12/13.03.1943 No. 100 Squadron Lancaster III ED544 HW-Q Sgt. Ronald M. Peake
Date: 12/13th March 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 100 R.A.F. Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: R.A.F. Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Location: Unknown – probably in vicinity of Essen
Pilot: Sgt. Ronald Moseley Peake AUS/408871 R.A.A.F. Age 21. Killed
Flt/Engr: Sgt. Harold Jowitt 945644 R.A.F.V.R. Age 24. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Roger Fisher Rowe Sides AUS/412850 R.A.A.F. Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ernest Hodgson 1506082 R.A.F.V.R. Age 32. Killed
W/Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Reece Roberts AUS/407909 R.A.A.F Age 27. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Eric Chamberlain 1476619 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O Douglas Invicta Arthur 50778 R.A.F. Age ?. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
Airborne at 19:37 hours, Lancaster HW-Q was one of 457 aircraft that were dispatched that night targeting the giant Krupps industrial complex at Essen. ‘Oboe’ target marking had become operational just three months earlier and this raid proved how deadly accurate the system was. Although the weather that night was clear with a bright moon overhead, the ground below was somewhat obscured by smoke from the factories and later, during the raid, from a defensive smoke screen drifting across the target area.
The target indicators dropped by the Pathfinders were well concentrated and photographic reconnaissance the next day confirmed that the works had been severely damaged. 500 houses were also destroyed and 198 people, mostly civilians, were killed. In addition, German records show that one third of the bombs fell on the outskirts of Essen killing 39 people in the town of Bottrop about 8 miles to the north west.
The attack force was comprised of 158 Wellingtons, 156 Lancasters, 91 Halifax’s, 42 Stirlings and 10 Mosquitoes from various RAF
squadrons. In all, 23 aircraft were lost; 8 Lancasters, 7 Halifax’s, 6 Wellingtons and 2 Stirlings. The target area was heavily defended and very intense and accurate flak was encountered in conjunction with searchlights operating in large and small cones illuminating the bombers.
Although the exact location is unknown, in all likelihood, ED544 was a victim of the flak barrage and fell in the vicinity of Essen as the remains of the crew were buried on the 18th March in the Hauptfriedhof (Am Gottesacker) in neighbouring Dortmund, 20 miles to the east, before being transferred to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
Sgt. Ronald Moseley Peake. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Collective Grave Ref. 3. C. 11-12. Son of Arthur and Lilian Minnie Peake, of Mitcham, Victoria, Australia.
Sgt. Harold Jowitt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave Ref. 3 B 17. Son of John and Florrie Jowitt, of Sandal, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Roger Fisher Rowe Sides. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Collective Grave Ref. 3. C. 11-12. Son of George Frederick and Gertruge Evelyn Sides, of Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Ernest Hodgson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Collective Grave Ref. 3. C. 11-12. Son of Barraclough and Ruth Hodgson, of Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Husband of Doris Hodgson, of Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Arthur Reece Roberts. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave Ref. 3 C. 10. Son of James Rees Roberts and Jeanne Roberts, of Henley Park, South Australia Husband of Dorothy Roberts.
Sgt. William Eric Chamberlain. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave Ref. 3 C. 13. Son of John William and Ellen Bertha Chamberlain, of Middleton, Manchester, England.
P/O Douglas Invicta Arthur. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave Ref. 3 C. 14. N.o.K details currently not available – are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and R.C.A.F. specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew.