25/26.05.1943 No. 9 Squadron Lancaster III ED834 WS-Z F/O. Woodhouse
Date: 25/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 9 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire
Location: Schelde south of Vlissingen, Holland
Pilot: F/O. Harold Walter Woodhouse 110587 RAFVR Age 32. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie John Daker 1579189 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Nav: Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett 1553400 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Harold John Warren 1388638 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William "Bill" Smith 1034418 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Glyn Coffin 1578186 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edgar Leslie Matthews 1457373 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
(Left: Courtesy Veronica Kingston) Sgt. William Smith photographed with his mother Berta Smith - date unknown)
(Right: Courtesy William Morley) Sgt. "Bill" Smith and his mother Bertha Smith - date unknown
Probably a photograph taken at an Air Gunner training School. Aircraftman (AC) William "Bill" Smith is 3rd from the left, on the 2nd Row down. (Courtesy William Morley)
It appears that this is a photograph depicting two sections of airmen under aircrew training. The two Sergeants (centre of each group) are wearing Air Gunner Brevets and the airmen are wearing trainee bands on their forage caps and have no rank badges. Many of them (probably all) have "Sparks" badges which means that they would have already passed their Wireless Operator training. So this would have been the final training course at one of the Gunner Training Schools, Pembrey in South Wales being one such place.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Bardney at 23:19 hrs together with 15 other aircraft from the squadron. In total 323 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 142 Wellingtons, 113 Stirlings with 12 Mosquitos were to bomb Dusseldorf - 759 aircraft in total.
The weather on leaving England was fine with showers, over the Dutch coast broken cloud, which increased as the target was approached. Dusseldorf was covered in 10/10 cloud at various heights.
Despite the huge bomber force the raid was classed as a failure with bombing scattered over a wide area. Between 50 - 100 buildings were destroyed with some 50 people killed on the ground. It is understood that the Germans lit various fires and also placed decoy markers to fool the allies.
The allies lost some 29 aircraft - one on return, Halifax II HR747 from 51 Squadron, crashing at Highfield Farm near Doncaster, all crew survived uninjured. Another, Halifax II HR806 crashing immediately after take off, all 7 crew injured but survived. 27 others were lost either on route or returning from the operation. 27 were taken pow with a shocking 170 other crew killed or missing!
The night fighters were hampered by the cloud cover plus the half moon rose at about 03:00 hrs. when the crews were on their way home. However 21 were confirmed to have been shot down, mainly on the very slow return trip, when the allies suffered 40-60 mph head winds. 2 other aircraft were lost when 77 Squadron JB837 was shot down by Maj. Walter Ehle of stab II./NJG1 over Eisdorf at 01.51 hrs. The full bomb load exploded bringing down two Stirlings. Maj. Ehle was credited with 5 abschüsse on this night - not including the 2 Stirlings.
Lancaster ED834 was intercepted at 5,500 mtrs by Lt. Werner Hopf (2) of II./NJG5 on detachment from 2./NJG1 and shot down at 03:42 hrs. The Lancaster crashed into the Schelde some 2 km south of Vlissingen
(1) This crew had only been together for two operational flights. 13th May 1943 operation to Pilsen and 23rd May 1943 operation to Dortmund.
(2) This was the first claim by Lt. Werner Hopf who went on to become an ace with some 22 night claims. He survived the war we understand - deserted from the Luftwaffe on the 30th April 1945 flying a Ju88 with 2 fellow officers, 2 women and a child - no further details.
Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen)
Left to Right: Flg.Off. Woodhouse; Sgt. Daker; Sgt. Warren (Courtesy Veronica Kingston)
Left to Right: Sgt. Coffin; Sgt. Matthews (Courtesy Veronica Kingston)
F/O. Harold Walter Woodhouse. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Joint grave 18-19. Son of Ernest Walter and Jane Ann Woodhouse. (B.A, B.Sc)
Sgt. Leslie John Daker. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Joint grave 18-19. Son of John and Ada Mary Daker, husband of Daisy Rosamond May Daker, of King's Norton, Birmingham, England.
(Left) Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 13. Son of Matthew and Mary Corbett, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Sgt. Harold John Warren. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 17. Son of John and Winifred Beatrice Warren, of Horsell, Woking, Surrey, England.
(Right: Courtesy Veronica Kingston) Sgt.William Smith. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 14. Born on the 2nd March 1921. Son of William and Bertha Smith, husband of Edna Pearl (née Doodson) Smith, of Gorton, Manchester, England.
Sgt. Albert Glyn Coffin. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 16. Son of Albert and Mary Coffin, of Chester, England.
Sgt. Edgar Leslie Matthews. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 15. Son of Edgar and Annie Louise Matthews, of Sheffield, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Grant Macleod for photo of Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett- October 2016. Thanks to Veronica Kingston for Next of Kin details and photographs of Sgt.William Smith and the Grave markers for the rest of the crew. Thanks to William Morley, the nephew of Sgt.William Smith for the additional images. With thanks to Kate Tame - senior research editor for Aircrew Remembered for the Operation Record Book details. Other sources as quoted below.