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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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408 Squadron Crest
27/28.01.1944 408 Squadron Lancaster II DS710 EQ-A Sqn.Ldr. Charles W. Smith DFC

Operation: Berlin

Date: 27/28th January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 408 Squadron (Goose) RCAF

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS710

Code: EQ-A

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: Urftalsperre near Germünd, Germany

Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Charles Woodward Smith DFC J/8371 RCAF Age 26. Killed

Pilot 2: Fg.Off. Hugh Ross Wilson J/23525 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Morley Frederick Roy Sorton 1616880 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: Fg.Off. Dennis Macdonald Sim J/22205 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fg.Off. John Dargavel Teskey J/14747 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fg.Off. Thomas Kenneth Canning J/16816 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. Clarence William Frauts J/86319 RCAF Age 27. Killed

Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. James Gordon Bennett J/19011 RCAF Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire at 17:47 hrs. In all 515 Lancasters together with 15 Mosquitoes were committed to the raid on this night.

A diversionary minelaying operation had some effect in drawing off half of the night fighter defences but the remainder was sent up earlier than normal flying out 75 miles over the North Sea from the Dutch coast to meet the oncoming bomber stream.

In the city itself a further 567 people were killed including 132 foreign workers. 20,000 people were bombed out of their homes. The city was covered in cloud and sky marking had to be used. No assessment of the raid was possible by Bomber Command except that the bombing was widely spread. Local reports confirmed that some 61 small towns and villages outside the city were hit with 18 being killed.

Flying Bf110G G9+ML S/No: 740062 Oblt. Werner Baake (1) of 3.NGJ1 intercepted this Lancaster to the South West of Aachen at 22:50 hrs but during the combat he collided with his target. He managed to leave his aircraft with no injuries but his Bordfunker (W/Op) Sgt. Heinz Waldbauer was killed during the collision.

(1) Hptm. Werner Baake survived the war with a total of forty one abschüsse and became a flight captain with Lufthansa. He was killed in an car accident at Heilsbronn on the 15th July 1964. (Information courtesy Kracker Archives on this website)

Others lost from 408 Squadron on this operation:

Lancaster II DS709 EQ-P Flown by Fl/Lt. Eldon Eastham Kearl DFC J/18810 RCAF - Killed with 6 other crew, one taken PoW.
Lancaster II DS849 EQ-X Flown by 23 year old, Fl/Lt. Sven Roy Walfrid Laine DFC J/18786 RCAF from Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada - killed with all other 7 crew members.

The following is an extract from a report by Flt.Lt. Hirth of No.4 MREU dated 13th September 1946:

Flt.Lt. Hirth, as instructed, proceeded to Wollseifen (Eifel) in order to investigate Casualty Enquiry No. G 688.

The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter in the vicinity of Wollseifen late in the even of 27th January 1944. During the attack the two aircraft collided and it appears the Lancaster broke up in the air leaving a trail of components over 1 ½ miles long. The main fuselage came down in the Walbich Tal approximately 1 mile from Urftalsperre (Eifel). Most of the remaining parts were later salvaged by the Luftwaffe.

None of the crew members appear to have been able to bale out. Seven bodies had been found by searchers. The crew were initially laid to rest at the Comrades Grave, Wollseifen Communal Cemetery, Grave No.1 Field No.4, on the 29th January 1944. A Herr J. Brull who took part in the actual internment, stated that as the coffins were not ready, the corpses were wrapped in heavy paper. A report was made to the Mayor in Gemund which was unfortunately destroyed when the Town Hall was burnt down during the ensuring land fighting. Stadt Obersekretaer, Dr. Putser, who was already in office at the time of the crash, remembers that the report mentioned seven fliers.

Herr J. Brull stated further that all bodies were interred in one grave, with the exception of the one found later, and that two crosses were put up as the name of only one flier was known, that of Sqn.Ldr. Smith, whose name was supplied by the officer from the Luftwaffe station Hangelar who had also removed all papers found on the bodies.

An eighth body was found in the woods near the crash site months later and was interred in a separate grave enjoining the communal grave on the 22nd April 1944. The body found later was identified by the local authorities as Fg.Off. John D. Tesky and that his papers were also forwarded to Hangelar.

Burial details:

Sqn.Ldr. Charles Woodward Smith DFC. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.13. Son of Charles Thomas Smith and Dorothy Florence Smith, of Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Our Son Liveth Evermore.”

Sqn.Ldr. Smith was awarded the DFC whilst with 408 Sqn and was gazetted on the 22nd February 1944.

The Citation reads: “This officer has completed -very many sorties, including attacks on most of the enemy's well defended targets. He has invariably displayed skill and courage of a high order and his determination to achieve success has won great praise. He is a most efficient flight commander, whose leadership has been most inspiring”.

Fg.Off. Hugh Ross Wilson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.15. Son of Frederick Alfred and Alice Beatrice Wilson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “In God’s Garden Of Memory We Meet Every Day.”

Sgt. Morley Frederick Roy Sorton. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.E.9-10. No further details - are you able to assist?

Fg.Off. Dennis Macdonald Sim. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.12. Son of Arthur and Dorothy (née Porter) brother to Griselda, from Toronto, Canada. Inducted at No. 1 Manning Depot Toronto. Induction training in Toronto. Initial flying training on Avro Ansons at RCAF Ancienne Lorette, Quebec (now Quebec International Airport).

Fg.Off. John Dargavel Teskey. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.16. Son of the Revd. Ernest Teskey and Mary Robertson Dargavel Teskey, of Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Your Memory Hallowed In The Land That You Loved.”

Fg.Off. Thomas Kenneth Canning. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.11. Son of James E. Canning and Alice V. Canning, of Dunchurch, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Till We Meet In That Better World.”

Plt.Off. Clarence William Frauts. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Joint grave 4.E.9-10. Son of William Arnold and Mary Ellen Frauts, of Trenton, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Dearly Beloved Son Of William, Mary Ellen Frauts of Trenton, Ontario, Canada.”

Plt.Off. James Gordon Bennett. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 14.E.14. Son of James Henry and Annie Myrtle Bennett, of Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “From Carleton Place, Ontario He Came. Tranquil May You Sleep Dear Son.”

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Harry Nash, cousin of F/O. Dennis Macdonald Sim who contacted us in October 2016. Thanks to John Smith for the extract from the No.4 MREU report. Further sources as shown below.

21.11.2019 - Inclusion of MREU information and editorial update

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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