Date: 18/19th October 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 97 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire.
Location: Erichshagen, North East of Nienburg, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Duncan McNaught Moodie DFC. J/12811 RCAF Age 27. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie Edmund Melbourne 1495870 RAFVR Age 31. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. James Thomas Bundle DFM. 1319521 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (2)
Air/Bmr: Sgt. R.W. Norman Clausen DFM. 1551750 RAFVR PoW No: 261424 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg - Elbe (IVb) (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Edward Stamp 1031832 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Arthur Drummond 1577281 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Arthur Hughes 1579190 RAFVR Age ? Killed
103 Squadron Lancaster JB279 PM-E crew details:
Pilot: P/O. Leonard John Hinton AUS/414239 RAAF Age 23. Murdered
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stott 1379702 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Sgt. Charles Henry Leech 1809766 RAFVR Age 20. Murdered
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Kenneth James Offer 1434396 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Henry Davies 991591 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Barnett Hawkins 1272083 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Bell 1075168 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Fl/Sgt. James Thomas Bundle DFM was born on the 21st September 1921 at Cosham, Hampshire, his family home was 19, Mablethorpe Road, Wymering, Portsmouth. James Bundle attended the Northern Secondary School, Mayfield Road, Portsmouth (now renamed Mayfield School ), where he gained the higher school certificate, before moving on to the Municipal College ( renamed Portsmouth Technical College, now Portsmouth University), for a short period.
On leaving university James was anxious to participate in the war effort, and firstly worked as a civil servant within the Admiralty at Portsmouth, gaining the Inter - BA certificate.
On the 28th May 1941, James decided he wanted to do more for the war effort and volunteered for the RAF, reporting to No 1 Air Crew Reception Centre in Regents Park, London, where he was given the service number 1311521, and his rank of AC2 (Aircraftsman 2). James was issued with his kit, and slept with other volunteers in the Members Pavillion at Lord’s Cricket Ground for the night. From here he was sent on to a Reception Centre at Oxford, to begin ‘Square Bashing’ along with learning the structure and laws within the RAF. On the 20th August James was sent to No 2 Initial Training Wing at Cambridge, for further training, where he stayed until the 20th November, then joining the No 1 Elementary Air Observers School at Eastbourne in East Sussex, with a new rank of Leading Aircraftsman (LAC).
L-R: Sgt’s Melbourne, Clausen, Hughes, Bundle, Drummond - standing by Lancaster Q-Queenie 44 Squadron (4) (courtesy Mel Rolfe via Simon Muggleton)
At the beginning of the New Year in 1942, LAC Bundle boarded a troop ship for a 9 day journey to Halifax in Novia Scotia, Canada, and onward for the next six days by train to No 31 RAF Moncton, to undertake further Pilot/Observer training, starting on 24th February 1942.
On the 18th March James was posted to the USA (under the Arnold Scheme) for more intensive Observer training, flying in Anson aircraft. By the 20th July 1942, James had completed his training, and with a promotion to temporary Sergeant he returned to No 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth in the UK. He was now a qualified Observer/Navigator, and given his Observer brevet which he proudly wore.
On the 28th August Sergeant Bundle was sent to No 3 Advanced Flying Unit (Observers) at RAF Halfpenny Green until the 20th November 1942 where he was then attached to No 14 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Cottesmere. It was here that he teamed up with his other crew members, who would fly with him throughout his war service.
His Canadian pilot, Flying Officer Duncan Moodie, 26 years, (who was born in Hong Kong and enlisted at Vancouver on 22.8.41), Sergeant Norman Clausen, his Danish Bomb Aimer from Svenborg, (whose parents were part of the Resistance and had been captured and killed by the Gestapo), Sergeant Les Melbourne, the Flight Engineer, and oldest at 31, Sergeant Tom ‘Geordie’ Stamp, the small shy wireless operator from a village near Newcastle Upon Tyne, Sergeant Len Drummond, the Mid Upper Gunner, whose parents ran a pub near Burton on Trent, and the rear gunner Arthur Hughes, who at 19 years was the youngest.
The crew were sent to No 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Waterbeach on the 19th January 1943 for a months training and then onto No 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Swinderby. By the 10th March 1943, the crew were ready to be posted to an operational squadron, No 44 (Rhodesia) based at RAF Waddington, the first squadron in Bomber Command to be equipped with the new four engined Lancaster.
