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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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192 Squadron Crest
08/09.02.1945 No. 192 Squadron Halifax III MZ342 DT-B Fl/Sgt. Brian L. Butler

Operation: BS - Politz operation (Bomber Support)

Date: 08/9th February 1945 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 192 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ342

Code: DT-B

Base: RAF Foulsham, Norfolk

Location: North Sea off Denmark

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Brian Leonard Butler NZ/429992 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kenneth George Cheshire 159179 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. David Percy Maeers Finnigan 176001 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

B/Aim: Fl/Sgt. Douglas William Webb 1187233 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Dixon Mitcheson 1592400 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Spec/Op: F/O. Noel Burrows 51119 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Evan Albert Ernest Tucker 1852712 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Brian Frederick Woods 1881002 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

We would very much appreciate contact from Maryanne Butler who contacted us recently - with regret she did not leave a contact email for us to reply.


Halifax III MZ 342 DT-B left RAF Foulsham at 19:41 hrs. on a Bombing Support mission to Stettin. Their task was to monitor their radar for presence of night fighters. On the homebound journey at 2,000 feet it was involved in a mid-air collision in heavy cloud with Lancaster I PD376 of 625 squadron, flown by P/O. D.E. Chalkley.

The accident occurred circa 01:20 hrs. in position 5617 N 0748 E and though the Lancaster was to escape any serious damage and land safely back in England, the Halifax crashed into the sea.

Six crew including F/O. Burrows, the specialist operator, have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede memorial. Whilst Fl/Sgt. Webb is buried in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) cemetery, with Sergeant Woods resting next to Able Seaman Gordon Henry Smith of HMS Pintail, and an unknown soldier in Husby Churchyard.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Brian Leonard Butler. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 285. Son of Joseph and Mary (née Fabish) Butler of Huirangi, Waitara, Taranaki, New Zealand. Further information: Fl/Sgt. Butler was born on the 18th of December 1923 in New Plymouth and educated at Huirangi Primary School, Waitara. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, riding, swimming and played Rugby at school. He worked as a farmer for five years on his father’s farm at Waitara. After completing a ATC correspondence course he applied for RNZAF Aircrew in May 1942, enlisting at Seagrove on the 16th of August 1942. On the 25th of September 1942 he was promoted to Sergeant. October 1943 after finishing his training in New Zealand he sailed for the UK and was made a Flight Sergeant on the 25th of March 1944 before being commissioned to the rank of Pilot Officer on the 5th of February 1945. After further training and converting to Halifaxes, at 1658 Conversion unit at Riccall joining192 Squadron at Foulsham on the 6th of December, carrying out twelve operations over Germany and Holland.

Sgt. Kenneth George Cheshire. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 274. Son of Edith D. Cheshire of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, England.

F/O. David Percy Maeers Finnigan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 266. Son of Stanley and Mabel Annie Finnigan and brother of Colin, Norman and Barbara Finnigan of Southgate, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Douglas William Webb. Esbjerg Cemetary (Fourfelt). Plot A. Row 13. Grave 9. Son of William Maurice and Ethel Louise Webb of Bristol and husband of Marguerite Conibear Webb of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Further information: Fl/Sgt. Webb's body was found after it had drifted ashore at Haurvig on the Danish North Sea coast on the 21st of February 1946 - buried at Esjberg.

Sgt. Robert Dixon Mitcheson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 276. Son of Robert Dixon and Amelia Mitcheson of Newsham, Northumberland, England.

F/O. Noel Burrows. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 265. Son of Thomas and Margaret Burrows and husband of Mary Burrows of Pontllanfroith, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Sgt. Evan Albert Ernest Tucker. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 277. Son of Edgar Evan and Dorothy (née Truscott) Tucker of Bethel, Cornwall, England. Further information: Sgt. Tucker was born at Boldventure, Bethel, St. Austell, Cornwall on the 5th of June 1925. He had one sister, Enid Margaret born in 1933. Attended Mount Charles primary school and West Hill Central School before working as a telegram delivery boy for the Post Office.

