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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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57 Squadron Crest
22/23.10.1943 No. 57 Squadron Lancaster III JB237 DX-Z Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick

Operation: Kassel

Date: 22/23 October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 57 Squadron 

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB237

Code: DX-Z

Base: RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire

Location: Polle, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick J/7891 RCAF Age 29. Killed (1)

Flt/Eng: Sgt. Leonard H. Howling 1460246 RAF Age ? PoW No. 261219 Stalag 4B - Mühlberg-Elbe

Nav: Sgt. Reginald D. Harvey 1382847 RAF Age? PoW No. 261216 Stalag 4B - Mühlberg-Elbe, Stalag Luft L1 - Barth Vogelstang

Air/Bmr: Sgt. George Morton Turnbull 1546947 RAF Age ? PoW No. 261179 Stalag 4B - Mühlberg-Elbe, Stalag Luft L3 - Sagan and Belaria

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Francis H. Roseblade 1286424 RAF Age ? PoW No. 261195 Stalag 4B - Mühlberg-Elbe, Stalag Luft L3 - Sagan and Belaria

Air/Gnr (M/U): Fl/Sgt. Edgar Francis Taylor 910959 RAFVR Age ? Killed. 

Air/Gnr (R): Fl/Sgt. William Raymond Minter 421039 RAAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS

Fl/Lt's Novick’s Lancaster took off at 17:57 hours, one of 322 Lancaster’s and 247 Halifax’s for a combined force of 569 aircraft, targeting the town of Kassel. As well as being a provincial capital it was also an important armament and industrial centre containing among others the Fieseler works where Me109 and Fw190 aircraft were assembled and the Henschel factory building tanks and locomotives. 

The subject of numerous attacks by Bomber Command, the raid on the night of 22nd October was particularly horrific in that as a result of the firestorm created by 460,000 magnesium incendiaries dropped on the town an estimated 10,000 lives were lost. The town burned for seven days almost totally destroying the town centre making 150,000 inhabitants homeless.

A diversionary raid on Frankfurt and the introduction of Operation Corona where German speaking RAF personnel impersonating German Air Defence Controllers confused Luftwaffe pilots by providing false radio communications, caught the defences off guard. In addition, the poor weather encountered by the bomber force on the outbound leg, cleared as they neared the target aiding the crew’s ability to pin point St. Martins Church in the town centre.

After dropping its bomb load, (1 x 4,000lb, 80 x 30lb, 1350 x 4lb) the aircraft was seen at 23:00 hours approaching the village of Polle from the direction of Kassel burning fiercely after being attacked by a night fighter. (No details of a claim as been found) Witnesses at the time confirmed that the aircraft plunged straight down from a height of 300 meters into the fields, three to four kilometres west of the village.

Upon impact the fuel tanks exploded and the wreckage burned for half an hour afterwards. The bodies of Minter and Taylor were flung clear and found 150 meters from the wreckage. The body of the pilot, Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick, was found trapped in the cockpit. Later examination by a doctor found that he had been severely wounded in the neck as a result of the fighter attack.


We have since been advised that Sgt. Turnbull (later W/O) landed on a roof of a German house and was then shot at by locals. (taken from his debrief notes as held by Mr. Max Espie - see credits)

Right: The pilot of JB237 - Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick (courtesy Phil Miller)

In statements given to the RAAF investigating officer by the surviving crew members concerning Fl/Sgt. Minter’s death, the tail gunner was either killed or badly wounded during the enemy action such that he would have been unable to manipulate his turret to escape in the few minutes that the aircraft remained airborne. With the rear of the aircraft totally ablaze Minter was cut off from the other crew members preventing any assistance or rescue.

Left: Sgt. George Morton Turnbull (courtesy Max Espie)

The remaining crew members managed to bale out of the stricken Lancaster, Sgt's Howling, Harvey and Turnbull being captured almost immediately. Roseblade, who twisted his ankle upon landing, surrendered to the police early the next day.

Initially, the three crew members killed were buried on Monday, October 25th in the village cemetery at Polle and later transferred to the war cemetery at Hanover.

Above: section from the Squadron ORB for this crew on Kassel (courtesy Max Espie)


(1) Lake Novick in Northern Ontario is named after Fl/Lt. Novick.




Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 8.D.15. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Novick, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Fl/Lt. Novick received his wings with the rank of Pilot Officer at No.6 SFTS Dunnville on October 7th 1941.

Left: Grave of Fl/Lt. Novick at Hanover War Cemetery (courtesy Max Espie)

Fl/Sgt. William Raymond Minter. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 8.D.17. Son of William Raymond and Theresa Olive Minter, of Enfield, New South Wales, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Edgar Francis Taylor. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 8.D.16. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. 

Further detailed information submitted to Aircrew Remembered by Max Espie in July 2014. 

With thanks to Phil Miller for the photograph of the pilot Fl/Lt. Novick. We hope to work further with Phil with other Canadian pages of remembrance.

Group photo showing No. 54 Air Bombers course on 16th April 1943 held at RAF West Freugh, Scotland. (courtesy Max Espie)

  

Above: certificate and badge for the Caterpillar club - presented to Sgt. Turnbull (courtesy Max Espie)

Interesting memorabilia left by Sgt Turnbull - from the collection of Max Espie. 

The Nazi badge was a souvenir from the pow camp. (courtesy Max Espie)

Below: Fl/Lt. Alexander Novick J/7891 RCAF (courtesy Max Espie)


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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Last Modified: 29 January 2017, 22:24