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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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10 crest
10 Squadron Halifax II HR920 P/O. James Miller Dunlop

Operation: Dunlop rubber factory

Date: 15/16th September 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 10 Squadron (motto: 'em acu tangere - To hit the mark') 4 Group

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR920

Code: ZA-L

Base: RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire

Location: Écorcei, France

Pilot: P/O. James Miller Dunlop 159470 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Fredericg George Cowler 1087690 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Nav: P/O. Charles John Lindsay Dunlop 149984 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Sidney Edwin Stapley 134383 RAFVR PoW No: 2542 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Henry Brian Bilton 1215114 RAFVR evaded (1)

Air/Gnr: Air/Gnr Sgt. William Frank MacKenna R/153207 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hadyn Lewis 550574 RAF PoW No: 522 Camp: 357 Stalag Kopernikus


Weather at base: cloudy with frequent showers with a westerly wind.

16 aircraft from 10 squadron were to take part on this operation, although 2 returned early

369 aircraft were detailed to bomb the Dunlop rubber factory at Montluçon including 5 American B-17s. Bombing taking place between 00:24 hrs and 01:21 hrs. Although the full moon and good visibility favoured enemy fighters they were only encountered on a small scale.

The raid was considered a success. Of the 26 major buildings 12 were destroyed, 12 others seriously damaged with four others suffering slight damage. Although the bombing was fairly accurate sadly 50 civilians were killed with 150 others suffering various degrees of injury. Some bombers inadvertently bombed the village of Tizon, in Saint-Victor causing many fires, possibly due to the markers covered in black smoke.

Above L-R: Sgt. William Bilton, Sgt. Sidney Stapley, Sgt. Fredericg Cowler, P/O. James Dunlop, P/O. Charles Dunlop and Sgt. Hadyn Lewis, with insert - Sgt. William MacKenna. (Courtesy Claude Grimaud)

The Germans only had four or five units of anti-aircraft batteries in Montluçon and the allies felt it to be a soft target. The allies concluded that 14% reduction of vehicle and aircraft tyres for the German war machine would be made.

The French Vichy as well as the Germans made as much propaganda following the raid blaming the allies for killing civilians and making many homeless and of course unemployed.

HR920 was shot down by Fw. Herbert Penz of 2./JG2 at 23:30 hrs, 4 of the crew remained in the Halifax but 3 managed to bale out with two taken PoW and the other evading capture.

Four aircraft were lost during this operation, the others:

15 Squadron Stirling III BF569 LS-V Flown by 30 year old W/O. Alexander William Niall from New Zealand - killed with all other 6 crew.

427 Squadron Halifax V DK253 ZL-M Flown by 22 year old Sgt. Alexander Chibanoff from Alberta, Canada - killed with all 6 other crew.

427 Squadron Halifax V LK913 NA-N Flown by W/Cdr. Donald William McKay Smith, DFC from New Brunswick, Canada taken PoW with 3 others, remaining 4 evaded capture.

(1) Sgt. William Henry Brian Bilton suffered injuries to his foot in his descent. Hidden by the Malard family at Sty. Aubin. Returned to Prestwick, England via Gibraltar on the 16h February 1944

Burial details:

P/O. James Miller Dunlop. Écorcei Churchyard. Grave 4. Son of John Fulton Dunlop and Louise Keiller Miller Dunlop, of Glasgow. Epitaph: 'In My Father's House Are Many Mansions'.

Sgt. Fredericg George Cowler. Écorcei Churchyard. Grave 2. Son of Albert and Louisa Cowler, of Exeter and husband of Ivy Isobel Cowler, of Exeter, Devon, England. Epitaph: 'Your Memory To Us Is A Treasure Your Loss A Lifetime Regret'.

P/O. Charles John Lindsay Dunlop. Écorcei Churchyard. Grave 3. Son of John Sugden Dunlop and Ingha Angela Joan Bodmer Dunlop, of Glenreasdell Mains, Argyllshire, Scotland.

Sgt. William Frank MacKenna. Écorcei Churchyard. Grave 5. Also remembered on parents grave in Chegoggin Cemetery, Nova Scotia. Son of George H. MacKenna died 1978, age 81) and Sarah MacKenna )died 1976, age 79), of Chegoggin, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Epitaph: 'In Loving Memory Of Our Billy. "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Alain Godignon and Claude Grimaud for photographs and information, Air 27-144-17/18 National Archives, Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1943 part two, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 22-10-2022

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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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