Witzleb. He fired off a salvo in an attempt to shoot the attacker down and warn the Lanc's crew of the imminent danger that they were blind to. As noted DV264 was weaving at the time which may have resulted in the pilot inadvertently manoeuvring their aircraft into the line of fire, resulting in the witnessed multiple strikes. It is quite possible that this salvo resulted in serious injury or death of the pilot, special operator, rear gunner and navigator. Incapacitating injury to the pilot would account for the steep dive and dead intercom. Almost always the pilot would give the order to abandon aircraft to save his crew if he had lost control due to severe battle damage, especially in a battle hardened, close knit crew!
However, it is difficult to explain how the damage to the Lancaster from a scattered burst of light calibre machine-gun fire could be so sudden and devastating. It is possible that a brief burst of Schräge Musik would inflict a fatal blow and may not have been observed by the distracted gunner, especially if this attack came from under the starboard wing. This would fit if Oblt. Witzleb was operating an aircraft fitted with this weapon system and delivered his attack from that side. It would also make it more likely that the Halifax salvo would hit a shielding DV264. A flak hit would have had similar effects but would have been more obvious to this experienced crew. It is distinctly possible that the loss of DV264 was due to three contributing causes - friendly fire, night fighter attack and Flak. Most unusual, but taking into account the circumstances of the Nuremberg raid, not impossible. Theo Boiten agrees that this scenario is possible but unfortunately he does not have access to Oblt. Witzleb’s detailed combat report to confirm his weapon system and side of attack.
The first two of the crew finished the war as PoWs. For a determined Sgt. Brinkhurst the war was far from over. He had the rare distinction of being the only man that night that parachuted into Germany, to evade and reach England. After hiking into Belgium, assisted by the underground, he managed to reach the safety of neutral Switzerland. Soon bored, he recrossed the French border, located the Allies and returned to England. Justly rewarded with a commission he rejoined his old Sqn. On 2 January 1945, he departed on the first of twenty ops - target detailed Nuremberg!
Half of the missing crews had logged less than ten ops. Thirty had five or less to their credit. Nine were on their first. Four were on Number Thirteen. Sadly, nine crews were seasoned vets on their second tour of ops. Over the course of the deadly outward flight one third of the missing aircraft would have no survivors to relate their last moments of heroism and camaraderie. The crashes in England were higher than average due to bad weather confronting exhausted, battle weary crews returning from a nightmare.
Above: Map of Nuremberg Raid Losses/The Deadly Long Leg.
Above and below- The Grim Road to Nuremberg/ The Aftermath.
(Please note: on the above image Aircrew Remembered have removed the bodies of the crew to avoid possible distress)
To fully comprehend the events of this raid it is enlightening to compare the losses of Bomber Command and the victories of the Nachtjagd crews temporally and geographically. Nachtjagd War Diaries, Volume One, in three and a half pages gives the time line of the 123 claims made by the crews between 00:01 and 04:33 of March 31. The majority of these claims, 114, occurred between 00:01 and 01:41, a rate of one per minute but at the heat of combat as many as six heavy bombers were crashing to earth each minute. Correlating this with Martin Middlebrook’s map of Bomber Command losses, gives some concept of the picture painted for the Bomber crews on the Long Leg, in conditions of clear sky and bright moonlight! It is not surprising that many of the Nachtjagd crews claimed more than one victory that night. Oblt. Martin Becker was the top Expertin with a score of seven, using forward-firing armament. On the other hand, the top scoring Nachtjagd crew of Oblt. Schnaufer elected to fly to the coast for an early interception of the bomber stream, failed to catch up with the battle and landed scoreless!
The dawn of March 31 would bring a pall of disbelief and grief to stations of Bomber Command. The grim reality of the magnitude of aircrew losses hit home - 245 dead, the majority in one and a half hours from the fighter bacons to the target. The March 30/31 Nuremberg raid signified the end of the Battle of Berlin and the end of Sir Arthur Harris’s Bomber Dream: to bomb the Nazi regime into submission without a costly invasion. It was not to be. For the next five months C-in-C Harris and the crews of Bomber Command would come under the direction of General Dwight Eisenhower, the Commander of S.H.A.E.F. ( Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force). The Allied invasion, Operation Overlord, now had priority over the general offensive against Germany’s industrial cities.
