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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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35 Squadron Crest
27/28.04.1944 No. 35 Squadron Lancaster III ND759 TL-R W/O. Robert G. Peter

Operation: Friedrichshafen

Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 35 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND759

Code: TL-R

Base: RAF Graveley

Location: Lake Constance, Steckborn, Switzerland

Pilot: W/O. Robert Graham Peter AUS/415272 RAAF Evaded (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alfred Brereton 526004 RAFVR PoW No: 3825 Camp: Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug (2)

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Grant Foulkes AUS/420381 RAAF Age 28. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Noel Charles Davis AUS/413835 RAAF Age 22. interned Switzerland (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Murray Thomas Bartle AUS/415753 RAAF Age 21. interned Switzerland (4)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Balmer RAF interned Switzerland (5)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Irvine Graham RAF interned Switzerland (6)


On the night of 27/28 April 1944 they were on the battle order for an attack on Friedrichshafen near Lake Constance which formed the border with Switzerland.

Their Lancaster ND759 came under attack by a German nightfighter piloted by Oblt Wilhelm Johnen (7) of 6./NJG5 over Lake Constance at around 02:30 hrs, two of the crew bailed out, one drowned in the lake and the other was made PoW.

The sequence of the photographs show the wreck of ND759 salvaged from the lake in 1953, 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 Fl/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 Fl/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) W/O Robert Graham Peter - 40 Canterbury Terrace, Victoria Park, West Australia. Understood to have been wounded and was exchanged for German PoW - confirmed that this indeed happened - his great Grandson, Joel Colley, contacted us in June 2017.
(2) Sgt Alfred Brereton - 43 Empire Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
(3) Fl/Sgt Noel Charles Davis - 11 Chamen Street, Cootamundra, NSW, Australia. Fiancee - Miss Ward, 51 Northampton Road, Addiscombe, Croydon, Surrey, England.
(4) Fl/Sgt Murray Thomas Bartle - 109 Smith Street, Highgate Hill, Perth, West Australia.
(5) Sgt David Balmer - 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.

(7) This was the 18th recorded confirmed abschüsse for the Luftwaffe ace, Oblt Wilhelm Johnen who went on to claim a total of 33 by the end of the war from which he survived. After the war he worked with Willy Messerschmidt but then started his own business. He wrote his biography “Duel Under The Stars”. He died on the 7th February 2002, age 81. (see Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)
Right: Duel Under the stars ISBN-13: 978-0947554422 Published by Crecy Publishing (and others).

Burial details:

Fl/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 09th 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 Fl/Sgt. Folks. Grave inscription reads: ’Thy will be done’.

MB/KTY 07.03.2015

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: 28 July 2017, 22:40

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