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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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Bomber Command Crest
24/25.05.1944 640 Squadron Halifax III MZ579 C8:T Flt Sgt Crane

Operation: Aachen

Date: 24th/25th May 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: 640 Squadron, 4 Group.

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ579

Code: C8:T

Base: RAF Leconfield

Location: Süsterseel, Germany

Pilot: Flt Sgt Jack Henry Crane 1425973 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. William Fletcher 2209502 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: Flt Sgt.William Charles Smith 1396176 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Air Bmr: Fg Off Neville Morrad 151734 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Arthur Farrall 1049271 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. T.Y. Murray 1822582 RAFVR PoW No: 125 *

Air Gnr: Sgt. J. Campbell 1895819 PoW No: 103 *

* Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland) (L7)


Taking off from RAF Leconfield in Yorkshire at 23:04 hrs together with over 440 aircraft from various squadrons and locations to bomb the railway yards at Aachen - an important target as they were the main route between France and Germany.

Reports from Aachen state that the targets were hit, one being very badly damaged, however because of the unusually large formation for this type of target many bombs fell in the villages with 14,880 people bombed out of their homes. 259 people on the ground were killed with 120 seriously injured.

MZ579 was claimed by Lt Hans Schäfer, his 5th Abschuss, from 7./NJG2 - near Brunssum North West of Aachen (NM 3): 5,600m at 00:53. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

The squadron lost another aircraft on this operation.

Halifax III LM673 C8:3 Flown by 20 year old, Flt Sgt. Dennis Marriott 1432314 RAFVR from Mansfield, Nottingham. Killed with 5 other crew. The tail gunner survived as a PoW. (note: the CWGC list him as the Air Bomber - we feel that we have the correct information)

Burial details:

Initially buried at Süsterseel reinterred after the end of the war at Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Flt Sgt Jack Henry Crane. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.6. Son of Charles Henry and Agnes Crane and husband of Grace Joan Crane, of Birmingham, England. Grave inscription reads: "Like Autumn Leaves The Years Pass By But In Our Hearts You Will Never Die".

Sgt William Fletcher. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Joint grave 5.E.7-8. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Fletcher, of Bryn, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Resting Where No Shadows Fall, In Perfect Peace He Awaits Us All".

Flt Sgt William Charles Smith. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.4. Son of William and Rosetta M. Smith, of Willesden, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "What We Keep In Memory Is Ours Unchanged For Ever".

Fg Off Neville Morrad. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.5. Son of Albert Victor and Ada Laura Morrad, of Holloway, London, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Calleth His Own Sheep By Name, And Leadeth Them Out".

Sgt Frederick Arthur Farrall. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Joint grave 5.E.7-8. Son of Thomas and Jessie Farrall and husband of Betty Farrall, of Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "God's Will Be Done".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted (Jan 2018). Thanks to John Jones for the correction to the German Night-fighter claim (Mar 2021).

RS 10.03.2021 - Update to German Night-fighter claim

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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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