Some lessons were learned, some ignored. The Nuremberg raid would mark the end of the concept of one huge bomber stream - never keep your eggs in one basket. Future raids would involve smaller streams attacking more than one target. The error in target marking reinforced the concept of a Master Bomber to direct and ensure that the correct target was marked and redirect crews if an alternate aiming point was needed. Unfortunately, the lesson of planning a raid during a moon cycle was not fully comprehended. 625 Sqn would suffer multiple losses on two French raids detailed in clear moonlight conditions: Mailly-le-Camp, three crews missing and Vierzon, a record of four crews missing. (AR LINKS- PB126 AND ND975). In addition, the conditions of brilliant moonlight that provided perfect hunting conditions for the Nachtjagd crews also delivered several eye witness accounts of the deadly effectiveness of Schräge Musik. It remains a mystery why this critical intelligence information was not realized for what it was and appropriate countermeasures introduced - other than the fictitious Scarecrow shells.
In the aftermath of the raid, it is not difficult to understand why many of the surviving aircrew believed that the Germans had prior warning of the time and route chosen. 'The Germans knew we were coming'. This reaction was quite reasonable taking into account that the bomber stream appeared to be ambushed at beacons Ida and Otto by a night fighter force of 200 aircraft. This was reinforced by information provided by PoWs that had been interrogated at Oberursel, where they were told by German officers that the target and route had been known in the afternoon before the raid and attributed this advance intelligence to the Nachtjagd blowout. However, as Martin Middlebrook points out, that if Nuremberg was the known target then the Wild Boar squadrons would not have been dispatched for a possible attack on Frankfurt or not dispatched at all. As a result, the bomber stream was not opposed by Wild Boar fighters over Nuremberg or Schweinfurt - otherwise the losses would have been even higher. In addition, the stumbling of some Tame Boar crews into the bomber stream at the fighter beacons with their navigation lights ablaze does not smell of an ambush.
The debacle of the Nuremberg raid coupled with the preceding and pending firestorms of Hamburg and Dresden would lead to a gradual erosion of public opinion of Sir Arthur Harris and his courageous and dedicated crews to the point that by war’s end, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would elect to omit both in his VE-Day speech. Despite this Harris remained faithful in his endeavours to have his crews recognized for their remarkable and often overlooked sacrifice and contribution to the war effort over the duration. A mutual respect thrived until his death on April 5th 1984, eight days short of his 92nd birthday. Symbolically, the Memorial Flight Lanc made a farewell tribute flypast at his funeral near Goring-on-Thames. The C-in-C of Bomber Command was not forgotten by his ‘old lags’. He had served his country and the Commonwealth in exemplary fashion at its time of greatest need. He had not faltered in the overwhelming task handed him.
It was most disappointing that eight years after his death that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and National Film Board (NFB) sponsored and funded a television mini-series entitled the Valour and the Horror (Reference link to view). The second episode, Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command, was met by protests so widespread that the entire series was added to the agenda of the Senate’s Sub-Committee on Veteran’s Affairs resulting in testimony by historians and other witnesses of the film’s inaccuracies and distortions. CBC’s chairman failed to correct the many errors on air and in January 1993 the Government of Ontario proclaimed the Class Proceedings Act, that the aggrieved veterans of Bomber Command were afforded a means to redress through the courts. A Battle for Truth presented the Bomber Harris Trust’s Statement of Claim, filed in the Ontario Court, to a wider audience. In the ensuing class action suit, Canadian Bomber Command vets formed the Bomber Harris Trust to sue the CBC and the film makers, Brian and Terrence McKenna, $500 million dollars for slander. In essence, this docudrama gave the impression that Sir Arthur Harris and his Bomber Command aircrew with the area bombing strategy had a primary goal of killing civilians, in particular the elderly, women and children. The inference was that they were war criminals. In addition, it painted Harris as a leader who gave priority to a heavier bomb load at the expense of protective measures for his crew. It suggested that he was shunned by his crews. No attention was paid to the significant impact that Bomber Command had on the final outcome of the war. It ignored Harris’s three stage bombing strategy to defeat Germany: destruction of industrial potential, oil supply and communications. Not to mention the tremendous drain on German resources with the opening of the Second Front before the Normandy invasion. Strategic bombing greatly accelerated the advance of ground forces. It was estimated that Harris’s bombing campaign shortened the war by two years and saved a million lives.
