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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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433 Squadron Crest
10.04.1945 No. 433 Squadron Lancaster I PB903 BM-F F/O. Grisdale

Operation: Leipzig

Date: 10th April 1945 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 433 Squadron (Porcupine)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PB903

Code: BM-F

Base: RAF Skipton-on-Swale

Location: Target area

Pilot: F/O. Robert James Grisdale R/89832 RCAF Age 22. Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Walter Alfred James Thurston 1896557 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Nav: F/O. Isaac Buck Zierler J/40890 RCAF Age ? Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. William Gordon McLeod J/39929 RCAF Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Joseph Michael Hirak J/95284 RCAF Age 23. Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Francis Gerald Seeley J/95252 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. David William Roberts J/95323 RCAF Age ? Killed


Taking of at 13:17 hrs on a daylight operation to Engelsdorf and Mockau railway yards. Hit by predicted flak just short of the AP. A fire was seen to break out in the starboard inner engine, though the flames were soon quelled. Height was lost, followed by a small explosion which turned the Lancaster onto its back. Diving steeply, the bomber hit the ground and exploded.

(1) Grisdale Lake southwest of Nueltin Lake, Manitoba, named after F/O. Robert James Grisdale in 1972

(2) Hirak Lake northeast of Nejanilini Lake Manitoba, named after Fl/Sgt. Joseph Michael Hirak in 1974.

Crew photographs kindly supplied by Dave Champion - June 2017.

Burial details:

F/O. Robert James Grisdale. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.13. Son of Robert Chaplin and Alice Mary Grisdale of 14 Fairmont Apartments, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Grave inscription reads: “Until The Day Break And The Shadows Flee Away”.

Sgt. Walter Alfred James Thurston. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.15. Born in June 1920, the son of Alfred and Emma (née Emmett) Thurston of Southwark, London, England.

Sgt Thurston - fourth from right, front row.

F/O. Isaac Buck Zierler. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.9. Son of Mr. and Mrs Abraham Zierler of 233 Davis Street, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. William Gordon McLeod. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.12. Son of Norman J. McLeod and Ida Jane Mcleod of Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Sadly Missed, Proudly Remembered.”

Fl/Sgt. Joseph Michael Hirak. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.14. Son of Michael and Rose Hirak of Elphinstone, Manitoba, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Francis Gerald Seeley. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.10. Understood to be from Trenton, Ontario, Canada. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. David William Roberts. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.F.11. Son of Harry and Edith (née Richardson) Roberts, born in Knowlton, Quebec, Canada on the 16th August 1924. The youngest of four children. He had been working as a bindery hand at Southern Press when he enlisted in the RCAF on 31 December 1942.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered June 2017 Linda Ibrom. Special thanks to Barbara Goode for photo's of Sergeant Thurston, also to the Geographical Names of Canada for crew details and other photographs. Also to Dave Champion who contacted us in June 2017 with further detailed crew information and crew photographs. Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details. Grave photographs courtesy of Uwi at Find A Grave.

LI - 07.06.2017

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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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