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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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419 Squadron Crest
24.12.1944 No 419 Squadron Lancaster X KB715 VR-T F/O. Cowtan

Operation: Lohausen Airfield

Date: 24th December 1944 (Sunday - daylight operation)

Unit: No. 419 Squadron (RCAF)

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB715

Code: VR-T

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Target area

Pilot: F/O. Thomas H. Cowtan PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Fl/Eng: P/O. James V. Ranson PoW - injured and treated in hospital

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Colin W. Thompson PoW Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Bmr: F/O. Joseph L.L. Cartier PoW - injured and treated in hospital

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Raymond Wallace Hale J/26179 RCAF Age 21. PoW - Murdered

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George B. Little PoW Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ferdinand A. Hector PoW Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)


Taking off at 12:06 hrs on a daylight operation to bomb the airfields at Lohausen north of Düsseldorf. Bomber Command sent some 338 aircraft to bomb airfields at both Lohausen (Düsseldorf) and Mülheim (Essen). It is thought the operation was to prevent supplies being sent to troops on the Ardennes offensive.

Weather conditions were good on this day with good visibility - reports state that the bombing had been accurate.

Lancaster KB715 was thought to have been hit by anti-aircraft fire during the approach to the target with 3 of its engines out of action and the aircraft on fire. F/O. Cowtan ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft - all 7 crew managed to do this, although two had been injured.

Above L-R: RCAF brothers Ronald William, Dennis and Raymond Wallace Hale (courtesy Leslie Reed Cooper - née Hale)

F/O. Hale landed in a small tree on the farm belonging to a Herr Johann Holden in Morgensternheide west of Neuss. First on the scene were some Polish Workers who helped him down and and took him to a nearby flak battery.

22 year old Jakob Hamacher stated during his later trial that he saw 7 parachutes come down and bicycled towards them. He said that he shot at one airman but not aiming to hit him and was obeying orders. A Lieutenant (Walter Saur) from the flak division shot the airman in the head and then took away his parachute and other things. It is also reported that a Lt. Karl Heinz Sieben also shot the airman in the chest.

After the war it was only Jakob Hamacher who was tried for war crimes and sentenced to just 15 years. Lt. Karl Heinz Sieben was understood to have been killed before the end of the war.

Below right, a young Ray Hale prior to service (courtesy Leslie Reed Cooper - née Hale)

The family of F/O. Hale were informed at the time that he had been classed as missing - believed killed during the operation and only learned the true horror of his death from newspapers in late 1947!

Burial details:

F/O. Raymond Wallace Hale. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.2. Son of William Ernest and Helen Lucy Hale, of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada. Brother of Ronald William Hale J/17968 who served with 419 Squadron RCAF and Dennis Hale J/180694 who served as a Lancaster pilot with 619 Squadron RCAF - both surviving the war.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Leslie Reed Cooper (née Hale) for so much information and photographs. Also to Oliver Clutton-Brock - 'Footprints On The Sands Of Time'. Also many thanks to Traugott Vitz for name corrections - January, 2018. Thanks to Traugott Vitz for advising us of name correction -January, 2018. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 26.03.2017

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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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