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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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101 Squadron Crest
06/07.12.1942 No. 101 Squadron Lancaster I ED322 SR-T P.O. Howard Earl Dabbs DFC

Operation: Mannheim

Date: 6/7th December 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: RAF No.101 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ED322

Code: SR-T

Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor

Location: Carmarthen Bay, Tenby.

Pilot: P/O Howard Earl Dabbs DFC J/15608 RCAF Age 20. Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Hughes 997105 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Roy Anderson R/91822 RCAF Age 24. Killed (2)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Gordon Smith R/93318 RCAF Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert John Middleton R/91294 RCAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Stefan Franchuk R/86255 RCAF Age 31. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Thomas Warren 1318039 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Took off from Holme-on-Spalding Moor late afternoon. Part of a force of 272 aircraft to attack the city of Mannheim. But a dismal failure with 12 aircraft lost and a further 3 lost after crashing in England.

The full facts regarding the loss of ED322 are currently not known. 4 bodies were recovered when they were washed ashore - the remainder (see below) are commemorated on the Runnymede War Memorial. On the 9th December 1942 the body of Howard Dabbs was washed ashore at Amroth Beach, South Wales. The medical officer together with an ambulance from RAF Carew Cheriton recovered his body and declared that the cause of death was by drowning.

The target area was completely covered in clouds and only 500 incendiary bombs and some leaflets were dropped. The only damage done to the city was the destruction by fire of an old wooden building, subsequently, a local farmer lost 25 sheep, 4 lambs, some turnips and some hay. A local canoe clubhouse was also set on fire but soon extinguished. No casualties in Mannheim but a total of 55 aircrew were killed, 3 more made P.O.W., and a further 10 aircrew were injured.

P/O. Howard Dabbs D.F.C. (Shown here as a Sgt) and his splendid memorial at the lake in Alberta named after him thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Airman's Memorial Cairns Committee, Royal Canadian Legion.

L R: F/Sgt Leonard Roy Anderson, F/Sgt Robert Gordon Smith, F/Sgt Robert John Middleton

P/O Howard Earl Dabbs DFC

Howard graduated from Forestburg High School in the summer of 1940 and immediately applied to join the RCAF. He was very active in team sports while at school playing on the hockey, baseball and basketball teams there. The middle son of Leonard and Florence Dabbs although the boy's parents had separated when Howard was of a very young age. He enlisted at Edmonton on 6 February 1941 and after completing basic training at Regina he was posted to No.16 Elementary Flying School on 15 May 1941. Upon his graduation there, he was posted to No.4 Service Flying School at Saskatoon that July earning his Pilots flying badge on 13 September 1941. Next posted for service overseas he arrived at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 19 October 1941.
Posted to RAF 109 Squadron on 1 November 1941, he was attached to the squadron at Boscombe Down flying Anson and Wellington aircraft for special duties associated with the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit.
Commissioned on 29 June 1942 he was next posted for operations to RAF 101 Squadron on 30 August later that year.
Howard first flew on ops as 2nd. pilot on a raid on Bremen on 4 September 1942 and again on the next night to Duisburg. His first flight as a Captain was on a gardening sortie to an area code-named "Trefoil" on the Dutch coast near Texel on the night of 9 September 1942 crewing up for the first time with Smith, Middleton Anderson and Bradley.
The squadron was based at Stradishall at this time flying Wellingtons but was preparing to move to Holme as they were to be re-equipped with Lancasters and aircrews were sent to 1654 HCU at RAF Wigsley for training.
After the month of October and part of November test flying and getting acquainted with their new armament, the Dabbs crew flew on their first mission in a Lancaster on the night of 20/21 November, a bombing raid on Turin. Sergeants Hughes and Warren having now joined the crew as flight engineer and air gunner respectively. Their next operation was a successful raid on the night of 22/23 November against Stuttgart which was followed by the raid of 2/3 December on Frankfurt. Although the crew successfully arrived over the target area an electrical malfunction caused the bomb bay doors to not open. Despite all their efforts to release their bombs and an engine put out of action due to being hit by flak, P/O Dabbs and crew skilfully flew back to base and landed with a full bomb load still aboard. For his heroics, Dabbs was awarded a DFC. His citation reads:

“One night in December 1942, this officer was the pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Frankfurt. When nearing the target area his aircraft, whilst held in a cone of searchlights, was hit by anti-aircraft fire and one of its engines was put out of action. Despite this, Pilot Officer Dabbs flew onto his target but as the bomb release mechanism was unserviceable he was unable to drop his bombs. Displaying skillful airmanship, he flew his aircraft back to this country without the assistance of wireless aids. With a full bomb load he made a masterly landing in poor visibility. This officer’s skill and determination in the face of adverse circumstances set an example worthy of the highest praise. He has flown on several sorties with distinction.”