The CBC’s Ombudsman’s report on this docudrama found the “series as it stands is flawed and fails to measure up to CBC’s demanding policies and standards”. The class action suit was dismissed by Ontario justice Mr. Robert Montgomery, the Ontario Court of Appeal and finally by the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1993, despite opposition by the Queen Mother, honorary Colonel of Bomber Command, the series was televised by Channel Four in England. This again resulted in fierce historical debate but in the end history was not re-written and Sir Arthur Harris and his ‘old lags’ could rest easy. It is noteworthy that whenever he attended a post war reunion of Bomber Command vets he was always recognized with a standing ovation.
Following is his Message prepared for the twelfth consecutive Allied Air Forces’ Reunion held in September 1982 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Courtesy Wg.Cdr. (Rt’d) John E. Goldsmith. (More here)
“I feel sad that I cannot attend every one of the many annual functions and reunions arranged by past and present members of the Strategic Bomber Commands and I am sure you will understand that I have to be careful in choosing that I do not appear to be discriminating because in fact I feel equally honoured by all the past organisations of the Strategic Bomber forces who send me these many invitations.
You Canadians, who fought so stoutly and so long in such large numbers in Bomber Command within the specially formed Canadian 6th Group were certainly a major aid towards the final Allied Victory in those desperate years. All of us in Bomber Command much appreciate and value the attendance of so many of you at Bomber Command’s past reunions over here and particularly that on the last occasion no less than 300 of you arrived at our ex-prisoners of war reunion at Oxford at which all of you, I am glad to say, spoke so warmly and gratefully of the hospitality and entertainment provided for you over these three days by the Royal Air Force and the local citizens and Colleges.
That is no more than you Old Lags of the 6th Canadian Group deserved. The Mother Country is not likely to forget that the hardest, longest fought and, so our late enemy’s top Military and Civilian Leaders assert, the most effective contribution towards their final defeat in the Air, on Land and at Sea, was made by the Allied Air Force. In Bomber Command alone 40% of the Pilots and 46% of the Air Crew came to the rescue of the Old Country from the Dominions, Colonies and ex-Colonies. With what results? Here are just a few of them.
Albert Speer has said that he has read many of the allied accounts of the War in general and he has yet to recall one amongst them which sufficiently stressed the Allied Air Forces and especially the Strategic Bomber forces as a major cause of their defeat, and the Allies comparatively quick victory after they invaded the Continent. As Minister responsible for Arms Production in Germany during the war he pointed out that they were forced to keep back so many of their dual purpose 8.8 and 12.8 anti-aircraft/anti-tank guns to defend his country that it reduced the anti-tank ability of the German armies on every Front by not less than one half! Of course, everyone knows that tanks and armoured vehicles had to lead any land force break through and advance for it to have any hope of success.
All the leading enemy Army Commanders directly concerned have asserted that no troops could stand even if alive, and defeat an attack if the heavy bombs of the Strategic Bombers had mass-bombed them as a prelude to attack.
In the First World War, there was a phenomenon known as “shell shock” caused in those days by comparatively minute missiles exploding near a man. General Rommel, of whose subsequent and consequent fate you are probably aware, started his personal troubles with his Political and Military bosses by informing them: 'Stop the bombing or we cannot win'. Goebbels, in the last 41 days of his Diaries, makes no less than 138 mainly despairing references to the Strategic bombing! Which he calls 'the cause of all our set backs'. General Sepp Dietrich, who commanded the final enemy effort which failed to break through the Allied Line in the Ardennes offensive, is quoted by Albert Speer as having remarked to him that, after an experience of mass bombing with heavy bombs, even the otherwise apparently uninjured survivors were in a mental condition wherein they lost all their apparent ability to respond to normal military requirements, and to have lost all their 'fighting spirit'. In other words, he was describing what I have heard experts describe as a sort of mental concussion produced by being in the near neighbourhood of really heavy explosions. On our side, both Eisenhower and Montgomery have gone out of their way to express their appreciation of the Strategic heavy Bomber’s attacks on enemy positions in easing the progress of their armies, and I think it is now generally appreciated that the literally stunning effect of heavy bombing attacks on the enemy’s attempts to hold on when attacked was the main reason that the 34 Allied largely ‘green’ Divisions (i.e. composed mainly of battle inexperienced personnel) swept nearly double their numbers right across half the Continent of Europe. General Montgomery has twice in my hearing gone out of his way during speeches at vast official banquets, once in London and on another occasion in Cape Town, to assert that the bombers did more than any others to help ease the Allies way to final victory.
