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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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115 Squadron Crest
24/25.04.1944 115 Squadron Lancaster II DS734 KO-Y Plt.Off. Robert R. Cagienard

Operation: Karlsruhe

Date: 24/25th April 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS734

Code: KO-Y

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire

Location: 3 km North East Mechleen, Belgium

Pilot: Plt.Off. Robert Roland Cagienard 174879 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Charles Philip Kelly 2204866 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Flt.Sgt. Frederick Albert Foster 1321968 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Bmr: Sgt. Joseph Murdoch MacLeod R151066 RCAF Age 23. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Shorten 1508293 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Albert Clayton Letcher R192848 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Frank Desmond King 1892896 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

We are indebted to Filip Doms and the 8th May Committee, Mechelen region in Belgium for the photographs used within this page of remembrance. (see links) We are pleased that we shall be working closely with Filip in the future.


Taking off at 21:51 hrs from RAF Witchford in Cambridgeshire, joining some 636 aircraft to bomb the city of Karlsruhe. Another operation to München with 265 aircraft taking part, was also taking place at about the same time. Strong winds and cloud over the target spoiled the operation with many bombs falling in open countryside. Only the very northern regions of the city was to suffer serious damage, with 900 houses destroyed or seriously damaged. Casualties on the ground were reported light at 118 killed, 133 injured.

Above: Crew - details as shown

The allies lost some 23 aircraft, some due to enemy action, others to aircraft defects caused by icing. 119 crew lost their lives, 24 taken PoW, with 5 others evading capture.

One of two Lancaster lost from 115 Squadron, the other:
Lancaster I HK542 KO-J Flown by 20 year old, Flt.Sgt. Peter A. Bennett 1601570 RAFVR from Frilford, Berkshire. Killed with all 6 other crew. After being shot down by the same Luftwaffe ace 22 year old, Oblt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer (4 claims on this operation alone) at 02:03 hrs, near Alken.

Lancaster DS 734 was attacked and shot down just 25 minutes later at 02:28 hrs. The SN-2 radar was inoperative following a fire at St. Elmo, however the night vision of his air gunner, Ofw. Willi Gänsler guided the ace to the four targets which he shot down with a single burst from his cannons.

Right: Oblt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer

Lt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (nicknamed the “Night Ghost of Trond”) went on to obtain a total of 121 to his credit. He survived the war taking over his family wine business, but was killed in a car accident, France, on 13th July 1950.

The fine memorial erected by the 8th May Comité - Mechelen region (detailed below)

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Robert Roland Cagienard. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Son of Alexander and Edith Ida Cagienard, of Ilford, Essex, England.

Sgt. Charles Philip Kelly. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.37. Son of Charles and Margaret Kelly, of Somme Drive, Cregagh, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Flt.Sgt. Frederick Albert Foster. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.36. Son of Albert Ernest and Annie Dorothy Foster (née Aldcock), of Alma Place, Thornton Heath, Surrey, England.

Plt.Off. Joseph Murdoch MacLeod. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.8. Born 21st July 1921 in Lucknow, Ontario. Son of John George and Emma Justine MacLeod, of Capreol, Ontario, Canada. Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J92030.

Plt.Off. MacLeod's brother, Pilot J10589 Plt.Off. J.D.P. MacLeod was shot down by Flak on the 23rd March 1943 whilst on an Anti-Shipping sortie off the Frisian Islands (415 Sqn Hampden AE395 GX-S). This resulted in him becoming a PoW. Stalag Luft 3 Sagan & Belaria/PoW Number 928.

Sgt. William Shorten. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Born in the December 1921 Qtr. Son of James and Rose (née Crossley) Shorten of Bradford, Yorks, England. He had five brothers and one sister. Married Edith Enderby at Bradford in the March 1940 Qtr. Daughter Jean was born in the December 1940 Qtr while son, David, arrived in the June 1942 Qtr.

Plt.Off. Albert Clayton Letcher. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave IVA.D.21. Born 3rd July 1922 in Brule Mines, Alberta, Canada. He was the son of George Lavers and Jessie (née Burrows) Letcher of Mountain Park, Alberta, Canada. At the time of enlistment on 8 October 1942 he was employed as a forest ranger for the British Columbia Forest Service. He married June Evelyn Blackman at Vancouver on 12 August 1942. Daughter Susan Marilyn arrived in 1943 and met her father just once before he was posted to the UK. Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. with Service No. J92031.

Sgt. Frank Desmond King. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Coll. Grave IVA.D.20. Born 22nd December 1924, Sgt King was the son of Frederick William and Edith Alice (née Turk) King of Tenterden, Kent, England. At the start of hostilities he was employed as a "newsagent, bookseller and stationer's assistant" with his older brother, Derek.

For further details our thanks to the following, Ken Switzer, Filip Doms of the 8th May Comité - Mechelen region, Dave Champion for comprehensive crew details (May 2019), further details courtesy of sources shown. Thanks to John Jones for the information re: Plt.Off. MacLeod's brother.

RS 17.05.2020 - Corrections and addition of details of Plt.Off. MacLeod's brother

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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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