Sadly Dabbs would never receive his medal as on his next operation returning from Mannheim he would be killed along with his crew.

Sgt. James Hughes

James was the second youngest son of a family of ten brothers and sisters. Little is known of his service other than he joined 101 Squadron from 103 Conversion Unit, Elsham Wold on 4 October 1942. He crewed up with Captain Dabbs and flew all of their four missions in a Lancaster to Turin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and the last fateful raid on Mannheim.

F/Sgt Leonard Roy Anderson

Leonard graduated from Minnedosa Collegiate and was working as a night clerk at a hotel when he enlisted in Winnipeg on 3 February 1941. After several temporary postings, he was taken on strength for training as an air observer at No.3 Initial Training School, Victoriaville, P.Q., on 28 May 1941. After successfully completing his initial training he was posted to No.7 Air Observers School at Portage la Praire on 18 August until 8 November when he was posted to No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School, MacDonald, Manitoba where he was awarded his Air Observers badge on 20 December 1941. During his time stationed at Portage la Praire, he married his fiance Louise Tippett at a ceremony in Minnedosa on 20 September. After a four-week course at No.1 Air Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba he was posted to Halifax to await embarkation to the UK.
Arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 20 February 1942, he was next posted to No.9 Air Observers School at RAF Penrhos on 21 March and then to No.16 OTU on 5 May until 29 June 1942 when he was posted to No.29 OTU at North Luffenham for training on Vickers Wellington bombers. Posted to 101 Squadron 18 August 1942.

F/Sgt Robert Gordon Smith

Robert, who was born in Athenry, Ireland in 1917, came to Canada in 1931 with his Mother, sister Olive and brother Norman to join the Smith's eldest son Cecil who was living in Toronto after Robert's father had died some years earlier. He was a good student and participated in several individual and team sports. He swam extensively and also held a Senior Lifesaving Certificate. Due to the illness and ultimate death of his Mother, Robert was forced to leave Malvern Collegiate prematurely taking up a position with the T.Eaton Company. He enrolled at Jarvis Collegiate taking night courses and later studied mathematics and accountancy through Shaws Business College.
Robert enlisted in the RCAF in February 1941 and was selected for aircrew training on 14 March beginning his initial training at Victoriaville on 9 June 1941. Posted to No. 7 Air Observers School and then to No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School, he attended the same courses as Leonard Anderson from 18 August until 20 December 1941. Three days later Robert married Isabella Rita MacPherson in Toronto.
Robert would again join up with Leonard at Rivers and embarked together in Halifax bound for the UK on 9 February 1942. Their paths would separate there for a short time as Robert was posted to No.2 Observers Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Millom in Cumbria until 5 May when they would meet up again at No.16 OTU. Posted next to No.29 OTU and then joined 101 Squadron on 18 August 1942.

F/Sgt Robert John Middleton

Robert was born on in Dundee, Scotland on 19 August 1917. Sadly, his father Nicoll passed away from heart disease one month before he was born.His mother, Mary, daughter Thelma and son Robert emigrated to Canada in 1921 and settled in Toronto.
A keen rower and hockey player, Robert graduated from De La Salle - Oaklands College in 1933 and then took a general mechanics course at Northern Vocational School. He then took up a position as a clerk at the Sinnott News Company for six years until he was laid off in 1940 due to re-organization. Robert was working as a shipper for the Wm. Neilson Company when he enlisted for training as an air gunner in the RCAF on 27 January 1941.
After basic training at Toronto, Picton and Debert, Nova Scotia, he was promoted to the rank of LAC and posted to No.1 Wireless School at Montreal beginning his wireless operators' course on 23 June 1941. Awarded his Wireless Operators badge, he completed his training as an air gunner at No.6 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mountain View, Ontario on 8 December 1941. Posted overseas he embarked at Halifax on 8 January 1942 arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 21 January. Posted to No.1 Signals School at RAF Cosford 14 February, No.16 OTU on 21 April and then to 29 OTU on 26 June 1942. Robert was posted to No.101 Squadron on 18 August 1942.