Sgt. Brian Frederick Woods. Husby Churchyard, Denmark. Son of Charles Oliver and Violet Georgia Woods of Penge, Kent, England. Further information: Sgt. Woods body was found, having drifted ashore at a locality on the Danish North Sea coast named Strandlen 24 on Aaberg Forstrad on the 21st of August 1945. He was buried on the 24th of August at Husby Cemetery.

Researcher - Lindra Ibrom for Aircrew Remembered. With special thanks to John and Margaret Clarke for the information and photos of Sergeant Tucker, also to Peter and David Finnigan for the information and photo of Flying Officer Finnigan and finally to Peter Kivell and the Butler Family website for information and photos of Flight Sergeant Butler. Maryanne Butler for her recent contact.



At RAF Kelstern, of the twenty-nine aircraft detailed to attack Pölitz, all returned safely to Base. However, one crew was late returning following a most eventful trip.


On February 8/9, 1945, P/O Butler and his eight man crew were detailed in Halifax MZ342 for specialist bomber support of the attack on an oil refinery at Pölitz, Germany. After departing RAF Foulsham at 1941 hours nothing was heard from this crew. However, it not would take long for the tragic story of this crew to unfold.

As dawn was breaking, one hundred kilometres northwest of RAF Foulsham, at RAF Kelstern, Squadron mates and ground crew anxiously awaited the arrival of Lancaster PD376, skippered by P/O D.E.J. Chalkley, still unaccounted for.

The reason for their delayed return soon became apparent as PD376 lined up on final, reduced to three functioning engines. After a textbook landing, as P/O Chalkley taxied to his dispersal, onlookers noted fragments of an aircraft impaled on the leading edge of the wing with the feathered engine. On examination this wreckage revealed manufacture’s serial numbers of a Halifax bomber’s tail-plane: Halifax III, MZ342 of No. 192 Squadron.

For P/O Chalkley and his crew this trip was uneventful, until the homework leg over the Danish coast, when in the dark of night, cloaked in cloud, they experienced as sudden jolt. Shortly afterwards they were forced to shut down and feather an engine. They were unaware that they had collided with another aircraft, until landing at home Base and presented with the evidence impaled in their wing. They had not seen the other aircraft before impact and were unaware of its fate afterwards.

The mechanics of this collision indicate that the impact of these two aircraft involved the wing of Lancaster PD375 amputating the tail-plane of MZ342, rendering her uncontrollable, spinning into the North Sea. Unfortunately, there would be no survivors from this experienced crew, ages 19 to 29—including husband and father, bomb aimer, Douglas ‘Douggie’ William Webb.

Following repairs Lancaster I PD376, CF-C2, was transferred to No. 576 Squadron as UL-C2, and S.O.C., 3-12-46.


After P/O Chalkley landed at Kelstern with the grisly remains of MZ342’s tail-plane embedded in PD376’s wing it was apparent to staff officers that it was most unlikely that any of MZ342’s crew managed to bale out and survive the unforgiving North Sea. The crew was initially reported as missing and subsequently killed in action on February 9, 1945.

PD376’s crew noted that the collision occurred at 01:20 February 9th. Tentative position was at geographic coordinates, 56 17N 07 48E, approximately six miles off the West Jutland coast.

It was not unusual for the remains of lost airmen to be washed ashore on the Danish coastline, for a long time after the loss of their aircraft. Over time, weather conditions, strong tides and storms could break up crashed aircraft on the floor of the North Sea. In the case of the loss of MZ342, the bodies of these two crewmen were located not far from the supposed crash site.

Although Commonwealth forces did not participate in a ground campaign on Danish territory, Allied air forces flew a variety of missions though Danish airspace. Many airmen lost their lives and were buried in churchyards and cemeteries across the country. The Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery contains the war graves of 272 Commonwealth burials, 25 unidentified.

It is noteworthy that following an order by Hitler in 1944 that German soldiers carried out unchristian acts on servicemen’s remains, rendering them unidentifiable, often buried on beaches and in sand dunes.

