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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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166 Squadron crest
16/17.12.1943 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster III JB639 AS-S P/O. Arthur E. Brown

Operation: Berlin

Date: 16/17th December 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 166 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB639

Code: AS-S

Base: RAF Kirmington. Lincolnshire.

Location: Little Walk Farm, Thornton Curtis, Lincolnshire

Pilot: P/O. Arthur Edward Brown 170737 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles George Thompson 1637596 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Henry Albert Williams 1801135 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Air.Bmr: Sgt. Norman Nowell Griffin 1396113 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Dennis Perry 1324106 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Victor Smith 1811495 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Wilson Inglis 1569642 RAFVR Age 31. Killed


Took off at 16.20 hrs. to bomb the capital of Germany - Berlin. The raid consisted of 483 Lancaster's and 10 Mosquitoes with a further 5 mosquitoes being used to drop decoy flares south of Berlin.

The German night-fighter controllers plotted the bomber stream with great accuracy. Fierce fighting incurred during the run in and also over the target area with many Lancaster's engaging the night fighters. 19 Lancaster's were lost on this raid by this action alone. But the real tragedy of the night came when the remainder of the forcer returned home.

Above: P/O. Arthur Edward Brown and Sgt. Charles George Thompson.

They managed to shake off the night fighters by taking a much more northerly route over Denmark using up precious fuel - many of the bases were covered in very low cloud. As a result a further 16 Lancaster's were lost (Some reports state 29 Lancaster's lost in this way) in crashes and collisions, with approximately 156 aircrew killed and 39 injured.

Lancaster JB639 carried out the raid and also outrun the night fighters when, on the return journey, the crew were attempting to locate the airfield again through a very low cloud base and over high ground when at 23.35 hrs. the aircraft crashed near Little Walk Farm, Thornton Curtiss, Lincolnshire - all the crew were killed. It is not yet known exactly how the crash happened - Lack of fuel or the weather conditions or both.

Above - Order of Battle for this operation by 166 Squadron.

Three aircraft failed through various reasons to join this operation, ED327, W4996 and DV367

The number of red crosses perhaps reflect some of the high losses suffered by Bomber Command, this is but one snap shot, by one squadron! Look at the subsequent losses from this record:-

ED411 AS-H2. Flown by F/O. Peter Walter Robert Pollett. Age 22. Operation Berlin. 16/17th December 1943. All 7 crew killed.
LM385 AS-N. Flown by Fl/Sgt. Stanley Frederick Miller. Age 22. Operation Berlin. 16/17th December 1943. All 7 crew killed.
EE137 AS-C2. Flown by W/O. William Valentine Butler. Age 28. Operation: Braunschweig. 14/15th January 1944. 5 crew killed, 2 PoW.
DV404 AS-E. Flown by W/Cmdr. C. Scragg. MBE, AFC. Operation: Braunschweig. 14/15th January 1944. 6 crew killed, 1 PoW.
W4996 AS-R. Flown by F/O. Richard Edward Hicks. Age 22. Operation Berlin. 27/28th January 1944. All 7 crew killed.
ME447 AS-E. Flown by P/O. Phelps. Operation Berlin. 28/29th January 1944. 5 crew killed, 2 PoW.
ND382 AS-Z. Flown by P.O. Joseph Horsley DFC Age 22. Operation Berlin. 28/29th January 1944. All 7 crew killed.
ME636 AS-E. Flown by W/O. George Arthur Woodcock-Stevens. Age 30. Operation Berlin. 15/16th February 1944. Killed with all 7 crew.
LM392 AS-A. Flown by W/O. Harold Edward Jupp. Age 22. Operation: Augesburg. 25/26th February 1944. 5 crew killed, 2 PoW. and 1 evading capture.
JB151 AS-O. Fl/Lt. Wilfred Jack Stammers. Age 27. Operation: Frankfurt. 22/23rd March 1944. 4 crew killed, 3 PoW.

Burial details:

P/O. Arthur Edward Brown. Ipswich Old Cemetery. Sec. C. Div. 31. Grave 67. Son of James Arthur and Ruby Evelyn Brown, of Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Sgt. Charles George Thompson. Cambridge City Cemetery Grave 14716A. Son of John and Elizabeth Thompson, of Langside, Glasgow, Scotland.

Sgt. Henry Albert Williams. Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery. St. John's Sec. 353/354/ Grave 19339. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Medal collection - photo courtesy Michel Beckers

Sgt. Norman Nowell Griffin. Hove New Cemetery Block 1. Grave 95. Son of Gilbert John and Violet Blanche Griffin, of Hove, England.

Sgt. Leslie Dennis Perry. Cambridge City Cemetery Grave 14716. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Edward Victor Smith. Romford Cemetery Sec L.L. Grave 2834. Son of Victor George and Edith May Smith, of Westcliff-on-Sea, nephew of Mr. E. H. Smith, of Romford, Essex, England.

Sgt. David Wilson Inglis. Brigg Cemetery Plot B. Uncons. Grave 181. Son of William James Inglis and Jane Inglis, husband of Mary Jane Inglis.

Researched for Bernard Brown, brother of pilot, P/O. Arthur Edward Brown, also for Gordon Thompson - nephew of Sgt. Charles George Thompson and for relatives of the crew. For further details our thanks to the sources shown 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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