27/28.04.1944 35 Squadron Lancaster III ND759 TL:R WO. Robert G. Peter
Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 35 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Graveley
Location: Lake Constance, Steckborn, Switzerland
Pilot: WO. Robert Graham Peter 415272 RAAF Age? Interned/Repatriated (1)
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Alfred Brereton 526004 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 3825 Camp: Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug (2)
Nav: Flt.Sgt. Geoffrey Grant Foulkes 420381 Age? RAAF Age 28. Killed
Air Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Noel Charles Davis 413835 RAAF Age 22. Interned/Evaded (3)
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Murray Thomas Bartle AFC 415753 RAAF Age 21. Interned/Evaded (4)
Air Gnr: Sgt. David Balmer 1504649 RAFVR Age? Interned/Evaded (5)
Air Gnr: Sgt. Irvine Graham RAFVR Age? interned (6)
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the night of 27th/28th April 1944 they were on the battle order for an attack on Friedrichshafen near Lake Constance which formed the border with Switzerland.
Reported to have been attacked by German night fighter at 15,000 ft, 50 miles from target on outbound leg. One engine put out of action but the raid was completed on three engines. The aircraft was attacked again 20 miles from the target on homebound leg and made a perfect ditching on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) at 02:30 hrs.
D759 was claimed by Oblt. Wilhelm Johnen from 6./NJG5 at Bodensee, near Steckborn at 5600 m at 02:30 hrs. This claim was never officially confirmed by OKL/RLM. An unknown type of aircraft was also claimed by Flak of 2./schw. Flak Abt 241, 2. & 4./schw. Flak Abt. 455, Heimat Flak Battr. 230/VII. Heimat Flak Battr. 215/VII and 5./schw. Flak. Abt. 705 at Steckborn at 02:30 hrs but was marked as VNE (Vernichtung Nicht Erwiesen) = Destruction of aircraft not proven. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (16 March 1944 - 11 May 1944) Part 2 - Theo Boiten)
Sgt. Brereton and Flt.Sgt. Foulkes bailed out, Flt.Sgt. Foulkes drowned in the lake and Sgt. Brereton became a PoW.
The sequence of the photographs show the wreck of ND759 salvaged from the lake in June 1954, displayed at Steckborn, sadly broken up for scrap in 1955.
The rest of the crew ditched in the lake, they then rowed the dingy to Switzerland and were interned. In October 1944 the senior officer at the internment camp received a letter from the Air Attache in Berne stating that the Air Ministry would have no objections to any escape but warned that those caught would be sentenced to 6 months hard labour by the Swiss authorities.
As a direct result of this Flt.Sgt. Bartle, Sgt. Balmer endeavoured to escape and make their way across the Swiss border. They were apprehended however before they reached the border and after interrogation were sent to a concentration camp, suffering extreme severe conditions. After representations by American authorities the prisoners were released to normal internment camps.
Then, on the 22nd December some escaped again and crossed into France, on to Lyons, Marseilles and then flown back to England.
Statement made by Flt.Sgt Bartle on his return:
"I escaped with 4 others (1 x RCAF and 3 RAF) from Arosa on the 22nd December 1944. Made my way to the Swiss border which I crossed near Geneva. Whilst at Geneva we were contacted by Americans and taken to Lyons to make onward travel with the RAF."
(1) WO Robert Graham Peter - Understood to have been wounded and was exchanged for German PoW. Repatriated with German agreement. One of nine airmen escorted by Swiss and German military on train via Germany, France, Spain and Gibraltar. Flew into Whitchurch on BAOC Dakota on the 25 May 1944. Confirmed that this indeed happened - his great Grandson, Joel Colley, contacted us in June 2017. 40 Canterbury Terrace, Victoria Park, West Australia.
(2) Sgt Alfred Brereton - 43 Empire Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
(3) Flt.Sgt Noel Charles Davis. Escaped into France with a group of repartees on the 4th October and returned to Northolt on the 8th October 1944. 11 Chamen Street, Cootamundra, NSW, Australia. Fiancee - Miss Ward, 51 Northampton Road, Addiscombe, Croydon, Surrey, England.
(4) Flt.Sgt Murray Thomas Bartle. Escaped internment in Switzerland on the 22 December 1944 and returned to the UK via France. 109 Smith Street, Highgate Hill, Perth, South Australia. Awarded with the AFC 12th June 1947 as a Flt.Lt.
(5) Sgt David Balmer. Evaded via Switzerland and France returned to Lyneham on the 31 December 1944. 15 Prospect Road, Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Fiancee - Miss. H. Adams, ’Thornleigh’ Ballycopelamd, Millisle, Co. Down. Northern Ireland.
(6) Sgt Irvine Graham - 51 Hillyard Street, Elton, Bury, Lancashire, England.
Flt.Sgt Geoffrey Foulkes, Vevey Cemetery (St. Martins) Grave 122. Son of Albert Edward and Louise MacBeth Foulkes, husband of Betty Foulkes, of Flat 82, Kareela Road, Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia. Born 9th November 1915 in Sydney NSW, Australia.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered March 2015. Photographs courtesy of Michel Beckers and Wolfgang Reuters.Left: Grave of Flt.Sgt. Foulkes. Grave inscription reads: ’Thy will be done’.