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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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150 Squadron Crest
21/22.04.1944 No. 150 Squadron Wellington X LN385 MD-Q Lt. Albert de Wet Nussey

Operation: Porto Santo Stefano

Date: 21/22nd April 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 150 Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LN385

Code: MD-Q

Base: Amendola, Puglia, Italy.

Location: Salermo, Italy

Pilot: Lt. Albert de Wet Nussey 328728V SAAF Age 19. Killed

Nav: 2nd/Lt. D.G. Webster 103442V SAAF Age ? Killed 

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Bernard Alan Lincoln 1601858 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Green 1576108 RAFVR Age 23. Killed 

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Banks 1434766 RAFVR Age 23. Killed


We would like to appeal for relatives to contact us in order that we can put them in touch with the researchers who investigated the crash site.


REASON FOR LOSS:

For almost seventy years the traces of the battle of Salerno remind us that the event had as its backdrop Salerno and its province in September 1943. Just look up to the hills surrounding the city to see the bunkers built before 1940 with the aim to counter an invasion from the sea illusory. Many times in the fields or in the excavations for the construction of buildings can be found explosives and ammunition, bring to mind what happened during the landing of '43 and the next battle.

Unfortunately, over the years, the memory of this event tends to fade. The younger generations are often unaware that the landing of Salerno was a turning point in the history of World War II and was the largest amphibious operation of the war, second in grandeur only to the Normandy landings. To overcome this writer together with other enthusiasts working with the Association of Salerno, 1943. In the statutes of the association is clear that one of its objectives is to preserve the memory of that event and the period of the war in Salerno collecting testimonies, artefacts, writings, and anything else that could contribute to making this page of our recent history.

Over time we have collected a large amount of evidence even managed to reconstruct the history of some soldiers who fought in Salerno. As explained by Louis Fortunato, president of the Association: "Our aim is to create a permanent exhibition of what we have recovered in recent years allowing historians and enthusiasts but also to all interested parties to be able to enjoy the fruits of our hard research work. When those who want to learn about our activities can visit www.associazionesalerno1943.it.

To get an idea of what it means to reconstruct the history of that period, just think of the time and resources that are needed to identify locations where the planes fell in the battle of Salerno or during the Second World War. Salerno 1943, The Association also proposes that ambition. So far we have identified as many as 9 sites, close to Salerno and Avellino, in which planes crashed. Have been found and identified, in fact, fell three places where German aircraft (1 Focke Wulf 190, a Dornier Do217 and a Junkers 87 Stuka) 3 UK (1 Spitfire, Seafire and 1 Wellington 1) and 3 Americans (1-B 17 Flying Fortress, an A-26 Invader, and a C-47 Dakota). In most cases, these are places difficult to access in inaccessible mountainous areas. Almost nothing remains of the crashed aircraft as they were dismembered after the war and brought to the valley to be sold as scrap. Please note that for which they were made of aluminium was a precious metal in those years in which Italy emerged bled and impoverished by the war. Yet from a few small fragments were recovered with the help of metal detectors it was possible to reconstruct the history of some aircraft and their crews.

For example, some months ago Generoso Conforti told me the news of a plane crashing on the rocky ridge of a mountain about 30 km south of Salerno and directed me to Antonio Forlano, a local resident who remembered the event. Together with Louis Fortunato, Daniel Jewel, Francesco De Cesare, and Pasquale Ragone Matthew Capozzoli so we organised a trip to try to identify the point of impact. Thanks to precise information received from Mr. Antonio we climbed the steep mountainside to reach the ridge after more than 1 hour. Since the beginning, were found fragments of aluminium, which is typical evidence of a plane crash. When examined carefully, we realised that there were pieces of aluminium sheet which is usually made up the lining of the fuselage in many planes as there were a large number of spare tubes. From them we realised that it was a Wellington, British twin-engine bomber with a crew of five. In that regard, Francesco De Cesare said: "The Wellington bomber was unique. It was in fact made of a geodesic structure made of tubular aluminium woven together as a basket while the cover of the fuselage was made of simple cloth. Though more expensive construction process as it provides greater resistance to the aircraft to enemy fire. There are few pictures in which they portrayed these bombers were able to return to base in spite of large gashes to the structure caused by flak or enemy fighters.

