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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 156 Squadron Lancaster III ME366 GT:H Flt Lt. John G.E. Evans

Operation: Bottrop

Date: 3rd/4th February 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 156 Squadron, Path Finder Force (PPF)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ME366

Code: GT:H

Base: RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire

Location: 3 km South West of Kirchhellen airfield

Pilot: Flt Lt. John Granville Escourt Evans 418527 RAAF Age 22. PoW *

Flt Eng: WO. Frederick Parr DFM. 570544 RAF Age 23. KiA

Nav: Flt Lt. Francis Charles Salt 130069 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Cecil Philip Clark 182483 RAFVR Age 34. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. William Henry Preece 426390 RAAF Age? PoW *

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. Gordon Charles McKenna 432540 RAAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. John Costigan 45086 RAAF Age 27. PoW *

* Stalag 13d, Nuremberg, (Nürnberg Langwasser), Germany. Also known as Oflag 73, Bavaria

The family of Flt 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.

Further information indicates that ME366 was a possible claim by one of two German night-fighter pilots:

The first was Hptm. Gerhard Raht, his 47th Abschuss, from Stab I./NJG2at an unlisted location at 20:00 hrs. The second was Maj.Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, his 107th Abschuss, from Stab NJG4 NE of Krefeld at 4.00 m. at 20:00 hrs.(Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie).

Right: Flt 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. Plt Off. Preece managed to bale out - two of the crew that survived were captured soon after landing. The rear gunner, Fg Off. 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 Flt Lt. Maurice Spinley DFM. MiD. (6 KiA, 1 Returned).

PoWs from this crew:

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

Burial details:

WO. Frederick Parr DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.10. Son of John Edward and Ellen Parr, of Littlehampton, Sussex, England.

DFM was awarded to Sgt. Parr whilst with 101 Sqn, gazetted on the 10th December 1943. He was on his 2nd tour of operations.

Flt 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.

The family also lost another of the 3 sons that served in the RAF. WO Bernard Salt was killed when 12 Sqn Lancaster III ND562 was lost on a mission to Nümberg.

Fg Off. Cecil Philip Clark. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 20.G.9. Born on the 25th August 1910 in England. Son of Philip Richard and Mabel (née Lister) Clark from Surrey, England.

Plt Off. 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 by Kelvins Young (Web master) for Martin Brown relative of Flt Lt. Francis Salt, (Jul 2015) - further photographs added (Jul 2018). Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2021).

Other sources listed below.

RS 16.06.2021 - Updated narrative.

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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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