14/15.02.1945 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III LM725 KO-X F/O. Slogrove
Date: 14/15th February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 115 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire
Location: Haveluy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Pilot: F/O. ‘Ted’ Edward Arthur Slogrove 137392 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Stanley Roydon Booker 1615924 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Freakes 1604876 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. ‘Sonny’ Francis Joseph Hegan 163723 RAFVR Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Sanderson 1589903 RAFVR Age 33. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Davies 2205993 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Ivor Peter Eckford 2225711 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Left RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire at 20:37 hrs. to bomb Chemnitz as part of the "Operation Thunderclap" (1) 717 aircraft from 1,3,4,6 and 8 group taking part.
The bombing was hampered by cloud, even though very little is available as to the results of the raid many parts of the city were hit. Although the majority of the bombs fell in open country.
The diversionary tactics used by the allies resulted in few aircraft losses, 13 in total during the Chemnitz raid.
Lancaster LM725 crashed near Haveluy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France at 02:25 hrs. No claims have been found by the Luftwaffe night fighters. However, locals witnessed the aircraft with at least 3 engines on fire, flying very low over the village, they reported that the crew seem to be trying to fly the aircraft away from the populated areas.
(1) "Operation Thunderclap" - In August 1944 plans were drawn for an operation code named Thunderclap but it was shelved and never implemented. The plan envisaged a massive attack on Berlin that would cause 220,000 casualties with 110,000 killed, many of them key German personnel, which would shatter German morale. But on consideration it was decided that it was unlikely to work, so it was shelved.
The plan was reconsidered in early 1945, to be implemented in coordination with a Soviet advance, but again was rejected again as impractical, and instead a number of coordinated smaller attacks against cities in the communications zone of the Eastern Front, through which key routes to the east converged, were chosen. The cities designated as choke points where the bombing would be most effective were Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig. Intensive bombing of these targets was carried out with the intention of disrupting the rear areas of the German Eastern Front lines, to aid the Soviets advance as had been requested by the Soviets at the Yalta Conference. These raids were large ones, but were not the massive raids envisaged in the original Thunderclap plan. (Information courtesy Wikipedia)
F/O. Edward Arthur Slogrove. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Son of Percy Clifford and Violet May (nee Morley) Slogrove of Wandsworth, London, England. Known as “Ted” he was born in Wandsworth, London 1918. Married Isobel Bekker in South Africa, had a son, Anthony Peter.
Sgt. Raymond Stanley Roydon Booker. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Son of Mr and Mrs H.C.Booker of Hertford and husband of May Booker of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, England. Grave inscription reads: "Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Me, Let Me Hide Myself In Thee".
Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Freakes. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Further information: Son of Herbert and Violet Freakes of West Ewell, Surrey, England. Kenneth Freakes was born in Farnham, Surrey in 1924 and lived in Ewell, Surrey. An only child, his closest friend at home was his cousin, they grew up like brothers.
The story in the family is that when the crew were shot down, the first people to reach the plane were members of the resistance who had radioed London details of the plane so that they would know who were lost. After the war the family kept in touch with Marie Louise Monnez and her husband Gabriel Thurett (the members of the French Resistance from Haveluys, near Lille). Whilst Fl/Sgt's Freakes father, Bert was on a visit to France to visit his sons’ grave, he suffered a heart attack. Marie Louise Monnez gained permission for him to be buried in the Thurette family plot so that he could be near to his son.
F/O. Francis Joseph Hegan. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Son of William and Mary Hegan, grandson of William and Emily Hegan and older brother of Ronald William A. Hegan. Known as “Sonny” he was born in Deolali, Bombay, India in approximately 1911.
Sgt. Gerald Sanderson. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Born on the 15th December 1911 in Hull. Gerald was married on 2nd October 1941 to a Nancy Hair at St Charles Catholic Church, Kingston upon Hull, England. Grave inscription reads: "Beloved Husband Of Nancy Devoted Father Of Robin Remembered With Love, Gratitude And Pride".
Mr. G. Robin Sanderson contacted Linda in March 2018 and added these details:
"The family moved to Bridlington in 1922, where my Father attended Bridlington Grammar School until 1927.
On leaving school he joined his Father's house building business. When his Father died in 1935 he took over the business continuing to build in Bridlington until the outbreak of war.
Left: Sgt. Gerald Sanderson holding his son, Robin Sanderson, September 1944
From the start of the war he was in a requisitioned trade building air raid shelters in Hull, where he met my Mother in 1940. They married in 1941.
My Father volunteered in 1943 and indeed his first operational flight was the one on which he was killed.
My Mother, who died in 2001, left an archive of papers. Most moving is an initial letter she received from Marie Louise Monnez, the Red Cross Rep in Haveluy, describing the night of the crash, when the plane avoided the village but exploded instantly on reaching ground and the care the locals took in their tender regard for the shattered remains of the crew.
The authorities eventually agreed that the remains should be buried in the local cemetery at Haveluy, which took place with great dignity and ceremony on the 15th February 1946. The War Graves Commission erected 7 grave stones.
In 1947 my mother and I, aged 3, visited Haveluy and stayed with Marie Louise. In 2000 my wife and I together with our two sons visited the grave and learned that Marie Louise had died.
In 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary, the family attended the remembrance service in Whitehall and my elder son and I took part in the march past. I also arranged for the new gravestone and inscription, which my wife, younger son and I visited in 2016".
Sgt. Leslie Davies. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Robert Ivor Peter Eckford. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. Son of Robert D.S. and Violette M. Eckford of Formby, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Ego Autem In Innocentia Mea Ingressus Sum: Redime Me, Et Miserere Mei".
Researched by Aircrew Remembered volunteer, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks to Beryl Lock, cousin, for info and photos on Fl/Sgt. Freakes and to Brenda and Geraldine Hegan, cousin of F/O. Hegan for family information. Also to Colin Fisher who contacted us with details on Sgt. Anderson - January 2018. Also to G. Robin Sanderson, son of Sgt. Sanderson who made contact also in January 2018. Further information courtesy sources shown below.