Amongst other enemy leaders, Field Marshal Milch had to retain for anti-aircraft purposes inside the enemy’s country over half a million fit men and Albert Speer had another half a million fit men on, frequently unsuccessful, efforts to keep essential communications such as railways functioning. All that means that over one million men were probably prevented from joining the Armed Forces.
Where industry was concerned, those enemy anti-aircraft guns used Twenty six million Heavy and One hundred and twenty million Light anti-aircraft shells - a main drain on industrial war resources and skilled labour in trying, and failing, to stop the bombing.
I have often, on our side, heard that the Royal Air Force Bomber Command requirements took a major part of the Countries’ skilled workers’ efforts and essential materials. But the figures officially given to me to the contrary say that the supply requirements of the Royal Air Force Strategic Bombers as a whole used up only 2% of the nation’s skilled workers and 7% of essential war materials.
You might wonder who initiated and ordered the Methods, Targets and Types of missiles to be employed by our Strategic Bombers. The answer is clear. These Directives came from the Allied Governments and their Chiefs of Staff and the people of this country cannot thank you Canadians enough who filled your Canadian Squadrons with Demons, Tuskers, Lions, Tigers and Porcupines and all you Canadian Pilots and Air Crew who achieved so much against such fierce opposition with determination, skill and success. You certainly deserve all the credit that you have ever been or can be awarded.
I hope you survivors will have a most enjoyable and satisfactory reunion. My very warmest regards and admiration for your achievements to you survivors of those desperate years.'
Arthur T. Harris
Marshal Of The Royal Air Force
C. in C. Bomber Command 1942-1945
These are obviously not the words of a Commander in Chief who was shunned by his Bomber Command aircrew veterans. The Nuremberg raid was the deepest pit of despair for Sir Arthur, Bomber Command aircrew and the Anderson family. In just one and a half hours, 545 airmen lost their lives, compared to the 1542 KIA during the four month campaign of the Battle of Britain. This raid was the one that would be imprinted in the memories of those that witnessed and survived the traumatic demise of their comrades in arms. For Harris this was his one major error in judgment, one that he had difficulty accepting. However, it should not detract from his staunch leadership and major contribution to the final outcome. It was unfortunate and untimely that the McKenna brothers waited until after his death, to vilify him and the aircrew of his Bomber Command. It was most gratifying to witness his ‘Old Lags ’ uprising to salvage his name and reputation and ensure that history was not rewritten.
Old Lags? - There but for the grace of God go I.
The Anderson Boys Of Craigmyle, Alberta:
The gods of war would not be kind to William Boyd and Dagnie Anderson of Craigmyle, Alberta. William immigrated from Scotland in 1914 and married Dagnie Sechur in 1915. She was a Danish immigrant. He worked as the town’s blacksmith, while she focused on their young family. Their first son, Lloyd George was born on December 5, 1916 and twins, William ‘Billy’ Boyd and James ‘Jimmie’ Sangster on July 27, 1920. They received their formal education in Craigmyle and thrived on sports, in particular hockey and baseball.
As twins would do, James and Billy joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, volunteering for air duties, on July 12, 1940. Lloyd was employed as a painter.
R/92560 Sgt. James Sangster Anderson, RCAF, air bomber of Halifax aircraft number 7766 of 158 Sqn, died of injuries on 17th October 1942 at York Military Hospital, after the aircraft crashed on 14th October 1942, at East Moor, Yorkshire. The pilot was returning from a successful night operation. Owing to poor visibility he lost the aerodrome by making too wide a circuit, but found it again by proceeding to the beacon. He was unable to retract his undercarriage and the aircraft struck the ground some 400 yards to port of the runway. Six of the crew were injured. Sgt. Anderson was 22 years of age and unmarried.
J/7755 Fg.Off. William Boyd Anderson, RCAF, pilot of Hudson aircraft AM551 of 407 Sqn, was with aircraft and crew, reported missing on 20th January 1943, whilst carrying out a reconnaissance and anti-shipping operation off the Dutch coast. An SOS was transmitted 40 miles off the English coast. A search was made by four aircraft without results and no further news was received. For official purposes the death of this officer was presumed to have occurred on 20th January 1943. He was 22 years of age and unmarried. Dagnie Anderson had difficulty accepting that her second twin would not be returning home as his body had not been found. For considerable time afterward she would persist in setting his place at the dinner table and with her husband would take an evening therapeutic walk along the railroad tracks with the family dog.
