Date: 08/09th October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron (Motto: 'Strike and Return')
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Location: North Target area
Pilot: F/O. Murray Cameron Caffyn AUS/409506 RAAF Age 19. PoW (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. C.W. Marshall 1801433 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 259885 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg (Elbe 4B)
Nav: F/O. Frederick Thomson Brown AUS/414639 RAAF Age 23 PoW No: 1363 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang (L1)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Norman Lindsay Wulff AUS/413303 RAAF Age 22. PoW No: 1363 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg (Elbe 4B)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.R. McGarvey 1550844 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 259888 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357) (2)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. G.G. Gannon 1398334 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 259871 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. J.A. Richardson 802552 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 259901 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23:13 hrs on an operation to Hanover.
Of all the raids on Hannover, the one launched by Bomber Command on the night of 8/9th October, 1943, was the most destructive and caused the greatest loss of life in a single operation against the city.
Many thousands more inhabitants were injured and made homeless by the fires that consumed over 3,900 homes. The old city centre was accurately marked by the Pathfinders and the resulting bombing destroyed vital services such as the railway station, electricity, water and telephone systems. The Continental tire factory and the Hanomag factory producing military vehicles were also badly damaged.
The city was heavily defended by flak batteries and night fighters, and although a diversionary raid against Bremen was carried out, the German air defence controllers were not to be misled. Of the 504 aircraft that took off, 14 Lancasters and 13 Halifaxes were shot down over the target area or during the trip back to base.
Lancaster ED658 was intercepted and shot down by Hptm. Ernst Zechlin (3) at 01:52 hrs. The pilot ordered all the crew to abandon the aircraft as both wings were ablaze - all the crew complied and all landed safely only to be immediately captured by German troops. The crew were sent to Dulag Frankfurt where they were interrogated and sorted as to which PoW camps they would e sent.
(1) F/O. Murray Cameron Caffyn after initial interrogation at the Dulag in Frankfurt he was placed on a train for Stalag Luft Sagan (now Zagan - in the West of Poland). During the journey at 15:40 hrs whilst the train was at Fröttstädt station F/O. Caffyn became unconscious. Despite medical attention provided by the German medical orderlies they pronounced him dead 15 minutes later. His body was removed at the station in Gotha and buried in the German military cemetery by the hospital. The crew had assumed he died from injuries sustained during bale out, he had earlier complained to them of stomach pains whilst at the Dulag but failed to report it to the Germans. It was concluded however that he had died from a massive heart attack.
(2) The family of Sgt. McGarvey living in Cathcut, Glasgow, Scotland had, in the meantime heard via the Red Cross on a card, hand written by Sgt. McGarvey that F/O. Caffyn had also turned up at the Dulag and was OK. It seems that his brother, Sgt. Alexander Alistair Robertson McGarvey 1345818 RAFVR (4) was being held at Stalag Kopernikus and hoped that the brothers would serve at the same PoW camp. (Which in fact, proved to be the case) Further brief details here.
(3) Hptm. Zechlin had a total of 8 abschüsse by the end of the war from which he survived, despite being wounded during a low level attack on Langensalza, Germany on the 19/20th February 1944. (Information courtesy Kracker Archive on this website)
(4) Sgt. Alexander Alistair Robertson McGarvey was shot down on the 03rd August 1943 during an attack on Hamburg. Piloting Stirling III EF409 BU-V when the pilot was forced to ditch in the North Sea off Wilhelmshaven. 5 of the crew were sadly lost. For his actions after the ditching the pilot was awarded with the George Medal. London Gazette 14th August 1945:
"In August, 1943, this airman was pilot of an aircraft returning from an attack on Hamburg. His aircraft was hit and became uncontrollable. At approximately 02:00 hours he gave orders to abandon the aircraft. He alighted in the sea near to his navigator (5), who was a poor swimmer and had been wounded. Despite his own wounds, which rendered his legs almost useless, Warrant Officer McGarvey swam towards the navigator, who was blowing his whistle. Searchlights were being played on them and they tried to swim to the nearest shore position, Warrant Officer MoGarvey towing the navigator who, after a time, could barely help himself along and relapsed into periods of unconsciousness. When dawn broke they set course for a light vessel which could be seen in the distance. The tide was, however, carrying them away from the vessel. The navigator was only just conscious and Warrant Officer McGarvey, discarding his "Mae West", swam to the light vessel to obtain assistance. At 10.30 hours the navigator was rescued in an unconscious condition but recovered after artificial respiration had been applied. Warrant Officer McGarvey had assisted him for over 8 hours, eventually saving his life in most difficult and dangerous circumstances".
(5) Navigator Sgt. A.B. Grainger 1060146 RAFVR PoW No: 222407 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg (Elbe 4B) - survived the war.
Initially buried at the Gotha Military Cemetery. On the 26th November 1947 his body was exhumed by Captain J.D. Cheetham and F/O. R.P. Hunter of the MRES and then reinterred at the cemetery as described below.
F/O. Murray Cameron Caffyn. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave: 8.C.32. Born on the 13th December 1913 at Maryborough, Victoria, the son of Murray Cameron Gordon and Edith Jane Caffyn, of Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Remembered".
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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