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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 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I R5613 QR-B P/O. Clark

Operation: Essen

Date: 02/03rd June 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 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: P/O. Ralph Edward Clark DFM 102988 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

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

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Edward Ernest Patchett 1053543 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Alastair Macnab McKelvie DFM. 971310 RAFVR Age 34. Killed.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Oliver Percy Beswick 1162656 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Norman Rhodes Hartley 935693 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: 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!


REASON FOR LOSS:

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.


Lancaster R5613 shot down by German Nightfighter Ofr. Fritz Schellwat of 5/NJG1 with his Bordfunker (radio/op) Ofr. Lüdecke at 02:26 hrs - combat taking place at 3,200 metres. on their homebound trip.


(1) The brother of Sgt. Stanley Holmes Lincoln was also killed. 26 year old, Sgt. Lloyd john Holmes Lincoln NZ/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 Fl/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)

(3) Ofr. Fritz Schellwat - Wounded 14th June 1943 in his Bf 110 1during aerial combat. He went on to survive the war with 17 claims - no further details. (Information via the comprehensive Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this website)

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:

P/O. Ralph Edward Clark DFM. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.2. Son of Walter Thomas Clark and Edith Emily Clark, of Twyford, Hampshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "One Of The Best".

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. Son of Ernest Patchett and Ada Murby of Shipley, Yorkshire, England and husband of Lily Edna May. Edward and Edna married in 1939.

(left: Courtesy of Keith Clark) DFM gazetted on the 22nd August 1941 whilst with 144 Sqn)) 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. Oliver Percy Beswick. Brussels Town Cemetery. Grave X.14.4. Son of Ernest John and Amy Bertha Beswick, of Birmingham and husband of Dorothy Irene Beswick, of Stechford, Birmingham, England. Grave inscription reads: "Always In Our Hearts At 292, Station Rd., Stechford, Birmingham, England. Mom, Dad & Wife Dot".

Fl/Sgt. Norman Rhodes Hartley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 74. Son of Norman and Francis Hartley, of Harrogate, Yorkshire. Grave inscription reads: "Under A Foreign Sky He Lies All That Is Left That The World May Know He Died A Hero".





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, other sources as quoted below:

RS 04.11.2019 - Addition of DFM Press cutting

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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