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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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26/27.04.1944 No. 44 Squadron Lancaster I LL920 KM-V F/O. Oldham DFC

Operation: Schweinfurt, (Ball bearing production factories) Germany

Date: 26/27th April 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 44 Squadron (Rhodesia)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL920

Code: KM-V

Base: RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire.

Location: Oberkirchen, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Gordon Williams Oldham DFC 160013 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frank Birkett Walker 937534 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. John Andrew McKerrow 1381921 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Leslie William Petts 151756 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Frederick Williams 1750303 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Day Frame 1560058 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gilbert Wheeler Whittles 1836276 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Took off from RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire. at 21:39 hrs as part of a 206 Lancasters, 11 Mosquitoes from 5 Group and 9 further Lancasters from 1 Group to bomb the ball bearing production plant.

This was another huge failure with very light damage done on the ground due to strong head winds making the markers inaccurate from the Mosquito pathfinder force.

It is reported that only 2 people were killed on the ground in the target area but a total of 21 Lancasters lost! 125 aircrew killed and a further 28 being made PoW.

Lancaster LL920 was lost when it collided with another Lancaster I ME679 DX-K from 57 Squadron piloted by Sq/Ldr. Michael Innes Boyle DFC when all but one of his crew were also killed. The only survivor being that of W/O.2 Waddell RCAF he was made a PoW at the Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria camp.

F/O. Gordon Williams Oldham DFC had a girlfriend at the time, also a pilot (Ferry) serving in South Africa. Gordon ran a store with his father prior to call up.

Memorial at All Saints Church, Great Steeping (courtesy Dave Hitchborne)

Crew grave photographs (courtesy David Franklin - who has provided us with permission to supply any of the relatives with a copy of the original photo at full resolution free of charge)

Burial details:

F/O. Gordon Williams Oldham DFC Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Born in Rhodesia in 1921. No further details available as yet.

Sgt. Frank Birkett Walker. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. John Andrew McKerrow. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Son of John Andrew and Margaret McKerrow; husband of Marie McKerrow, of Derby, England.

F/O. Leslie William Petts. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Son of Charles and Elizabeth Petts, husband of Vera Elizabeth Petts, of Catford, London, England.

Sgt. William Frederick Williams. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Son of George and Mary Ann Williams, of Weston Rhyn, Shropshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Robert Day Frame. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Son of James and Jeanie Day Frame, of Lanark, Scotland.

Sgt. Gilbert Wheeler Whittles. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.K. 22-25. Son of James Whittles and Annie Waller Whittles, of Machen, Monmouthshire, Wales.

With thanks to Mark Palethorpe for further information on Gordon Oldham DFC. Mark is in contact with the navigator who served with F/O. Oldham on his first tour of thirty operations.

Page of remembrance created for relatives of the crew after being contacted by Paul Rogers, a relative of the rear gunner Sgt. Whittles.
 To Andrea Gray, née Andrea Jean McKerrow, daughter of Fl/Sgt. John Andrew McKerrow. Also thanks to Michel Beckers and Gordon Poultney for image of the pilot - August 2016.

KTY - 05.08.2016 New photo added

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: 05 August 2016, 20:30

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