Flying Officer Moodies crew were to complete the under mentioned 18 ‘ops’ with 44 Squadron as shown in the Squadron Operational Record Books.
Operational Trips of Lancaster W4268 Q -Queenie with 44 Squadron (4)
22nd March 1943-U Boat Pens St Nazaire W/C Nettleton VC led the raid
27th March 1943-Berlin DNCO due to fractured oxygen pipe to Wireless Operator
29th March 1943-Berlin Port i/e stopped at 0200hrs, exceptional navigation noted
3rd April 1943-Essen
8th April 1943-Duisberg
10th April 1943-Frankfurt
13th April 1943-Spezia Small flak holes along fuselage
14th April 1943-Stuttgart A/C attacked by Me110, bombs jettisoned
16th April 1943-Pilsen Bullet holes in port wing and along fuselage
28th April 1943-Jasmine Laying mines along French coast, light flak, 3 gunners shot at searchlights, holes in fuselage and rudder controls
4th May 1943-Dortmund
12th May 1943-Duisberg Intercom failure and port inner U/S DNCO
13th May 1943-Pilsen W/Cdr. Nettleton VC led this raid
23rd May 1943-Dortmund
27th May 1943-Essen
29th May 1943-Wuppertal
11th June 1943-Dusseldorf
20th June 1943-Friedrichhaven, Last ‘op’ with 44 Squadron
Their fate was sealed in a strange way following the operation to Fridrichhaven on the 20th June 1943. They were among 60 Lancasters to attack the old Zeppelin factory converted to making Wurzburg radar sets, and located deep into southern Germany, making it a long and dangerous trip. It was decided that instead of flying back over France in daylight, the aircraft would land at Maison Blanc in Algiers, crossing over Switzerland and Italy en route. After four days having their engines overhauled, the crews started their journey home, some of them bombing La Spezia en route.
Q - Queenie had to land at Gibraltar for 2 hours because of further engine problems, after which they continued for another 8 hours 40 minutes landing at Dunholme Lodge around 7 am. Here they were met by W/ C Nettleton VC, who informed them they were on further ‘ops’ that night. Flying Officer Moodie took exception to this, after their two long journeys, and requested some leave for the crew. W/C Nettleton replied, “In that case, after your leave, you and your crew are posted to the Pathfinders” and strode off.
In July 1942, Air Vice Marshal Don Bennett CB CBE DSO was given the job of creating a specialised force whose task was to guide squadrons of the main attacking force to the target, which they had marked in advance with coloured flares and target indicators. Only experienced crews were chosen for this hazardous and dangerous type of flying. Usually the crews had to complete 45 operations as a ‘Double-Tour’
This force became known as the Pathfinders serving under 8 Group. By early 1943 Bomber Command would open up the main offensive against the Ruhr, Hamburg and Berlin, with the Pathfinders leading the way. 97 Squadron based at Bourn was one of those Pathfinders.
Operational Trips with Lancaster JB 220 OF-O Orange with 97 Squadron
24/25th July 1943-Hamburg
25/26th July 1943-Essen
27 July 1943-Hamburg Coned and attacked by enemy fighter, bombs dropped but new course had to be plotted by navigator This was the night of the Hamburg ‘Firestorm’.
Obviously a very difficult trip for Flying Officer Moodie and his crew, being coned by searchlights and attacked by enemy fighters which was the worst dread for crews of Bomber Command. Despite this, Moodie ploughed on, and Sgt Clausen kept a cool head and dropped his bombs onto the target, with flak bursting all around. Despite F/O Moodie weaving continually Sgt Bundle also managed to keep a cool head and calmly got the aircraft back on track, and navigated them safely home. For these splendid efforts Moodie was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross whilst Bundle and Clausen each received the Distinguished Flying Medal. ( in the case of Moodie and Bundle they never knew of the award as they were posthumous, notification of all three were published in the London Gazette of 16th November 1943, with Moodies DFC being presented to his parents on the 14th May 1946. Whilst Clausen received notification of his whilst ‘residing’ in Stalag IVb POW camp).
Flying Officer Moodies recommendation is available, however the Air Ministry files for Bundle and Clausen with their own particular recommendations are missing. However, in 2000, Norman Clausen confirmed that all three of them received their awards for this same particular action, as shown in Flying Officer Moodie’s recommendation:-
This pilot is captain of a most reliable and capable crew and has taken part in all the recent major operations against Germany, including three trips to Berlin, and four on Hamburg. On the 27th July 1943, when attacking Hamburg, his aircraft was illuminated by searchlights, and sustained damage from heavy anti-aircraft fire which he succeeded in evading. Despite this he completed his attack and made a safe return to base.
