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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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61 Squadron crest
02/03.06.1942 61 Squadron Lancaster I R5613 QR:B Plt Off. Clark

Operation: Essen

Date: 2nd/3rd June 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: 61 Squadron, 5 Group - Motto: Per purum tonantes - 'Thundering through the clear air'.

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5613

Code: QR:B

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: La Hulpe, Belgium

Pilot: Plt Off. Ralph Edward Clark DFM, 102988 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

2nd Pilot: Sgt. Stanley Holmes Lincoln 41342 RNZAF Age 24. Killed (1)

Bomb Aimer/Obs: Sgt. Edward Ernest Patchett 1053543 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

WOp: Flt Sgt. Alastair Macnab McKelvie DFM, 971310 RAFVR Age 34. Killed.

WOp: Sgt. Oliver Percy Beswick 1162656 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Norman Rhodes Hartley 935693 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William Roch Griffiths 1212794 RAFVR Evaded capture (2)

Update July 2018 - Relative of family who assisted the evasion of Sgt. Griffiths made contact, just 5 days after the page was created!


Taking off at 00:01 hrs from RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire to attack the city of Essen.

A relatively small force of 195 Aircraft taking part - 97 Wellingtons, 38 Halifaxes, 27 Lancasters 21 Stirlings and 12 Hampdens in the second night in succession bombing Essen. The attack was widely scattered and records show that only 3 high explosive and 300 incendiary bombs hit the city with no serious damage or injuries.

However the allies lost some 14 aircraft! A total of 68 crew members killed with a further 15 made PoW.

LR5613 was claimed by Feltwebel (Sgt) Fritz Schellwat, his 2nd Abschuss, from 5./NJG1 4km east of Waterloo, south east at 3.200 m at 02:30 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (30 May - 31 December 1942) The Early Years Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

On the 15th June 1943 he claimed a Lancaster, his 13th Abschuss, but it turn was shot down and wounded bailing out of his Bf110 at Walsfeucht, Germany. His last known Abschuss, his 17th, was on the 24th February 1944. No further details are known. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 4)

(1) The brother of Sgt. Stanley Holmes Lincoln was also killed. 26 year old, Sgt. Lloyd john Holmes Lincoln 41341 RNZAF Age 26 also lost his life whilst flying with 61 Squadron, on a similar operation to Essen on the 06/0th April 1942. On Manchester I L7470 flown by 21 year old Flt Sgt. Eric William Noble 754635 RAFVR from Norwich, England. All 7 crew killed and now buried at Heverlee War Cemetery.

Stan and Lloyd Lincoln, with their brothers and sisters - taken at the family home in Mt. Alberta, Auckland on the day they left New Zealand.

(2) Sgt. William Roch Griffiths evaded capture. After exiting the aircraft at what is thought to be at 10,000 ft landed with an injury to his arm. He is assisted by wonderful people from Belgium and the great work from the people of the Comet Line. Many of these brave people were to lose their lives for their efforts. He evaded capture escaping through France, over the Pyrenees to Spain, down to Gibraltar leaving on the 21st July and finally arriving at Gourock, Scotland on the 30th July 1942. All evaders were not permitted to continue with operations over Europe with many taking up trains roles or other duties. The reasons for this was to prevent possible repercussions on those who assisted evaders should the aircrew member be captured at a later date. He was awarded MiD for his evasion. Sgt. Griffiths originated from Mount Pleasant, Barmouth, Merionethshire, Wales. It is thought that he died in December 1984 in Liverpool, England. We welcome contact from the family as relatives of the people who assisted him would like to make contact. (Thanks to Gareth Knowles of BBC Wales for covering the story on the 14th July 2018)

Are you a relative of Sgt. Griffiths - can you assist in tracing him? Belgian relatives of a member of the Comet Line who assisted in his evasion are keen to make contact?

Above as described - taken in July 2018 by our New Zealand researcher Brian Ramsey. Brian has also provided high resolution copies of each grave - free to relatives of crew members.

Burial details:

Plt Off. Ralph Edward Clark DFM. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.2. Grave inscription: "ONE OF THE BEST". Son of Walter Thomas Clark and Edith Emily Clark, of Twyford, Hampshire, England.

DFM awarded to 741499 Sgt. Clarke whilst with 144 Squadron, Promulgated in the London gazette on the 22nd August 1941

Sgt. Stanley Holmes Lincoln. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.5. Son of Frank and Eileen A. Lincoln, of Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand.

A total of 295 flying hours logged and on his 10th operational sortie. The brothers enlisted on the same day, hold consecutive service numbers and served in the same squadron. A total of 295 flying hours logged and on his 10th operational sortie.

Sgt. Edward Ernest Patchett. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.6. Born on the 5th January 1914 in Fritzinhall, Yorkshire. Son of Ernest and Ada (née Murray) Patchett. Husband to Lily Edna (née May) Patchett of Yorkshire, West Riding, England.

Above: Courtesy of Keith Clark

Flt Sgt. Alastair Macnab McKelvie DFM. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.3. Son of George and Janet McKelvie and husband of Elizabeth Walker McKelvie, of North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Sgt. McKelvie's DFM was awarded whilst with 144 Sqn. Promulgated in the London gazette on the 22nd August 1941. Citation reads: "For conspicuous Gallantry and devotion to duty during raids into enemy territory. This NCO’s work both in the air and on the ground has never left anything to be desired. The majority of his flights have been during the Winter months and he has shown great skill in thew working of the set under the most adverse conditions. His determination and enthusiasm have had an excellent effect on the other Wireless Operators/Air Gunners in this Squadron."

Sgt. Oliver Percy Beswick. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.4. Grave inscription: "ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS AT 292, STATION RD., STECHFORD, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND. MOM, DAD & WIFE DOT". Son of Ernest John and Amy Bertha Beswick, of Birmingham and husband of Dorothy Irene Beswick, of Stechford, Birmingham, England.

Flt Sgt. Norman Rhodes Hartley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 74. Grave inscription: "UNDER A FOREIGN SKY HE LIES ALL THAT IS LEFT THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW HE DIED A HERO". Son of Norman and Francis Hartley, of Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.

A special page for Sgt. Stanley Holmes Lincoln as in late July 2018 friends of the family (indeed of Aircrew Remembered) visited the graves of the crew and paid their respects. Also to Helen Davy for the wonderful photographs of Sgt. Lincoln. Also to Rob Moffitt who also contacted us in January 2019 with further details on Sgt. Patchett. Thanks to Keith Clark (1st Cousin/once removed of Flt Sgt. McKelvie) for the press cutting. Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew 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. Thanks to Peter Hilton for his research and for the citation to Flt Sgt. McKelvie's DFM (Apr 2021).

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 02.04.2022 - Addition of Citation to DFM for Flt Sgt. McKelvie

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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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