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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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153 Squadron Crest
12/13.03.1945 No. 153 Squadron Lancaster I RA526 P4-J F/O. Kenneth Ayres DFC

Operation: Gardening

Date: 12/13th March 1945 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 153 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: RA526

Code: P4-J

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Location: Kattegat, West of Samsø, Denmark

Pilot: F/O. Kenneth Albert Ayres DFC. 161085 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Charles Taylor 1897176 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Reginald John McMinn 1565939 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Bmr: F/O. R. Mains RAFVR PoW (Details not known) Returned to UK 18th April 1945

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Dennis Head 1867797 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Wilson 1597046 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derrick Cox 3050655 RAFVR Age ? Killed


Taking off from RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire and joining 15 other Lancasters and 3 Halifaxes for mining operations over the Kattegat, Denmark. Came down in the sea at 21:45 hrs off the Danish Island of Samsø.

Five of the six who died rest in the Tranebjaerg Churchyard, their graves being alongside two airmen from 408 Squadron (1) who died in separate Hampden crashes on 15th May 1942.

Lancaster RA526, with two other Lancasters (3) lost on this operation, were shot down by Hptm. Eduard Schröder (2) of 3./NJG3 west of Samsø at 21:16 hrs.

(1) Hampden I AD803 EQ-L:

Pilot: Sgt. Howard J. Copeman RCAF, survived, PoW from Toronto, Canada.Obs: Fl/Sgt. Albert A. Smith RCAF Age 25. From Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman W. Smith RAFVR Age 26. From Liverpool, England.W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William F. Millerd RCAF Age 24. From Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.This crew had a narrow escape on April 16th 1942 after losing one engine but managed to continue home.

Hampden I AT224 EQ-A:

Pilot Fl/Sgt. Raymond J. Dillon RCAF. Age 21. From Freeport, Illinois, USA.Obs: Sgt. Raymond W. Dreyer RCAF. Age 22. From Regina, Saskatchewan, CanadaW/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Cyril Cresswell RAFVR. Age 20. From Cullercoats, Northumberland, EnglandW/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt William D. Palmer RAFVR. Age 20. From Gorleston-On-Sea, Norfolk, EnglandFl/Sgt Dillon, an American serving with RCAF. also had an earlier escape when his Hampden hit high tension cables whilst with 16 OTU. Smashing his windscreen and damaging an aileron but managed a landing.

(2) This was the 24th abschüsse (total 29) for Hptm. Schröder who survived the war. No further details are available.

(3) 103 Squadron Lancaster I ME449 PM-T: Flown by Sq/Ldr. S. Sister RAFVR. evaded capture with 4 other crew members. 2 were killed. 433 Squadron Lancaster I NG233 EM-E: Flown by F/O. James P. Farrell RCAF, all 7 crew killed.

Burial details:

F/O. Kenneth Albert Ayres DFC. Tranebjerg Churchyard, Sansø, Denmark. Son of Albert Salter and Evelyn Maud Ayres of South Molton, Devon, husband of Joan Elizabeth Ellen Ayres of South Molton, Devon, England.

Sgt. William Charles Taylor. Tranebjerg Churchyard, Sansø, Denmark. Son of George Arthur and Elsie Sarah Taylor of Christchurch, Hampshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Reginald John McMinn. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 272. Son of Reginald and Anne McMinn of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Dennis Head. Tranebjerg Churchyard, Sansø, Denmark. Son of Mr and Mrs G. Head of Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, England.

Sgt. Robert Wilson. Tranebjerg Churchyard, Sansø, Denmark. Son of John and Helen Wilson, husband of Sarah Wilson of Ochiltree, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Derrick Cox. Tranebjerg Churchyard, Sansø, Denmark. Son of Daniel Samson and Leah Elisbeth Cox of Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Further sources quoted below.

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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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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