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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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463 Squadron Crest
11/12.09.1944 No. 463 Squadron Lancaster I LM242 JO-F F/O. James W. Taylor

Operation: Darmstadt

Date: 11/12th September 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 463 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LM242

Code: JO-F

Base: RAF Waddington

Location: 20-30 Km North West of Target area

Pilot: F/O. James William Taylor AUS/418585 RAAF Age 21. PoW No: 5871 Camp: Interned in camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Harry Meager 1456465 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: F/O. William James Hagan AUS/432160 RAAF Age 21. PoW No: 5464 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Bmr: F/O. Bruce Oliver Thwaite AUS/423353 RAAF Age 21. PoW - Broke spine on landing in a forest - repatriated on 6th February 1945 on the Arundel Castle into Liverpool.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Vincent Gerald Montgomery AUS/423291 RAAF Age 22. PoW No: 795 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan, near Kreulberg

Air/Gnr(Upper): Fl/Sgt. Clive Henry Giles AUS/437917 RAAF Age 19. PoW No: 844 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan, near Kreulberg

Air/Gnr(Tail): Fl/Sgt. Charles Robert Richardson AUS/436701 RAAF Age 31. PoW No: 810. Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan, near Kreulberg

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 21:03 hrs from Waddington. The bombers were mostly all intercepted over the target area at least 15 allied aircraft were shot down and 2 German night fighters were claimed by the bomber gunners a further 3 were shot down by support Mosquitoes.

LM242 was shot down by the German Night fighter ace Lt. Peter Spoden of Stab II./NJG6 at around 9.000 ft. The aircraft crashed at 00:12 hrs at the location shown above. Peter Spoden survived the war.

A letter sent to the family (shown left) was signed by 25 year old, Wing Commander William Alexander Forbes DSO. DFC. 414219 RAAF - who was killed on the 21st February 1945 - shot down by another German night fighter ace, Major Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer. Heinz also survived the war but killed in a car accident in France, 1945.

From David P. Williams' book "Nightfighters" the following is written about Peter and that night:

"While circling the periphery of the city, the difficult task of locating one of the 226 bombers was made easier when one of the Lancasters was caught in the glare of a searchlight 20km north of Darmstadt's centre. Flying at an altitude of 2.400m, the crew of the Lancaster was unaware that a German nightfighter had latched on to them and was now discreetly shadowing their aircraft. This particular Lancaster was on its homeward journey having already dropped its deadly cargo on the city.

The crew, much relieved at having completed the bomb run and now being on their way home, were oblivious to the dark form which was now directly behind them. Positioning his aircraft beneath the Lancaster, an excited Lt. Spoden carefully adjusted the airspeed for his machine to match that of the bomber and opened fire.

The devastating and withering fire from the Ju88's 20mm cannon ripped through the doomed Lancaster setting it on fire and thus sealing its fate. Barely 6 minutes later, at 00:18 hours, Schmiedler, the Funker (radar operator) picked up an echo on his radar screen of an aircraft flying at 3.000m. This machine, identified as another Lancaster, was stalked and then despatched in the same way as its unfortunate predecessor, crashing in flames 30km from Dramstadt”.

No details on how Sgt. Meager was killed - thought possible during the night fighter attack.

Update March 2016:- Barbara Shotliffe contacted us following further information from the Ministry Of Defence:

“A Missing Research And Enquiry Unit was sent to Neu Isenburg (SSE of Frankfurt) to establish the fate and whereabouts of Sgt, Meager. One of the officers interviewed a German policeman who had been called out on the 12th September 1944 to a wooded district just north of the town where he found the body of an airman.

Practically all the bones in the body were broken and there was a bullet wound in the neck. The Luftwaffe authorities were called and items on the body identified those of Sgt. Meager.

Sgt. Meager had been seen to bale out by his fellow crew members but the state of the body would indicate that he had been unable to delay his parachute, probably due to the wound to his neck.

There is no indication that he received this wound on reaching the ground - had there been any evidence of this the RAF investigating officer would have followed the matter up and alerted the War Crimes Investigators.”

Some of the crew further information:

Fl/Sgt. Charles Robert Richardson of 17 Cargill Street, Victoria Park, Western Australia.
F/O. James William Taylor of 27 Allambra Avenue, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Vincent Gerald Montgomery of 47 Eleanor Street, Rose Hill, NSW, Australia.
F/O. Bruce Oliver Thwaite born 02nd December 1923 at Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia.
F/O. William James Hagan born 16th November 1921 at Balmain New South Wales, Australia.

Burial Details:

Sgt. William Harry Meager. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 6.H.3. Son of Harry and Mary Ann Meager, of Ealing, Middlesex, England. The grave inscription reads: ‘Ever In Our Thoughts’.

We would like to thank Barbara Shotliffe relative of "My Bill" and Ian Hutt, "My Bill's" nephew of William Harry Meager and also to Andy Smith from RAF Bomber command web site for recommending that Barbara contacts us with the article. We would also like to thank the webmaster of "Just and ordinary crew” (See link pages) Max is a friend of Peter Spoden. Barbara Shotliffe has also made contact with another member of the crew.

KTY 01.03.2016 Further information added on Sgt. Meager.

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), 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', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 29 February 2016, 20:59

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