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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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617 Squadron Crest
16.04.1945 No. 617 Squadron Lancaster I NG228 KC-V Sq/Ldr. John L. Powell DFC MiD

Operation: Swinemunde

Date: 16th April 1945 (Monday)

Unit: No. 617 squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: NG228

Code: KC-V

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

Location: Karsibor woods, Swinoujscie, Poland

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. John Leonard Powell DFC MiD. 103039 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton DFM. 1809630 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Michael Terence Clarke DFC. 151151 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Alfred Laurence Heath 148768 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Kenneth Arthur John Hewitt 188618 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Knight 195713 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. James Watson 174282 RAFVR Age 24. Killed


Taking off at 13:49 hrs. from Woodhall Spa carrying 12 x1,000 lb. bombs on a mission to attack the pocket battleship, Lutzhow, which was moored in the Kiel Canal, using it’s guns to attack the advancing Red Army. The first raids were aborted due to bad weather. On the final raid there was heavy flak over the target from the ship and shore batteries. The Lutzhow had a large hole blown in her below the water line and sank. The Lancaster was hit by flak and the port wing fell off causing the aircraft to spin, in flames, and crash into Karsibor woods near the target area.

One parachute was seen to open at 2,000 feet and Fl/Sgt. Felton’s family were led to believe that some of the crew, including Will Knight had escaped, but apparently there were no survivors, although there had been a rumour that some had been shot. All the crew were buried on the 18th April in the Caseburg, Friedhof at Swinemunde. On March 2nd 1949,they were exhumed and re-interred in Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.

Sq/Ldr. Powell had his award gazetted on 10th December 1943, while Fl/Lt. Clarke’s was gazetted on 16th January 1945. This Lancaster was the last operational loss for 617 Squadron. Wojciech Krajewski of Archelogia Lotnicza, Warsaw created a memorial to the crew with part of the Lancasters tail-unit. This was refurbished and re-dedicated in 1998.

Memorial and Karsibor woods, Swinoujscie, Poland (courtesy J.P. Tomas)

Fl/Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton - insert and Poznan Garrison Cemetery (courtesy David Felton)

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. John Leonard Powell DFC MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Son of David Albert and Elizabeth Powell of Rhos, Glamorgan, Wales.

Fl/Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton DFM. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Further information: Born 28th August 1923. Had completed his operational tour with 227 Squadron and was only posted to 617 Squadron on his promotion to Pilot Officer. On ground duties but volunteered for this final mission. Also served with 50 Squadron, his DFM published on 10th December 1943.

Fl/Lt. Michael Terence Clarke DFC. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Son of James Kiliam and Evelyn Muriel Clarke of Farnham, Surrey, England.

F/O. Alfred Laurence Heath. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. No additional information available as yet - are you able to assist?

P/O. Kenneth Arthur John Hewitt. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. No additional information available as yet - are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. William Knight. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Son of Thomas and Edith Knight and husband of Phyllis Mabel Knight of Croydon, Surrey, England.

F/O. James Watson. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Son of James and Rebecca Watson of West Linton, Peebleshire, Scotland.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered volunteer, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits to David Felton (brother). Special thanks to Graham Griffiths. Also to Elvira Powell who contacted us in 2013.

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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