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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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156 Squadron Crest
30/31.05.1942 156 Squadron Wellington III X3598 Plt Off. John D.N. Bain DFC

Operation: Köln, Germany

Date: 30th/31st May 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 156 Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3598

Code: GT:?

Base: RAF Alconbury, Huntingdon.

Location: Oosterschelde West of Tholen, Holland

Pilot: Plt Off. John Douglas Norman Bain DFC. J6027 RCAF Age 21. KiA

2nd Pilot: Flt Sgt. William Thomas Cormack R81453 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Obs: Plt Off. Leslie Newton 124001 RAFVR Age 31. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Andrew Turnbull Brunton 1056497 RAFVR Age 27. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Derek Harry Normington 920538 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. Emrys Evans 119172 RAFVR Age 25. KiA

Above Left to Right: Plt Off. Bain DFC and Flt Sgt. Cormack (from his Service Record)


Taking off from RAF Alconbury at 23:15 hrs to bomb Cologne (Köln) on a thousand bomber raid made up of 602 Wellingtons, 131 Halifaxes, 88 Stirlings, 79 Hampdens, 73 Lancasters, 43 Manchesters and 28 Mosquitoes. (1,047 aircraft.)

868 aircraft are said to have bombed the main target others bombing other targets. Huge losses were incurred on this raid with 41 aircraft lost which was classed as acceptable at the time!

X3598 was claimed as a Manchester and a probable by Oblt. Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, his 3rd Abschuss and second of two this night, from 9./NJG2 over the sea at 01:36 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (30 May - 31 December 1942) The Early Years Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

Maj. Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein went on to claim 79 Abschüsse. From German records it was originally reported that Maj. Sayn-Wittgenstein’s Ju-88 was shot down by Plt Off. Snape and Fg Off. Fowler on the 21st/22nd January 1944. However, modern day research has established that Maj. Sayn-Wittgenstein was in fact shot down by his fifth aircraft claim that night and was attributed to Flt Lt. T.R. Thompson, the rear gunner, aboard 156 Sqn Lancaster JA912. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten).

Also lost from the Squadron Wellington Ic DV715 - Flown by 23 year old, Sgt. Peter Gordon Arthur Malin 1180129 RAFVR from Winston, Leicestershire, England - killed with all 4 other crew.

During this operation the skipper of Manchester I L7301 Z:ND of 106 Squadron 20 year old, Fg Off. Leslie Thomas Manser 66542 RAFVR (serving with 50 Squadron at the time) from Radeltt, Hertfordshire received a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC):

During this operation the skipper of Manchester I L7301 Z-ND of 106 Squadron 20 year old, F/O. Leslie Thomas Manser 66542 RAFVR (serving with 50 Squadron at the time) from Radeltt, Hertfordshire received a posthumous Victoria Cross:

The citation in the London Gazette of 20th October, 1942 reads:

"Flying Officer Manser was captain and first pilot of an aircraft which took part in the mass raid on Cologne on the night of 30th May, 1942. Despite searchlights and intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire he held his course and bombed the target successfully from 7,000 feet. Thereafter, although he took evasive action, the aircraft was badly damaged, for a time one engine and part of one wing were on fire, and in spite of all the efforts of pilot and crew, the machine became difficult to handle and lost height. Though he could still have parachuted to safety with his crew, he refused to do so and insisted on piloting the aircraft towards its base as long as he could hold it steady, to give his crew a better chance of safety when they jumped. While the crew were descending to safety, they saw the aircraft, still carrying the gallant captain, plunge to earth and burst into flames. In pressing home his attack in the face of strong opposition, in striving against heavy odds to bring back his aircraft and crew, and finally, when in extreme peril, thinking only of the safety of his comrades, Flying Officer Manser displayed determination and valour of the highest order".

Burial details:

Above left to Right: Grave markers for Plt Off. Bain DFC, Flt Sgt. Cormack, Sgt. Newton (Courtesy of Jeffrey Barnes)

Plt Off. John Douglas Norman Bain DFC. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave: 12.F.1. Born on the 31st July 1920 in Toronto, Ontario. Son of John Farker and Marjorie (née Penticost) Bain of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Plt Off. Bain was posthumously awarded the DFC whilst with 156 Sqn. London Gazette 27th July 1943. Citation reads:

"This officer is a very fine captain of aircraft whose courage, determination and leadership have been in high order. He has participated in attacks on a wide range of enemy targets including Cologne, Bremen, Berlin, Brest, Essen, Mülheim and Rostock. On all occasions he had pressed home his attack with vigour. In one attack in the vicinity of Kiel his aircraft was forced down to 300 feet. He cooly machine gunned three searchlights and silenced several light gun positions".

Flt Sgt. William Thomas Cormack. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave: 12.F.3. Inscription: 'THERE IS A LINK DEATH CANNOT SEVER, LOVE AND REMEMBRANCE LIVE FOR EVER'. Born on the 30th March 1921 in New Westminster, British Columbia.Son of Robert and Isabella (née Sutherland) Cormack of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.

Plt Off. Leslie Newton. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.7. Inscription: 'NOT ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD CAN DIM THE LIGHT OF ONE SMALL CANDLE'. Born on the 27th February 1911 in Stockton-on-Tees, Durham. Son of Charles Henry and Lilian May (née Wolfe) Newton of Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, England.

Above left to Right: Grave markers for Sgt. Brunton, Sgt. Normington, Plt Off. Evans (Courtesy of Jeffrey Barnes )

Sgt. Andrew Turnbull Brunton. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.8. Inscription: 'BELOVED SON OF DAVID AND CATHERINE BRUNTON, LEITH, SCOTLAND. DEEPLY MOURNED'. Born on the 24th January 1915 in Leith, Midlothian. Son of David and Catherine Bruce (née Bain) Brunton of Leith, Midlothian, Scotland.

Sgt. Derek Harry Normington. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.9. Born on 20th November 1919 in Rochford, Essex. Son of Alfred Charles and Florence May (née Rumsey) Normington of Surrey, England.

Plt Off. Emrys Evans. Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave: 3.D.6. Inscription: '"TRUE SON OF WALES THY NOBLE DEEDS LIVE ON" MAB AMRYDDAWN, GWROL A PHUR'. Born on the 14th March 1917 in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire. Son of Gwilyn and Anne (née Thomas) Evans of Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales.

Translation of the Welsh inscription: 'SON OF VERSATILE, COURAGEOUS AND PURE'.

Researcher Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2016. With thanks to Jeffrey Barnes for grave photographs, others from the Michel Beckers collection. Reviewed and updated by Aircrew Remembered with new information (Sep 2023). Thanks also to Michael Normington, a nephew of Sgt. Normington for his Next of Kin information (Sep 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 14.09.2023 - Reviewed and updated with new information

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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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