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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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97 Squadron Crest
27/28.01.1942 No. 97 Squadron Lancaster I W4135 OF-A Sgt. Andrew Robinson

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 27/28th January 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 97 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4135

Code: OF-A

Base: RAF Woodall Spa

Location: Maarheeze, Netherlands

Pilot: Sgt. Andrew Robinson 1042473 RAFVR PoW No: 27505 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. R. Harvey 1150604 RAFVR Pow No: 27491 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)

Nav: Sgt C.P. Bigg 1319633 RAFVR Pow No: 27525 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. A.E. Croome 1575679 RAFVR Pow No: 27515 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. K.J. West 1379867 RAFVR Pow No: 27510 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ralph Muskett 1037820 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert William Rea R/108696 RCAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

162 aircraft taking part on an operation to Düsseldorf with W4135 taking off at 17:20 hrs from RAF Woodall Spa in Lincolnshire.

This was the first operation when Mosquitoes carried out ground marking of the targets - thin cloud covered the target and without this marking the raid would have surely failed. The bombing was well concentrated in the south of the city - 10 Industrial premises were destroyed, a further 21 suffered damage, 9 public buildings were classed as destroyed, 7 others suffering various degrees of damage.

456 houses were destroyed or suffered serious damage, 2,400 suffered light damage. The Düsseldorf Opera House was destroyed with 66 people killed on the ground with 225 others injured - of these casualties 23 of the dead and 169 of the injured were members of the Wehrmacht who were in a train when hit by the high explosive bombs.

Night fighter activity although present only managed to claim 2 of the 6 aircraft lost this night - most, including Lancaster W4135 were victims of the fierce anti-aircraft fire.

The others lost:

Lancaster I R5637 ZN-D from 106 Squadron hit by flak - Flown by 22 year old, Sgt. Giles Bacchus Marsh NZ/414657 RNZAF from Southland, New Zealand - killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I W4817 UV-K from 460 Squadron hit by flak - Flown by 28 year old, P/O. Raymond Arthur Brittingham AUS/403160 RAAF from NSW, Australia - killed with all 6 other crew.
Halifax II DT705 MH-S from 51 Squadron shot down by night-fighter of I./NJG1 - Flown by 23 year old, Fl/Sgt. Frederick Howard Barrett R/107341 RCAF from Saskatchewan, Canada - killed with 3 other crew, 3 taken PoW.
Halifax II DT721 MH-J from 51 Squadron shot down by night-fighter of 3./NJG1 - Flown by 25 year old, W/O.I. Lawrence O’Neill Weakley R/67735 RCAF from Missouri, USA - killed with 3 other crew, 4 taken PoW.
Halifax II W7918 DY-T from 102 Squadron hit by flak - Flown by Fl/Lt. Bruce Keith Lindsay 106366 RAFVR - killed with 2 other crew, 3 others PoW.

Burial details:

Sgt. Ralph Muskett. Eindhoven General Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJB. Grave 1. Son of William and Sarah Elizabeth Muskett, of St. Helens, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Robert William Rea. Eindhoven General Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJB. Grave 2. Born on the 4th April 1922 the son of Thomas David and Martha Rea, of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

Researched for John Yearnshire - John’s father worked for the pilots family at Tughall Farm near Embleton, Northumberland, England - the pilot wrote to him whilst a PoW. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted below.

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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