In addition, the finding of a serial engine Hercules XVI No SS14146 gave great hopes to identify the specific aircraft as in reports on the killing of U.S. aircraft are almost always present even numbers serial numbers of engines. And instead, I learned that the vast majority of reports on the British aircraft did not report the serial numbers of engines. Complicating the search was missing the exact date of impact. Then I came to the aid of the British historian Mark Evans, from whom I learned that the military cemetery of Salerno are buried crews rushed around Wellington 8. While this has increased the number of other possibilities provided me with the dates of killing. Three dates have been rejected as the shells were found or produced after those dates because they were reported to Wellington that an engine Hercules different.

With these dates I have contacted the office of the historic RAF in England to ask whether one of the reports of killed Wellington the dates in my possession there was one with that serial number on the engine. As I feared the answer was negative as was mentioned in the 5 reports only the number of an engine that did not correspond to our freshman. The nice lady told me she took the trouble to bring me but also the places where the planes were killed and one was exactly the one we explored!

Jewel Daniel explains: "We learned that on the night of April 21, 1944 the Wellington LN385, belonging to 150 Squadron of the RAF base at Amendola in Puglia, on a bombing run to Porto Santo Stefano in Tuscany. On his return from the operation, near the coast of Salerno, the bomber had to undergo an air strike, the proof is the large number of shells fired by us found. At 23:23 the report states that a request was heard coming from the plane of MD-Q LN385. It was heard again weakly at 01:06 on April 22, after which radio contact was lost. "

What could happen is not yet known in detail. I can only speculate: Perhaps the plane had been hit on the way home and was damaged? Or to be affected were the drivers (they are in fact died on 21st April while the rest of the crew is dropped on 22nd April and the other men tried to return to base? Further research in progress should shed light on their story. For the moment I discovered that the plane identified by us, the LN385, was used by Trumpeter, a manufacturer of model airplanes, scaled to reproduce a Wellington bomber. Usually the choices of the house modelling to give a certain number of their models fall on airplanes participating in important activities. We hope therefore to be able to reconstruct their activity.

Lt. Nussey and 2nd Lt. Webster were South Africans, while the others were British. As often happened in many of the RAF crews, there was a good percentage of men from other Commonwealth countries. In this case, two South Africans and three British airmen but other teams had New Zealanders, Australians, etc.

Their graves are in the military cemetery located at the edge of highway 18 that leads from Salerno Battipaglia together with those of others killed 1842 of the Commonwealth. A quick visit to the shrine could help many to think about how tragic and senseless war is, and recalling the causes, to avoid making the same mistakes that gave way to the bloodiest conflict in human history in which the transaction was Avalanche a significant episode.

Burial details:

Lt. Albert de Wet Nussey. Salerno War Cemetery Grave 1.E.6. Son of Brigadier-General AHM Nussey and Bridget, of Potchefstroom, Transvaal, South Africa.

2nd/Lt. D.G. Webster. Salerno War Cemetery Grave 1.E.2. No further details are you able to assist?

Sgt. Bernard Alan Lincoln. Salerno War Cemetery Grave 1.E.10. Son of Henry and Edith Parlby Lincoln, of West Dulwich, London, England.

Sgt. John Green. Salerno War Cemetery Grave 1.E.8. Son of Mrs. E. Reid, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. Frank Banks. Salerno War Cemetery Grave 1.E.4. Son of Abraham Harding and Winifred Banks, of Willenhall, Staffordshire, husband of Ivy Florence Banks, of Willenhall, England.

Researched by: Matteo Pierro, Francesco De Cesare, Pasquale Capozzoli, Daniel Jewel, Lucky Louis and Matthew Ragone

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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