21/22.02.1945 No. 408 Squadron Halifax VII NP711 EQ-O Fl/Lt. Donald M. Sanderson
Operation: Worms, Germany
Date: 21/22nd February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 408 (Goose) Squadron RCAF
Type: Halifax VII
Base: RAF Linton-On-Ouse
Location: Forest hillside at Weilerkopf 2 miles west of Leistadt
Pilot : Fl/Lt. Donald McWilliam Sanderson J/29724 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Wilson 1822188 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: F/O. Reginald Bertram Smith J/38711 RCAF Age 33. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. William James Gilmore J/37870 RCAF Age 33. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. William Wallace Wagner J/95503 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Nels Peter Helin Anderson C/95210 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Donald Edison Sherman J/95492 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from Linton-On-Ouse at 17:14 hrs to attack the main railway station in Worms. A total of 334 heavy bombers were used including 288 Halifaxes, 3 Lancasters and 25 Mosquitoes.
Above: area of loss with insert of Fl/Lt. Donald McWilliam Sanderson
The raid caused massive destruction to the town with 39% of the towns built up area totally destroyed. 1,116 tons of high explosive was dropped killing 239 people on the ground and 35,000 people were bombed out of their homes (Population: 58,000).
Above left: Part of the crew of Halifax VII NP711 - probably taken during training at OTU as only six people shown. P/O. Donald Edison Sherman known to be front left, but others remain unidentified - can you assist further? (courtesy of Kingsville Historical Park) A relative of P/O. William Wagner (see acknowledgements) has contacted us and feels that the chap standing on far right is Billy Wagner. Right: Same group with a Hurricane - probably used for fighter affiliation. Note the chequered control van on left.
Above photo with names as placed - sadly Richard passed away in 2015 age 96 - missed his brother until the day he died.
Left: The Rheinpfalz (Die Rheinpfalz) dated 17th October 2017 - awaiting translation. courtesy Anthony who sent this into us in October 2017)
A total of 11 aircraft were lost together with 33 aircrew deaths and a further 16 being made PoW.
Most were shot down by German night fighters and such was the ferocity of the air battles on this and other raids taking place this night.
Not a single German claim was possible by the crews - for this night alone the allies lost a total of 42 aircraft!
Fl/Lt. Donald McWilliam Sanderson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. No further details as yet - are you able to assist? 13 Operations - with 72 operational flying hours logged.
Sgt. James Wilson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G. Son of Thomas Wilson, and of Janet K. Wilson, of Douglas, Lanarkshire, England. 11 Operations - with 60.15 operational flying hours logged.
F/O. Reginald Bertram Smith. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. Son of Thomas B. Smith and Catherine Monica Smith, of Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. 11 Operations - with 60.15 operational flying hours logged.
F/O. William James Gilmore. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. Son of William James Gilmore and Faith Clark Gilmore, husband of Helen Neal Gilmore. 11 Operations - with 60.15 operational flying hours logged.
P/O. William Wallace Wagner. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. Further information (supplied by Rob Wagner): Son of Robert H. Wagner and Beryl Wagner, of Napanee, Ontario, Canada. born in Salinas, California, in July 1922. His older brother, Richard, was two years older. The family lived in North Hollywood while their father, Bob, worked for Warner Bros. The entire family - Billy's uncles and cousins - were in the motion picture business. Richard joined the US Army in 1942, but Billy was living in Napanee by the end of the 1930’s when his parents moved back to their original home. He joined the Royal Bank of Canada, and, as you know, joined the RCAF on November 30th, 1942, against his parents wishes. 10 Operations - with 53.10 operational flying hours logged.
The only personal titbit about Billy in the RCAF was told to me by his brother many years ago. Billy flew a total of 11 missions, but each mission was exceedingly difficult for him to fly. He admitted to his brother, while they were on leave in New York City in 1944, that he faked illness to get out of one mission. Apparently this was not uncommon among bomber crews. The last thing he told his brother before he parted was that he believed he was never coming back. It was the last time Richard saw his brother.
Billy was declared missing in action. His parents never knew of his fate, although they firmly believed he was alive, until he was officially declared killed in action in December 1945.
P/O. Nels Peter Helin Anderson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. The youngest son of Hans Peter and Hulda Carolina Anderson, of Woodside, Manitoba, Canada. Born at Tyndall on the 20th March 1923, joined the RCAF in 1943 - Commissioned on the 20th February 1945. 11 Operations - with 60.15 operational flying hours logged.
(1) Anderson Lake was named after P/O. Nels Peter Helin Anderson on 16th December 1994.
P/O. Donald Edison Sherman. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 18. G.2-5. From Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Researched by Webmaster. With thanks to Rob Wagner, (cousin of P/O. William Wagner) the Kingsville Historical Park of Canada for the use of some of these pictures. Other sources as quoted below.