25/26.02.1944 No. 76 Squadron Halifax III LV794 EY-O Fl/Lt. William Carruthers
Date: 25/26th February 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Location: Fischbach bei Dahn
Pilot: Fl/Lt. William Maurice Carruthers 133396 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ian Bell 1567138 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Collins 639630 RAF PoW - Returned on the Arundel Castle 06th February 1945
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. E.C. Hocking NZ/422190 RNZAF PoW No: 2343 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A.R. Flexman 1388502 RAFVR PoW No: 2344 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Clive Warren Sisley AUS/410392 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. B. Janke AUS/425667 RAAF PoW No: 2342 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:00 Hrs. RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to bomb the MAN works at Augsburg. 594 aircraft took part including 461 Lancasters, 123 Halifaxes and 10 Mosquitoes. This was the first large raid on this target and the success of this raid was considered as outstanding with clear weather conditions and very light flak defences. The pathfinders ground marking was very accurate and 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the target area.
2,920 houses were destroyed and another 5,000 were damaged resulting in over 85,000 bombed out of their homes. Much of the city was destroyed including 16 churches and 11 hospitals. Over 700 people were killed on the ground and another 2,500 people were injured in what the Germans described as "extreme example of terror bombing". Damage on the second wave caused considerable damage to a important aircraft component factory and also to some former paper and cotton mills that had been taken over by the MAN engineering company.
21 allied aircraft were lost on this raid, 16 Lancasters and 5 Halifaxes although 4 of these losses were due to collisions. 102 aircrew were killed, 43 were made PoW with another 6 were interred in Switzerland.
Halifax LV794 was shot at by a night fighter and the aircraft caught fire and exploded.
The son of Fl/Sgt. Arthur Collins, Roger found some notes his father had left in his Aircrew Association notebook and this is what he wrote:
'We were returning to RAF Breighton from a successful ops to the MAN diesel works in Augsburg when suddenly we were fired upon by a German night fighter. Our aircraft took a direct hit and the aircraft exploded. I was blown out the aircraft and about 300 yards above a small wooded area I regained my conscious and pulled the rip cord and heavily landed in tree hanging just above the ground. My leg was badly wounded with shrapnel. The rear gunner cut the chute down and lifted me to the ground and then carried me to a road on the outskirts of a small village. At dawn I was found by a farmer who placed me in a wheelbarrow and took me to a nearby Convent hospital where I underwent surgery on my leg.
The following day I was visited in hospital by the pilot of the night fighter. It transpired he was the pilot of a JU88 and his name was Major Günther Radusch of Staffein/NJG2 of the Luftwaffe. To my surprise he spoke perfect English and explained he had studied at Oxford University before the war. He expressed his regrets at the loss of my aircraft and crew and left me with a supply of cigarettes and chocolate.
When I was fully recovered I was transferred to POW camp. I was returned to the UK on a hospital ship from Marseille in March 1945. I discovered that my aircraft was shot down near the village of Fischbach bei Dahn, Rheinland-Pfalzer.
I stayed in touch with all the surviving crew after the war including visits to see them in Australia and New Zealand.'
Arthur Collins continued to serve in the RAF until 1978 when he retired from RAF Northolt flying Pembrokes and Devons with met communication Squadron. Sadly Arthur died in 2000.
Major Günther Radusch was already a night fighter ace at the time of this combat but survived the war with 66 victories. He died in Nordstrand, Schleswig-Holstein on July 29th 1988 of natural causes.
Fl/Lt. William Maurice Carruthers. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave: 19.A.20. Next of kin details not available, are you able to assist?
Sgt. Ian Bell. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave: 19.A.21. Son of George and Elizabeth Bell, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Fl/Sgt. Clive Warren Sisley. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave: 19.A.22. Son of Frederick John and Gertrude Ethel Sisley, of Boronia, Victoria, Australia.
Researched for relatives of the crew in particular Roger Collins, son of Fl/Sgt. Arthur Collins. Wouter van Dijken for grave photograph.