100 Squadron Lancaster III JB603 F/O. Barker crew loss
Date: 5/6th January 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 100 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: R.A.F. Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Location: Near Gorsel east of Appledoorn
Pilot: F/O. Reginald Barker 179071 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alastair Stewart Gordon 1825828 RAFVR. Age 19. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Frank Shackleton Elliott 1672286 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Albert Arthur Law 1621232 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Jack Murray Clyde Wilson 410405 RAAF Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eamonn Gillen 2221440 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bernard George Aldred 1492353 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
We would like all relatives of this crew to make contact with us as Peter Sparrow and his family would very much like to communicate with them. Please contact webmaster and messages will be passed on. March 2014 - daughter of P/O. Wilson has made contact. A Memorial service is planned for May 2014 at the crash site - details to follow.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Leaving RAF Grimsby at 19.10 hrs to bomb Hannover.
This was the largest raid on the city since 1943 with 664 aircraft taking part - 14 Mosquitoes, 340 Halifaxes and 310 Lancasters. The bombing was reported as widespread over the city with 3,605 apartments/flats destroyed, 250 people killed on the ground. The fatalities included 229 foreigners or prisoners of war. Over 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped.
Understood to be the crew of Lancaster JB603 - Peter Sparrow recognised pilot at left rear (courtesy Les and Malcolm Law) Recently Peter Sparrow touched up the original photo and we have replaced it here.
The Allies losses were huge, mainly due to night fighter attacks but also to the 'light to moderate' flak. (As described by returning crews). 33 aircraft were lost this night, 111 aircrew killed, 85 made Prisoners of War, with 7 evading capture and a further 5 injured.
Lancaster JB603 was shot down on its return leg by Lt. Rob Ebhardt (1) of 8./NJG1 at 22.31 hrs flying in Bf110 G9+LR. The claim was also picked up by the RAF 'Y' service over the ether confirming the report and the area of Twente in Holland.
In the latest edition of the "Nightfighter War Diaries the account of the interception is clearly described:
"The Lancaster, once it had dropped its bombs, was faster than our Bf110 now that we have very heavy armament, SN-2 aerial and exhaust screens on the engines. However, we closed in and made out the Lancaster at about 200 metres. We knew it was a Lancaster by the reddish exhaust flames - the Halifax had bluish. I tried to arm my upward firing guns, but they appeared to have jammed so I attacked from behind and below. At about 100 metres I fired letting the Lancaster through my burst of fire. The muzzle flash of the Mk108 momentarily blinding me. He is not on fire and whilst I am behind him he suddenly tips over onto his port wing and dives away into the darkness below. Then a few seconds later a bright flash and the Lancaster drops down burning and crashes, but then no fire?"
Above left pilot F/O. Reginald Barker and right the air bomber Fl/Sgt. Albert Law
Fl/Sgt. Albert Arthur Law with his brother, Les (courtesy Les and Malcolm Law)
(1) This was the 8th and final victory of Lt. Rob Ebhardt. He survived the war and is understood to be alive in 2011 but we have no further details.
Fl/Sgt. Albert Arthur Law, taken during training in Saskachewan, Canada (courtesy Les and Malcolm Law)
Notes from Peter Sparrow on the above photographs of pilot, F/O. Barker:
'The one on left was taken when he was a Flight Sergeant and they were on holiday together. The second is Reg, now a F/O, and the photo (taken by my Mother) is of them leaving on their honeymoon from Bridgnorth railway station (which is now at one end of the Severn Valley Railway. The footbridge is still there as is the waiting room building on the left - now 'The Railwayman's Arms' pub on the station).'
Hannover - 1945 (archives)
F/O. Reginald Barker. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Grave 26. Son of Reginald Holme and Florence Barker, husband of Joyce Isabel Frances of Bridgenorth, Shropshire, England. A former policeman prior to joining the RAFVR
Sgt. Alastair Stewart Gordon. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Joint Grave 24-25. Son of Alexander and Margaret Mary Gordon of Stanley, Perthshire, Scotland.
Fl/Sgt. Frank Shackleton Elliott. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Joint Grave 24-25. Son of Frank and Clarice Shackleton Elliott, husband of Caroline Elliott.
Fl/Sgt. Albert Arthur Law. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Grave 29. Further information:
Born in November 1923 and the son of Albert and Caroline Law of Lancaster, Lancashire. He was the eldest brother to Ethel, Les, Margaret and Bill. Employed by Lancaster and District Co-operative bakery, George Street, Lancaster, before enlisting and had a Canadian girl friend during the war, had planned to emigrate there after hostilities. Educated at Greaves Central school,
P/O. Jack Murray Clyde Wilson. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Grave 28. Son of Alexander John and Mabel Wilson, husband of Olwen Alys of Essenden, Victoria, Australia.
Sgt. Eamonn Gillen. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Grave 23. Son of Michael and Lilian Gillen, husband of Bridget of Silkmore, Staffordshire, England.
Sgt. Bernard George Aldred. Gorssel General Cemetery Row A. Grave 27. Son of Albert George and Hilda Annie Aldred of Selby, Yorkshire, England.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits to Les Law (brother) and Malcolm Law (nephew) of Fl/Sgt. Albert Arthur Law. Also to Peter Sparrow for the photograph of F/O. Barker sent together with further information. Also thanks for nightfighter information to Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol. 2'.