Date: 14/15th January 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 115 Squadron (3 Group)
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire
Location: Gittelde, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Horace Christiansen NZ/413551 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
Pilot 2: Fl/Lt. Ronald Anthony Vinson 42662 RAF Age 30. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Arthur Rodhouse 1661997 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: F/O. George Lionel Downer DFC. 130207 RAFVR Age23. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Claude Henry Wright NZ/417144 RNZAF Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Frederick Arthur Braithwaite NZ/415075 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Kewin 1532576 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Jack Lambert Boswell-Kitching NZ/416966 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 17:02 hrs from RAF Witchford in Cambridgeshire, part of a force of 498 aircraft targeting the aircraft component and other armament manufacturing facilities in and around the city of Brunswick.
Being an important industrial area the target was heavily defended by flak installations and Luftwaffe night fighters.
Flying almost due east, the bomber stream crossed the North Sea and entered enemy held territory over North Holland. Turning south east toward Brunswick, in the region of Bremen, the bombers were met by many German night fighters infiltrating the stream. In all, 38 aircraft were lost during the raid which turned out to be very unsuccessful in terms of damage to the target and the loss of so many aircrews.
Of the many aircraft lost on this operation, very little information of claims can be identified from the Luftwaffe records. Known to have come down at Gittelde, 16 km NE of Northeim. The Lancaster had been delivered to the Squadron just two months previously on the 30th November 1943.
The Squadron lost another crew on this operation:
Lancaster II DS720 KO-D Flown by 22 year old, P/O. Frank Sylvester Blackwell NZ/414739 RNZAF - Killed with all seven others of his crew.
During this operation 11 RNZAF aircrew from various squadrons lost their lives.
(1) F/O. George Lionel Downer DFC. had already completed tour of operations whilst with 101 Squadron. He escaped with his life from a ditching earlier in the war. Wellington III X3649 ditched into the North Sea on the 27th August 1942 piloted by 25 year old, Fl/Sgt. George Thirlwell Brown NZ/411364 RNZAF who was listed as missing - believed killed.
Fl/Lt. John Horace Christiansen. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.9. Son of Albert Christian and Elmina Saraphia Christiansen, of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. 999 Flying hours logged and on his 20th operational sortie.
Fl/Lt. Ronald Anthony Vinson. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 1F.11. Son of Ronald and Constance Mary Vinson; husband of Marion Vinson, of Crouch End, London. Grave inscription reads: "So Many Worlds, So Much To Do, So Little Done,... How Know I Who Had Need Of Thee?"
Sgt. Raymond Arthur Rodhouse. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 1F.12. Son of Arthur Laundon and Constance Eleanor Rodhouse of Northampton, England.
F/O. George Lionel Downer DFC. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.7. Son of E. Gordon Ross Downer and Ellen Downer, of Bognor Regis, Sussex, England. (Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society) Grave inscription reads: "I Have Fought A Good Fight, I Have Finished My Course, I Have Kept The Faith".
F/O. Claude Henry Wright. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.8. Son of Henry Wright and of Hazel Wright (nee May), of St. Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand. 380 flying hours logged.
F/O. Frederick Arthur Braithwaite. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.10. Son of Frederick Braithwaite and of Alma Ethel Braithwaite (nee Edwards), of Victoria Valley, Auckland, New Zealand. 306 Flying hours logged and on his 19th operational sortie.
Sgt. Alfred Kewin. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.6. Son of George and Mary Ann Kewin, of Liverpool, England.
P/O. Jack Lambert Boswell-Kitching. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 1.F.5. Son of Leonard John and Kathleen Myrtle Kitching, of Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. 270 Flying hours logged and on his 19th operational sortie.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, 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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