Date: 30/31st January 1944 (Sunday/Monday
Unit: No. 576 Squadron (motto: Carpe Diem - 'Seize the opportunity'). 1 Group
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Eltham Wolds, Lincolnshire
Pilot: P/O. Edward Horace Childs 168690 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Victor Ernest Thomas White 1631037 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 1098 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Nav: Sgt. Eric Bardsley 1455475 RAFVR Age 34. PoW No: 1093 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (1)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Elliott Johnstone R/130242 RCAF Age 26. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert Reginald Bowles 1600205 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clifford Allen Giffard 1528612 RAFVR Age? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clifford Moore Brewster 1774080 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
446 lancaster's, 32 Halifax's and 12 Mosquitoes were sent to Berlin for the third against the Big City in four nights. When the diversionary raid by five Mosquitoes on Braunschweig (bombing between 19:55 and 19:53 hrs) was completely ignored by the Luftwaffe.
Taking off at around 16:50 hrs with 10 others from the squadron for their second successive operation to Berlin. Each carrying 1 x 4000 lb and 9 incendiary bombs of various grades and sizes. The weather was described as cloudy with tops of 1,800 ft. The crews were instructed to bomb from 20,000 ft or above using blind bombing technique with the Pathfinders leaving a good concentration of sky markers.
The squadron reported that they observed a good glow of fires and several explosions. The flak was moderate and the German searchlights ineffective due to the heavy clouds. Considerable night fighter activity was reported both over the target and during the homebound trip.
All but one aircraft returned safely. W4245 was attacked by a night fighter (note) and exploded in mid-air over Königsberg, with large parts of the aircraft falling in 'Lower Pond' in Königsberg.
(1) On the 19th of April 1945 RAF Typhoons mistook the column of PoWs moving along a small road for German troop movement. They attacked the column with rockets and cannon fire and killed dozens of airmen and wounded another 30 and killing some German guards. They did come in for a second run but for some of the brave prisoners actually ran in the field waving their arms to stop the attack, which the Typhoons did, realising their tragic mistake.
(2) Commissioned and promoted to P/O (J/87253) with effect 29th January 1944
Above L-R: Rear - Fl/Sgt. Ronald Johnstone, Sgt. Herbert Bowles, Sgt. Bardsley, P/O. Edward Childs and Sgt. Victor White. Front - Sgt. Clifford Brewster and Sgt. Clifford Giffard (Courtesy Lucy Childs and Clay Johnstone)
(note) Probably as claimed by Lt. Robert Wolf, his 10th claim, from 3./NJG5 at 20:08; Ofw. Erich Kaschig, his 2nd Abschuss, from 10./NJG5 near Wittstock area at 20:23; Oblt. Arnold Brinkmann, his 2nd Abschuss, from Stab I./NJG3 North Berlin at 20:35. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
P/O. Edward Horace Childs. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 9.K.6. Born on the 31st of August 1918 in Holloway, London. The youngest son of William John Childs and Rosetta Gertrude Childs (née Brookes). He had 2 older brothers, William Reginald Childs ( my grandfather) and Robert Joseph Childs. Early in WW2 Ted had been a police officer and was awarded for bravery in the course of his duties during the bombings on London. Ted then trained as a pilot in Canada, earning an award of merit. He was engaged to be married to Bunny.
Sgt. Clifford Moore Brewster. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 9.K.9. Son of Thomas and Annie Elizabeth Brewster, of Howden, Yorkshire, England. Epitaph: 'At Rest'.
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Elliott Johnstone. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 9.K.10. Born on the 31st December 1918 in Weyburn. Worked as a miner for Inco in Sudbury. Enlisted 09th October 1940 Son of Arthur Edward Johnstone (died 1964, age 75) and Macil Irene Johnstone (née Elliott - died 1972, age 82), of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada. Epitaph: 'In Eternal Youth, In God's Own Care, He Shall Live On With Him'.Johnstone Lake, Saskatchewan, adjoining Haultain Lake, south of the City of Moose Jaw was named after him.
Sgt. Herbert Reginald Bowles. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 9.K.8. Son of Ernest Walter (died 1952) and Jessie Mary Bowles (died 1951), of Eastleigh, Hampshire, England. Epitaph: 'In Proud And Loving Memory Of A Very Dear Son And Dearly Beloved Brother'.
Sgt. Clifford Allen Giffard. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 9.K.7. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Eric Bardsley. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. 6.B.9. Son of David (died 11th May 1941, age 61) and Mary Bardsley (née Beckwith - died 11th December 1978, age 98). Husband of Frances M. Bardsley, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Epitaph; 'A Good Life Hath But Few Days: But A Good Name Endureth For Ever. Eccl.XII.13'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten, Air 27-2047-3/4 National Archives, Kracker Archives, Paradie Archives, Lucy Childs and Clay Johnstone (relatives of crew members).
Other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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