AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List

.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

625 Crest

625 Squadron Lancaster I NG237 Lost Over Visbedden, Belgium

Operation: NORDHAUSEN

Date: 03 April, 1945

Unit: No. 625 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: NG237

Code: CF-S

Base: RAF Kelstern

Location: Visbedden (Limburg), Belgium.

Pilot: F/Sgt Thomas Phillips Collier 1551018 RAFVR Age 22 Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: F/S George Baird Valentine 1555433 RAFVR Age 21 Killed (2)

Nav: Sgt Donald Morrison 1569430 RAFVR Age 33 Killed (3)

Air/Bmr: Sgt George Joshua Sheldon 1491267 RAFVR Age 21 Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Arthur Bennett 1893800 RAFVR Age 20 Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt James Kerr Murdoch McIntosh 3020834 RAFVR Age 19 Killed (6)

Air/Gnr (R): Sgt Edward George Ewington 1883514 RAFVR Age 19 Killed (7)

INTRODUCTION:

The loss of this crew came late in the war and was the second-to-last of this beloved Squadron. Losses at this time were very unfortunate as the chances of surviving the war were greatly increased due to the ever-dwindling military resources and strength of the Third Reich, in particular the Luftwaffe.

This entire, primarily Scottish, crew, minus its mid-upper gunner, were posted from 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit, based at RAF Sandtoft, North Lincolnshire, to 625 Squadron on the 04.03.45. They had a different mid-upper gunner for each of their 7 Operations! However, on the night of their last, Sgt McIntosh, drew the short straw, thus making him forevermore a permanent member of this crew. He was posted from 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit, based at RAF Lindholme, South Yorkshire, a week after the others, on the 11.03.45.

Crew of NG237: Rear: Sgt J. Sheldon (?), Sgt A. Bennett, Sgt E.G. Ewington (?), Sgt W.B Shaw (?)
Front: Sgt D. Morrison, F/Sgt T.P. Collier, F/Sgt G.B. Valentine (?)
(SOURCE: Robert Hawkshaw)

SECOND DICKIE OPERATION:

F/Sgt Collier and most of his crew, had their first taste of combat on the 15.03.45, when they flew their 'second dickie' trip with F/O T Greenslade, against Misburg. All were present except Sgt Morrison and Sgt McIntosh, as Greenslade opted to have his normal navigator Sgt G.S. Hallgren, and rear gunner F/Sgt R. Serhinko, accompany them, which was normal practice.

ORB Summary:

There were 22 aircraft of this Squadron detailed to attack MISBURG at night time. Reports on this attack suggest a very successful sortie, with a few heavy explosions, and a profusion of black smoke up to a height of about 5,000 feet. The fires could be seen at a distance of 100 miles from the target area.The weather was clear and enemy opposition comprised only slight to moderate HF. All our aircraft returned safely from this operation.

MISCELLANEOUS OPERATIONS – SGT A. BENNETT:

On the very next night of 16.03.45, Sgt Bennett flew his second operation as P/O H.J. McMonagle’s Wireless Operator. This was McMonagle’s first combat operation as Captain, having also completed his 'second dickie' mission on the same operation as F/O Collier the night before. The target was Nuremburg, which was heavily defended, resulting in the loss of two 625 Squadron aircraft. These were:

1. F/O E.F. Seear and Crew. seear-ernest-frank-1.html

2. F/O P.M. Rolls and Crew. rolls-patrick-morley.html

ORB Summary:

26 aircraft from this Squadron attacked this very difficult target, NUREMBURG. The weather was good and the markers were well placed and bombing was concentrated and accurate. Enemy defences were heavy with much fighter activity – many combats were taking place and several aircraft were seen to go down. “B2” (P/O E.F. SEEAR and “Z” (P/O P.M ROLLS) failed to return to Base.

