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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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49 Squadron crest
28/29.08.1942 No. 49 Squadron Lancaster I R5897 Fl/Sgt. Edward Burton

Operation: Nuremberg

Date: 28/29th August 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit:No. 49 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5897

Code: EA-?

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Location: Kalchreuth, Germany.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Edward George Burton 1202457 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Kent Newbery 407725 RAAF Age 24. Killed

Nav/Bmr: Sgt. Gilbert Aitken Swan 407354 RAAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Claude Ibbotson 988498 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Ducket Osbaldeston 619496 RAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Breivis R/132553 (USA) RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie James Capton R/127800 RCAF Age 20. Killed. (1)


Lancaster R5897 took off from its base at RAF Scampton at 21:04 hours destined for Nuremberg. The Captain, Flight Sergeant Edward Burton, was an extremely experienced pilot having completed thirty one operations over enemy held territory totaling over one hundred and eighty hours of flying time. His crew consisted not only of airmen from the UK but also from Australia and Canada as well as an American, Sergeant John Breivis, who was serving in the RCAF. Tragically, Breivis was six days short of his twentieth birthday on the night he was killed.

The 159 aircraft sortie was comprised of 71 Lancasters, 41 Wellingtons, 34 Stirlings and 13 Halifaxes. Twenty three aircraft failed to return; a staggering loss rate of nearly 15%. The Wellingtons were particularly hard hit losing over a third of their total.

Crews were ordered to make a low level attack with Pathfinders marking the targets with indicators which, reportedly, were accurately placed. However, later reconnaissance showed that the number of bombs actually dropped on Nuremberg suggested approximately fifty aircraft actually made it over the target. The city suffered relatively light damage although 137 people in Nuremberg were killed and a further four from bombs dropped on Erlangen ten miles away from the target.

After the war, Allied investigators visited the village of Kalchreuth located 8 miles to the north of Nuremberg.

During an interview with Burgermeister Ulrich in 1946, they learnt that a bomber had crashed near the village and that the crew was buried in the local cemetery.

Although he was not the Burgermeister at the time of the crash he was a resident of the village and witnessed the events that night. Herr Ulrich recalled that the aircraft came down between 1 and 2 a.m. on August 29th. 1942. On impact with the ground, he saw a large explosion which he assumed was the bomb load that had not yet been dropped. An engine, which was the largest part of the aircraft found, was discovered four kilometres away from the main crash site. Scattered amongst the wreckage was the burned remains of the gallant crew.

According to the gravedigger Herr Holzenleuchter, the burial took place with full military honours at 5 p.m. on September 1st. 1942 at the New Cemetery in Kalchreuth. The inscription on a metal plate attached to the wooden cross read:

Aldeston O.S.B. 619496; Burton E.G. 1202457;
 Capton C. J. 127800; Newbery K. 407725; 
Breivis (no number); Sgt. Brown K. 404995;
 Whalley C.J. 26440; 2 Unknown

The investigative team at the time concluded that as Lancaster R5897 was the only aircraft known to have crashed at Kalchreuth during the war, the two unknown were Sgts Ibbotson and Swan. Strangely enough two of those named on the grave, Sgts Brown and Whalley, were from a different aircraft entirely, that being a Wellington, BJ701, from 57 Squadron also on the Nuremberg raid.

In 1947, exhumation of the grave at Kalchreuth revealed the presence of nine coffins containing of the remains of several other airmen.

Only Newbery, Burton and Swan could be positively identified. The conclusion arrived at, was, that the unidentified remains were those of the other crew members of Lancaster R5897 and the complete crew of Wellington BJ701. In 1948 the crew members of both aircraft were re interred at the Durnbach War Cemetery.

What actually occurred that summer night over Kalchreuth we can only speculate.

No record can be found of a night fighter or flak bringing down an aircraft in that area so the possibility remains that the two aircraft collided in midair and what the villagers thought to be one aircraft going down was in fact two. Bomber Command records show that the attacking force was to approach Nuremberg from the south so perhaps the two aircraft had made their bombing runs and were on the north side of the city heading for home when they crashed. The large explosion witnessed by Herr Ulrich being two aircraft crashing together rather than the bomb load exploding. We shall probably never know for sure.

Sgt. Kent Newbery (courtesy 49 Squadron Association via Colin Bamford)

Courtesy of Album of Honor for Brant County World War II 1939 – 1945. Published in 1946 by The Brantford Kinsmen Club, Ontario, Canada and kindly reproduced with their permission.

(1) Capton Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario is named after Fl/Sgt. Capton.

Durnbach War Cemetery - The quality of these photographs shown here can not be fully appreciated when the size is reduced for the web page. (courtesy David Franklin - David has kindly provided us with permission to release high definition copies to relatives)

Burial Details:

Fl/Sgt. Edward George Burton, Durnbach War Cemetery Grave 11 F 1. Son of George Edward and Florence May Burton; husband of Stella Mary Burton of Porthcawl, Glamorgan, Wales.

Sgt. Kent Newbery, Durnbach War Cemetery Grave 11 F 3. Son of Arthur Kent Newbery and Constance May Newbery of Mitcham, South Australia.

Sgt. Gilbert Aitken Swan, Durnbach War Cemetery Grave 11 F 2. Son of Henry Gilbert and Jessie L. Swan of Brighton, South Australia.

Sgt. Ernest Claude Ibbotson, Durnbach War Cemetery Collective Grave 11 F 4-12. Son of Harry Milson Ibbotson and Florence Mabel Ibbotson of Baildon, Shipley, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. James Ducket Osbaldeston Durnbach War Cemetery Collective Grave 11 F 4-12. Son of Thomas and Grace Osbaldeston of Castleton, Rochdale, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. John Breivis, Durnbach War Cemetery Collective Grave 11 F 4-12. Son of Mr. & Mrs. John Breivis, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.

Fl/Sgt. Leslie James Capton, Durnbach War Cemetery Collective Grave 11 F 4-12. Son of Leslie Walter and Beatrice Capton of Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew.

CHB 21.08.2011
CHB 27.02.2020 Commemorative Feature link added

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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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