Lloyd joined the RCAF, signing his attestation papers on September 5th 1941, while both brothers were alive. He volunteered for air duties and was training as a pilot when he was involved in an accident that was not his fault. Due to loss of confidence, he retrained as an air gunner. At this time James was killed in action and their father wrote letters to the Secretary of the Department of National Defence Air requesting that Billy be repatriated and Lloyd not be posted overseas - to no avail. Lloyd completed his training and was posted overseas. After completing operational training he was posted to 625 Sqn to start his tour of ops. During this time Billy was reported missing. This prompted his father to write a third letter:
Re: J7755 F/O WB Anderson
July 27th 1943
The SecretaryDepartment of National Defence of AirOttawa Ontario
Replying to your letter dated July 22nd in regard to my Son F.O. William Boyd Anderson, missing after air operations on January 20th 1943, may state, that I have never heard of any news in regard to my Son, only that, which was received from his Wing Commander of the Squadron he was attached to, informing me what had happened. I might also add that I have lost two sons in this terrible war, the only son that I have left in my family is in Great Britain, an Air Gunner R/31824 L.G. Anderson, serving with the R.C.A.F.. My wife’s health has given way under the terrible strain, and the loss of our twin sons, as our three boys is our whole family. I am over 60 years of age and it is pretty hard on me, could it be possible for my son to be posted in Canada, in the view of being closer to home, and might have a chance of seeing his mother, which I know would benefit her health.
My wife’s mother and sister live in Denmark, and she has never heard from them since the enemy occupation, so you can understand what she is suffering. We have given our share in this great ordeal, and, if anything can be done to make it easier for us, My wife and I would extend to you our great appreciation'.
Box 59 Craigmyle
P.S.If you want confirmation in regard to my wife’s health, write to the Secretary Treas. of the Village of Craigmyle.
Further request by father in July 43 to return son from overseas for duty in Canada due to loss of two sons and mother’s failing health. Request not approved by AFHQ due to exigencies of the Service.
In a letter dated, February 18th 1943, to Betty Read, a friend in Craigmyle, Lloyd noted that he had been able to meet up with her brother, Jack, and been entertained by Canadian soldiers playing hockey. He was obviously homesick - “The old town must be dead, but oh boy, I would like to be in it right now.”
Lloyd lost his life on 30/3/44.
This was the third son killed overseas - the last of the Anderson’s children.
It was not until after the MRES report of Flt.Lt. Goldstain dated August 19th 1948 that they learned the fate of their eldest son - three years after war’s end!
One has to admire the quiet acceptance they displayed under such tragic circumstances.
April 30th, 1949.
The Secretary,Department of National Defence for Air,Ottawa, Ontario.
In acknowledging your letter dated April 15th, I wish to thank you for the information in regards to our sons Lloyd and William Boyd. It was a little comfort to us to hear Lloyd’s resting place had been finally located and to know he had not suffered in the crash. As for Billy, I doubt very much of your being able to locate him, as we are afraid his plane crashed in the North Sea.
We lost another son who served in the Air Force, Fl/Sgt. J.S. Anderson. He is buried in Fulford Cemetery, in York, England. Jim was a twin brother of Billy. My wife and I wondered if a marker could be placed for Billy in Fulford, as Billy and Jimmie were twins, and part of one another, although they fought in different Squadrons. The three boys composed all our family.Your Department may not have anything to do in a case of handling this matter, but will you kindly state our case through the proper channels'.
(sgd) W.B. Anderson.
Mrs. Anderson was named the Silver Cross Mother in 1959, travelling by train to Ottawa for the November 11 Remembrance Day services to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial. In the mid 1950s the elementary school at the Penhold Air Base was named in honour of the family, The Andersons of Craigmyle School. When the base was closed in the mid-1990s, the commander donated artifacts to the Craigmyle community hall and had a plaque mounted in granite placed with the boys’ parents grave in Craigmyle. It is tragic that this family lost their last son as a result of the Nuremberg raid, the last one of the Battle of Berlin and the most catastrophic of Bomber Command. By wars end, the tiny hamlet of Craigmyle, Alberta, would be staggered by the loss of five of its promising young men. A single line of Noel Coward’s haunting poem, Lie in the Dark and Listen, repeatedly comes to mind:
'Theirs is world you’ll never know'.
