21/22.06.1944 44 Squadron Lancaster I ME804 KM-O Plt.Off. Richards
Operation: Wesseling, Germany
Date: 21/22nd June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 44 Squadron
Type: Lancaster Mk I
Base: RAF Dumholme Lodge
Location: Lutselus near Genk, Belgium
Pilot: Plt.Off. Thomas Bryan Richards 160150 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Harold Vincent Dick Thompson 1795515 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Raymond Fazackerley 1230376 RAFVR Age ? Killed
2nd Nav: Sgt. George Leonard Wright 1578552 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Sgt. John Alan Buckby 1398205 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Henry Robert Pursglove 1238611 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Willis Eugene Spinks R/183116 RCAF Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry Moxon Greenfield 710171 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster ME804 took off from RAF Dumholme Lodge at 23:26hrs on an operation to bomb the oil refinery works at Wesseling along with 132 other Lancasters and 6 Mosquitoes.
Although the weather forecast was clear the bomber stream encountered very low cloud over the target area.
Bombing was thought not to have been successful with only slight damage to the plant according to the post-raid reconnaissance. However it later transpired from German Secret reports that the bombing did in fact cause a 40% loss of production. 15 Germans, 5 foreign workers and a pow were killed in the surrounding area.
The allies lost a huge number of aircraft with 38 Lancasters not returning. The loss of life from crew members totalled 207 killed. 42 being made PoW and 8 evading capture. Apart from the night fighters the German flak batteries from the 4th, 7th and 22nd division fired a total of 12,669 shells at the bombers - claiming 8 shot down.
ME804 was claimed as a possible by Oblt. Georg Fergler his 9 claim, from Stab IV./NJG1 at st. Trond, 6200 m at 01:35 hours, and Fw. Wilhelm Morlock, his 7th claim, from 3./NJG1 near Venlo at 5,400 m at 01:35. (Oblt. Fengler survived the war with 16 claims, Fw. Morlock with 16 claims was not so lucky - shot down and killed on the 4/5th November 1944 by Mosquitoes) - (Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie)
The aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Lutselus (Limburg) 6km SSW from Genk, Belgium where all were buried in the towns communal cemetery.
The Squadron suffered heavily with the loss of 6 aircraft, the others:
Lancaster I LL938 KM-S Flown by 23 year old Plt.Off. Russell Wood 417140 RNZAF killed with 3 other crew, 3 PoW.
Lancaster I LM434 KM-F Flown by 20 year old Plt.Off. Neville John Wingrove Scholtz 160180 RAFVR killed with 1 other crew member, 4 PoW, 1 evader.
Lancaster I LM592 KM-Q Flown by 29 year old Plt.Off. Edwin Albert Canty 414898 RAAF killed with all 6 others from his crew.
Lancaster I ND552 KM-X Flown by 22 year old Fg.Off. Neil Joseph Smith 415556 RAAF killed with all 6 others from his crew.
Lancaster I ND973 KM-A Flown by 21 year old, Plt.Off. George Baxter 175006 RAFVR killed with all 6 others from his crew.
Collective image of grave markers (Courtesy Des Philippet - FindAgrave)
Plt.Off. Thomas Bryan Richards. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Coll. grave 4465-4467. Son of Thomas Owen and Hylda Mary Richards, of Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia.
Sgt. Harold Vincent Dick Thompson. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Coll. grave 4465-4467. Born in June 1923 in Ireland. Son to Edwin Ernest Shaw Hunter and Kathleen Elizabeth (née Parke) Thompson.
Sgt. Raymond Fazackerley. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Grave 4469. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Fazackerley, of Lostock Hall, Lancashire and husband to Elizabeth Fazackerley of Longbridge, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. George Leonard Wright. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Grave 4469. Son of George and G.A.Wright, of Holmbush, Cornwall, England.
Sgt. John Alan Buckby. Genk Centrum Cemetery Belgium Coll. grave 4465-4467. Son of Charles William and Margaret Wylie Buckby, of Muswell Hill, Middlesex, England.
Sgt. Henry Robert Pursglove. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Grave 4462. Son of Herbert Henry and Nellie Pursglove, of Edgware, Middlesex, England.
(left: Original grave marker)
Flt.Sgt. Willis Eugene Spinks. Genk Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Grave 4464. Born on the 18th October 1924. Son of Willis James Spinks and Hattie Mae Spinks, of Brooklyn, Queen's Co. Nova Scotia, Canada.
Sgt. Harry Moxon Greenfield. Genk Centrum Cemetery Belgium. Grave 4463. Son of Frank Arthur herbert and Marjorie Greenfield, of Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - March 2017. With thanks to Des Philippet for grave photographs, Gordon Poultney Plumtree School Roll of Honour for photograph of Plt.Off. Richards, the remainder from the Michel Beckers collection.