28/29.07.1944 408 Squadron Lancaster II LL687 EQ:M Fg.Off. Donal T. Ryan
Date: 28/29th July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 408 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire
Location: Spreckens, Germany
Pilot: Fg.Off. Donal Thomas Ryan J21669 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. David Scott 1061574 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No: 489, Stalag Luft 7, Bankau (Bakow, Poland)
Nav: WO2 Robert Daniel Whitson R150903 RCAF Age 28. Killed
Air Bmr: Plt.Off. Alan Howard Durnin J85681 RCAF Age 22. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt.Lt. Gordon Croucher MiD J26857 RCAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr (Mid Under): Sgt. Joseph Laurent André Blais R194239 RCAF Age 19. Killed
Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Flt.Sgt. Harold Edmund Truscott R165962 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt.Sgt. John Alexander Kay Imrie R190578 RCAF Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:38 hrs from Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire to attack Hamburg along with 306 aircraft made up with 187 Halifaxes, 106 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes. The first heavy raid on the city for over a year.
Bombing was not concentrated and the main area bombed had already been devastated in the previous bombing in 1943. However, 265 people on the ground were killed and a further 17,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes damaged during this raid.
The attackers were heavily hit by both flak and the night fighters from the Luftwaffe. 22 Aircraft were lost. Resulting in the death of 145 crew members and a further 28 being made PoW. This had been the largest concentration of attacks by Luftwaffe night fighters on Hamburg operations.
Pierre Lorang informs us that according to Sgt. Scott’s diary, the aircraft was hit by Flak and he and a number of crew bailed out. Only Sgt. Scott survived.
Also lost from the Squadron on this operation:
Halifax VII NP716 EQ:P Flown by 25 year old, Sqn.Ldr. Gerald Bennett Latimer J9350 RCAF from Vancouver - killed with all six other crew.
Lancaster II LL725 EQ:C Flown by 23 year old, Plt.Off. John Harold Alexander McCaffrey DFC. J86046 RCAF from Vancouver - killed with all seven other crew. (1)
Lancaster II DS634 Flown by Plt.Off. George Arthur Boehmer J86584 RCAF taken PoW with five other crew, two others killed. (1)
These three crews were very experienced and were due within days to becoming screened. At the time of this operation the Squadron were moving over to the Halifax VII Bombers - the Lancaster lost on this operation were the last to be lost from the squadron. Some reports state that Plt.Off. Joseph Laurent André Blais joined this crew to make up his record of operational flights - other reports state that he was placed in this crew as an extra to cover the unusual position as mid ‘under’ air gunner - we welcome information on this. David Scott passed away in 2004.
On the 29th July 2017 a memorial plaque was dedicated by the families of the crew in Spreckens, Germany.
Fg.Off. Donal Thomas Ryan. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 17.D.7. Born on the 11th December 1920 in Montreal, the son of Leo George and Alice Ellen Ryan, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada. 25 Operational sorties. Grave inscription reads: “He Died That Others Might Live”.
Plt.Off. Robert Daniel Whitson. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 17.D.5. Born on the 22nd February 1922 in Lamont, the son of Robert Leroy Whitson and Mary Louise Whitson and husband of Anne Laura Whitson, of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada. Operational sorties. 25. Grave inscription reads: “Ever Loved And Remembered”.
Commissioned and promoted wef 6th June 1944, to Plt.Off. with Service No. J87973
Plt.Off. Alan Howard Durnin. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 17.D.8. Born on the 14th November 1920 in Vancouver, the son of E. Howard Durnin and Marcia Ellen Durnin and nephew of Mrs. M.A. Granat, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Operational sorties 24. Grave inscription reads: “Dear Is His Memory”.
Flt.Lt. Gordon Croucher MiD. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 244. Born on the 2nd January 1916 in Montreal, the son of Ernest Henry and Ann Douglas Croucher, of Verdun, Province of Quebec, Canada. Operational sorties 20.
Posthumously awarded a MiD, gazetted 29th December 1944.
Plt.Off. Joseph Laurent André Blais. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 17.D.6. Born on the 6th January 1925 in Montreal. Son of Joseph Rock and Marie Jeanne (née Paré) Blais of Montreal of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.His mother predeceased him in September 1927. Operational sorties 20.
Commissioned and promoted on the 27th July 1944, to Plt.Off. with Service No. J89105
Plt.Off. Harold Edmund Truscott. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 253. Born on the 19th May 1921 in Hamilton, the son of Henry Claire Truscott and Lulu May Truscott, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Operational sorties 25.
Commissioned and promoted on the 27th July 1944, to Plt.Off. with Service No. J88730
Plt.Off. John Alexander Kay Imrie. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 17.D.4. Born on the 21st August 1924 in Toronto, the son of John MacLachlan Imrie and Ruby Kay Imrie, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Operational sorties 25. Grave inscription reads: “Till We Meet Again Mother, Dad And Douglas, Toronto, Canada”.
Commissioned and promoted on the 27th July 1944, to Plt.Off. with Service No. J88662
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Lloyd Truscott who contacted us in October 2017 and supplied all the photographs used within this page of remembrance. Thanks to Pierre Lorang for the information from Sgt. Scott's diary (Nov 2020). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2020). Other sources as quoted.