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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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550 Squadron Crest
15/16.02.1944 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster III JA934 BQ-H Fl/Sgt. Robert E. Woodger

Operation: Berlin

Date: 15/16th February 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: 550 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA934

Code: BQ-H

Base: North Killingholme, Lincolnshire.

Location: Tribohm, 12 km S.E. Ribnitz-Damgarten, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Robert Edward Woodger 577057 RAF Age 20. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. David Lynn Jones 1652460 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: F/O. John David McIntosh J/86431 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Andrew Hunter Stockton J/92026 RCAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard Walter John Wivell 1611961 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Hugo Mate 1590753 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald Willsdon 1420600 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 17:29hrs to attack the heart of Germany, Berlin. 891 aircraft took part in the first raid on the city for more than 2 weeks. The force was made up of 561 Lancaster's, 314 Halifaxes and 16 Mosquitos.

The German controllers were able to plot the bomber stream soon after it left the English coast but it swung too far north over Denmark for its run in and many of the fighters were unable to make contact. Berlin was covered with cloud but despite this much damage was achieved including to the industrial area of Siemensstadt with some 2,642 tons of bombs being dropped, a record for Bomber Command.

This was the largest raid of the whole war on the German capital. The city was covered in cloud for most of the bombing, but the raid still inflicted huge damage to the city with 599 large and 572 medium fires, 1,000 houses and a further 526 wooden barracks also destroyed. 320 people on the ground were killed.

The small number of casualties is mainly due to the large scale evacuation which had taken place but a further 260 civilians were reported to have been buried alive - no reports how many of these survived. Some of Berlin's most important industries were also hit including the Siemensstadt area. 59 people were also killed in other area hit by scattered bombs.

The bombers suffered heavily with 48 aircraft being lost. A huge loss of aircrew with 266 killed, a further 54 made P.o.W.

Records show that Lancaster JA934 crashed at Tribohm (see map - we are indebted to Pete Coulter for this new information - August 2013, see credits). No night fighter claims have been made for this aircraft, although some Lancaster's were shot down with no positive identification possible as to the code. Also the Luftwaffe were called back when the bomber stream entered the bombing runs in order that the comprehensive flak batteries could have a free hand, so it is possible they were hit this way.

Left: P/O. Andrew Hunter Stockton, 550 Squadron Stained glass memorial (Archives). Right: Riverbank Memorial, Riverbank, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada (Courtesy Stephen Wilson Belleisle Regional High School)

Burial details:

The crew whose bodies were identified, were initially buried at Tribohm Cemetery - re-interred in 1949 to the Berlin War Cemetery.

Fl/Sgt. Robert Edward Woodger. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 223. Son of Mr. and Mrs. G. G. Woodger, of Gillingham, Kent, England.

Sgt. David Lynn Jones. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 232. Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Jones, of Fochriw, Glamorgan, Wales.

F/O. John David McIntosh. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.L.19.Son of John David McIntosh, and of Nellie Emmeline McIntosh, of Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Andrew Hunter Stockton. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.L.17. Son of Bryant and Louise E. Stockton, of Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada.

Sgt. Richard Walter John Wivell. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.L.16. Son of Sydney and Ethel Lansdown Wivell, of Norbury, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Victor Hugo Mate. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.L.18. Son of James Thomas Mate and step mother, Evelyn Mate.

Sgt. Donald Willsdon. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.L.15. Son of Frank Perciaval Willsden of Bryntirion, Bridgend, Wales.

Further information on P/O. Andrew Hunter Stockton (Provided by a student of Belleisle Regional High School of Canada):

"Andrew Hunter Stockton, both strong and dedicated; a son, a brother, a man, a Canadian soldier. Andrew was born on August 18, 1923 in Sussex, New Brunswick. He was an unmarried airman in the Royal Canadian Air Force for eleven months when his parents received the sad news that he had not come back to his base after air operations while in Germany on the night of February 15th 1944 Stockton was presumed killed in action.

Stockton had worked as a clerk at J.A. Watson Hardware Store while attending Sussex High School. After that he took a correspondence course on Aero-Engine Mechanics course through Moncton High School from October 1941 to February 1942. He enjoyed skating, swimming, baseball, hockey, and skiing in his free time. After training to be a pilot, he finished and was ready to experience the world. On February 9th 1942 Stockton enlisted in Moncton with the Royal Canadian Air Force. On that same day he took his oath that he would be faithful, true, to stick with what he wanted to do, and to be strong. From then on Stockton was a man on a journey.

Military Movements: As for Andrew’s military movements, he was continuously being transferred from place to place. He received training in Moncton, Lachine, Debert, Belleville, Oshawa, Trenton, St.Johns and Halifax. Andrew did have an accident while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Oshawa, Ontario on October 8, 1942. This would have been during his first solo flight. He was piloting a Tiger Moth when he had a crash landing. He sustained no injuries. He left Canada on April 4th 1943 and disembarked in the United Kingdom on April 17th 1943. Eventually he was assigned to the Royal Air Force Squadron 550. In January of 1944 the squadron moved to a new airfield at North Killingholme. They flew their first mission to Brunswick, Germany on the 14th of January, 1944. Researched by: Kelvin T. Youngs for relatives of the crew. Also for the students of Belleisle Regional High School of Canada who are researching the local Cenotaph.

Acknowledgments: With thanks to the following, Peter Coulter of the 550 Squadron website, Thanks also to Susan Mate for supplying details on her Uncle, Sgt. Victor Mate - April 2016. Other sources as shown below.

KTY 17.04.2016 - Further details added to crew member - courtesy Susan Mate.

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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Last Modified: 17 April 2016, 17:55

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