2/3rd August 1943-Hamburg Heavy ice on A/C wings, bombs dropped on target
10th August 1943-Nurenburg
22nd August 1943-Leverkusen
23rd August 1943-Berlin
27th august 1943-Nurenburg
30th August 1943-Munchen Gladbach
31st August 1943-Berlin
3 September 1943-Berlin
5th September 1943-Mannheim
22 September 1943-Hannover DNCO lack of oxygen
23 September 1943-Darmsdadt
27 September 1943-Hannover
1st October 1943-Hagen
2nd October 1943-Munich
4th October 1943-Frankfurt
7th October 1943-Stuttgart *James Bundle now shown as a Flight Sergeant
8th October 1943-Hannover
18th October 1943-Hannover A/C shot down by night fighter, 7 crew KIA. Sgt Clausen parachutes to safety, but captured 10 days later
Norman Clausen recounted the nights events for a book by Mel Rolfe, ‘Flying into Hell’. (Grub Street), published in 2000.
On the night of 18/19th October 1943 the target was Hannover with 360 Lancaster aircraft taking part, 18 of which (5%) would not return. One of those 18 lost Lancasters was JB220 (OF-O Orange), scheduled to be the first of the ‘marker’ aircraft to arrive at the target after the ‘visual’ markers had dropped their coloured flares. They carried a 4000 lb. ’cookie’ bomb, plus 6 x 1000 lb. bombs and 5 x 250 lb. green target indicators. They flew in over Hanover at 21000 feet from the North East, to commence their bombing run, with Clausen working the H2S set beside Bundle, helping him to identify places.
Arthur Hughes, the rear gunner called out to F/O. Moodie that an aircraft was coming close to them and to commence weaving. It was his last words as immediately another Lancaster collided with them, causing an explosion with the two aircraft heading straight down.
Sergeant Clausen was knocked back 6 feet in the collision, but managed to grab his parachute hanging on the side and clip it on by just one buckle before being thrown clear of the aircraft in the ensuing explosion.
He found himself falling rapidly with his parachute pack above his head, but managed to pull the D-ring before blacking out, and came to no more than 300 feet from the ground, hurting his ankle on landing in a field a mile from the two burning aircraft. He was in fact, just 5 miles from Belsen concentration camp, and German troops were soon on their way to investigate.
The other Lancaster was JB 279 PM-C Charlie from 103 Squadron, piloted by an Australian, Fl/Sgt Len Hinton, (details shown) This aircraft had both wings ripped off, along with its nose and tail, now just reduced to a blazing torso. Amazingly Hinton, Stott and Leech had also managed to escape by parachute and landed close by.
As Sgt. Clausen was making his way from the field, (with his uniform in tatters and minus his flying boots), he heard shots ring out in the night air. He hid up for the night and most of the next day in a corn stack. Making his way by night he existed for the next 10 days on eating turnips, drinking from streams, and navigating his way by the North Star. Eventually on October 31st he was discovered hiding in another corn stack by a farmhand using a hayfork. Unlucky for Norman Clausen three soldiers were passing by and they took him into custody to nearby Diepholz. From there he was taken by train to Dulag Luft 1 in Frankfurt, and onto Stalag IVb at Muhlberg where he remained a POW until being liberated by the Russians in May 1945.
On his return to the UK at the end of May 1945, he completed a MI9 report detailing the loss of his aircraft, his escape by parachute, followed by capture and his time in the POW camp. Rather strangely, Clausen wrote that his aircraft was shot down by an enemy night fighter attacking them from beneath. It might well be that he wanted to protect the memory of both pilots of the colliding Lancaster’s, thinking it was far more honourable to have been shot down in combat? It was only in the year 2000 that the true story emerged for inclusion into the book.
Post war, the father of the wireless operator Sgt Tom Stott from the 103 Lancaster (who had no known grave, along with Sgt Hinton and and Sgt Leech) employed a private agency to find out what had happened to them all on the night of 18th October 1943. Enquiries revealed that the shots that Sgt Clausen had heard on landing, was in fact, Sgt Hinton and Sgt Leech being murdered by German troops who threw their bodies into the burning Lancaster.
