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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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102 Squadron Crest
31/01.09.1943 No. 102 Squadron Halifax II JN909 DY-B Sgt. Edward T.S. Rowbottom

Operation: Berlin

Date: 31st August /01st September 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No.102 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JN909 

Code: DY-B 

Base: RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire

Location: Between Sinningen and Saerbeck, Germany

Pilot: Sgt. Edward Thomas Samuel Rowbottom 1294895 RAFVR Age. 21. Killed.

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Richard Harvey Day 1379869 RAFVR Age ? Killed.

Nav: Sgt. John Kenneth Keele 1004003 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Bmr/W/Op: Sgt. R.V. Wallace RAFVR Age? Evaded capture.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Raymond Pearce 1382481 RAFVR Age 27. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Murton Lawrence McClay R/47010 RCAF Age? Killed.

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Russ Lloyd Collins RCAF Age? PoW No: 222679. Camp: 4B - Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe


Took off at 20.21hrs. from Pocklington to attack Berlin. 622 aircraft - 331 Lancasters, 176 Halifaxes, 106 Stirlings, 9 Mosquitos.

This raid was not successful due to cloud in the target area; this, together with difficulties with H2S equipment and probably the ferocity of the German defences, all combined to cause the Pathfinder markers to be dropped well south of the centre of the target area and the Main Force bombing to be even further away.

The main bombing area eventually extended 30 miles back along the bombers' approach route.

Wreckage of JN909 (courtesy Mike Harrison)

After this raid, Gauleiter Goebbels ordered the evacuation from Berlin of all children and all adults not engaged in war work to country areas or to towns in Eastern Germany where air raids were not expected.

47 aircraft - 20 Halifaxes, 17 Stirlings, 10 Lancasters - lost, 1.6 per cent of the force.

Halifax JN909 believed to be shot down by Flak, crashing between Sinningen and Saerbeck, two communities on either side of the Ems, some 9 km north of Greven.

Both Air Gunners survived. The mid-upper Sgt. R.V Wallace managed to evade being captured and eventually was able to reach Switzerland. A remarkable achievement as it was nearly impossible to escape from Germany.

Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

Burial Details:

The five crew members who were killed were initially buried at Saerbeck, but after the Second World War, their graves were re-located to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

Sgt Edward Thomas Samuel Rowbottom. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 12. Son of Edward and Florence H. Rowbottom, of Purley, Surrey, England.

Sgt Richard Harvey Day. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 14. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt John Kenneth Keele. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 13. Son of Thomas Alexander Keele and Winifred Keele, of Finsbury, London, England.

Fl/Sgt Murton Lawrence McClay. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 10. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt Alan Raymond Pearce. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 11. Son of Herbert and Margery Mary Pearce, husband of Margaret Elsie Pearce, of St. John’s, Worcester, England.

Researched by Mike Harrison for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries - 2014 Edition’, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Thank also to Brian Mackenzie for the correction to the crew listing.

RS - 13.07.2018

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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