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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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No.408 Squadron R.C.A.F.

27/28.07.1943 No.408 Squadron Halifax II DT749 Fl/Lt. Stovel

Mission: Hamburg

Date: 27/28 July 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 408 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: DT749

Code: EQ-O

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire.

Location: Meezen, 15kms west of Neumunster, Germany.

Pilot: F/L Clifford Campbell Stovel DFC, J/16835 RCAF Age 25 Killed (1)

2nd. Pilot: F/S Joseph Renee Alexis Le Blanc, R/115974 RCAF Age Unknown Killed

Flt. Eng: Sgt. John Henry Borley, J/18209 RCAF PoW No.222459 Stalag 4B Muhlberg
(Elbe)

Nav: P/O John Edward Bemister, J/17735 RCAF PoW No.1938 Stalag Luft L3 Sagan and
Belaria

Air/Bmr: F/L George Horne McDougal, 143982 RAFVR Age 28 Killed

W/Op: P/O William Gordon James Richardson, J/17693 RCAF PoW No.2024 Stalag Luft L3 Sagan and Belaria

Air/Gnr: P/O Elbert Frank Parker, J/18313 RCAF Age 33 Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: F/O Howard William McDonald, J/12329 RCAF Age 29 Killed

(1) Stovel Lake in Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta is named after F/L Stovel.
(2) Parker Peninsula on Spencer Lake, Manitoba is named after P/O Parker.





REASON FOR LOSS

In the spring of 1943, Sir Arthur Harris began preparations for a series of heavy bombing raids on Hamburg. Not only was the city an important industrial centre for armaments and other factories producing vital supplies for the war effort but was the largest port and dockyard facility in Europe. As Germany's second largest city, it was home to a civilian population of almost two million people.

Operation Gomorrah began on the 24 July and ended on 3 August 1943. During that span the R.A.F conducted four night time raids and the U.S.A.A.F two during daylight hours. In total 3,091 aircraft delivered 9000 tons of bombs. The whole city was almost entirely consumed in the ensuing firestorm killing over 42,000 inhabitants who could not escape the searing heat and lack of oxygen from the raging fire. Another 37,000 were injured and a million more fled the city and the destruction which left more than half of the cities dwellings in ruins.

On the night of 27/28 July, 787 aircraft were dispatched with 729 reaching the target area dropping 2,326 tons of bombs. Seventeen aircraft failed to return well below the expected loss rate due to a large part by the use of "window" - thin aluminum strips dropped by the bomber force, which confused the German radar defences. Of the seventeen, thirteen were victims of the Luftwaffe night fighters.

F/L Stovel and crew took off from Leeming at 22:30 hours. At 01:15 hours they were intercepted and shot down by Gefr. Siegfried Konig of 9./NGJ3 from a height of 6000 meters. The Halifax crashed at Meezen, 15 kilometers west of Neumunster some 60 kilometers north of the target.

Burial Details:

F/L Clifford Campbell Stovel DFC, Hamburg Cemetery, Collective Grave 6A.D.8-10. Son of Reginald Campbell Stovel and Lorine

Stovel of Calgary, Alberta; husband of Pamela Mary (nee Hamilton) Stovel, of Harrow, Middlesex.
Further details:
After enlisting at Calgary in February 1941 he was posted to No.2 ITS, Regina graduating in June of that year. Eight weeks later after being posted to No.16 Elementary Flying Training School at Edmonton he was assigned to No.10 Service Flying Training School at Dauphin, Manitoba.
Just three weeks prior to being lost, F/L Stovel had been awarded his DFC. His citation in the 6 July 1943 edition of the London Gazette reads:
This officer has completed many sorties including attacks on well defended targets in the Ruhr. He is a skillful and enterprising captain whose example has proved inspiring. One night in April 1943, he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Duisberg. Whilst over the target
area one engine became unserviceable but in spite of this Pilot officer Stovel pressed home a vigorous attack. Immediately afterwards the bomber was hit by anti aircraft fire and temporarily went out of control, losing considerable height. Pilot Officer Stovel skillfully regained control, however, and eventually flew the aircraft to base. He displayed great skilland coolness in the face of a most trying situation.


F/S Joseph Renee Alexis Le Blanc, Hamburg Cemetery, Collective Grave 6A.D.8-10. Husband of Mrs.J. Le Blanc of Campbellton New Brunswick, Canada.

F/L George Horne McDougal, Hamburg Cemetery, Collective Grave 6A.D.8-10. Son of George Horne and Elizabeth McDougal of Edinburgh.

P/O Elbert Frank Parker, Hamburg Cemetery, Collective Grave 6A.D.8-10. Son of William John and Elizabeth Jane (nee Green) Parker of St.Claude, Manitoba, Canada.
Further details:
Upon enlisting in October 1940, he complete his initial training at No.1 ITS, Toronto and from there went for Service Flying Training at Camp Borden and Calgary. He then graduated from No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School, MacDonald, Manitoba before being posted to England in September 1941.

F/O Howard William McDonald, Hamburg Cemetery, Grave 6A.D.11. Son of William and Caroline (nee Banks) McDonald; husband of Helen Bruce (nee Dowdell) McDonald of London, Ontario, Canada.

Researched and written for Aircrew Remembered by Colin Bamford and dedicated to the families of the crew of Halifax DT749.


References

Boiten, Dr. Theo W.R. Nachtjagd War Diaries Vol.1. Walton on Thames: Red Kite, 2008.

Chorley, W.R. Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War Vol.4 1943. Hinckley: Midland, 2007.

Middlebrook, Martin and Chris Everett. The Bomber Command War Diaries. Hinckley: Midland, 2011.

A Place of Honour. Winnipeg: Manitoba Conservation, 2002.

Stovel & LeBlanc photographs courtesy of and copied from Veterans Affairs Canada website.

CHB 11.10.2019 Reformatted and links to place names added

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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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