10/11.05.1944 No. 463 Squadron Lancaster I LL882 JO-J Sq/Ldr. Mervyn Powell DFC
Date: 10/11th May 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 463 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Location: Dumoulin Brickworks 2 km west of Langemark
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Mervyn Powell DFC. AUS/402817 RAAF Age 29. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harry Law Moyyneux 1802369 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: F/O. Ronald Jacques 134697 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Bertram Fraser 1443752 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. William Neil Read AUS/406700 RAAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert McKerlie Croft AUS/407199 RAAF Age 27. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. David Payne Croston AUS/407821 RAAF Age 32. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire at 22:20 hrs to bomb railway yards - some 506 aircraft (291 Lancasters, 187 Halifaxes with 28 Mosquitoes) taking part to bomb various targets - Courtrai, Ghent, Dieppe, Lens and Lille. Reports on the Lille target state that they were successful although many bombs fell on civilian housing.
12 Lancasters were lost on the Lille raid. The owner of the brickworks stated that he heard machine gun fire and he believed the aircraft was attacked by a night fighter. All four engines were found some distance from the fuselage and other parts of the aircraft were widely dispersed. Lancaster LL882 was shot down by Lt. Hans J.Schmitz (1) of 4./NJG1, his first claim of the war. The aircraft exploded mid-air with the wreckage falling on the Dumoulin Brickworks at 00:15 hrs. The pilots body was found still in the cockpit strapped to his seat, F/O. David Croston was also found in his position within the turret.
Also lost from the Squadron on this operation:
Lancaster I HK535 JO-N Flown by 22 year old, Fl/Lt. Eric McLaren Scott AUS/425226 RAAF of Queensland, Australia - killed with 4 other Australian crew and 2 from the RAFVR.
Lancaster I LL881 JO-E Flown by 24 year old, F/O. Dudley Francis Ward DFC AUS/420413 of Roseville, NSW, Australia - killed with all other 6 Australian crew.
(1) Lt. Hans J.Schmitz claimed one other aircraft before he was killed on the 25/26th September 1944 at Rinkerode - his aircraft collided with high power cables in bad weather.
From reports, a memorial service was held by villagers on the 11th May with many of the locals placing flowers and cards to the crew. The wonderful teams of the MREU carried out exhumations to determine identity of the crew on the 07th May 1946. Sadly, before their work was far from complete the unit was disbanded due to cuts, despite many protests at the time. To appease some relative the Runnymede Memorial was erected - not an acceptable solution for many. For sure not to the USA who made a promise that any of their crews lost all efforts would be made to identify where their remains lay and if the relative requested they would be taken home - a promise that they fulfil till this day!
Sq/Ldr. Mervyn Powel DFC. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 464. Son of Thomas Alfred and Elizabeth May Powell, of Mackay, Queensland, Australia. (B.Sc. - Agriculture). His grave inscription reads: "He Died That We Might Live."
Sgt. Harry Law Moyyneux. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 467. Son of John James Molyneux and Bessie L. Molyneux, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. His grave inscription reads: "Peacefully Sleeping In Gods Own Time We Shall Meet. Mum, Dad, Brothers and Sisters."
F/O. Ronald Jacques. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 468. Born in November the son of Jack and Mary Anne Jacques pf the Kings Arms, 18 West Street, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, England. Also commemorated on the Chipping Norton Town Memorial.
Fl/Sgt. Bertram Fraser. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 466. Son of David and Rebecca Josephine Fraser, of Golders Green, Middlesex, England. His grave inscription reads: "If God We Choose, We Shall But Love Thee Better After Death."
Fl/Lt. William Neil Read. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 471. Son of Albert Charles and Sophie Ethel Read, of West Perth, Western Australia.
F/O. Robert Mckerlie Croft. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 469. Son of William Henry and Margaret Croft, of 14 Belinda Street, Evandale, South Australia. His grave inscription reads: "His Duty Nobly Done."
F/O. David Payne Croston. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery. Grave E. 465. Son of Roland John and Alice Maude Croston, husband of Kathleen Stalby Croston, of Kensington Park, South Australia.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Frank Mahieu for visiting the cemetery and taking the grave photographs for Aircrew Remembered - November 2016. Any relative who would like a higher resolution photo of the grave please don’t hesitate to ask. Also thanks to the Chipping Norton Royal British Legion for information on F/O. Ronald Jacques (via Frank Mahieu)