04/05.12.1944 No. 619 Squadron Lancaster III LM751 PG-X F/O. R. H. Schaefer
Date: 4/5th December 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No.619 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Strubby, Lincolnshire.
Location: Target area, Heilbronn
Pilot: F/O. Robert Harry Schaefer J/35883 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie George Weir 1894060 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: F/O. Philip Peter Awad J/39979 RCAF Age 21 Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Frederick Leonard Meredith J/38814 RCAF Age 21 Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Lonsdale Swanson 1138377 RAFVR Age 23 Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. J. Ross Keilty RCAF PoW (no further details)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John E. Nicholaiff RCAF PoW (injured - no further details)
REASON FOR LOSS:
A large raid with 282 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of 5 group taking part. A huge blow on Heilbronn which really was of little importance. Over 7,000 people on the ground were killed with over 351 acres of the town's built up area destroyed. Of those, 5,000 were later buried in mass graves in the Ehrenfriedhof (cemetery of honour) in the valley of the Köpfer creek close to the city.
Left: Sgt. Weir. Crew photo - Back row left to right: Sgt. Swanson, F/O. Schaefer, F/O. Awad. Front row: Sgt. Kielty, F/O. Meredith and Sgt. Nicholaiff. (Photo taken earlier when they were flying Wellingtons - Sgt. Weir joined later. Right: F/O. Meredith
Heilbronn shrine at Heilbronn City Hall and right, Memorial garden.
To this day, a memorial is held annually in memory of those that died that day. As a result of the war Heilbronn's population shrank to 46,350.
12 Lancasters were lost - mostly due to Luftwaffe night fighters. LM751 was also shot down, but the Luftwaffe night fighter can not be positively identified.
Durnbach War Cemetery - The quality of these photographs shown here can not be fully appreciated when the size is reduced for the web page - however scroll down to see the clarity of a high resolution of part of the headstones. (courtesy David Franklin - David has kindly provided us with permission to release high definition copies to relatives)
F/O. Robert Harry Schaefer. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 4.H.33. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry D. Schaefer, of Hanover, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Leslie George Weir. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 4.H.32. Son of Robert and Mary Weir, of Greenwich, London, England.
F/O. Philip Peter Awad. Durnbach War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.H.34-35. Son of Paul and Catherine Awad, of Detroit, Michigan, USA.
F/O. Frederick Leonard Meredith. Durnbach War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.H.34-35. Son of Hubert Wellington Meredith and Clara Meredith, husband of Bernice Meredith, foster son and nephew of the Revd. Fred R. Meredith, of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. John Lonsdale Swanson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 4.H.31. Son of Albert and Lilian Swanson, of Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England.