F/Sgt Stefan Franchuk

Of Polish descent, Stefan was born in Kenora, Ontario on 1 January 1911. He graduate from Kenora High School in 1928 and was working as a dispatcher for a trucking company when he enlisted in the RCAF in 1940. He was an avid outdoor sportsman active in skiing, fishing and hunting as well as swimming. He described himself as a "fair shot with a rifle" leading to his enlistment for the trade of air gunner.
Originally selected for training as a wireless operator he was posted to No.2 Wireless School, Calgary on 22 June 1941 but was reassigned for training as a straight air gunner and posted to No.7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, Manitoba on 3 January 1942. Stefan graduated from Paulson with his Air Gunners badge and soon afterward was granted permission to marry his fiance, the former Agnes Tutkaluk, during his 14 day embarkation leave on 9 February 1942. Taken on strength at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 10 March 1942 and posted to No.7 Air Gunnery School Stormy Down on 9 May 1942. Posted to No.14 OTU at RAF Cottesmore 2 June 1942 and to 101 Squadron 8 September 1942. Stefan participated in successful raids against Bremen, Wilhelmshaven and Cologne as well as a two gardening (mining) operations. Ironically Stefan took the place of F/Sgt. Gordon Bradley1 the usual air gunner on the Dabbs crew as Bradley was ill and could not fly on the mission to Mannheim.

Sgt. William Thomas Warren

Born to Winifred Ethel Warren in 1923, she married William's stepfather Edward Carpenter in 1927. No further details are known.

Burial details:

P/O. Howard Earl Dabbs DFC. Carew (St Mary) New Churchyard Row B, Grave 4. Son of William L. Dabbs and Florence D. Dabbs, of Daysland, Alberta, Canada.

Sgt. James Hughes. Bolton (Heaton) Cemetery Div.3. Sec. X.1. Nonconformist Grave 3. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Hughes, of Bolton, England.

Fl/Sgt. Leonard Roy Anderson. Runnymede Memorial Panel 102. Son of Otto and Anna Anderson, of Kildonan, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, husband of Louise Anderson, of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fl/Sgt. Robert Gordon Smith. Carew (St Mary) New Churchyard Row B, Grave 5. Son of Robert Young Smith and Mary Helen Smith, husband of Isabelle Smith of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Robert John Middleton. Carew (St Mary) New Churchyard Row D, Grave 1. Son of Nicoll and Mary Middleton, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Stefan Franchuk. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 103. Survived by his wife Mrs. S. Franchuk of Kenora, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Thomas Warren. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 96. Son of Winifred E. Warren, and stepson of Edward J. Carpenter, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.

(1) Dabbs Lake in Alberta Canada has been named after P/O. Dabbs

(2) Anderson Hill southwest of Shannon Lake, Manitoba is named after Fl/Sgt. Anderson

1 F/Sgt Gordon Clark Bradley R/80038 RCAF was posted out of 101 Squadron to RAF Holme on Spalding Moor 14 February 1943 and then to 103 Squadron on 10 May 1943. He was killed in the crash of Lancaster ED645 during a raid on Hamburg, 3 August 1943.
Bradley Point, McDennon Lake on the Johnson River, Manitoba was named after him in 1995.

Researched by Colin Bamford and Mike Harrison and dedicated to relatives of the crew.

Source Citation
Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada, Service Files of the Second World War – War Dead, 1939-1947, Series: RG 24, Volume: 28236

Source Information Canada, World War II Records and Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947 [database on line]. Lehi, UT, USA. Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2015.

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM) Veterans Affairs Canada

RAF Operations Record Books, AIR 27/1 – AIR 27/2893. National Archives Kew, UK.

CHB 09.02.2023 Extensively revised and added biographical details and photographs.

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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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