25/26.07.1944 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster III LM386 AS-V F/O. Bernard T. Singleton
Date: 25/26th July 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 166 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire
Location: Between Aubigny and Taingy, France.
Pilot: F/O. Bernard Townsend Singleton 171643 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Welsh 1810864 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: F/O. Herbert Sidney William Blaber 152948 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Stanley Kenneth Shrives 147118 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor John Badger 1581501 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Fitzpatrick 1671698 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick William Fisher 1896156 RAFVR Age 33. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:25 hrs from RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire, joining 412 Lancasters and 138 Halifaxes on the continued attack on Stuttgart (3 heavy raids in 5 nights of operations). Bomb load for the 166 Squadron Lancasters - 1 x 2,000 lb. H.C. and 12 x 'J' type cluster bombs.
These raids are described as causing the most serious damage of the war on the city. Most of Stuttgart's public and cultural buildings were destroyed. This second raid being the most successful. Total casualties during these raids amounted to 1,171 people killed with a further 1,600 injured.
The German early warning radars followed the bomber stream the complete route from the Thames to the target. Starting their attacks just after they crossed into France with the Luftwaffe fighters based at Chateaudun and Paris intercepting the first of the bombers over the area of Chateaudun/Orléans.
It is thought "probable" that Lancaster LM386 was shot down by Oblt. Herbert Schulte zur Surlage (1) of 5./NJG4 at 00:41 hrs. Combat taking place at 4,000 mts. over the St. Sauveur area. Shortly after he was hit by return fire (possibly from LM386 gunners) and he and his crew baled out from their Ju88 G-1.
The allies lost 15 aircraft on this night. 48 aircrew were killed, 26 managed to evade capture with 10 being made pow.
166 Squadron lost another aircraft this night, Lancaster JB649 AS-Z. A very experienced crew with at least 28 sorties flown. F/O. Cann DFC. and his crew all escaped capture, arriving at Middle Wallop, England on the 8th September 1944 thanks to the assistance of the resistance and No. 1 Squadron SAS.
(1) This was Oblt. Herbert Schulte zur Surlage 2nd and final Abschüsse of the war. His other kill, Halifax NP687 from 432 squadron, also on this nights operation.
He was wounded on the 9/10th February 1945 in a crash landing at Vechta airfield on return from a sortie with damage to his aircraft. In June 2016 we heard from his son, Michael who explained that after the war and release from the PoW camp he returned home to become a farmer. He passed away on the 09th December 1980 leaving two sons and a daughter.
F/O. Bernard Townsend Singleton. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Fred Townsend Singleton and Martha Singleton, of Prestwich, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Welsh. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of David Charles and Margaret Welsh, of Winchmore Hill, Middlesex, England.
F/O. Herbert Sidney William Blaber. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Blaber, of Willesden, Middlesex, England.
F/O. Stanley Kenneth Shrives. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Charles Shrives, and of Hilda Emmeline Shrives, of Sutton, Surrey, England. Cornwell Scout.
Sgt. Victor John Badger. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of Henry Alfred and Alice Mary Badger, of Upton Snodsbury, Worcestershire, England.
Sgt. James Fitzpatrick. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Collective Grave 2-6. Son of John and Anastasia Fitzpatrick, of Knotty Ash, Liverpool, England.
Sgt. Frederick William Fisher. Taingy Communal Cemetery. Grave 7. Son of John and Edith Fisher; husband of Martha Fisher, of Dodworth, Yorkshire, England.
Researched for and with valued information from Mr. Dennis and Mr Ronald Blaber brothers of F/O. Herbert S.W. Blaber. With thanks to sources as quoted below. Also thanks to Michael Schulte zur Surlage, son of the Luftwaffe pilot who contacted us in June 2016.