15/16.09.1943 428 Squadron Halifax V lk913 NA-N W/Cdr. D.W.M. Smith
Operation: Dunlop rubber factory - Montlucon, France
Date: 15/16th September 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 428 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Middleton St. George
Location: Tronçais Forest near Cérilly, France
Pilot: W/Cdr. D.W.M. Smith 41483 RAFVR Pow No: 2541 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Pilot 2: P/O. E.N. Bell J/2458 RCAF Pow No: 3341 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Heyworth 976348 RAF Evaded capture (1)
Nav: Fl/Lt. Edgar Bohun Mason J/7777 RCAF Evaded capture (2)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Harry Dereniuk J/16840 RCAF Pow No: 2524 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Richard O. Malins 53558 RAFVR Pow No: 558 Camp: 357 - Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr (M/U): P/O. J.M. Nelmes R/92464 RCAF Evaded capture (3)
Air/Gnr (rear): Fl/Lt. John Murray Forman J/15236 RCAF Injured - Evaded capture (4)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Middleton St. George at 19:58 hrs joining some 368 aircraft from 3, 4, 6 and 8 Groups made up from 209 Halifaxes, 120 Stirlings, 40 Lancasters with 5 USAAF B-17’s also taking part.
The weather was good the night of 15th with 6/10 cloud at height of 9,000/10,000 ft over the target area and all debriefing reports confirmed a successful operation, with little enemy opposition.
The target was indicated with marker flares previously dropped by Pathfinders. Bomber crews debriefing reports state that crews observed markers through gap in clouds and bombed through this gap. Observed large and well concentrated fire in the shape of a factory building. Reports state that all buildings within the factory were hit with a large fire also started.
Four aircraft were lost during this operation, the others:
10 Squadron Halifax II HR920 ZA-L Flown by 22 year old Sgt. James Miller Dunlop from Glasgow, Scotland - killed 3 other crew, 2 PoW, with 1 other evading capture.
15 Squadron Stirling III BF569 LS-V Flown by 30 year old W/O. Alexander William Niall from New Zealand - killed with all other 6 crew.
427 Squadron Halifax V DK253 ZL-M Flown by 22 year old Sgt. Alexander Chibanoff from Alberta, Canada - killed with all 6 other crew
It is understood that after dropping their bomb load, LK913 was over the target when it was hit by incendiary bombs dropped by a Stirling flying above them. Two of the crew, Fl/Lt. Mason and P/O. Malins escaped by parachute the others remained in the aircraft which the pilot, W/Cdr. Smith managed to crash land the Halifax V onto a then young tree plantation in the forest of Tronçais near Sérilly, France.
With the assistance from the French Resistance all but 4 of the crew managed to evade capture and return to England.
Left: Memorial to the crew (courtesy Claude Virlogeux)
Locals, with the valuable assistance of researchers René Chambareau and Claude Grimaud, erected a fine memorial to the lucky crew at the chapel of St. Mayeul which was unveiled on the 15th September 2001. Further details of this can be read on the website of Claude Virlogeux.
Fl/Lt. Edgar Mason escaped from an earlier crash with a 405 Squadron Halifax II BB216 LQ-D on the 1st September 1942.
(1) Sgt Heyworth - returned to UK - 16th November 1943 promoted to P/O. 157454, with effect from 20th August 1943 - died 25th November 1943.
(2) Fl/Lt. Mason - returned to UK - 20th September 1944 (Squadron Navigation leader) Born 14th August 1914. Died in 2002.
(3) P/O. Nelmes - returned to UK - 20th September 1944
(4) Fl/Lt. Forman - returned to UK - 16th November 1943 - DFC Awarded on 17th July 1945 (Squadron Gunnery leader)
Fl/Lt. Edgar Mason shown here (3rd from right) with the crew of 405 Squadron Halifax II BB216 LQ-D (courtesy Lynn Tarzwell (née Mason)
Aircrew Remembered recommend reading further comprehensive information on the crew evasion/imprisonment from the publications, ‘RAF Evaders’ - Oliver Clutton-Brock ISBN: 978-1906502171 - Published by Grub Street - 2009. ’Footprints on the Sands of Time’ - Oliver Clutton-Brock ISBN: 978-1904010357 - Published by Grub Street 2003.
Although all the crew survived this operation, tragically Sgt Heyworth died less than two weeks later after his return to the UK - on the 25th November 1943 of, we understand, pneumonia.
Sgt. Charles Heyworth. Brighton (Woodpile) Crematorium. Son of Pte. Charles Heyworth, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regt. (Killed in action in France, 23rd March, 1918), and Margaret Elizabeth Heyworth, of St. Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire, husband of Vera Elsie Heyworth, of St. Annes-on-Sea, England.
Left: Wall inscription to P/O. Heyworth at Brighton (Woodpile) Crematorium
For further details our thanks to the following, Claude Virlogeux. Lynn Tarzwell (née Mason) daughter of Fl/Lt. Mason. Oliver Clutton-Brock - 'Footprints On The Sands Of Time'. 'RAF Evaders' Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page.