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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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156 Squadron Crest
03/04.02.1945 No. 156 Squadron Lancaster III ME366 GT-H Fl/Lt. John G.E. Evans

Operation: Bottrop

Date: 03/04th February 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 156 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ME366

Code: GT-H

Base: RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire

Location: 3 km South West of Kirchhellen airfield

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Granville Escourt Evans AUS/418527 RAAF Age 22. PoW - no further details of camp.

Fl/Eng: W/O. Frederick Parr DFM. 570544 RAF Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Francis Charles Salt 130069 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Cecil Philip Clark 182483 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. William Henry Preece AUS/426390 RAAF PoW -no further details of camp.

Air/Gnr: P/O. Gordon Charles McKenna AUS/432540 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. John Costigan AUS/45086 RAAF Age 27. PoW - no further details of camp.

The family of Fl/Lt. Francis Charles Salt would very much like to hear from other relatives - contact us and your details will be forward.


Taking off at 16:52 hrs to mark the area of the Prosper Benzol plant at Bottrop for further bombing. Caught by searchlights at 18,000 ft just five minutes after releasing its bomb load and then hit by the heavy flak. Within seconds the aircraft caught fire and exploded without warning. The Flight Engineer, Navigator and bomb aimer were thought to have been killed in the initial hit.

Right: Fl/Lt. Francis Charles Salt with brothers, Sid and Bernard (courtesy Martin Brown)

The pilot regained consciousness mid air, still clutching the control column which had come away. Another explosion hit the rear of the aircraft blowing the rear gunner clear. P/O. Preece managed to bale out - two of the crew that survived were captured soon after landing. The rear gunner, F/O. John Costigan managed to evade capture for 12 days, but suffering from badly cut feet he too was captured - serving the remainder of the war in a German hospital.

Another aircraft was lost from the squadron on this operation:
Lancaster III PB505 GT-F Flown by 22 year old, Fl/Lt. Maurice Spinley DFM. MiD. NZ/411466 RNZAF of Wellington, New Zealand, Killed with all 6 other crew.

PoWs from this crew:

Fl/Lt. John Granville Escourt Evans: Born on 29th August 1923 in Brighton Victoria, Australia. - Enlisted Melbourne, Australia.
F/O. John Costigan: Born 12th October 1918 in Cottesloe, Western Australia. Enlisted Perth, Western Australia.
P/O. William Henry Preece: Born 02nd November 1923, Normanton Queensland, Australia. Enlisted Brisbane, Australia.

Burial details:

W/O. Frederick Parr DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.10. Son of John Edward and Ellen Parr, of Littlehampton, Sussex, England. On his 2nd tour of operations.

Fl/Lt Francis Charles Salt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.8. Son of Thomas and Gertrude Ellen Salt, husband of Beatrice Nellie Salt, of Burton-on-Trent, England.

F/O. Cecil Philip Clark. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.9. No further details - are you able to assist?

P/O. Gordon Charles McKenna. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.7. Son of Charles Herbert and Alice Veronica McKenna, of Clovelly, New South Wales, Australia. Born 26th November 1924 in Grafton New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted in Sydney.

Researched for Martin Brown relative of Fl/Lt. Francis Salt, July 2015 - further photographs added July 2018. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

KTY 08.07.2015

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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