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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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115 Squadron Crest
14/15.02.1945 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III LM725 KO-X F/O. 'Ted' Slogrove

Operation: Chemnitz

Date: 14/15th February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM725

Code: KO-X

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 ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Sanderson 1589903 RAFVR Age ? 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)

Burial details:

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.

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 in approximately 1911.

Sgt. Gerald Sanderson. Haveluy Communal Cemetery, France. Collective Grave. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?

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.

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. Further information courtesy sources shown below.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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