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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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103 Squadron
23/24.02.1945 103 Squadron Lancaster III, RA515, Flt Lt. Reginald F. Dobson

Operation: Pforzheim, Germany

Date: 23rd/24th February 1945 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 103 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial No: RA515

Code: PM:N

Location: 3¼ km (2 mls) south of the target

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, North Lincolnshire, England

Pilot: Flt Lt. Reginald Frederick Dobson 177257 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

2nd Pilot: WO. Ernest Edwin Standing 1335462 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Anthony Keith Parker 1850978 RAFVR Age? KiA

Navigator: Plt Off. Leo Patrick Curtin 432953 RAAF Age 21. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Plt.Off. Alan Noel Fletcher 420554 RAAF Age 21. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. William John Milne Baillie 423585 RAAF Age 21. PoW (1)

Air Gnr (Mid-Upp): Sgt. Richard Nolan 1890587 RAFVR Age 25. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Derek James Reeves 1890497 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

Above: Flt Lt. Dobson. Photograph taken at his sister Joan’s wedding early in 1944 (Courtesy of Martin Budden)

Above left: Image of Plt Off. Baillie from his service record. Right: As a Flt Sgt. (Credit: Michael Boyne)


RA515 took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 15:46 hrs on the 23rd February 1945 to bomb Pforzheim in Germany. The circumstances of the aircraft’s loss were reported to be unknown.

(1) Plt Off. Baillie in his PoW statement described the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft:

We were on our bomb run at a height of 7000 ft. Collision occurred between our aircraft and another. Other aircraft come in from the starboard side passing under us. Our nose was crunched in and most of the port wing torn off; presumably main petrol fuel line was cut because all the engines stopped just after the collision. H2S scanner was missing, this I noticed when bailing out.

I wasn’t on the intercom at the time of the collision, but switched on immediately it happened, and asked the captain what happened and if we were bailing out. He told me we had collided and we were abandoning the aircraft.

Bomb Aimer and Engineer were in the nose at the time; both were either killed or too injured to move to bail out. No one bailed out prior to my leaving aircraft because they had lost their chutes (Nav and both gunners). I bailed at about 3000 ft. The aircraft was spinning and turning on its back and the incendiaries in bomb bay were burning.

The aircraft crashed about 2 miles south of the target, near where I landed because bushes I landed on were smouldering and ground was very warm. Suffered lacerations to face and forehead either in the aircraft or in the act of bailing out. I presumed that the other members of the crew went down with the aircraft. No contact was made with any of them, nor was any information received about them.

An entry in the Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie, has an unconfirmed report that Lancaster NG266 BH:L from 300 Sqn may have been the aircraft which collided with RA515. Flt Lt. Filipek and his crew, all members of the Polish Air Force, perished.

Plt Off. Baillie reported in his War Crimes Questionnaire an attempted lynching by German civilians the day after he was captured at a place named Ettlingen, 22½ km (14 mls) WNW of Pforzheim.

The next day after capture I was taken to a small village about 6 miles NW of the target* (Pzorzheim [sic]) and asked for treatment of my eye and forehead and was taken to a first aid post in the main street by a soldier. After receiving treatment I was taken out into the main street again, where I was attacked by four middle aged men, I managed to knock one down and the guard warded two more off with his rifle, but the fourth one sneaked up behind me with a small milk can and swung it at me, I happened to see it coming out of the corner of my eye and attempted to dodge it, but the corner just caught me on the right side of my head, cutting an inch long wound. Eventually the guard warded all four men off and we proceeded back to my cell.

* Could have been Remchingen or Königsbach-Stein

He was held in the following PoW camps: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt from 29th February until 2nd March; Stalag 13d, Nuremburg from 7th March until 4th April; Stalag 7a, Moosburg from 18th April until 29th April 1945 when he was liberated. He returned to England on the 23rd May 1945.

An investigation appears to have been carried out as there is a file at The National Archives in Kew; WO 309/1980 entitled “Attempted lynching of W J M Baillie (airman) by civilians at Ettlingen, Germany, February 1945”. However, the results of the investigation are unknown.

We have been contacted by Michael Boyne, the Grandson of Plt Off. William J.M. Baille who was affectionately known as "Pop", who tells us that William passed away on the 5th October 2000 and his wife Nan "Betty" on the 3rd January 2013. They had two daughters, Pamela who was Michael’s mother and Margret who both went on to have their own families.

Burial Details:

Flt Lt. Reginald Frederick Dobson. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Inscription: ‘DEAR SON, PARTING FROM YOU BROKE OUR HEARTS. SO SADLY MISSED. LOVE. MUM AND DAD’. Born on the 9th October 1923 in Brentford, Buckinghamshire. Son of Frederick Arthur and Ellen (née Bunce) Dobson, of Broadstairs, Kent, England.

Above: Local Newspaper clipping reporting Flt Lt. Dobson as a war casualty (Courtesy of Martin Budden)

WO. Ernest Edwin Standing. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Inscription: ‘A MAN OF PEACE, HE HEARD THE CALL. HE KNEW NOT HATE BUT GAVE HIS ALL’. Born on the 15th November 1921 in East Preston, Sussex. Son of Herbert and Margaret (née Sarney) Standing, of Littlehampton, Sussex, England.

Sgt. Anthony Keith Parker. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. No further details

Plt Off. Leo Patrick Curtin. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Inscription: ‘HE MADE THE SACRIFICE. R.I.P.’. Born 18th December 1924, Murrumburrah, NSW, Australia. Son of Leo Micheal and Mary Irine Rose Curtin, of Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Plt Off. Alan Noel Fletcher. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Inscription: ‘DEARLY BELOVED SON OF MR. & MRS. C. FLETCHER OF MIRANDA, N.S.W.’. Born 2nd December 1920, Miranda, NSW, Australia. Son of Charles John and Pearl Elizabeth Fletcher, of Miranda, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Richard Nolan. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. No further details

Sgt. Derek James Reeves. Durnbach War Cemetery, Coll Grave 8 G.1-4. Inscription: ‘IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF "D.D." MRS. KING, "ONCLE" BAILEY, AUNTIE GIRLIE AND MOTHER’. Son of James Manley Reeves and Esther Margaret Reeves, of Eastbourne, Sussex, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the VitzArchive. Feb 2020). Thanks to Michael Boyne for the information and image of his grandfather, Plt Off. Baillie (Apr 2020). Thanks to Martin Budden, whose wife was the niece of Flt Lt. Dobson, for the photograph and Newspaper clipping (Feb 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 09.02.2023 - Photograph and clipping for Flt Lt. Dobson added

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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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