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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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218 Squadron Crest
04/05.05.1943 No. 218 Squadron Stirling III BF505 HA-Z Fl/Lt. Wilbur L.Turner

Operation: Dortmund Germany

Date: 04/05th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 218 Squadron

Type: Stirling MkIII

Serial: BF505

Code: HA-Z

Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk

Location: Murmerwoude (Friesland) Holland

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Wilbur Lewis Turner J/8378 RCAF Age 28. Killed

2nd Pilot: Sgt. Frank Norman Robinson 1094894 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Norman Forth 1329885 RAF Age 32. Killed

Nav: Sgt. John L White 926552 RAF PoW No: 1165 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

Air/Bmr: P/O. Philip S Beck 116535 RAF PoW No: 1254 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagen and Belaria.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Mitchell Jobling Smith 636817 RAF (Initially evaded) Pow No: 222555 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg (Elbe)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Allan Hinshelwood 550977 RAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert Ward Sawkings 1322090 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 22:40 hrs from RAF Downham Market in Norfolk to attack Dortmund - 596 aircraft taking part in the largest non 1000 bomber raid of the war to date.

The marking from the Pathfinders had been described as accurate but a decoy fire site also attracted many of the bombers. Sever damage was caused in central and northern parts of the city - 1,218 buildings were destroyed with a further 2141 seriously damaged. Industrial targets such as the Hosch works, the Dortmund steel factories as well as many other facilities in the dock area were hit.

Reported that 693 people were killed on the ground which sadly included some 200 PoW’s. 1,075 others suffered injuries in what has been described as a new record of casualties in the allied bombing offensive.

Front Row: F/O. Philip Beck, Fl/Lt. Wilbur Turner, Sgt. John White. Back Row Sgt. Herbert Sawkings, Sgt.William Forth, Sgt.John Smith, Sgt. George Hinshelwood

The allies suffered terrible losses with 31 aircraft lost on the operation with a further 7 crashing in bad weather at home bases.

BF505 was intercepted and shot down, by Lt. Robert Denzel of 12./NJG1 at 01:07 hrs with the aircraft coming down in the region as shown. (Murmerwoude is now known as Damwoude)

One of the crew lands by parachute near Roodkerk (Readtsjerk) and is taken prisoner. The two others land and hide in a barn were pigs are kept The next morning they are found by the farmer Pieter Gosma. He takes them into his house where one of the men is helped with an head wound.

One of the men decides he wants to leave the safe house and is shortly after taken prisoner by the Germans. Sgt. John Smith, from 196 Windsor Street, Wolverton, Bucks, decides to stay (see acknowledgements). The Dutch underground tries to get him back to England - after some trips he ends up in Arnhem. What happens next is not known but Sgt. Smith is arrested by the Germans on 8 July 1943 and spends the rest of the war as a PoW.

This was the 4th abschüsse for 22 year old, Lt. Robert Denzel (shown above - courtesy Kracker Archive). He was killed the following month, on the 25/26th June 1943 at Vollenhove after combat with a 141 Squadron Beaufighter flown by F/O. Kelsey and Sgt. Smith as his navigator.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Wilbur Lewis Turner. Dantumadeel General Cemetery (Damwoude). Plot E. Row 7. Grave 4. Son of Grayson L. and Betsy Ann Turner, husband of Miriam Annabel Turner, of Waterville, Province of Quebec, Canada. Grave inscription reads: 'Peace, Perfect Peace.'

Sgt. Frank Norman Robinson. Dantumadeel General Cemetery (Damwoude). Plot E. Row 7. Grave 8. Son of Frederick Norman and Annie Robinson, of Darlington, Co. Durham, England. Grave inscription reads: 'Well Done, Good And Faithful Servant'.

Sgt. William Norman Forth. Dantumadeel General Cemetery (Damwoude). Plot E. Row 7. Grave 6. Son of William Wilson Forth and Lily Harriet Helena Forth, husband of Mildred Forth, of Morden, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: 'One Of The Bravest, One Of The Best, God Grant Our Loved One Eternal Rest'.

Fl/Sgt. George Allan Hinshelwood. Dantumadeel General Cemetery (Damwoude). Plot E. Row 7. Grave 5. Son of Robert Stewart Hinshelwood and Mary Neilson Robertson Hinshelwood, of Larkhall, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: My Proudest Possessions, Are Memories Of You, Mother'.

Sgt. Herbert Ward Sawkings. Dantumadeel General Cemetery (Damwoude). Plot E. Row 7. Grave 7. Son of John Edward and Nellie Sawkings, husband of Kathleen Ethel Sawkings, of Grays, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: 'Treasured Memories Of My Dear Husband, So Greatly Loved. Still Sadly Missed'.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered, October 2015. With thanks to Frans van Capellen for grave photos, Gena Turner Pfister - via Michel Beckers for crew photo. Further thanks to Ivor Smith - nephew of Sgt. John Mitchell Jobling Smith who contacted us with his correct details July 2016.

MB 25.10.2015 - Additional details added 07.07.2016

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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