18/19th November 1943 90 Squadron Stirling III LK379 P/O. Simpson
Date: 18/19th November 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 90 Squadron (motto: Celer - 'Swift'). 3 Group.
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk
Location: Lampertheim, Germany
Pilot: P/O. Ross McCulloch Simpson Aus/415279 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Douglas Leon Hollamby 1624700 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
Nav: F/O. Donald Arthur Brown 133716 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. David Edward Blain 55025 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher NZ/39590 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Leonard William Heason Aus/415531 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Whitton Sykes 1239644 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Page sponsored by Jackie Cassidy - relative of Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher
Anzac aDay 2021
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17:18 hrs to bomb Mannheim-Ludwigshafen. 395 aircraft taking part with 23 failing to return. The main operation was to Berlin with 440 aircraft and this was a diversionary raid. There was cloud cover over the target and bombing was scattered as a result. Most of the damage fell to the north of the town, where the Daimler Benz car plant suffered a 90% loss in production as a result. 21 deaths on the ground and 7500 people were bombed out of their homes.
The planned route and return: RAF Tuddenham - Beachy Head - Cayeux - Target - Beachy Head - RAF Tuddenham.
They were expected to return to base at around 23:00 hrs. At 20:44 hrs they were coned by searchlights and shot down by Oblt. Martin Becker (1) of Stab I./NJG 6, flying Bf 110 G-4 2Z+HB from the Mainz-Finthen airfield.
Following post war enquiries in 1947 by No. 16 section Missing Research and Enquiry Unit it was established that LK379 attempted to make a forced landing on Biedesand Island and that it had been previously damaged. The Stirling collided with a tree and exploded scattering wreckage over a wide area. Local eye witnesses stated that the rear turret was found some 500 yards away with the body of Fl/Sgt. Sykes inside. The Luftwaffe from Sandhoven buried five bodies at the Lampertheim Cemetery.
In 1950, following exhumation of graves in Lampertheim Cemetery, the remains of Flight Sergeant Sykes, Flight Sergeant Ussher, and Flight Sergeant Heason were identified. The other four crew members have no 'known' grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Surrey.
Th squadron lost another crew on the operation: Stirling III EH996 WP-H Flown by Fl/Lt. Leonard Anthony Smith AUS/416521 RAAF. 7 crew were killed (including the 2nd pilot) with 1 other taken PoW. Further details here.
(1) This was the second claim of the war. He was one of the most successful night fighter pilot of the war with 58 claims. Born on the 12th April 1916 in Wiesbaden. Thought to have flown approximately 110 combat operations. He survived the war and passed away on the 08th February 2006 in in Oberneisen. Information courtesy of the Kracker Archive.
P/O. Ross McCulloch Simpson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 191. Born on the 03rd July 1921 in Sydney. Enlisted on the 17th August 1941 at Perth. Son of Alexander Edward Nicholl Simpson and Rita Prudence Simpson, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Douglas Leon Hollamby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 155. No further details, are you able to assist?
F/O. Donald Arthur Brown. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of Frank William and Annie Margaret Brown, of Silsoe, Bedfordshire, England.
F/O. David Edward Blain. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of John Clark Blain and Amelia Lowe Blain
Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.11. Born on the 07th May 1919 at Auckland. Worked as a farmer on his fathers farm at Piha. Enlisted at Ohakea on the 20th September 1939.Embarked for Canada on the 27th April 1942. Awarded his wireless operators badge and promoted to sergeant on the. On the 26th January 1943 embarked for England. Joined 90 squadron on the 10th September 1943 from 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit. Son of Neville Claude Ussher, and of Dulcie May Ussher (nee Yearbury), of Piha, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 263 flying hours logged and on his 6th operational sortie.
F/O. Leonard William Heason. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.12. Born on the 09th July 1922 in Perth. Prior to service worked as a bank clerk. Enlisted on the 09th November 1941. Son of Percy Charles and Lucy Heason, of Mount Hawthorne, Western Australia. Grave inscription: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun We Will Remember Him'.
Fl/Sgt. Eric Whitton Sykes. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.10. Son of Sam and Lizzie Sykes, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jackie Cassidy, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below: