24/25.02.1945 No. 214 Squadron Fortress III HB805 BU-C F/O. Joseph M. Shorttle DFM
Operation: Bomber Support (BS)
Date: 24/25th February 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 214 Squadron
Type: Fortress III
Base: RAF Oulton, Norfolk
Location: River Niers near Neersen
Pilot: F/O. Joseph Malpass Shorttle DFM 157422 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Fl/Eng: Fl/Lt. Frank Richard Woodger 52114 RAFVR Age 32. Killed (1)
Nav: Fl/Lt. Leslie Gordon Fowler DFC 126036 RAFVR Age 23. critically injured
Air/Bmr: P/O. Richard William Towell 195111 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Kenneth Cecil Allan 183538 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Francis Herbert Dix MiD N/Z411069 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Stanley Llewellyn Jones 1256275 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas William James Pollard 1865782 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey James Edward Jennings DFM 1394514 RAFVR PoW (no further details)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Oulton, Norfolk at 17:15 hrs. for window duties. The purpose of the raid was to make a diversionary sweep over the Ruhr whilst another 74 aircraft (from training squadrons) also lured German night fighters over Northern France to enable 63 Mosquitoes to attack Berlin, another 18 to attack Neuss and a further 3 on "Siren duties".
4 Halifaxes lost and this Fortress on this operation - 34 crew members killed and another 6 being made PoW.
Fortress III HB805 BU-C from 214 Squadron was shot down at 20:08 hrs - 20-30 km West of Dusseldorf airfield by Oblt. Kurt Matzak of Stab IV/NJG1 - a Luftwaffe night fighter ace with 19 kills to his score. He survived the war. No further details available post 1945.
Fortress HB805 was the first aircraft to be intercepted which was attacked resulting in the starboard inner engine on fire and subsequently crashed into the River Niers near Neersen. The survivors were not aware of a night fighter attack and the squadron ORB’s assessed the loss as being caused by an engine fire and not due to "enemy action". Fl/Lt. Leslie Gordon Fowler DFC was injured during the attack, sadly he died later on the 15th March 1945.
F/O. Shorttle and Fl/Lt. Fowler had also completed a tour with 199 Squadron earlier in the war. Both men were part of one of the first crews to operate with 199 after the Squadron had reformed in November 1942 at Blyton. Between 31st December 1942 and the middle of June 1943, Sgt. Shorttle and F/O. Fowler flew 23 operations with 199 from Blyton and Ingham in Vickers Wellington bombers. During this time, they completed eighteen bombing operations (six to Lorient, three to Essen, two to Duisburg, two to Bochum and one each to Cologne, Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Dortmund and Dusseldorf) and five sea mining operations.
Fowler was to continue his tour with 199 after the Squadron had moved to 3 Group and converted to Short Stirling bombers at Lakenheath between June and July 1943. He flew on another four operations between October 1943 and February 1944 consisting of a bombing operation to Kassel, a sea mining operation and two Special Missions.
Sgt. Shorttle was awarded the DFM and P/O Fowler the DFC in September 1943
Right: Fl/Sgt. Edmund Murray Corlett - courtesy Kete Horowhenua "Adopt an Anzac"
(1) Fl/Lt. Frank Richard Woodger survived an earlier incident on 20/21st November 1942 also with 214 Squadron. Stirling I W7584 BU-D on an operation to Torino - crew experienced severe engine problems, on return with very low fuel and bad weather the pilot, 33 year old Fl/Sgt. Edmund Murray Corlett NZ/412207 RNZAF ordered the crew to bale out - which they all did. The pilot is understood to have remained in the aircraft until it crashed at 03:42 hrs at Stradishall, Suffolk, England.
F/O. Joseph Malpass Shorttle DFM. Rheinberg War Cemetery 14.B.6. Son of Joseph and Liza Shorttle, husband of Joan Shorttle, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England.
Fl/Lt. Frank Richard Woodger. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 22. Son of Frank Herbert Stubbs Woodger and Gertrude Woodger, husband of Anne Glenys Woodger, of Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales.
Fl/Lt. Leslie Gordon Fowler DFC. Zuidlaren General Cemetery Plot 1, Row E. Grave 12. Son of George Robson Fowler and Mabel Lilian Fowler, of Worcester Park, Surrey, England.
P/O. Richard William Towell. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 24. Son of William John and Maud Kathleen Towell, husband of Margaret Ruth Towell, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England.
F/O. Kenneth Cecil Allan. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 19. No further information - are you able to assist?
W/O. Francis Herbert Dix MiD. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 18. Son of Herbert George Dix, M.M., and of Ethel Louisa Dix (née Rivett), of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand.
Fl/Sgt. Stanley Llewellyn Jones. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 21. No further information - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Thomas William James Pollard. Rheinberg War Cemetery 6.E. 20. Son of Thomas and Florence Beatrice Pollard, of Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Edmund Murray Corlett. Haverhill Cemetery. Sec U. Grave 245. Son of Murray and Rubina Corlett, of Tokomaru, Wellington, New Zealand.
Researched for Peter Gibson (Retired fire-fighter) for one of his contacts, Douglas Woods within the Fire Service searching for details of his Uncle, F/O. Kenneth Cecil Allan. Sources as quoted below.