Further details are taken from the Bomber Command Night Raid Report:

“Enemy fighters were very active and there were 5 attacks and 6 combats en route to the target with 10 attacks and 7 combats over the target between 21.24 and 21.40 hours. Only 1 attack was reported after leaving the target. Moderate predicted heavy flak was experienced at Nurnberg. 24 Lancasters, all of Group 1 were lost, 16 to fighters, 4 to flak, 2 in collision and 2 due to unknown circumstances. 283 aircraft bombed the primary target, 4 the alternative and 6 aborted. Heavy damage was caused to the eastern and south-eastern parts of the town and practically completed the devastation of the built up area. Industries and rail facilities were heavily damaged.”

Again, on the night of 18.03.45, Sgt Bennett was on the battle order for the third time, with P/O H.J. McMonagle in NN798. Luckily, the target city Hanau, was much more lightly defended with only a couple of men slightly wounded, and no aircraft lost.

ORB Summary:

23 aircraft took off from this Squadron to attack HANAU. The weather was good in the target area and an excellent raid developed. The markers were good and bombing was excellent. Very little opposition was encountered either from flak or fighters. “P” (F/L E.N. BELL) returned early owing to Port Inner engine being unserviceable. All aircraft returned safely to Base.

These two extra missions carried out by Sgt Bennet ultimately made him the most experienced in his crew, having flown a total of 9 Operations upon his death on the 03.04.45.

OPERATIONS:

In the early hours of the 22.03.45, Sgt Bennett re-joined his crew and embarked upon their first operation with F/S Collier as captain. This time the target was Bruchstrasse. Riding as mid-upper gunner was Sgt W.B. Shaw, with Sgt McIntosh manning P/O W.B.A. Pollock’s mid-upper turret in PA176.

ORB Summary:

23 aircraft from this Squadron were detailed to attack BRUCHSTRASSE. The weather was good and the defences were almost nil. An excellent attack developed and from the preliminary plottings of 16 photographs plottable 8 aircraft obtained Aiming Points – a very good show. All our aircraft returned safely to Base.

The very next day, 23.03.45, the crew were up again targeting Bremen on a daylight raid. This time they had Sgt M.J. McCarthy as their mid-upper gunner, with Sgt McIntosh not involved in this operation at all.

ORB Summary:

23 aircraft took off to attack BREMEN from this Squadron in support of 617 Squadron who were carrying 10 ton bombs to this important GERMAN city in daylight. 4 of our aircraft carried Window only, led the attack through the target. The defences were heavy and enemy fighters were seen. Very accurate bombing was observed and preliminary reports show that the Aiming Point (Railway Bridge) although still standing, had been severely damaged and rendered almost useless. Much damage was also caused to adjoining Railways and built-up area. No 10 tonner obtained a direct hit but several sticks of bombs from 1 Group aircraft straddled the Aiming Point. A very good show. “K2” (P/O H.J. McMONAGLE) and “E” (F/O J.O. ARMSTRONG) returned early. All our aircraft returned safely to Base.

Two days later on the 25.03.45 the target was Hannover on another daylight raid. Sgt McIntosh was with F/O D.R. Johnstone in PA176, while it was Sgt. R.E. Edwards turn to man their guns in the mid-upper turret.

ORB Summary:

23 aircraft were dispatched from this Squadron to attack the important German city of HANOVER in daylight. The weather was good in the target area and an excellent raid developed. The bombing was good and concentrated and some excellent photographs of the damage were obtained. “K2” (F/L J.S. BRAY) returned early. All our aircraft returned safely to Base.

On the 27.03.45 the crew were detailed to attack Paderborn, again in daylight. Sgt G.W. Atkinson rode as mid-upper gunner, with Sgt McIntosh sitting this one out.

ORB Summary:

This Squadron dispatched 23 aircraft to take part in a raid on PADERBORN. Owing to 10/10ths cloud conditions in the target area bombing was carried out on Wanganui. Although no direct results were seen plenty of smoke started to billow up through the clouds. All our aircraft returned safely to Bas.e. (sic)

The crew enjoyed a 3 day respite before being called upon to attack Hamburg in daylight on 31.03.45. This time it was Sgt D. Peach’s turn to man the mid-upper turret while Sgt McIntosh was again not detailed on the battle order.

