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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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24/25.06.1944 No. 44 Squadron Lancaster I ME628 KM-V Fl/Sgt. Oswald

Operation: Pommerval

Date: 24/25th June 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ME628

Code: KM-V

Base: R.A.F. Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire

Location: Bellencombe, Seine-Maritime, France

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Roy Oswald 1438718 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. J.A. Hurley R.A.F.V.R. P.o.W. No: Camp:

Nav: W/O2. A.R. Shoebottom R.C.A.F. Evaded capture

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. T.W. White R.A.F.V.R. Evaded capture

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Arthur John Richardson 910760 R.A.F.V.R. Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie John Harry Hutchinson 1874082 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Hawley Sargent 1624840 R.A.F.V.R. Age 19. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 22.35 hrs to destroy a flying bomb site at Pommerval – a total of 739 aircraft were taking part on this night to bomb various flying bomb locations. The reports regarding the success or not of these raids were becoming increasingly difficult as they had by now been attacked many times and the sites were full of craters.

The operation was carried out on a clear moonlit night and so with the help of the effective searchlight units many aircraft were destroyed by night fighters,  22 Lancasters were lost!

                   

                   

44 Squadron Lancaster’s (courtesy I.W.M.)

                    

ME626 was shot down at just after 00.15 hrs by either Oblt. Paul Rokker (1) or Maj. Paul Semrau (2) (both Luftwaffe night fighter aces) with the aircraft crashing in the village of Bellencombe.

44 Squadron also lost another aircraft during this operation:Lancaster III ND751 KM-J Flown by 23 year old Canadian Douglas Aiken, killed with all other six crew.

                                              

(1) Oblt. Paul Rokker – this was his 33rd confirmed claim of the war. He was to survive the war with a total of 65 confirmed victories (shown above right)

(2) Maj. Paul Semrau – killed on the 7/8th February 1945, with the rest of his crew when his Ju 88G-6, Wnr.620562 from Stab/NJG2 was shot down by Fl/Lt Sleep in a Spitfire at Twente. His final score as a night-fighter ace stood at 46 victories. (shown above left)

                   

Left and above: Bellencombe Communal Cemetery, photographed by our Kate Tame during her visit in 2012. Any relative who would like a higher resolution of these images please don’t hesitate to ask.


Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Roy Oswald. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 221. Son of Frank and Alice Oswald, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.

W/O. Arthur John Richardson. Bellencombe Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Arthur and Sarah Ethel Richardson, of Epping, Essex, England.

Sgt. Leslie John Harry Hutchinson. Bellencombe Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Edward Leslie and Beatrice Mabel Hutchinson, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.

Sgt. Robert Hawley Sargent. Bellencombe Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Robert Wilson Sargent, and of Winifred Sargent, of Highfield, Southampton, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Bill Chorley – ‘Bomber Command Losses’ Vol. 5, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie – ‘Nightfighter War Diaries Vol’s. 1 and  2’, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt – ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker – ‘Kracker Luftwaffe Archives’


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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