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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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429 squadron badge
19/20.02.1944 429 (Bison) Squadron Halifax V LK993 AL:J Flt.Lt. J. Bowen

Operation: Leipzig

Date: 19/20th February 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 429 (Bison) Squadron RCAF

Type: Halifax V

Serial: LK993

Code: AL:J

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire

Location: State Forest, Gardelegen, Germany

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Jack Bowen 122988 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Pilot 2: Flt.Sgt. Clifford Battison Murray R130360 RCAF Age 26. Killed

Flt.Eng: Flt.Sgt. Maurice Edward Bridewell 1394634 RAFVR Age 22 Killed

Nav: Fg.Off. Henry Francis Blackman 134380 RAFVR Age 31. Killed (1)

Air Bmr: WO2. Albert Carmen Forsyth R135855 RCAF Age 25. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Anderson Brown 1367292 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Milton Ray Smoke R169663 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Patrick Anthony Gilfeather 1371853 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Took off at 23:16 hrs from RAF Leeming to attack the city of Leipzig together with 822 other aircraft (561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes. 7 Mosquitoes)

A very sad day for Bomber Command - they had though that the German controllers would send their night-fighter to the diversionary raid on Kiel Bay but when this bomber stream crossed the Dutch coast they were met by a larger force of the night fighters (some that had left for the Kiel diversionary raid returned) They were then under attack all the way to the target.

The winds had not been as forecasted and a number of the bombers had to circle the target waiting for the pathfinders during this period they lost 4 aircraft in collisions and a further 20 from the heavy flak.

The target was cloud covered and the pathfinders had to use the sky-marking technique. No details regarding the effect of the bombing were available.

LK993 was claimed as one of two Halifaxes by either Oblt. Josef Kraft, his 16th Abschuss, from 4./NJG5 as a 4-mot nr. Brandenburg at 6200m at 03:17 hrs; or Oblt. Pauk Zorner, his 26th Abschuss, from 8./NJG6 as a Halifax at near Wesenendorf, W. Gardelegen, 6000 m at 03:17 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten).

In another publication, "Zum nächlichen Luftkriegsgeschehen über Mitteldeutschland Die Abschüsse der Nachtjagdgeschwader sowie der Flakartillerie" by Jörg Helbig records the following:

Another Canadian Halifax fell in Gardelegener airspace to a night fighter at around 03:15 hrs. This concerns the Halifax LK993 of 429th Sqn, which immediately blew up in the air, 5 km SE of Gardelegen and crashed 365 m east of Reichsstraße 71. Most likely this was the 4 mot claimed by Oblt. Paul Zorner from 8./NJG3 at 03:17 hrs, which had already disintegrated in the air after the first attack and which he claimed as: "Lancaster in the airspace westwards of Gardelegen 03.17 hrs".

The following is an extract from report by Flt.Lt. M A Radik from the Berlin Detachment No 4 MREU dated 29th June 1947 (Courtesy John Jones)

"Only very meagre information concerning this crash was obtained from the Burgomeister at Zienau, chowever sufficient is contained in your casualty enquiry and in the records held in Landratsamt at Gardelegen, to provide us with the salient details of this crash.
At approximately 03:00 on the 20th February 1944 Halifax LK993 whilst nearing the target was attacked by the German night fighters and crashed probably with full bomb load at 03:15 in the pine woods 5km South East of Gardelegen about 40 yards East of Gardelegen/Letzlinger Road and was almost completely destroyed by the explosion and fire. As far it could be ascertained no one baled out and the entire crew must have perished in the crash.
The Luftwaffe personnel collected the eight bodies and handed them over to the Burgomeister of Zienau on 22nd February 1944 for burial. These eight bodies were interred in separate graves without coffins and without any religious rites or military honours.
There were no crosses over the graves but a detailed record of personnel buried at Zienau was obtained from the Friedhofsverwalter (Cemetery Manager) at Gardelegen a copy of which is attached to this report. The graves were well looked after by the inhabitants."

Albert Carmen Forsyth RCAF with his bride Jean Nina

Two other aircraft were lost on this operation from 429 Squadron:
Halifax V LK662 AL-Q flown by Fg.Off. Leslie Fincham killed with two other members of his crew - four others survived as PoW.
Halifax V LK974 AL-Z flown by Flt.Lt. John Stephen killed with all but one of the crew - he survived also to become a PoW.