ORB Summary:

24 aircraft from this Squadron took off to attack the much battered target of HAMBURG. The weather was cloudy over most of the route and the target area was covered by 10/10ths cloud. A little trouble was experienced in keeping to our formation on the way out as the Leaders, after arriving late over Skegness (necessitating some orbiting) were difficult to see and follow owing to cloud. Nearer the target however the majority of the aircraft were in a good gaggle and the stragglers quickly joined up when some enemy jet aircraft appeared. The target was marked by only a single Red Smoke Puff and the aircraft bombed on this, checking with H.2S. Cloud conditions made it impossible to assess the result of this raid. Flak was moderate to intense in patched (sic). All our aircraft returned safely to Base.

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the afternoon of the 03.04.45, Sgt McIntosh joined F/Sgt Collier and his crew, for an attack on Nordhausen. They were 24th in line and lifted off at 1329 hours. This was McIntosh’s 3rd operation, with the remainder being their 7th except for Sgt Bennett, who was on his 9th. Sadly, no further news was heard from them after take-off.

ORB Summary:

625 Squadron despatched 25 aircraft to attack NORDHAUSEN. The weather was cloudy over the target area and crews were instructed by the Master Bomber to bomb on best Navigational Aids or skymarkers if seen. There were no markers seen and all crews bombed on Aids. The attack seemed poor and no results could be observed. Unfortunately “S” (F/S COLLIER and crew) failed to return from this operation.. (sic)

A brief summary provided by Bill Chorley in his book “RAF Bomber Command Losses 1945”, (Volume 6, Page 151) states:

“T/o 1329 Kelstern to bomb a military barracks. Crashed circa 1645 at Visbedden (Limburg) some 6km ESE from Leopoldsburg, where all rest in the local war cemetery. Seconds before the aircraft hit the ground, a wing came off. Their average age was 22; until recently, the tail gunner, Sgt McIntosh, had been an ATC cadet.” AUTHOR'S NOTE: There seems to be an error here as Sgt McIntosh was in fact the mid-upper gunner, not the tail gunner as stated.

Both the McIntosh and Bennett families believe that this plane was damaged by Flak, then possibly finished off by a lightning strike during their struggle home. Although, as far as the authors are aware, this hasn’t been officially recognized or proven.

The following is an extract from the late Iain McIntosh, nephew of Sgt McIntosh, which was posted on the Short Stirling & RAF Bomber Command Forum:

“…I too am chasing information about the Lancaster NG237. My uncle died in this same incident. He was Sgt James McIntosh and was acting as rear gunner. I do have some information - some is anecdotal from my mother and the other McIntoshes. They were not a "crew" so to speak as they were put together as volunteers for this mission from remnants from other crews as there was a bout of flu affecting the ability to put planes up. The logs of the plane show that they did not fly her previously. My family believes NG 237 was struck by lightning however I can find no confirmation of this anywhere. I can find records showing that she impacted minus a complete wing. Other family stories suggest they flew into a severe storm - can't confirm this either but I do know that the target of Nordhausen was under cloud cover and they were returning after the mission. Another Lancaster, PA 190, was lost on this mission but this seems unrelated - I think she went down off the Dutch coast. …”

The following was also posted by Robert Hawkshaw, co-author of this report and nephew of Sgt Bennett, which he posted in the same forum as the one mentioned above:

“…I have some information to add to this thread. My uncle Arthur Bennett was the wireless operator in this crew. He had previously flown with Coastal command and I think he was stationed at Bridlington before being transferred to Bomber command. They were indeed a crew. The aeroplane was struck with lighting returning from Nordhausen and did lose a wing. I have a photograph of the crew. My grandmother and my mother went to visit Sergeant Collier's mother and father who lived in Clydebank in Scotland, he was an only son. According to my grandmother all the crew were Scottish except sergeant Ewington who came from Doncaster. This year my sister, elderly mother and aunt went to Leopoldsburg to visit his grave for the first time, where they placed small heather plants at all he crews graves…”

Furthermore, Mr Hawkshaw provided the following explanation which is his opinion based on his experience as an aircraft engineer:

”…Personally I think the aeroplane was flak damaged and was possibly struck by lightning on the return journey. I was a wide body aircraft engineer before I retired and that for an aircraft to have had such catastrophic damage through a lightning strike seems a bit hard to believe. I honestly believe that the aircraft must have been struggling on the way home with damage of some kind…”

