24/25.04.1944 No. 619 Squadron Lancaster I ME723 PG-X W/O 2 Derek Schofield DFM
Date: 24/25th April 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 619 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire.
Location: South of the Speichersee at Aschheim, Germany.
Pilot: W/O.2. Derek Schofield DFM 174944 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Alfred Baker 1087406 RAFVR Age 21. Killed (Replacement see note 2)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Roy Withinshaw 1578093 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Edward Brunt 157524 RAFVR Age ? Killed (Replacement see note 2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. ‘Duke’ Derrick Walter Golding 160118 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Alexander Durkin 2209756 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Eric Nash Powell 53935 RAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 20:55 hrs from RAF Dunholme Lodge in Lincolnshire to take part in another night operation against the city of München. Weather was overcast and cold, visibility good. What is classed as a very successful raid in which 234 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitoes took part. The marking went well and the bombing very accurate with the hits concentrated in the centre of the city.
Photo of the 'original' crew showing: L-R rear: ‘Duke’ Golding, ‘Johnny' Kemp (2), Johnny Broll (3), Front: Roy Withinshaw, ‘Swift’ Durkin, Derek Schofield, George Hexter (2).
German reports state that 1,104 buildings were destroyed, 1,367 severely damaged. Mostly these were domestic homes, but also included 48 public buildings, 30 schools, 24 police and air raid posts, 18 military buildings, 13 churches and 7 hospitals. Casualties on the ground amounted to 88 people killed, 2,945 injured and 30,000 civilians losings their homes. The very low loss of life on the ground is unexplained, but the reports are from the München Bundesarchiv, Freiburg.
The flak over the target area had been enormous with a total of 49,074 flak shells fired at up to heights of 22,000 ft which accounted for 4 Lancasters being shot down. Lancaster ME723 was one of these, crashing at 01:44 hrs. some 3km South of the Speichersee at Aschheim (see map), where all the crew were initially buried.
On 24th March 1948, their bodies were taken to the CWWG cemetery at Durnbach.
(1) W/O2. Schofield DFM citation in the London Gazette of 14th April 1944 reads:
"Fl/Sgt. Hexter (2) RCAF and Fl/Sgt. Schofield were bomb aimer and pilot respectively on an aircraft detailed to attack Stuttgart one night in March 1944. When about 150 miles from the target the aircraft was attacked by a fighter. Before the enemy aircraft could be evaded, the bomber had sustained much damage, while Fl/Sgt. Hexter had been wounded in the hand and foot. Undeterred, Fl/Sgt. Schofield continued his mission and eventually reached the target over which he was ably guided by Fl/Sgt. Hexter who, although in constant pain, had insisted on remaining at his post. Shortly afterwards the oxygen supply failed but Fl/Sgt. Schofield came down to a lower altitude and afterwards flew the damaged aircraft to this country where he affected a safe landing at an airfield near the coast. This airman displayed skill, courage and determination of the highest order. Fl/Sgt. Hexter also set a fine example of courage and fortitude and his conduct in trying circumstances was worthy of great praise."
(2) 20 year old, Fl/Sgt. George Eric Hexter R/129608 RCAF also received the DFM for his actions. At the time of this operation he was still recovering from injuries received as described above. Johnny Kemp, then aged 18 from Twickenham was suffering a bout of Scarlet Fever, so he also missed this operation. George survived the war, returning to London, Ontario, Canada and remained friends with Johnny Kemp. Johnny Kemp left the service in 1947, died in July 1997 aged 72. George Hexter even travelled over from Canada to attend his funeral.
(3) Fl/Sgt. James Broll classed as ‘missing’ shortly afterwards on the 24th July 1944. On an operation to Kiel with 619 Squadron on Lancaster III PB208 PG-S Flown by F/O. John Parker 173134 RAFVR missing with 5 other members of the crew, when the aircraft came down possibly in the area of Nissum Fjord. The body of 21 year old P/O. Allan Aumell J/89210 RCAF was recovered in that area and buried.
Copy of letter sent to the Aunt of David Barber, Rachel Weeks who he believes were school friends and belonged to the same Methodist Church. She kept several of his letters and also a brass plaque that “may” once have been at Dunhill Lodge prior to one being placed for the crew.
1578093 F/Sgt - -
RAF Coningsby, Lincs,
I hang my head in shame as a result of your scolding. I’ve been told before about my bad form in not answering questions. Mums always telling me off for this. However I promise to be a better boy in the future.
So they have given you a class of whippets to teach now eh? I’ll bet you have your job taped you dont half lay down the law to the poor little kids.
I see that ‘Brum’ isn’t your by any means your favourite spot.
Id give a lot to be stationed near to a place like that. I like the country too - but not the sort they have around here - flat fields of nothing as far as the eyes can see. The view from our windows is about the best this district offers. As I look through the window the foreground of my view is taken up by playing fields. To the left, about 1 or 2 miles away there is an old red sandstone castle. A little further to the right there is an ancient greyish looking church surrounded by trees. Over to the right hand side we have the village with its church, Not a bad view really.
Today after much arguing I managed to get a new battledress. I’ve just finished sewing on my brevet, stripes etc.
Then of course there was the transferring of lucky charms and other odds and ends. Maybe you laugh at the thought of charms but nearly everyone pn our squadron has them. St. Christopher is the favourite by miles. Almost everyone has his own superstitions. My skipper has a huge white silk scarf which is really rather grubby but he won’t have it washed. The Duke (our W/Op) carries numerous charms, gremlins etc. Most chaps wear vivid coloured silk (ileg) which they wouldn’t fly without. One fellow - an officer - will not enter his own kite when going on operational trip before he has sung a certain song. Sis you can gather we’re rather a superstitious mob - silly isn’t it?
As you will have heard and read - we have been rather hard at work this last week or so and I’m afraid this must be my excuse for the lack of news.
Sgt. James Durkin during training - 2nd row from bottom, 6 from left.
W/O.2. Derek Schofield DFM. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of Frank and Lily (née Grange) Schofield of Birkby, Huddersfield, England. Derek was their only son, born in 1921.
Above: Fl/Sgt. Baker in flying gear and memorial at Dunholme Lodge (placed by the family of James Durkin).
Fl/Sgt. Alfred Baker. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of Alfred and May Alice Baker (née Lucas) of Blackburn, Lancashire, England. Alfred worked as a printer for the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper prior to joining the air force.
Fl/Sgt. Roy Withinshaw. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of George Arthur and Edna Withinshaw of Hartshill, Stoke on Trent, England.
Fl/Sgt. Edward Brunt. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Derrick Walter Golding. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of Walter Tom and Ethel Louisa Golding of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. James Alexander Durkin. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of John and Jessie Durkin, brother to Catherine, John, Margaret and Alexander Durkin of Seacliffe, Kells, Whitehaven, Cumberland, England.
P/O. Eric Nash Powell. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 7.J.12-15. Son of Hugh and Catherine Powell of Rippondale, Yorkshire, England.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks to Neil Storey for photo’s and info on Sergeant Durkin, Shaun Cunningham for photo’s and info on Flight Sergeant Baker, to Gillian Hartle for the uniformed photo of W/O2 Schofield. The son of Johnny Kemp, who contacted us in August 2015 and named the crew photo. Also explained why his father was not on this operation. In November 2015, Mr. David Barber also contacted us and provide the letter sent to his Aunt. Thanks also to David Franklin for taking the photographs of the crew graves for us. (Available in higher resolution to any relatives free of charge)