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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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78 Squadron Crest
13/14.03.1944 No. 78 Squadron Halifax III LW517 EY-Y PO. Withers

Operation: Le Mans

Date: 13/14th March 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron (motto: Nemo non paratus - 'Nobody unprepared')

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LW517

Code: EY-Y

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: Target area

Pilot: P/O. Kenneth Fred Withers AUS/406893 RAAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Andrew Currie 1566601 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: Sgt. A.A. Jeffries 1557416 RAFVR PoW No: 3782 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. G. Tipping 1437929 RAFVR PoW No: 3461 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Buckland 1314518 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Allan Cantle-Jones 1387255 RAFVR Age 23. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas William McMillan DFM. 1672812 RAFVR Age 26. Killed


It is hoped to place a memorial to this crew in May 2020 relatives are invited to contact us for further information.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Breighton in Yorkshire at 22:41 hrs to bomb the railway facilities at Le Mans. The idea was to try and cripple the rail networks in the occupied countries.


Understood to have been shot down by flak whilst flying at 14,000 ft and crashed in the area of Le Mans.

The operation part of the "Transportation Plan" was listed as a success with the station hit, rail lines cut and two factories severely damaged. Sadly local French civilians were among the many casualties his night.

(1) The older brother of Sgt. Allan Cantle-Jones, 31 year old John Cantle-Jones 184201 also lost his life. On the 09th October 1945 - after the war had ended he was flying as air gunner on Stirling IV LJ622 with 1665 heavy conversion unit when the aircraft stalled and crashed. All six crew were killed as well as the village Postmaster when the Stirling came down in the village of Tockwith, Yorkshire.

Burial details:

P/O. Kenneth Fred Withers. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 3. Born on the 27th August 1919 at Freemantle, the son of George Frederick and Mary Withers, of Kirup, Western Australia. Grave inscription reads: "The Eternal God Is Thy Refuge".

Sgt. Andrew Currie. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 2. Son of John and Elizabeth Currie. Grave inscription reads: "He Died That We Might Live. Always In Our Thoughts".

Sgt. Ernest Buckland. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row B. Grave 24. Son of Frederick Ernest and Ivy Elizabeth Buckland, of Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "I Have Set My Course, I Have Reached My Goal, I Have Kept The Faith".

Sgt. Allan Cantle-Jones. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row C. Grave 1. Son of Frank and Bertha Cantle-Jones, of Wembley Park, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "Blessed Hope, That In Jesus Is Given, I Shall See My Loved Allan Again".

Sgt. Douglas William McMillan DFM. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-45 Row B. Grave 25. Son of Douglas and Mary McMillan, of St. Boswells, Roxburghshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "A Smile For All, A Heart Of Gold, One Of The Best This World Did Hold".

Other:

F/O. John Cantle-Jones. Harrogatecemetery (Stonefall) Sec. G. Row K. Grave 10. Husband of Margaret Grace Cantle-Jones, of Kenton, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "Always In My Heart, Darling. God Bless You".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to source shown.

KTY 19.02.2019

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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