Poppy painting (courtesy Dorothy Murray)

I’ve wanted to paint poppies for a while now, and I finally unpacked my painting supplies, (it was a long month without them!) And it happens to be Remembrance Day so I figured it was the perfect time to try it!
I painted this for my dad. (Can you see the hidden paper plane in the sky? I thought that would be an interesting touch!) Dorothy Murray - Grandaughter of Clifford Battison Murray

Target Token (shown right) presented for accurate bombing of the target Hamburg on the 29/30th July 1943. Taking off in Wellington HE365 at 22:35 hrs and returning at 04:31 hrs. Target bombed at 01:06 at 16,000 ft. Crew: Plt.Off. Bowen, Sgt. Posner, Sgt. Forsyth, Sgt. Brown and Sgt Gilfeather.

Below: Plt.Off. Albert Carmen Forsyth taken during training.

Burial details:

Initially buried at the Prisoners Cemetery at Zienac, Gardelegen.

Flt.Lt. Jack Bowen. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.14. Son of Henry Robert and Ada Alice Bowen. Joined squadron on 27th May 1943 from 23 Operational Training Unit. Grave inscription reads “Lift Up Yours Hearts.” He also lost his brother on the 16th November 1916, G/7140 Pte. Harry Cecil Bowen - 1st (Home Service) Garrison Bn of the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) Buried at the Chichester Cemetery. Grave 121.53..

Plt.Off. Clifford Battison Murray. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.17. Son of James R. Murray and Florence Murray, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, husband of Dorothy Jean Murray. Joined squadron on 12th February 1944. Grave inscription reads “Rest In Peace.” Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off with a Service No. J87658.

Flt.Sgt. Maurice Edward Bridewell. Berlin War Cemetery Joint Grave 9.G.18-19. Born Paddington June quarter 1921 the son of Albert Joseph Bridewell and Amy Bridewell nee Pearce. (Details courtesy Dave Champion) Joined squadron 1 October 1943 from 427 squadron.

Fg.Off. Henry Francis Blackman. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.16. Son of Pte. Walter Culip Blackman (2) and of Alice Louisa Blackman, of Newport, Isle of Wight. Member of the Pharmaceutical Society. Joined squadron on 18th June 1943 from 23 Operational Training Unit. Grave inscription reads “Remembrance For Ever. Mother.” Promoted to Plt.Off. with a Service No. J19817

Plt.Off. Albert Carmen Forsyth. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.13. Son of Albert Edwin and Catherine Forsyth, husband of Jean Nina Forsyth, of Southgate, Middlesex, England. Joined squadron on the 27th May 1943 from 23 Operational Training Unit. Grave inscription reads “For Ever In Our Hearts.”

Sgt. Thomas Anderson Brown. Berlin War Cemetery Joint Grave 9.G.18-19. Son of John R. Brown and Ann Anderson Brown, of Cardenden, Fife, Scotland. Joined squadron on the 27th May 1943 from 23 Operational Training Unit. Grave inscription reads “Not Just Today But Every Day In Silence We Remember.”

Sgt. Milton Ray Smoke. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.12. Son of Frank Smoke, and of Ethel Smoke, of Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Joined squadron 10th September 1943 from 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit. Grave inscription reads “To The Memory Of A Loving Son And Brother. Mother And Sisters.”

Flt.Sgt. Patrick Anthony Gilfeather. Berlin War Cemetery Grave 9.G.15. Son of Patrick and Mary Gilfeather, of Glasgow, Scotland. Joined squadron on the 23rd June 1943. Grave inscription reads “Sadly Missed By His Mum, Dad And Brother Frank. R.I.P.”

(1) His father was killed in the first world war. 33 year old, Rifleman Walter Culip Blackman 943 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Killed in action in France, 1st October, 1914. Son of John and Eliza Jane Blackman, husband of Alice L. Blackman, of Mitchells Rd., Haylands, Ryde, Isle of Wight. Born at Fulham, London, England. Buried at Vendresse British Cemetery Troyon Churchyard. Memorial No. 13.

For John Barnden, Dorothy Murray, Robin Battison, Jason Little, Geraldine Louch and all relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Uwe Jenrich and Peter Drysdale for grave photographs, also thanks to Keith Brown for information and photographs of the pilot, Flt.Lt. Jack Bowen - August 2016. February 2017 - Pat Gilfeather contacted us with photo of Flt.Sgt. Patrick Anthony Gilfeather. Thanks to John Jones for the MREU report and additional material for German claims. Other sources as quoted below.

RS 26.08.2020 - Update to German fighter claim and updated narrative.

RW 05.10.2020 NoK details added for Fl/Sgt. Bridewell courtesy Dave Champion

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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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