Lest we forget!
Tragically, Dagnie Anderson would be the rare recipient of three Canadian Memorial Crosses, one for each of her sons that would not be returning home.
Above: Anderson Plot at the Craigmyle Cemetery
Craigmyle World War II Memorial (Note: Lawrence Peter Anderson was not related to the Anderson brothers) Enlarged version below:
*With this background information it is now possible to postulate why it took this crew ten ops to finally gel as a combat unit - with particular reference to the aft gunners. It took this long for them to choose between Sergeants Anderson and Edwards and find a compatible mate for Sgt. Anderson. This is suggestive of an interpersonal conflict between the two. It is conjecture but a possible contentious issue would be Sgt. Anderson’s family combat history with his twin brothers being KIA. It is possible that some of his superstitious crew mates might have perceived him as a jinx and refused to fly with him on ops. With time this crew equilibrated with the gunner combination of Sergeants Anderson and Pitman in the mid-upper and rear turrets respectively. For ten ops their luck would hold, until the fateful Nuremberg trip. It is interesting that in a review of 625 Sqn losses, Sgt. W. Edwards is not listed. Superstition or the fickle finger of fate, we will never know. Admittedly, this is conjecture but taking into account the relevant facts it is a plausible scenario. The photo of Sgt. Anderson taken after completion of his air gunnery course is rather unique. His facial expression is one of anger, hostility or open defiance. This is most unusual as, almost without exception, the usual progression was from the sweet innocence of a teenager at attestation to the flat affect of a condemned man on death row, as by that point they realised that their tour of ops with Bomber Command was most likely a one way ticket. If there was ever a set of circumstances for an airman to refuse to fly in combat, Sgt. Anderson had them, yet continued to return to the fray - the camaraderie of the 625 seven link gold chain!
Understandably, Reg Price does not remember Sqn.Ldr. Nicholls or his crew but agrees that this explanation is plausible.
John Proctor with his diligent research offers another plausible and the most likely scenario. Sgt. W. Edwards was unable to adjust to the extreme stress of operations, decompensated psychologically and was transferred to RAF Eastchurch Re-Selection Centre on 27/1/44 for further evaluation.
Suggested Decorations by the author:
R/92560 Flt.Sgt. James Sangster Anderson - Distinguished Flying Medal, died from injuries sustained during operations against the enemy.
J/7755 Fg.Off. William Boyd Anderson - Distinguished Flying Cross, presumed KIA.
111973 Sqn.Ldr. Thomas Musgrove Nicholls - Distinguished Flying Cross, KIA.
1809799 Sgt. Norman Leslie Wallis - Distinguished Flying Medal, KIA.
R/153793 WO2. Ernest Carl Johnston - Distinguished Flying Medal, KIA.
1318936 Sgt. Peter Raymond Beilby - Distinguished Flying Medal, KIA.
172030 Plt.Off. Frank Raymond Smith - Distinguished Flying Cross, KIA.
R/131824 Flt.Sgt. Lloyd George Anderson - Conspicuous Gallantry Medal or posthumous commission and Distinguished Flying Cross, KIA, see above text.
171789 Plt.Off. Reginald Henry Pitman - Distinguished Flying Cross, KIA.
Flt.Sgt. James Sangster Anderson. Fulford Cemetery- Sec. 2. Row F. Grave 6. Son of William Boyd and Dagnie Anderson, of Craigmyle, Alberta, Canada. Headstone Inscription: 'His spirit is eternal. His twin brother Billy Was lost 20th January 1943 H.W.E' (Headstone shown left)
Fg.Off. William Boyd Anderson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 172. Son of William Boyd and Dagnie Anderson, of Craigmyle, Alberta, Canada.
S/L. Thomas Musgrove Nicholls. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17.D 12-18 . Son of Herbert H. and E. Isabel Nicholls, of Kennington, Kent.
Sgt. Norman Leslie Wallis. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Son of John Collins and Bertha Ann Wallis, of Shirley, Warwickshire.
WO2. Ernest Carl Johnston. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Son of Gordon and Lena Johnston, of Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Headstone Inscription: “Rest in peace. Till we meet again”
Sgt. Peter Raymond Beilby. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Born on the 26th June 1922. Husband to Joyce (née Jackson) Beilby and father to Georgina Beilby born in 1942.