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

With just over a month to war's end, it was especially tragic that the Squadron's penultimate loss of Lancaster NG237 claimed the lives of the entire crew in the prime of their lives, including two married men with young children. The crew's families attribute the loss due to flak damage and a subsequent lightning strike. Without a surviving crew member, or eyewitness account, this explanation is impossible to substantiate. A lightning strike itself would not be sufficient to explain the loss. However, the violent turbulence, associated with a thunderstorm, would be sufficient to cause structural failure of a flak damaged main spar, resulting in the loss of a wing as was noted by eyewitnesses. This event would have resulted in an immediate spin with centrifugal force preventing any crew member from baling out, even if standing at the escape hatches with their chutes clipped on... JEA.


DECORATION SUGGESTIONS

F/Sgt T.P. Collier 1551018, KIA, DFM.

F/Sgt G.B. Valentine 1555433, KIA, DFM.

Sgt. D. Morrison 1569430, KIA, DFM.

Sgt. G.J. Sheldon 1491267, KIA, DFM.

Sgt. A. Bennett 1893800, KIA, DFM.

Sgt. J.K.M. McIntosh 3020834, KIA, DFM.

Sgt. E.G. Ewington 1883514, KIA, DFM.


BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF CREW

thomas collier NG237

1. F/Sgt Thomas Phillips Collier (right) was born in 1922 to Harry Boyer Collier and Mary Collier (nee Phillips), of Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

Harry and Mary were married in 1917 at Blythswood, Glasgow. (SOURCE: Robert Hawkshaw)





2. F/Sgt George Baird Valentine was born in 1923 at Old or West Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. He was the son of George Gordon Valentine and Agnes Macfarlane Valentine (nee Baird), of Knightswood, Glasgow. George and Agnes were married in 1919 at Greenock West, Renfrewshire.

3. Sgt Donald Morrison was born on the16.06.1911. He was a Mill Manager for James Macdonald Ltd and due to his high management position in the company, was exempt from joining the war. However, he volunteered anyway. He was the youngest son of Donald Morrison (Sr.) and Margaret MacRitchie, and husband of Mary Morrison of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. They had one son. (We would be very pleased to get in contact with Sgt Morrison’s son. If you can help, please contact our HELPDESK.)

4. Sgt George Joshua Sheldon. Son of George Pryce Sheldon and Frances Annie Sheldon, of Winwick, Lancashire, England.

5. Sgt Arthur Bennett: Biography offered by Nephew, Robert Hawkshaw

Arthur Bennett's Original Grave

arthur bennett NG237“Now my uncle Sgt Arthur Bennett was born on 21st May 1924 at Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, son of Arthur Bennett and Annie Mary Bennett nee Potts. He had five siblings Henry (1923-1923), William John Bennett (1926-1986), Agnes Bennett (1929- still living), Isobel Bennett (1936-still living), Annie Bennett (1941-still living). Arthur was educated at Loudon-Montgomery Primary School where he graduated as the school Dux Medallist (dux is Latin meaning first or leader). This is quite a prestigious award to get in a large school (the medal is now with my cousin Wing Commander Arthur A. Bennett (retired) his namesake and nephew). He then moved to Irvine Royal Academy where he was awarded a certificate of distinction. Unfortunately, he had to leave school, as was the custom then to help support a large family, him being the eldest son. He was also a very sporting person, playing golf and football. He won a few medals at football and was spotted by a scout and trialled for Blackpool Football Club (a top football club in England back then) as a goalkeeper, but unfortunately the war put an end to that. As far as his RAF career I am not so sure about his training records. My mother, his sister, thinks he volunteered in 1943. He was at RAF station West Fruegh in southern Scotland and also with Coastal command stationed at Bridlington.”



6. Sgt James Kerr Murdoch McIntosh was born in 1925 at Coldingham, Berwickshire, Scotland. He was the son of James McIntosh and Elizabeth Fell McIntosh (nee Murdoch), of St. Boswells, Roxburghshire. James and Elizabeth were married in 1919 at St Clement, a registration district in Dundee.

