21/22nd February 1945 No. 35 Squadron Lancaster III ME367 TL-R Fl/Lt. Francis W.G. Tropman DFC
Date: 21/22nd February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 35 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Graveley, Cambridgeshire
Location: Schmitzheide, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Francis William Gordon Tropman DFC. AUS/413453 RAAF Age 31. Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O. R.M. Hallett 188955 RAFVR PoW Injured (2)
Nav: F/O. Robert Thomas Johns DFC. 56093 RAFVR PoW Injured
Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. H.D. Mitchell 163612 RAFVR PoW Injured
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Neil William Curtis DFC. AUS/413745 RAAF PoW Injured (1)
Air/Gnr: P/O. Malcolm Harry McVey AUS/425884 RAAF PoW Injured (2)
Air/Gnr: P/O. Geoffrey John North 173836 RAFVR PoW (3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Graveley at 20:23hrs to bomb Duisburg - some 362 Lancasters with 11 Mosquitoes of 1,6 and 8 Groups on this the last Bomber Command operation of the war to Duisburg - no details, but reports state that it had been a success with much damage caused.
The photographs of the crew members shown below are of the original crew from 35 Squadron. They served two complete tours with Francis Tropman DFC.
Understood to have been shot down by Hptm. Georg Hermann Greiner (4) of IV./NJG1 over Neuss at 23:21 hrs.
Notes: Due to late stage of the war, no PoW details available. We understand some of the crew suffered various injuries during the bale out/landing. P/O. Curtis being repatriated to the RAF hospital in Cosford, Staffordshire on the 6th April 1945 with a fractured right ankle.
Above: Rear of 'Cookie' Paddy Stevens (Air/Gunner from Western Australia), Bill Bullen (Navigator from New South Wales), unknown ground crew, unknown ground crew, Max Ladyman (Air/Gunner) Front: unknown ground crew, unknown ground crew, Ken McGreggor (Flight Engineer from Scotland), Neil Curtis (Wireless operator/Air/Gunner from New South Wales), Frank Tropman (Pilot from New South Wales), unknown ground crew (courtesy Ann Bullen)
L-R, back row: Warrant Officer Ian (Mac) McGregor RAF, engineer, of Eickelfecken, Scotland; 413453 Pilot Officer (later Flight Lieutenant) Francis William Gordon Tropman RAAF, pilot, of NSW; Pilot Officer John Lloyd George Marshal DFC. AUS/415480 RAAF, bombardier, of WA; Wireless Air Gunner Paddy Stevens RAAF, mid-upper gunner of WA; and Wireless Operator, Sergeant, later Flying Officer, Neil William Curtis RAAF, of Bankstown, NSW. Front row: Warrant Officer Maxwell Edwin Ladyman 427333 RAAF, Wireless Air Gunner, rear gunner, of WA (left), and Pilot Officer Raymond William Bullen DFC. AUS/420134 RAAF, navigator, of NSW. (courtesy Australian War Memorial)
Hptm. Georg Hermann Greiner (see Kracker Archive on this site)
(1) P/O. Neil W. Curtis DFC - Born 12th March 1943. Next of kin details: Mrs.L Crowther (Mother - father, James Henry-deceased) 74 Cambridge Street, Stanmore New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted 13th September 1941.
(2) P/O. Malcolm Harry McVey. Born 11th February 1924. Confined to hospital until liberation with P/O. Hallett.
(3) P/O. Geoffrey John North died in 2014. Formerly of 76 Squadron.
(4) Hptm. Georg Hermann Greiner survived the war with 47 abschüsse. Following the conclusion of the War, Greiner and close friend Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer were arrested illegally crossing the German-Swiss border attempting an escape to Argentina. Both Greiner and Schnaufer were detained in an Allied prisoner of war camp and released in 1947. Greiner went on to study law and returned to service in the West German Luftwaffe in 1957, retiring with the rank of Oberstleutnant in 1972. He died on the 22nd September 2014.
DFC Citation for the pilot, Fl/Lt. Francis W.G. Tropman:
'Has completed numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.' Over 62 operational sorties to his credit.
Also lost on this operation from 35 Squadron Lancaster ME335 TL-O Flown by 24 year old, Fl/Lt. John James Osmond DFC. AUS/415177 RAAF - Taken PoW with 5 other crew, 1 killed. It is understood that the pilot was sadly killed in 1946 in January 1946 in a motorcycle accident shortly after returning to Western Australia.
Fl/Lt. Francis William Gordon Tropman DFC and grave (courtesy Ann Bullen)
Pilot originally buried at the Vorst Wald Cemetery, body originally recovered, identified and buried by American Forces - reinterred after war end.
Fl/Lt. Francis William Gordon Tropman DFC. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.B.18. Further information: Bon on 24th November 1913. Son of Francis William and Cathrine Jane Tropman, husband of Rosemary Florence Tropman, of 15 Ireton Street, Malabar, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: ‘His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Remembered.’ Carpenter prior to enlisting on the 17th August 1941 in Sydney, New South Wales.
For further details our thanks to Ann Bullen - daughter of the Navigator for original crew for Lancaster ME637 P/O. R.W. Bullen. Thanks also to the sources quoted below.