28/29.07.1944 No. 57 Squadron Lancaster I ME864 DX-E F/O. Wardle DFC
Date: 28/29th July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 57 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire.
Location: Eutingen, North East Pforzheim, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Anthony Valentine Hutchinson Wardle DFC. 175510 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Cyril John Ludlow 1863182 RAFVR Age 22. Survived - murdered (1)
Nav: F/O. F.B. Robertson 144681 RAFVR PoW No further details.
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Robert David Bridgman 182694 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No: 694 Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg (L7)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. F. Eden 1755205 RAFVR PoW No: 702 Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg (L7)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frank Fowler 1144839 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No: 705 Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg (L7)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jenkin Morgan Gittoes 1064890 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:44 hrs from RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire to attack Stuttgart. A total of 494 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitoes took part but the German night-fighters intercepted them on the outbound flight. The result was that 40 aircraft were lost aided by a bright moon and also this was the third consecutive night raid on the already destroyed city.
Lancaster ME864 was intercepted over Eutingen, Germany and shot down at a height of 4.900 mts. with the aircraft crashing at 01:50 hrs. The German pilot who claimed this kill was Hptm. Heinz Wolfgang Schnauffer (2) from Stab IV./NJG1. This was his 88 claim of the war!
Another aircraft from 57 Squadron was also lost on this raid, Lancaster I PD212 DX-F flown by F/O. W.A. Nicholls who evaded capture with three of his crew, three others being made PoW.
RAF Loss card for ME864 (courtesy Michael Wright)
(1) Sgt. Cyril John Ludlow was injured with a broken leg. After his captors placed a splint on his leg he was taken to the local police station.
Various witnesses testified at the War Crimes court in 1947 that they had seen Sgt. Ludlow fighting off a man who had his hands around his throat - they then heard Sgt. Ludlow scream and they then heard a single shot.
Right: Hptm. Heinz Wolfgang Schnauffer (Kracker Archives )
A doctor who was called to attend pronounced him dead, he had been shot in the temple. The accused Frans Schroth and Willi Schwab were acquitted through lack of evidence.
(2) Hptm. Schnauffer survived the war with a total of 121 confirmed claims but was killed in a car accident in France in 1945.
Above crew graves at Durnbach War Cemetery (courtesy David Franklin) David has kindly given us permission to provide the higher resolution images of the graves to any relative who contacts us.
F/O. Anthony Valentine Hutchinson Wardle DFC. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 1.K.6. Son of Valentine Hutchinson Wardle and Amy Katherine Wardle, of Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, England.
Sgt. Cyril John Ludlow. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 1.K.7. Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Jenkin Morgan Gittoes. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave: 1.K.5. Son of Vincent Fred and Blodwen Tydvil Gittoes, of Hereford, England. Husband of Doreen Gittoes. Grave inscription reads: “To The Beautiful Memory Of Our Brave, Beloved Son”.
Researched for Oliver Bridgman, Mark Swan and the relatives / friends of the crew. For further details our thanks to the following, Michael Wright, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version). Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Oliver Clutton-Brock - 'Footprints On The Sands Of Time'.