Sgt J.K.M. McIntosh. Memorial in Darnick, Scotland
(SOURCE: Stu Manwaring) (SOURCE: http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com)



7. Sgt Edward George Ewington. Son of Arthur James Ewington and Lucy Ewington, of Luton, Bedfordshire, England. Husband of Jean Ewington. He had one daughter. (We would be very pleased to get in contact with Sgt. Ewington’s daughter. If you can help, please contact our HELPDESK.)

Original Medals of Sgt E.G. Ewington. Left to Right: 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, War Medal 1939-45.
(SOURCE: https://www.the-saleroom.com)

BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS

This crew is buried together in Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Belgium:

Leopoldsburg War Cemetery: Belgium

NG237 crew graves 1

1. F/Sgt Thomas Phillips Collier. Grave I. B. 6.
EPITAPH - EACH DAY IN SILENCE WE REMEMBER. MUM, DAD AND BROTHER STAN. OLD KILPATRICK, SCOTLAND

2. F/Sgt George Baird Valentine. Grave I. B. 7.
EPITAPH - TREASURED MEMORIES ARE ALWAYS WITH US. EVER REMEMBERED

3. Sgt Donald Morrison. Grave I. B. 1.
EPITAPH - GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS

4. Sgt George Joshua Sheldon. Grave I. B. 12.
EPITAPH - INTO THE MOSAIC OF VICTORY WAS LAID THIS PRECIOUS PIECE

5. Sgt Arthur Bennett. Grave I. B. 3.
EPITAPH: NO MORNING DAWNS NO NIGHT RETURNS BUT WE REMEMBER THEE

6. Sgt James Kerr Murdoch McIntosh. Grave I. B. 8.
EPITAPH - REMEMBRANCE. IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR SON AND BROTHER JIM

7. Sgt Edward George Ewington. Grave I. B. 2.
EPITAPH - FOR EVER IN OUR THOUGHTS. LOVING WIFE AND DAUGHTER, MOTHER,FATHER, BETTY AND BILL
(SOURCE: http://www.belgians-remember-them.eu/crew-lim-leop2.php)

REFERENCES:

625 Squadron ORB

General Personal Info = https://losses.internationalbcc.co.uk/loss/104607 Robert Hawkshaw provided additional Birth & Marriage info obtained from the “National Register of Scotland”.

Graves = http://www.belgians-remember-them.eu/crew-lim-leop...

Additional Belgian Info = http://www.belgians-remember-them.eu/crash-lim-leo...

Donald Morrison = https://www.hebrideanconnections.com/subjects/1114...

McIntosh_Memorial = http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-post-91...

Ewingtons Medals = https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/auctioncatalogu...

dixnoonanwebb/catalogue-id-dix-no10079/lot-c5376a22-658c-42e6-9ac3-aa76008b175d#lotDetails


CO-AUTHORS:

1. Jack Albrecht
2. Reg Price
3. John Naylor
4. Maureen Hicks
5. Nic Lewis


CO-SUBMITTERS:

1. Stu Manwaring, Great Nephew of Mid Upper Gunner Sgt. J.K.M. McIntosh.
2. Robert Hawkshaw, Nephew of Wireless Operator Sgt. A Bennett.
3. Michael Edwards, in memory and respect to the crew, family and friends of NG237


See Allied Losses & Incidents Database

See Reports Related to 625 Squadron


***




JA 2021-09-17
JA 2021-11-21 Reader Comment

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
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', 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.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

Robert Hackshaw, nephew of Sgt. A. Bennett, wireless operator:

I am so pleased with your report, you have done a great job to preserve their memory for posterity.

Stu Manwaring, great nephew of Sgt. J.K.M. McIntosh, mid-upper gunner:

Mike, best format or not, it's great. Thank you so much to you and the rest of your team for putting this together. I was awaiting feedback from the Scottish side of the family hence forgetting to get back to you. Keep up the great work and if there is anything I can ever do then please shout. All the best, Stuart.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2024
Last Modified: 22 November 2021, 05:48

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor