16/17.03.1945 No. 103 Squadron Lancaster I NG492 PM-D Fl/Lt. Stepharnoff
Date: 16/17th March 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 103 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Elsham Wolds
Location: Target area
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Arthur Lloyd Stepharnoff J/87987 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Grant 1822048 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: P/O. Harry Kenneth Stott 190000 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Rowland Ira Parks J/95585 RCAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Alan Davies 1589151 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Whitehead 1511705 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Wilkinson 149065 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17:14 hrs from RAF Elsham Wolds with warnings of heavy flak and fighters. It was laden with 2154 gallons of fuel, with a Bomb load of 1 x 4000lb. 9 x 140 x 4lb. incendiary plus 1 x Monroe - leaflets.
231 Lancasters of 1 Group, 46 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitoes from 8 group took part on the last Bomber Command raid on this city.
The raid hit the southern and south western districts as well as the ruins of Alstadt which had been destroyed on a previous raid. A serious fire erupted in the Steinbuhl district and the railway station was also hit. The gasworks were so seriously damaged that it did not resume production before war's end. 529 people were killed on the ground.
Records for night fighter claims for this period of the war have been largely lost.
The Squadron lost 3 aircraft on this operation, the others:
Lancaster I NM758 PM-S Flown by 21 year old, Fl/Lt. Alastair Clarence Watt J/89387 RCAF - killed with 5 other crew, 1 survived as a PoW.
Lancaster I ME848 PM-E Flown by F/O. E.W. Armour taken PoW with 5 other crew. 1 other lost his life.
No definitive night fighter claims for Lancaster NG492, however Rod Mackenzie the co-author of the Nightfighter War Diaries wrote to me:
"NG492 crashed within 1,000 metres of the village of Oberdachstetten, which itself is 16 km NW of Ansbach. The Lancaster presumably broke up/exploded in mid-air since one witness stated wreckage was found over a wide area of 6 - 7 kilometres and one engine landed in a nearby forest.
The body of Fl/Lt. Stepharnoff was found within 500 yards of the main point of impact of the Lancaster".
Fl/Lt. Arthur Lloyd Stepharnoff. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 11.J.16. Son of William Allen Stepharnoff and Eva Mary Stepharnoff, of Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "The Lord Is My Shepherd; I Shall Not Want" Psalm Xxiii.1".
Left: RAF Elsham Wolds Memorial
Sgt. John Grant. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. Son of Robert Fraser Grant and Margaret McInnes Grant, of Glasgow, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "In The Morning And At The Going Down Of The Sun We Will Remember Him".
P/O. Harry Kenneth Stott. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. No further details - are you able to assist?
P/O. Rowland Ira Parks. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. Son of Rowland and Alma Claudine Parks (née Custer), of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Parks Island, Saskatchewan in Palmer Lake was need after P/O. Rowland Parks.
Fl/Sgt. Alan Davies. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. No further details - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Whitehead. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. Son of Wilfrid and Maggie Whitehead, of Leigh, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Remember Him".
F/O. Robert Wilkinson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave 11.J.17-20. Son of Harry and Isabella Murray Wilkinson, of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "The Afterglows Gleam With The Glory Of Treasured And Sweet Memories".
Researched for Ron Wright - nephew of the pilot, Fl/Lt. Stepharnoff and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.