2. F/Sgt Douglas William Webb,

His epitaph reads:

Sleep well, Douggie.
Your wife, son and parents
Know the price was too high

Left: F/Sgt Douglas William Webb’s Headstone. (Courtesy of John Thede-Keats)

3. Sgt Brian Frederick Woods,

His epitaph reads:

Good-night dear Brian,
We pray your sacrifice
Will never be in vain


The loss of MZ342 and her crew exemplifies the lifespan vagaries and unpredictability of airmen serving with Bomber Command during the Second World War.

A statement made by P.J. Naworynski in his book, AGAINST ALL ODDS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF CANADA’S UNLIKELY HOCKEY HEROES, brings this into vivid focus:

You didn’t have to do anything wrong to get shot down; you just had to be at the wrong spot at the wrong time. It was a question of luck.

Mid-air collisions were no exception!

This book chronicles the RCAF Flyers hockey team’s bid for the 1948 Olympic gold medal. Several of the players were Bomber Command vets. One deserves special mention, W/C Hubert Brooks MC CD, who transitioned from evader to POW to evader, joining the Armia Krajowa (A.K.) partisans, the Polish Underground Army. For approximately 2 years he evaded re–capture and was engaged in active guerilla warfare against the German army of occupation in southern Poland.

Left: Against All Odds. (Courtesy of P.J. Naworynski)

It is noteworthy that MZ342 was manned by eight crew members, as No. 192 Squadron was involved in Radio Counter Measures (RCM), as well as bombing Main Force targets. No. 100 Group RAF was tasked with bomber support utilizing RCM techniques. Other squadrons participating in this specialized role included; No. 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna and No. 462 Squadron at RAF Feltwell, later RAF Foulsham.

RCM aircraft were equipped with sophisticated jamming equipment, operating independently of the main bombing force with the intention of disrupting enemy ground-to-air and air-to-air radar capabilities. The goal was to impair radio telephony communications between night fighters and their ground stations. Airborne jamming and screening were employed to decoy night fighters to intercept diversionary raids forcing them to land to refuel—minimizing Main Force losses.

RCM techniques included:

ABC (Airborne Cigar): receiving and jamming ground-to-air instructions
Mandrel: jamming ground-to-air enemy fighter control radar
Gaston/Tinsel: jamming ground radar station’s voice transmission
Carpet: jamming radar controlled flak
Peter/Sunshine: developing bogus alerts on enemy radar, to confuse the enemy of the numbers of aircraft detected.
Window: dropping aluminum strips to blind ground radar.

Perhaps the most ingenious application of this technology occurred during the evening and early morning hours of June 5/6, 1944, with the launching of Operation Overlord. 16 Lancasters of 617 Squadron and 6 G-H equipped Stirlings of 218 Squadron dropped a dense screen of Window, which advanced slowly across the Channel, simulating a large convoy of ships approaching the French coast between Boulogne and Le Havre, almost eighty kilometres northeast of the actual landing beaches. The month of precision navigation practice to pull this off was invaluable. Surprise was complete and German defences caught flatfooted. It is impossible to predict how many Allied lives were spared as a result of this example of prolonged precision ‘bombing’.

RCM aircraft were manned by an extra crew member, often fluent in German, tasked with operating the jamming equipment and transmitting instructions on German frequencies, intended to confuse German controllers and night fighter pilots with false instructions and countermanding orders. These ‘special operators’ sat in a curtained off area near the rear of the aircraft.

Above: ABC masts stand out well on this No 462 Squadron Halifax B Mk3 at Foulsham in a most unusual photo, despite strict security on No 100 Group Squadrons.

Above: A rare photograph of ‘R-Roger’ of No 462 Squadron RAAF, displays a full array of aerials: masts above and below the fuselage are ‘Airborne Cigar’ transmitter aerials; the automatic ‘Window’ layer lies aft of the H2S dome below ‘R-Roger’. Under the rear turret is the arrow aerial of ‘Monica’. No 100 Group retained ‘Monica’ long after Bomber Command had discontinued its use in order to draw off German night fighters from the main bombing force.

