Operation: Leipzig, Germany.
Date: 20/21 October 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday).
Unit: No. 166 Squadron.
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire.
Location: Near Köthen, Germany
Pilot: Sgt. Stanley Tallintire Athey RAFVR 1147597 Age 21. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt Tom Kenneth Wardley RAFVR 1108658 Age 23. Killed (2)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Harry Hal Millard RAFVR 657781 Age 33. Killed (3)
Air/Bmr/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril John Lawrence RAFVR 1317859 Age 20. Killed (4)
W/Op: Sgt. G.D. Hutchins 1313383 PoW No 259879 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe - 4B (5)
MU/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Ronald Hall RAFVR 1810528 Age 21. Killed (6)
R/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Edward Scott RAFVR 1467914 Killed (7)
We welcome contact from any relatives who may be able to add further information or photographs.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Kirmington at 17.57 hrs to bomb Leipzig. This aircraft was armed with 1 x 4000lb. HC, 46 x 30lb. IB, 900x4lb. IB, 30 x 4lb. ‘X’ type.
Special Equipment: Boozer, Gee - see abbreviations
Route as per RAF Loss Card: 5320N 0350E - N of Texel – 5253N 0740E – 5236N 1152E – 5202N 1242E – LEIPZIG – 5106N 1211E - 5253N 0740E - N of Texel - 5320N - 0350E
A force of 358 Lancasters was despatched on this long distance raid, the first large scale night attack on Leipzig. Although 271 aircraft reported bombing the target, the raid was spoilt by appalling weather conditions and later reconnaissance revealed only scattered damage. There was 10/10ths cloud cover over the target with no moon and though horizontal visibility was reported as good, vertical visibility was nil. 50 aircraft reported attacking the alternative targets, 22 aborted the sortie, mainly due to technical defects or manipulative error and 15 were lost. Though flak over the target area was reported as heavy, thick cloud rendered the searchlights ineffective and it is thought that 10 of the losses were sustained on the outward and return journeys. Only one aircraft is thought to have fallen to flak over the target, fighters having accounting for the other four.
Above: Central Leipzig 1943
In his report W/Op Sgt. Hutchins says that icing conditions were very bad, causing the aircraft to go into a succession of ‘steep dives which became uncontrollable’. He says the order to abandon was given, and almost immediately afterwards, ‘the starboard wing was torn away leaving a gaping hole through which I was thrown due to the violent movements of the aircraft’. He considered that it was ‘impossible that rest of crew had time to abandon’. He continues ‘the aircraft went spinning downwards and burst into flames – prior to this, nor afterwards, I saw no chute leaving the aircraft - it hit the ground and continued to blaze’. Four hours later Sgt Hutchins was taken to identify the aircraft. He found that it was ‘badly smashed up and lay on its back with the nose a little way off’. It being impossible to enter the aircraft he was unable to say if any members of the crew were inside but the nose ‘held the remains of one body’. He adds that the remains were not those of the Pilot, Navigator, Mid Upper Gunner or Rear Gunner but fails to elaborate on how he came to that conclusion. Sgt. Hutchins learned later that the body in the nose section was that of Sgt. Lawrence the Bomb Aimer. His ‘death was due to serious head and body injuries obviously sustained when the aircraft crashed’. Sgt. Hutchins also reported that he later saw Sgt. Wardley’s identity disc.
The site of the crash is unknown but on the loss card there is information from German sources that reads 'Unknown type aircraft shot down on 20 October 1943, 6 buried 26 Oct 1943 at Kothen, names given as "probably" Athey 1147597 pilot + Hall - BA + Scott - BA (actually gunners but described as Bomber + schutze i.e. gunner) Wardley - FE + Lawrence - BA + Millard - Obs'.
Kothen is about 30 miles or so north of Leipzig so it would seem likely that the aircraft crashed somewhere near Kothen. The six dead crewmen were later re-interred at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery 30 May 1947.
(1)Sgt. Stanley Tallintire Athey, born 1922 Tynemouth, Northumberland. Son of Percy John Athey and Kate Edith Athey nee Tallintyre of Percy Main Northumberland.
(2)Sgt. Tom Kenneth Wardley, born 1920 Eccleshall Bierlow, Yorkshire. Son of Tom Keyworth Wardley and Grace Mary Wardley nee Killinger, husband of Margaret Ann Wardley nee Crossley of Sheffield. Commemorated at St Mary’s Church, Hadfield Street, Walkley, Sheffield.
(3)Fl/Sgt. Harry Hal Millard, born 1913 Dudley, Staffordshire. Son of George and Caroline Millard, husband of Florence Ruth Millard nee Thompson of Balsall Heath, Birmingham.
(4)Sgt. Cyril John Lawrence, born 1923 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales. Son of John Aaron Lawrence and Florence Louisa Lawrence nee Marks of Roath, Cardiff. Commemorated on the Roll of Honour at St Edward King and Confessor Church, Westville Road, Roath, Glamorgan, Wales.
(5)Sgt. G.D. Hutchins, nothing further known, can you assist?
(6)Sgt. Leslie Ronald Hall, born 1923 Milton, Kent. Son of Benjamin Hall and Grace Hall nee Wellard, of Sittingbourne, Kent.
(7)Sgt. Robert Edward Scott - nothing further known, can you assist?
Sgt. Stanley Tallintire Athey buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.14 (1)
Sgt. Tom Kenneth Wardley buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.13 (2)
Fl/Sgt. Harry Hal Millard buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.15 (3)
Sgt. Cyril John Lawrence buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.16 (4)
Sgt. Leslie Ronald Hall buried at Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.2 (6)
Sgt. Robert Edward Scott buried at Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave No. 5.B.1 (7)
Researched by Roy Wilcock for Aircrew Remembered - April 2015. Sources:- RAF Loss Card, RAF Bomber Command Night Operations Report, Commonwealth Graves Commission, Bomber Command Database.
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them. - Laurence
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