22/23.03.1944 No. 207 Squadron Lancaster I ME666 KM-A W/Cmdr Wheeler
Operation: Frankfurt, Germany
Date: 22/23rd March 1944 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 207 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Spilsby, Lincolnshire
Location: Bad Schwallback, Germany
Pilot: W/Cmdr. Vashon James Wheeler MC and Bar, DFC and Bar, Order of St. Stanislaus 76594 RAF Age 46. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Henry Witney 1434183 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: F/Lt. George Grant Edwards 120443 RAF PoW. No. ? Camp. LI (2)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Douglas Reginald Barham 147510 RAFVR Age 23. Killed (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Alexander Milne 129931 RAFVR Age 30. Killed (4)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Joseph Dunseath. DFM. 965257 RAF Age? PoW No. 3486. Camp. LVI/357 (5)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Joseph McCarthy 2206428 RAF PoW No. 3404. Camp. LVI/357
Lancaster I from No. 207 Squadron. Centre of Frankfurt March 22nd/23rd 1944
Stalag Luft I and liberated POW's relax in the sun Stalag Luft 357
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 19:01hrs from RAF Spilsby for a bombing raid on Frankfurt. One of 816 aircraft that took part in this raid and much damage was caused to all parts of the city. Lancaster ME666 may have been hit by flak or shot down by a night fighter. The aircraft crashed at Bad Schwallback, Germany.
(1) Born 16th September 1898 in Ludlow. At the time of his death Vashon's address was Bitterley Court, Ludlow, Shropshire.
(2) F/Lt. George Grant Edwards. Promoted from Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant on the 2nd February 1944
(5) Fl/Sgt. Joseph Dunseath had gained his DFM while serving with 77 Squadron as per London Gazette 9th July 1943
Durnbach War Cemetery. F/O. Robert Alexander Milne is remembered on Lossiemouth War Memorial
Durnbach War Cemetery - The quality of these photographs shown here can not be fully appreciated when the size is reduced for the web page. (courtesy David Franklin - David has kindly provided us with permission to release high definition copies to relatives)
W/Cmdr. Vashon (Pop) James Wheeler. MC and Bar, DFC and Bar, Order of St. Stanislaus (Russia). Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 9. D. 6. Son of James Volant Wheeler and Sybil Grace Wheeler (nee Tyrrwhit). Husband of Josephine Hermione Wheeler (nee Spencer-Philips) of Clee Stanton, Shropshire.
Vashon James Wheeler was awarded the Military Cross and Bar while serving with Rifle Brigade attd. 45th Bn. Royal Fusiliers as per London Gazette 21 January 1920. The citation for his award states - "He did excellent work with his patrols on the 7th, 8th and 9th September, 1919, always gaining touch with the enemy. He also led his platoon with great gallantry and dash in the raid on Kodema on 8th September, and six hours later led them in a most successful counter-attack" The citation for his Military Cross states - "At Vosnesenskoe he was in charge of a flank party in a raid on the 2nd September 1919. He was surrounded on three sides by the enemy at close quarters. He acted with great courage and determination, and with his small party drove off the enemy and inflicted severe loss on him" On the 14th July 1920 he was promoted to the rank of Captain. In 1930 he completed the Royal Aero Club Aviators certificate. 1935 F/O. V. J. Wheeler took part in the London to Newcastle Aero Club race. Flying a North Eastern Airways "Envoy" on it's regular daily run and finished fifth making the highest speed of the day. 1936 he was working for British-American Air Services.
1940 2nd January Vashon James Wheeler MC. 76594 was granted a commission as Acting Pilot Officer on probation in the RAFVR. On the 2nd January 1941 he was confirmed as Flying Officer and on the 12th May 1941 he was granted the rank of Flight Lieutenant. 1941 Acting Squadron Leader James Vashon Wheeler was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross - "This officer has performed excellent operational work during a long period, including convoy patrols and reconnaissance missions over enemy territory. He has also carried out a large number of operational flying hours by night. One night in May 1941 Squadron Leader Wheeler attacked and probably destroyed a Heinkel III. The following night he damaged a Junkers 88, setting its port engine on fire. Throughout, Squadron Leader Wheeler has shown great devotion to duty and an intense desire to engage the enemy"
1943 Acting Wing Commander Wheeler No. 157 Squadron was awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross as per London Gazette 24 September 1943 - "This officer has led the Squadron on very many sorties during which locomotives and other targets on the ground have been attacked with telling effect. Much of the success achieved can be attributed to Wing Commander Wheeler's inspiring leadership and skill. His courageous example has been worthy of great praise"
W/Cmdr Wheeler had taken over the squadron on the 6th February 1944 and was one of the oldest Squadron Commanders to have been killed during WW2. Vashon James Wheeler was also awarded the Order of St. Stanislaus (Russia)
Sgt. George Henry Witney. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. Joint Grave 9. D. 7-8. No further information as yet - Can you assist with this?
F/O. Douglas Reginald Barham. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 9. D. 5. Son of George Albert and Lily Gertrude Barham of Maidstone, Kent. Husband of Pauline Barham. (3) Douglas Reginald Barham became a Pilot Officer (emergency) on the 5th June 1943 and was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer (probation) 5th December 1943. At the time of his death Douglas's address was 43 Mote Road, Maidstone, Kent
F/O. Robert (Robbie) Alexander Milne. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. Joint Grave 9. D. 7-8. Son of Robert and Elizabeth I. Milne of Lossiemouth, Morayshire. (4) Born in 1914 Robert had lived at 34 High Street, Lossiemouth. Robert (Robbie) Alexander Milne became a Pilot Officer (emergency) 26th July 1942 and was promoted to Flying Officer 26th July 1943
Researched by: Kate Tame for Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew
Acknowledgements: With special thanks to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Imperial War Museum, Donald Stewart - Lossiemouth Book of Remembrance, W R Chorley - Bomber Command Losses 1944, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - Bomber Command Losses 1939-1945