11/12.09.1944 No. 463 Squadron Lancaster I LM242 JO-F F/O. James W. Taylor
Date: 11/12th September 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 463 Squadron (RAAF)
Type: Lancaster I
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. Repatriated (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Vincent Gerald Montgomery AUS/423291 RAAF Age 22. PoW No: 795 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)
Air/Gnr(Upper): Fl/Sgt. Clive Henry Giles AUS/437917 RAAF Age 19. PoW No: 844 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)
Air/Gnr(Tail): Fl/Sgt. Charles Robert Richardson AUS/436701 RAAF Age 31. PoW No: 810. Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)
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. William James Hagan born 16th November 1921 at Balmain New South Wales, Australia.
(1) F/O. Bruce Oliver Thwaite born 2nd December 1923 at Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. F/O Thwaite broke his spine on landing in a forest. The injuries left him a paraplegic and he was repatriated on the 6th February 1945 on the Arundel Castle to Liverpool.
He first represented Australia at the 1957 Stoke Mandeville International Games in Archery. At the 1962 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in Perth he won 2 Swimming Golds, a Weightlifting Silver and a Javelin Bronze. He captained the Tokyo Paralympics in 1964 and competed in swimming and weightlifting. Won a Gold and a Silver for Lawn Bowls in 1974 at New Zealand Commonwealth Para-Games in Dunedin. Won a Silver at Toronto 1976 for the pairs Lawn Bowls. Bruce died aged 67 years on the 21st September 1991, Shoal Bay NSW, Australia.
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. Thanks to Judy Richards for the information for F/O Thwaite.