30/31.07.1943 No. 106 Squadron Lancaster I R5665 ZN-D P/O. Kenneth Maxwell Reid
Operation: Remscheid, Germany.
Date: 30/31.07.1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 106 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Pilot: P/O. Kenneth Maxime Reid J/18143 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. J.F.G. Benson 625905 PoW No. 222448 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (2)
Nav: Sgt. J. Scott 1551978 PoW No. 222450 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe - 4B (3)
Air/Bmr: P/O. James Delbert Golds J/22536 RCAF PoW No. 2530 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. V. Askey 1216172 PoW No. 222451 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe - 4B (5)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. C.M. Pearce 1391446 PoW No. 222447 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (6)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. J. Kirkham 1029424 PoW No. 222445 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (7)
We would like to appeal to any relatives of the crew for further information/photographs.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Syerston at 22.00hrs on a bombing mission to Remscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
This aircraft was armed with: 1 x 4000lb. GP, 1200 x 4lb IB, 64 x 30lb IB.
Special Equipment: Gee, Monica - see abbreviations
Route as per RAF Bomber Command Night Operations Report: East Coast - 5140N 0200E - Furnes - 5030N 0735E - 5100N 0740E - Target - 5102N 0630E - 5150N 0230E - East Coast. (Furnes = Veurne, Belgium)
This operation turned out to be the last bombing raid of what in the ensuing years would become known as the Battle of the Ruhr. Over the previous five months the RAF had dropped in excess of 30000 tons of bombs on the area, yet apart from the odd stray bomb, Remscheid had remained hitherto untouched by the offensive. The town, covering an area of about 28 square miles had a population of a little over 100,000 and being at the centre of the precision and machine tool industry it was unlikely that it would escape the attentions of the RAF indefinitely.
A force of some 273 aircraft was assembled for this bombing raid on the town of Remscheid. Zero hour was 0100hrs and though the attack was scheduled to end at 0118hrs the period of bombing overran by 10 minutes. The Pathfinder force consisting of 9 Oboe Mosquitoes (6 + 3 reserves) and 13 Halifaxes and Lancasters as Backers Up were evenly spaced throughout the bomber stream with the first Mosquito attacking at Z-4 and the final one at Z+16. The main force consisting of 74 Lancasters, 90 Halifaxes and 87 Stirlings attacked in three waves. There was haze over the target and no moon; visibility was described as moderate. Marking by the Mosquitoes was continuous throughout the attack; the timing almost exactly as planned. There was one incident of target markers being dropped off target but this caused no significant problem. Target defences were weak and ineffective with only a few searchlights in evidence; heavy and light flak was described as slight. 228 Aircraft reported bombing the primary target and 4 attacked alternative targets. 26 aircraft aborted the mission mainly because of technical and manipulative defects and 15 failed to return. It is estimated that 7 of the losses were due to flak, 6 were shot down by fighters and 2 due to unknown causes.
In little more than 30 minutes 871 tons of bombs fell on Remscheid with devastating effect. The bombing and ensuing firestorm almost completely destroyed the town killing 1120 and injuring 6700. Daylight reconnaissance photographs taken the following day showed fires still burning and great damage throughout the town. The town centre near the main railway station was almost totally destroyed with 90% of the built up area demolished or gutted. The main workshops of Bergische Stahlindustrie were damaged, the engineering works of Alexandrawerk almost totally devastated, 49 other factories were affected and 107 industrial buildings destroyed. The main railway station and goods depot were almost completely destroyed, 7200 houses were left uninhabitable and some 40000 people rendered homeless.
Part of a RAF reconnaissance photograph taken over Remscheid following the raid of 30/31 July 1943 showing the very heavy damage sustained by the steel works of Bergische Stahlindustrie. (Courtesy IWM)
According to Flight Engineer Sgt. Benson, Lancaster R5665 having safely negotiated the hazards of the outward journey had arrived over Remscheid where Bomb Aimer P/O. Golds had released the bomb load. Whether before or after dropping its bombs is not clear but the aircraft was coned by the German searchlights and suffered some flak damage before escaping and turning for home. The extent of the damage is not reported but the aircraft had reached Dusseldorf and was flying at 20000' when it was attacked by a night fighter that completed its demise. P/O. Reid gave the order to bale out and Sgt. Benson says that he baled out at 18000'. Sgts. Scott, Askey, Pearce and Kirkham were all known to have baled out and were eventually all together with Sgt Benson. At that stage they believed that P/O.Reid and P/O Golds were dead but it later transpired that P/O Golds had baled out without a parachute and survived. As for P/O. Reid there appears to be no explanation as to why he failed to bale out. Sgt. Benson stated that he spoke to him shortly after the order to bale out was given and that to the best of his knowledge he was uninjured. Sgt.Kirkham said 'BA jumped without his chute and got away with it that makes 6 out of 7 alive - (previous letter from A/G "we know for sure that the pilot took the plane into his target in a (Illegible) and was killed". Sgt. Askey stated that 'whilst being detained at a German civilian police station I was shown the personal effects of pilot who according to police had been found (killed?) in aircraft'. On the reverse of the RAF Loss Card P/O. Reid is said to have been buried on 2 August 1943 at Munchengladbach 5112N 0625E but on the front of the Loss Card it states that he has no known grave.
(1) P/O. Kenneth Maxime Reid. Born c 1920 the son of Robert and Elizabeth S. Reid of Sea Cliff, New York, USA. Commemorated on Panel 177 of the Runnymede Memorial.
(2) Sgt. J.F.G. Benson - nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(3) Sgt. J. Scott - nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(4) P/O. James Delbert Golds. Son of Neri Golds of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
(5) Sgt. V. Askey. Probably Victor Askey born 1921 Wolstanton, Staffordshire the son of John W. and Florence Askey died 1999 Stafford, Staffordshire.
(6) Sgt. C.M. Pearce - nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(7) Sgt. J. Kirkham - nothing further known, are you able to assist?
Researched by Roy Wilcock for Aircrew Remembered - May 2015. Sources: RAF Loss Card, RAF Bomber Command Report on Night Operations, Commonwealth Graves Commission, Bomber Command Database.