Operation: Bergen (Specific target:- The floating docks)
Date: 12th January 1945 (Friday)
Unit: No. 617 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I (BI Special)
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!
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.