Date: 01/02nd January 1945 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 218 Squadron (Gold Coast)
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk, England
Location: Emines, Belgium
Pilot: F/O. Robert Garfield Grivell AUS/417578 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie Peckett 1615706 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Hugh Clements R/186020 RCAF Age 35. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. G.E. Ingram J/37809 RCAF Survived - baled out with shrapnel wounds.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Bennett 2214378 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Percival Buttrum-Gardiner 1851287 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Royston Elvin Keel 1809996 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
A relative would like to make contact with others from this crew and any additional details / photographs would be welcome.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The target for this operation - the railway yards at Vohwinkel in Germany. 17 aircraft from the squadron taking part, PB768 taking off at 16.06 hrs.The attack was classed as successful with the target severely damaged. This followed an unsuccessful operation on the 31st December when much of the bombing fell outside of the target area due to strong winds.
Lancaster PB768 was hit over the target area by flak at 21.000 ft, causing damage to the fuel lines feeding the port inner engine. During the homebound trip the aircraft was hit again by flak, twice, by units of an American anti aircraft battery at Namur. The port side of the aircraft was engulfed in flames, the Australian pilot, F/O. Grivell gave the order to bale out. The bomb aimer was the only crew member to make it out in time. Almost immediately the Lancaster began to spin, crashing at Emines at around 20.00 hrs.
Above and below 218 Squadron Lancaster (courtesy IWM)
Another aircraft, Lancaster I NG332 IL-D was also hit in the same barrage of anti-aircraft fire from the Americans, all the crew of 8 were killed. Their story is also told on this website.
Notes: PB768 had been fitted with Merlin 22 engines, built at A.V Roe, Woodford in April 1943. Delivered to 218 Squadron in November 1944.
During the month of January, German forces begins to run out of fuel for its military machine. On the 1st January, the Luftwaffe launches massive attacks on allied bases in France, Belgium and the Netherlands - losing nearly 50% of its 800 aircraft. This was probably the reason that the American flak units were quick to fire before positive recognition was obtained.
Crew graves (courtesy Des Philippet)Burial details:
Initially buried at the Fosse American Cemetery they were re-interned after war end at the Leopoldsburg War Cemetery.
F/O. Robert Garfield Grivell. (shown left) Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Joint grave VIII.D.19-20. Further information: Son of Walter and Edna Grivell, husband of Thelma Dulcie Grivell, of Verdun, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: ‘I’ll walk beside thee, Thelma and Verelle.’ Prior to enlisting he held the position as a store and post office assistant. Born on the 12th January 1924 in Stirling, Australia. Enlisted on the 9th June 1942, left for overseas on the 11th August 1943. Flew Tiger Moths, Wirraway, Oxford and Wellington aircraft prior to converting to the Lancaster.
Sgt. Leslie Peckett. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Joint grave VIII.D.19-20. Son of Dorothy Peckett, and stepson of Leslie Chamberlain, of Winfarthing, Norfolk, England.
Fl/Sgt. Hugh Clements. (shown right) Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Grave VIII.D.16. Further information: Son of Hugh and late Margaret (nee Cumming) Clements of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Brother of Thomas, Marion, Martha, Walter and half brother of James, Mrs. A. Gardner and Mrs. A. Taylor. Born on 24th September 1909 and educated in Glasgow, Scotland. Prior to enlisting on 10th August 1942, employed at the Robin Hood Flour Mills in Saskatoon, moose Jaw and Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, War Medal 1939-45. Operational Wings posthumously awarded 25 November 1946.
Sgt. Kenneth Bennett. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Grave VIII.D.15. Son of Ernest and Edith Emma Bennett, brother to James, Thomas and Yeo, also had four sister, Mrs. J. Abercrombie, Mrs. A. Gardiner, Mrs. Jack Taylor and Mrs Harold W. Dryden. Husband of Mavis Helen Bennett, of Stanningley, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription reads: ’Till we meet my darling, Mizpah, Mavis and Sandra.’ Also commemorated on the Pudsey War Memorial.
Sgt. Edward Percival Buttrum-Gardiner. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Grave VIII.D.18. Son of George Edward and Dorothy Ethel Buttrum-Gardiner, of Oxford, England. Grave inscription reads: ‘He gave his greatest gift, his own unfinished life.’
Sgt. Royston Elvin Keel. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. Grave VIII.D.17. Son of Bertie Owen Keel and Ellen Keel, of Felbridge, Surrey, England.
For further details our thanks to the following, Jason Ainge (nephew of Sgt. Kenneth Bennett) Des Philippet for grave photos, Australian archives, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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