Plt.Off. Frank Raymond Smith. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Son of Harold John and Ellen Florence Smith, of Redhill, Surrey. Headstone Inscription: 'Sweet memories, Silently kept; We smile with the world, But never forget. Mom & Dad'
Flt.Sgt. Lloyd George Anderson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Son of William Boyd and Dagnie Anderson, of Craigmyle, Alberta, Canada. His twin brothers, James Sangster Anderson and William Boyd Anderson, also died on Service. Headstone Inscription: 'Honoured among the nation’s heroes A simple love, A simple duty done'
Plt.Off. Reginald Henry Pitman. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 17. D. 12-18. Son of Archibald Walter and Alice Isabella Pitman, of Upper Eastville, Bristol. Headstone Inscription: 'One of the dearest, One of the best; God grant unto him Eternal rest'
Library and Archives Canada/Ancestry.ca. - 625 Sqn ORB. - War Diary of Wg.Cdr (ret’d) J.E. Goldsmith. - The Nuremberg Raid, Martin Middlebrook. 1974. - Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume One, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten. - You Tube Video - Death by Moonlight:Bomber Command - A Battle for the Truth- Canadian Aircrews sue the CBC over Death by Moonlight:Bomber Command. - Wikipedia: Death by Moonlight:Bomber Command. - The Drumheller Mail: 11 Nov. 2016- Andersons of Craigmyle remembered. Author- Pat Kolafa.
(Click onto photo above to view the film)
W5009’s Crew - Courtesy of Eileen Edge and Kevin Ball. - WO2 Ernest Carl Johnston, R153793, p.163 on Ancestry RG24 2785, May 2017. - Sgt. Lloyd George Anderson, R131824, p 266 on Ancestry RG24 2475, May 2017. - The Grim Long Leg to Nuremberg/Aftermath: The Nuremberg Raid, Plate 46 RAF Airman and Plate 48, Tail unit of a burnt-out Lancaster. - Map of Nuremberg Losses: Wg.Cdr (ret’d) J.E. Goldsmith/ The Nuremberg Raid p. 323. - A Battle for the Truth: Gift to JEA from Wg.Cdr. (ret’d) J.E. Goldsmith. - Kelstern Water Tower: Focal point of the notorious Nicholls/Dowden wager. ‘Action Stations 2’ by Bruce Barrymore Halfpenny. - Old Lags: Mural, Langford Legion Branch 91, Langford, BC. Artist: Paul Archer These two works of art depict the profound grief, respect and loss for those that failed to return - There but for the grace of God go I. - Andersons of Craigmyle: left to right- Jimmie, Lloyd and Billy, The Drumheller Mail, Nov. 11, 2016. - William Boyd Anderson: Library and Archives Canada/ancestry.ca, Canada, - WW II Files of War Dead, 1939-1947, J7755, Image 108. - Headstone of Flt.Sgt. James Sangster Anderson, AR Archives - Memorial Plague- Transplanted from The Andersons of Craigmyle School at DND Base Penhold to their parents gravesite at Craigmyle Cemetery. Courtesy of Ray and Jean Hummel, the boys’ distant relatives. - Memorial Plaque- WWII Craigmyle War Dead. Note: Lawrence Peter Anderson is not related to the three brothers. Courtesy Ray and Jean Hummel. - 625 Sqn Strength: April 1945, ME524, CF-O. Photo courtesy of Eileen Edge and Kevin Ball and photo ID via Theo Boiten. - 625 Sqn Admin. Staff, RAF Kelstern: Eileen Edge, third from the left.
Note: The authors are most grateful to Eileen Edge and her son, Kevin Ball, for sharing their remarkable collection with us to bring to life those that failed to return- thank you!
Nic Lewis - John Naylor - Maureen Hicks - Pete Pearson - John Proctor - Reg Price, DFC - Surviving 625 Squadron Vet, including the March 30/31, 1944 Nuremberg raid:
'Up 2150 Down 0608 Nuremberg. Target bombed at 0016 hours from a height of 23,000 feet in 10/10ths cloud in centre of red T.I.s and flares.
On leaving the target area large explosion occurred and the attacking aircraft seemed to be making a very successful job of the affair.'
The fact that they bombed through 10/10ths cloud strongly suggests that Reg and his crew actually bombed Nuremberg and not Schweinfurt.
Submission by Jack Albrecht and Nic Lewis. Thanks to Nathan Green, the grandson of Sgt. Beilby, for the update to his Date of Birth and Next of Kin details.