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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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61 Squadron Crest
26/27.11.1943 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I DV297 QR-O P/O. Andrew P.E. Strange

Operation: Berlin

Date: 26/27th November 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: DV297

Code: QR-O

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire

Location: Not known - probably Berlin area

Pilot: P/O. Andrew Paul Edmund Strange 155793 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Fl/ Eng: P/O. Charles James Bertram Cogdell 159885 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed

Nav: W/O. II John Blackstock Toombs R/130140 RCAF Age ? Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Denis Henry Calman 130287 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Smith 1139609 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt Edward Francis Johnson 10601041 USAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. James Anthony Stephens J/20202 RCAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Update January 2018: Relatives of the pilot contacted us - details follow.


Took off at 17:20 hrs from RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to bomb Berlin together with a further 442 aircraft.

Most of the Luftwaffe thought the main target had been Frankfurt and were diverted there. They intercepted the bomber stream as it passed with several losses to the allies, over the target itself they were bothered very little by fighters, the main threat were the intensive German radar controlled flak guns and it is thought that DV297 was hit by these as no German claims were made for this Lancaster.

The Luftwaffe were waiting to hit them on the return - a total of 28 aircraft lost with a further 14 crashing over England.

Berlin was hit again and although no accurate figures are available to this raid alone the damage attributed to these and the other 2 earlier raids stood at 104,613 apartments destroyed (417,665 people made homeless) and the death toll on the ground stood at 4,330 people.

Above left: Runnymede Memorial with insert, W/O. II John Blackstock Toombs, Right: Margraten US Military Panels for the missing with insert, Sgt Edward Francis Johnson.

Burial details:

May have originally been buried at Dallgow-Döberitz which was later under USSR occupation. The crew may have been buried in graves marked as 'unknown British Airman' within the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. But this is pure speculation.

P/O. Andrew Paul Edmund Strange. Runnymede Memorial Panel 133. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

P/O. Charles James Bertram Cogdell. Runnymede Memorial Panel 131.Son of Charles and Elizabeth Cogdell, husband of Mary Louise Cogdell, of New Cross, London, England.

W/O. II John Blackstock Toombs. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 7.B.15. Son of Sarah Tombs (née Blackstock) of 20 Ferris Avenue, Mount Zion, Canada. Enlisted in Canada, 1941.

F/O. Denis Henry Calman. Runnymede Memorial Panel 123. Son of Frederick Henry and Lily Emily Elizebeth Calman, of Chalk Farm, London, England.

Sgt. Eric Smith. Runnymede Memorial Panel 165. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt Edward Francis Johnson. Netherlands American Memorial, Wall of the Missing, Margraten. Born January 27th 1918 in the USA. Son of Harold P. and Marion Johnson (née Luey). Husband of Virginia, father to Jacquelene. Joined the 8th USAAF in 1941.

F/O. James Anthony Stephens. Runnymede Memorial Panel 174. Son of Donald and Eva G. Stephens, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada and husband of Irene O. Stephens, of Hamilton, Ontario.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to Gold Star Heroes and Honour Roll for details and photograph of Sgt. Johnson. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below:

KTY - 07.01.2018 Map, further details added

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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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