15/16.02.1944 166 Squadron Lancaster III ED841 AS-L F/O. Raymond J. Robinson
Date: 15/16th February 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 166 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington
Location: Freudenberg, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Raymond John Robinson 135130 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. H.K. Harrison 955861 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1605 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus
Nav: Sgt. George Frederick Clark 1335626 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Raymond Algernon Reeves Smith 1335530 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Donald Joseph Stokes 1284065 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Owen Jones 1605143 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Basil Owen Wright 51875 RAFVR Age 28. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 17:30 hrs to attack the heart of Germany, Berlin. 891 aircraft took part in the first raid on the city for more than 2 weeks.
This was the largest raid of the whole war on the German capital resulting in the greatest ever tonnage of bombs dropped on the city with 2,642 tons.
The city was covered in cloud for most of the raid but the raid still inflicted huge damage to the city with 599 large and 572 medium fires, 1,000 houses and a further 526 wooden barracks also destroyed. 320 people on the ground were killed. The small number of casualties is mainly due to the large scale evacuation which had taken place but a further 260 civilians were reported to have been buried alive - no reports how many of these survived. Some of Berlin's most important industries were also hit including the Siemensstadt area. 59 people were also killed in other area hit by scattered bombs.
The bombers suffered heavily with 48 aircraft being lost. A huge loss of aircrew with 266 killed and a further 54 made PoW.
Lancaster ED841 was Claim by (1) Oblt Paul Zorner 8/NJG3 - 3km South East of Ribnitz: 6,000m at 2022 hrs (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 1 - Theo Boiten). The aircraft crashed into a forest a short way north from Freudenberg. Another Lancaster from 166 Squadron was also shot down on this same raid. ME636 AS-E flown by P/O. George Arthur Woodcock-Stevens 171650 RAFVR killed with all other 6 crew members.
Sgt. George Frederick Clark with his sister Muriel 1942. Right: Joan, a sister of Sgt. Clark, visiting the crew graves in Berlin (courtesy Patricia Firman, John Barker and relatives of Sergeant George Clark)
(1) Oblt. Paul Anton Guido Zorner, already a night fighter ace at this time went on to claim a total of 59 night victories. He survived the war - imprisoned by the Soviets until 1949 he went on to work for Hoechst as their Chief Engineer before retiring in 1981. He died in Hamburg on the 27th January 2014 age 93.
Additional information supplied by Brian Bouchard - March 2018
Frederic had contracted a second marriage, which was registered in Epsom for the March Quarter of 1915, to Gertrude Agate (born 27 September 1882, reg. Kensington, 12/1882). Birth of their son Basil O Wright came to be recorded at Kingston, 12/1916.
Before 4 October 1916, the family had taken up residence at 47 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey.
With a Service Number 518852, his son Basil would have been a pre-war entrant as an aircraftman to the Royal Air Force.
For the 1939 Register Gertrude, Frederic and their daughter were living at 38 Sycamore Grove, New Malden, with his occupation stated to be 'Cafe Proprietor, Commercial Traveller (Glass)' and his wife a 'Cafe Manageress'.
Having risen to the rank of Flight Sergeant, Basil was commissioned Pilot Officer 51875, on probation, emergency, with effect from 14 May 1943 before promotion to Flying Officer (war substitute), 14 November 1943. Reportedly, records of 166 Squadron - part of Bomber Command - note that he had been posted into the Unit on 3 October 1943.
“It was a foggy February evening. I sat with my parents, brothers, and sisters having dinner, when a loud engine noise was heard. It was louder than usuall, because, normally, the English and American bomber formations flew higher. The sound of a big engine was getting closer. Suddenly there was an enormous explosion. My sister was shocked obviously. We ran out and saw the fire through the fog in the Recknitz River valley...
Next day, while it was still dark, I hurried to the crash site before I went to school and before I found the SS and the armed forces already there. In the dawn I saw that a Lancaster bomber had crashed. It was terrible to see the dead crew members hanging in the trees. One was gored through by a strong branch! Others were caught in the completely destroyed wreck of the aircraft. Parachutes were partly opened.
I looked a bit closer at the Englishmen; I could see that they were wearing blue uniforms under their heated flying suits, and below that they were also wearing civilian dress. Nearer the wreckage was an inflated dinghy and provisions packages were laying around. I quickly retrieved some parachute silk, a provisions package and a flare gun with ammunition. Then I also already saw pushing the first armed troops....
I quickly went to school. Soon after, the whole crash site was blocked off and was guarded by the SS. When I came home in the afternoon, I found out that somebody had stolen the felt boots from some of the aircrew. I can still remember that some people had their houses searched.
The Lancaster came from direction of Dierhagen. Someone said that the Lancaster had been attacked by a night-fighter and that the pilot was possibly attempting to crash-land on the Bodden near Ribnitz-Damgarte but crashed in the thick fog at ground level.
Those of the crew who perished, were buried locally [at Neuer Friedhof, Rostock] but were exhumed and re-interred in the 1939 – 1945 War Cemetery at Charlottenburg, Berlin after the end of the war.
Mr. Frederic William Augustine Wright of Chiltern Lodge, 38 Sycamore Grove, New Malden, Surrey, died on 23 November 1945 in Kingston Hospital. In his Will, Malden Social Club were directed to have a drink at the bar instead of sending a wreath.’
F/O. Raymond John Robinson. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.2. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. George Frederick Clark. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.K.34-36. Son of Frederick George & Ellen of Culford, Suffolk, England.
Fl/Sgt. Raymond Algernon Reeves Smith. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.20. Son of Norman Leslie and Emma and husband of Elsie Agnes of Maidstone, Kent, England.
Fl/Sgt. Donald Joseph Stokes. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.K.34-36. Son of Frederick William and Maud Harriet.
Sgt. Norman Owen Jones. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.K.34-36. No further details - are you able to assist?
F/O. Basil Owen Wright. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Son of Frederic and Gertrude Wright of Rottingdean, Sussex, England.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew and for relatives of Sgt. George Frederick Clark. With thanks to Uwe Enrich for grave photo of Sgt. Clark. With thanks to Brian Bouchard and the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer website. Also to Karsten's and Peter's Bomber Command website. Thanks to John Jones for the Night Fighter Claim information. Other sources as quoted below.