Sgt Stott had managed to escape and later joined up with some Poles who were on a prison work party, who gave him food and water. For some reason he returned to their camp with them and helped organise an escape, but the Germans were tipped off and all were captured.
Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stott Stott was badly beaten up and taken to hospital from where he escaped again, this time making his own way to the Russian border, but was never heard from again. No trace was ever found of the offending German troops who had massacred Sgt’s Hinton and Leech on that fateful night.
Flight Sergeant Bundle and his crew were found in a field at daylight on the 19th October by Luftwaffe ground forces, their bodies were gathered together, and buried jointly in a cemetery at Somerborstel.
On February 7th 1949, the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES), located the grave, exhumed the bodies, and reburied them in a collective war grave at Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Germany in Plot 27, Row G graves 6-7, which is tended today by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Fl/Lt. Duncan McNaught Moodie DFC. Becklingen War Cemetery. Joint grave 27.G.6-7. Son of John Robert and Elizabeth Glasgow Moodie, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Duncan was born on the 23rd September 1916 in Shanghai, China, enlisted in Vancouver August 1941
Sgt. Leslie Edmund Melbourne. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.8. No further details, are you able to assist completion?
Fl/Sgt. James Thomas Bundle DFM. Becklingen War Cemetery. Joint grave 27.G.6-7. From Wymering, Portsmouth, Devon, England. Also shown on the Roll of Honour board at his old school at Northern Grammar School (now Mayfield School) in Portsmouth, England. (Shown right)
Fl/Sgt. Thomas Edward Stamp. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.5. Thomas was born in 1922, County Durham, England. No further details, are you able to assist completion?
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Arthur Drummond. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.4. Son of Frederick C. P. and Alice A. Drummond, of Burton-on-Trent, England. Leonard was born in 1923, Greenwich, London.
Fl/Sgt. Frederick Arthur Hughes. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.9. Frederick was born in 1922, Wirrel, Cheshire, England. No further details, are you able to assist completion?
103 Squadron burial details:
P/O. Leonard John Hinton. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.13. Born on 25th October 1919, the son of Mr. and Mrs. L. Hinton, of 552 Logan Road, Greenslopes, Queensland, Australia. Enlisted 17th August 1941, joined 103 Squadron 27th September 1943 from 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit (also served prior to this 81 OTU, 27 OTU, 15 AFU and 8 SFTS at Bundaberg, Canada.
Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stott. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 166. Son of Herbert Reginald and Laura Stott, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Charles Henry Leech. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 156. Son of Edwin and Daisy May Leech, of Clerkenwell, London, England.
Sgt. Kenneth James Offer. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.12. Son of John James Offer and Gladys Rhoda Offer, husband of Doris Offer, of May Bank, Staffordshire, England.
Sgt. Thomas Henry Davies. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 147. Son of David and Mary Ann Davies, of Carmarthen, Wales.
Sgt. Victor Barnett Hawkins. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.11. Son of Arthur B. S. and Louisa A. Hawkins, husband of Ethel Rose Hawkins, of Shoreditch, London, England.
Sgt. Tom Bell. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.G.10. No further details, are you able to assist completion?
(1) Fl/Lt. Duncan McNaught Moodie was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Supplement to London Gazette 16th November 1943.
(2) F/Sgt. James Thomas Bundle was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. Suppliment to London Gazette 16th November 1943.
(3) F/Sgt. Henry William Norman Clausen was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. Suppliment to London Gazette 12th November 1943.
(4) W4268 was later lost whilst with 622 Squadron on an operation to Berlin on the 15th February 1944 - all crew killed.
Researched by Simon Muggleton and submitted to Aircrew Remembered - July 2016. With Grateful Thanks to:- Gordon Leith - RAF Museum Hendon London, Susan Dransfield - HQ Air Command RAF Disclosures Cranwell, Alan Thomas - MoD RAF Air Historical Branch, Oliver Clutton Brock - Author ‘Footprints on the Sands of Time’, Mel Rolfe - Author ‘Flying into Hell’, Alan White - Author ‘The King’s Thunderbolts’, National Archives Kew London - Operational Record 44 Squadron, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Paul Baillie - RAF Historian. Further details added by Kate Tame of Aircrew Remembered.
(It must be noted that the copyright of this page remains with Simon - to use please contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded)
KT - Original page
SM 27.07.2016 - Updated page, photographs, information.
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