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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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619 Squadron Crest
04/05.12.1944 No. 619 Squadron Lancaster III LM751 PG-X F/O. R. H. Schaefer

Operation: Heilbronn

Date: 4/5th December 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No.619 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM751

Code: PG-X

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)

Burial details:

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.

KTY 02.04.2018 Grave photo's added

Acknowledgements: 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', 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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