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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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12/13.06.1943 No. 76 Squadron Halifax V DK177 MP-H P/O. Arthur A.H. Pullan

Operation: Bochum

Date: 12/13th June 1943

Unit: No. 76 Squadron

Type: Halifax V

Serial: DK177

Code: MP-H

Base: RAF Linton-On-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: Storkerhook, 6 km north of Nienburg, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Arthur Alfred Henri Pullan NZ/416163 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ian Brodie Nicol 1374808 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. John Kay 129348 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (see note)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. John George Brown 1432404 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lawrence Charles Gearing 1295163 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert Baker 1699340 RAFVR Age 18. Killed

Air/Gnr: W/O. John Edward Buxton 529409 RAF Age 33. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 23:04hrs from Linton-On-Ouse, Yorkshire to attack Bochum (1). 503 aircraft took part in the raid which although the city was cloud covered the use of Oboe and sky-marking made the bombing very accurate.

Photo reconnaissance reports state that 130 acres were destroyed. The city reported 449 buildings totally destroyed, 916 severely damaged with 312 people on the ground killed.

The allies lost 23 aircraft. A huge blow with the total number of killed being 123 aircrew with a further 44 being made PoW.

Lancaster DK177 was intercepted and shot down at 01:34 hrs by the Luftwaffe ace Hptm. E. Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld (2) of Stab III./NJG1 over Storkerhook 6 km north of Nienburg at 5,400 mtrs. All the crew were killed when the aircraft crashed in open country. Sgt. Baker at 18 was perhaps one of the youngest aircrew member killed in 1943, if not the war.

(1) Because the Ruhr region was an area of high residential density and a centre of weapons manufacturing, it was a major target of the war. Women with young children, school children and the homeless fled or were evacuated to safer areas, leaving cities largely deserted to the arms industry, coal mines and steel plants and those unable to leave.

Right: Hptm. E. Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld

Bochum was first bombed heavily in May and June 1943. On May 13, 1943, the city hall was hit, destroying the top floor, and leaving the next two floors in flames. In November 1944, in an attack involving 700 British bombers, the steel plant, Bochumer Verein, was hit. More than 10,000 high-explosive and 130,000 incendiary bombs were stored there, setting off a conflagration that destroyed the surrounding neighbourhoods. An aerial photo shows the devastation.

Downtown Bochum was a strategic target during the Oil Campaign. In 150 bomb attacks over Bochum, over 1,300 bombs were dropped on Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. By the end of the war, 38% of Bochum was decimated. 70,000 citizens were homeless and at least 4,095 dead.

Of Bochum's more than 90,000 homes, only 25,000 remained for the 170,000 citizens who survived the war, many by fleeing to other areas. Most of the remaining buildings were damaged, many with only one usable room.

Only 1,000 houses in Bochum remained undamaged after the war. Only two of 122 schools remained unscathed; others were totally destroyed. Hunger was rampant.


A resident of neighbouring Essen was quoted on April 23, 1945 as saying, "Today, I used my last potato... it will be a difficult time till the new potatoes are ready to be picked – if they're not stolen.

(2) Oblt. Lippe-Weissenfeld was killed later in the war on 12th March 1944 along with his crew, in the Belgian Ardennes during a transit flight in bad weather. He was credited with 49 kills.

Note: We received a very touching poem that is understood to have been written and read out on a remembrance occasion for F/O. John Kay. Within our poetry section.


Burial details:

P/O. Arthur Alfred Henri Pullan. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 12-15. Son of Alfred Arthur Mark and Henrietta Albertina Pullan, of Sydenham, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Sgt. Ian Brodie Nicol. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 10. Son of William and Elizabeth Nicol, of Torphins, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

F/O. John Kay. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 12-15. Son of Mr and Mrs Tom Kay (Tom served at Ypres in WW1) of Chapeltown, Yorkshire, England. Born in December 1922, prior to service worked within the Inland Revenue. John was one of 8 children, some of whom also served (and survived) in WW2.

Sgt. John George Brown. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 12-15. Son of William and Alice Brown, husband of Jane Brown, of Birstall, Leicestershire, England.

Sgt. Lawrence Charles Gearing. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. F. 1. Son of Albert William and Nellie Elizabeth Gearing, of Leyton, Essex, England.

Sgt. Herbert Baker. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 12-15. Son of Jess and Elizabeth Ann Baker, of Normanton, Yorkshire, England.

W/O. John Edward Buxton. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. grave 23. D. 11. Son of John and Adalard Buxton, of Birmingham, nephew of Mrs. B. E. Kyte, of Balsall Heath, Birmingham, England.

Researched for Jean Michel Debaille and his wife - relative of F/O. Kay and for all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to the sources quoted below. Also to Margaret Teremetz (née Lax) who's mother was John Kay's sister) contacted us in September 2015. John Harrington from Australia who contacted us in January 2016, Lawrence Gearing had been his late mothers brother - Lawrence wrote to her in 1942 saying that he would like to go out and visit them after the war, sadly, not to be.

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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