Left Behind the flight engineer’s compartment, the H2S operator sat facing forward on the port side. Photos courtesy of John Naylor, Wellington-Halifax by Brian J. Rapier and Chaz Bowyer.

Sadly, the North Sea would claim forever the remains of six of MZ342’s crew. With no known burial place they are commemorated with their names and decorations inscribed on panels at the Runnymede Memorial. No room for next of kin or epitaphs.

During our research for various archive reports it has become evident that on occasion this additional information has been addended to some CWGC pages for airmen included on the Runnymede Memorial.

One such example is the loss of No. 582 Squadron’s Lancaster III NE166,

S/L A.W. Raybould and crew on June 5/6, 1944, the eve of D-Day. All seven crew members are named on the Runnymede Memorial. Six of them have their parents and birth place noted on the CWGC site, no epitaphs:

Pilot: S/L Arthur William Raybould DSO DFM 122402
Flight Engineer: F/O Gerald Longfield Ramsay 52871
2nd Navigator: F/O Arthur Hugh Grange RCAF J27158

Right: F/O Grange)

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: W/O Henry Kitto DFM 619406
Mid-upper Gunner: P/O John Norris Papworth DFC 169510
Rear Gunner, F/L Dennis Johnson DFC 48317

Only Navigator, F/L Arthur Feeley DFC 142914, has no additional information on his CWGC page.

It is believed that S/L Raybould and F/O Grange were shot by German soldiers in a wood near Lisieux, approximately 80 miles from NE166’s crash site. Eye witnesses reported finding the bodies of three crew members in the immediate vicinity of NE166’s crash site. Unfortunately, the burial sites of this crew eluded the MRSE team, resulting in them being commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

It is interesting to note that this highly decorated, officer-only crew, included two navigators and no bomb aimer. One can only wonder if this crew realized the historical significance of this raid and volunteered to be placed on the Battle Order—ultimately paying with their lives.

Or – just a thought - could these 2 men have been ordered to just witness and record this special operation ‘first-hand’ – 2 navigators working together would ensure the accuracy of information and would immediately highlight any differences in reported information or inputting errors. My uncle Leslie (bomb aimer and a good mathematician) told my father that he often assisted Robert Frankfurth (navigator) with his calculations.

Just anther thought – 100 Group was a highly skilled and specialised and secret group involved in all sorts of new technologies etc. We know that the beginning of a computer age was being used such as machines built by Turing. This brings me to my first experience of high-tech machines in 1970s when working at Sussex River Authority – the computer section employed 4 girls on inputting information into massive computers ( the 4 girls were paired off so each pair was inputting same exact information, which ensured only correct information was loaded into computers – any typing errors or differences would immediately alert computer operators. This procedure saved hundreds of hours of manual checking of every tiny detail – 2 x 2 inputs of lengthy studies, reports etc could rush together through computers in minutes without fear of errors or omissions creeping in. MH

We are currently asking the CWGC administration to clarify if this additional information on their website was a special exception or current accepted CWGC protocol—if so the date that this policy was accepted so that we can commend them for their flexibility and compassion for the families of those airmen who ‘failed to return’— left without a known burial location. Remarkable progress on their part. Response below.

Query re addition of NOK l-00133226

February 2, 2023.

Dear Mr Albrecht,

Thank you for your message concerning casualty records for individuals listed on the Runnymede Memorial.

We have previously outlined to you that we do not add new information to our historical records. Adding new biographical information about either the casualty or their family only occurs when the Commission had no contact with the family post-war, and where the request comes from a direct next-of-kin (parents, spouse, siblings and children of the casualty).

Kind Regards,

James Wallis

James Wallis

Case Officer (Commemorations)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire, SL6 7DX, United Kingdom

Tel: | Website:



Our Boys in WW I & WW II:
CWGC Website
WELLINGTON-HALIFAX by Brian J. Rapier and Chaz Bowyer


John Naylor
Maureen Hicks
Mike Edwards
Roy Wilcock, Honorary Member 625 Squadron Project

Submission by Jack Albrecht in memory of MZ342’s crew and with respect for their relatives.


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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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