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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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617 Squadron Crest
617 Squadron Lancaster BI NF992 KC-B Crew loss story

Operation: Bergen (Specific target:- The floating docks)

Date: 12th January 1945 (Friday)

Unit: No. 617 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I (BI Special)

Serial: NF992

Coded: KC-B

Base: RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire

Location: Norwegian coast

Pilot: F/O. Ian Stewart Ross AUS/18839 RAAF Age 24. Missing (1)

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. William Walter 1866667 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: W/O. Sydney Ross Anderson DFM 1098277 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Bmr: P/O. Edward George Tilby 184159 184159 RAFVR Age ? Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Mowbray Ellwood DFM. MiD. 54542 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Douglas Griffiths 1580829 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Gnr: F/O. Alexander Farley McKellar 176945 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 08.46 hrs from Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire as part of a force of 32 Lancasters of 617 Squadron to attack the German U-Boat pens in Bergen harbour. Some aircraft carried the huge Tallboy bombs (Including NF992) needed to penetrate the 3.5 metre thick roofs of the pens. Reports state that 3 did indeed do this and caused severe damage to workshops, offices and stores below.

The Minesweeper M-1 was also sunk during this raid along with another German ship, the Olga Simmers, damaged. 2 U-Boats, U-775 and U-864 were slightly damaged. Bergen had suffered many civilian casualties on 2 earlier raids but the more accurate bombing on this day resulted in no deaths or damage to civilian houses. 20 German sailors were killed from the Minesweeper crew and another 2 German were also killed.

Lancaster NF992 earlier crew with Back row L - R: Sgt. K.H. Jenkinson, Sgt. C.T. King, Sgt W. Walter, Sgt. A.F. Mckellar. Front L - R: F/O. T.C. O'Brien, P/O. I.S. Ross, Sgt. E.G. Tilby (positive identification of crew members supplied by Martin Whitcombe)

                617 Squadron modified Lancaster shown here with the "Tallboy" bomb about to be loaded

This Lancaster was lost in the sea off the Norwegian coast, as it had been witnessed by other crews in the squadron going down, an Air Sea Rescue Warwick dropped a lifeboat. However all the crew were lost and six are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, F/O. Mowbray Ellwood's body was washed up on the shore on the 13th March 1945 and is now buried at the Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery.

On September 11th 1944 F/O. Ross, Fl/Sgt. Walter, P/O. Tilby, Fl/Sgt. Griffiths, and McKellar escaped unhurt when they were forced to carry out a wheels up emergency landing when the Lancaster III (EE131 EC-B) they were positioning to a base in Russia ran low on fuel near Molotovsk, Russia.

(1) 7 family members joined the war to fight - by the end of the war 6 would be dead!

Burial Details:

F/O Ian Stewart Ross. (shown left) Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 283. Son of Alexander McLachlan Ross, and of Christina Lillian Ross, of Alphington, Victoria, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. William Walter. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 273. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Right: Grave of F/O. Mowbray Ellwood DFM. MiD. (courtesy Lars Smith)

W/O. Sydney Ross Anderson DFM. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 269. Son of Robert and Norah Anderson, husband of F. Joan Anderson, of Dollis Hill, Middlesex, England.

P/O. Edward George Tilby. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 269. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Fl/Sgt. Leslie Douglas Griffiths. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 271. Son of Mrs. E. M. Griffiths, of Handsworth, Birmingham, England.

F/O. Alexander Farley McKellar. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 267. Son of Alexander and Elsie McKellar, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

F/O. Mowbray Ellwood DFM. MiD. Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery A IV. British A.10. Son of Linnard and Winifred Ellwood, husband of Primrose Mary Ellwood, of Boston, Lincolnshire, England.

We are indebted to Steven Clifford from Sydney, Australia for bringing this loss to our attention. Tragically the family lost all photographs and documents relating to Ian Ross during the floods in 1993, With thanks also to Lars Smith for grave photo, Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 6", Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries" and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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