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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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50 Squadron Crest
23/24.12.1943 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster II ED445 VN-L F/O. Derrick W. Herbert

Operation: Berlin

Date: 23/24th December 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III 

Serial: ED445

Code: VN-L

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe

Location: Lauterbach, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Derrick Wilson Herbert 133392 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Russell 1522694 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: Sgt. Philip Rex Pae 1515141 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Charles Henry Kewley RAFVR Age 19. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. David John Poole 1075546 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Clifford Hughes 152393 RAFVR Age 30. Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Leslie North 998917 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Took off at 00.12 hrs from Skellingthorpe to attack Berlin. Part of an operation involving 379 aircraft to attack the heart of Berlin. Weather conditions were poor with heavy cloud resulting in a poor bombing. Damage was reported from the Germans as 287 houses and other buildings destroyed, a canal boat was sunk and 3 others seriously damaged. 178 people on the ground were killed.

The allies lost 19 aircraft this night with 99 aircrew killed and a further 14 being made PoW.

ED445 is thought to have been shot down by flak as no claims can be matched with this loss. Lauterbach is to the south of Germany. (See map)

(1) Tragically Sgt. Kewley's father Pt. Harry Kewley D/40967 serving with the 30th Btn Cheshire regiment was also killed on the 15th July 1944. Buried in Rome War Cemetery


(2) F/O. Clifford Hughes was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar school (Now secondary/grammar school) We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.

Burial details:

F/O. Derrick Wilson Herbert. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.12. Son of Thomas P. and Nora Herbert, of High Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.

Sgt. John Russell. Hanover War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 5.D.15-18. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Philip Rex Pae. Hanover War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 5.D.15-18. Son of Reginald William and Catherine Janet Pae, of Pudsey, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Charles Henry Kewley. Hanover War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 5.D.15-18. Son of Henry Cowell Kewley and Florence Winifred Kewley, of Douglas, Isle of Man, England. 

Sgt. David John Poole. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.13. Son of Robert and Jessie Poole, husband of Josephine Mary Poole, of Buxton, Derbyshire, England.

F/O. Clifford Hughes. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.14. Son of Charles and Daisy Hughes, of Little Bromwich, Birmingham, England.

Sgt. Thomas Leslie North. Hanover War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 5.D.15-18. Son of Thomas John and Edith Ann North, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, England.

Researched for all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', 'Bomber Command Database', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'

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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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