Operation: Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany
Date: 14th/15th October 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit No: 61 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Location: Rieseberg, Germany
Pilot: Fg Off. Norman Edward Hoad 143275 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No: 8372 * (1)
2nd Pilot: Plt Off. Samuel Cadman 184372 RAFVR Age 24. PoW No. 8561 * (2)
Flt Eng: gt. Cyril Stanley Webb 1629973 RAFVR Age 20. Murdered (3)
Nav: Fg Off. Kenneth Cecil William Ball 153197 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No. 8361 *
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. William Henry Pullin 55233 RAF Age 24. PoW *
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. George Patrick Boyd 1290787 RAFVR Age 24. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Norman England 1217807 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 1066 **
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Conway Vivian Clifford Embury 1821623 RAFVR Age 20. PoW No. 1065 **
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).
Above: ME595 crew from Left to Right standing: Fg Off. Ball, Sgt. Embury, Fg Off. Pullin, Sgt. England, Sgt. Wilson, Sgt. Webb. Front: Sgt. Boyd, Fg Off. Hoad
REASON FOR LOSS:
ME595 took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 22:51 hrs on the 14th October 1944 as part of a 1000 bomber raid on Braunschweig. This was the fifth raid on the city and would be the worst of the war. The old centre of the city was completely destroyed with outlying districts also being hit hard. The city was not raided in strength again by Bomber Command.
Above: 61 Squadron Lancaster ME595, QR:Y
Just one Lancaster, ME595, on its return flight from Braunschweig was lost to flak, although eleven other main force aircraft returned with minor flak damage.
ME595 was claimed by Schw. Flak Abt. 117 (o), 4./schw. Flak Abt. 627 and 4./schw. Flak Abt. 225. The aircraft crashed in a swamp 2 km SE of Rieseberg which is 6 km NW of Königslutter at 02:45 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten).
Above: The compass from ME595 and below the goggles that belonged to Fg Off. Pullin. The images were sent to Aircrew Remembered in June 2015 by Dutch researcher, Ernest Donders, the compass is part of his own collection The Goggles went to another buyer.
(1) Flt Lt. Hoad (promoted to Flt Lt. whilst a PoW) remained in the Royal Air Force (RAF) after being liberated. He retired from the RAF as an Air Vice Marshall (AVM). Norman Edward Hoad passed away on the 29th November 2014 aged 91. His Obituary, is reprinted with the kind permission of the Daily Telegraph Obituaries Column.
(2) Flt Sgt. Cadman (954080) was commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. on the 2nd September 1944, promulgated in the London Gazette on the 7th October 1944. He was promoted to Fg Off. whilst a PoW with effect 4th March 1945, promulgated in the London Gazette 20th April 1945.
(3) The circumstances leading to the death of Sgt. Webb were determined by a Military Court convened at the Curio-Haus in Hamburg between the 27th August and 4th September 1947.
Three German nationals were charged in that they in the neighbourhood of Völkenrode, Germany, on or about the 18th October 1944 and about 23:00 hrs, were concerned in the killing of an allied airman believed to be Sergeant Cyril Webb, Royal Air Force a British PoW.
The three accused were:
Hermann Wilhelm August Dinge, who was a former Major (Maj) in the Luftwaffe and the Commanding Officer of the Völkenrode Fliegerhorst (aerodrome);
Georg Gawliczek, who was a former Stabsfeldwebel (Sgt Maj) in the Luftwaffe stationed at Völkenrode;
Josef Bussem, who was a former Feldwebel (T/Sgt) in the Luftwaffe and in charge of the Motor Transport (MT) section at Völkenrode.
Dinge was in the custody of the British, whilst Gawliczek and Bussem were extradited from the French zone.
The court heard that at the end of September 1944 Maj. Dinge attended a conference in Celle, which was presided over by SS-Obergruppenführer (Lt. Gen) Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff. At the conference Wolff issued instructions to the effect that in future no enemy airmen or parachutists were to be taken prisoner alive and that the armed forces were not to intervene if the civilian population desired to lynch these enemy airmen.
Wolff was arrested on the 13th May 1945 and he was imprisoned in Schöneberg. During the Nuremberg Trials, Wolff was allowed to escape prosecution by providing evidence against his fellow Nazis, and was then transferred in January 1947 to the British prison facility in Minden.
Although released in 1947, he had been indicted by the post-war German government as part of the denazification process. Detained under house arrest and after a German trial Wolff was sentenced in November 1948 to five years imprisonment due to his membership in the SS. Seven months later his sentence was reduced to four years and he was released.
Wolff was never, either by an Allied or a German Court, prosecuted specifically for issuing the above instructions.
About two weeks after the conference Dinge passed on Wolff’s order to all officers and NCOs at Völkenrode but studiously distanced himself from any personal involvement by emphasising the meaning of the order and its authority. However, it was alleged that he finished his address by intimating that he did not wish to see any prisoners brought to the Fliegerhorst alive.
The court also heard that after Sgt Webb had bailed out he landed near Didderse approximately 20 km north of Braunschweig. Three days later on the 18th October at 08:00 hrs he surrendered himself to a Hermann Behrens, a local road sweeper. After ensuring that Sgt. Webb was unarmed Behrens escorted him to the office of Wilhelm Stoter the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Didderse.
Behrens gave evidence that Sgt. Webb had rags wrapped around his feet, was hobbling and that he required the support of a stick.
Stoter contacted Edmund Aumann, a member of the polizei (police) for both Groß Schwülper and Didderse, who then collected Sgt. Webb and conveyed him to Groß Schwülper. After Sgt. Webb’s particulars had been recorded he was locked in the local fire station.
The same day Dinge received a telephone call from Aumann informing him of Sgt. Webb. Feldwebel Kurt Muethel, an interpreter, was instructed to report to Dinge. On arrival Dinge ordered him to collect Sgt. Webb and also reminded him of Wolff’s order. Muethel was of the opinion this was tantamount to being ordered to "shoot the airman" and he informed Dinge that he could not carry out his orders. There was a heated exchange of words after which Muethel was dismissed and warned that his refusal would not be forgotten.
Dinge then summoned Gawliczek and Bussem to his office where each in turn received a similar order to the one that was issued to Muethel. It was alleged that both reluctantly agreed to carry out Dinge’s command under the threat of themselves being shot if they refused the orders. Dinge claimed that he instructed them not to shoot the airman unless he attempted to escape.
Muethel who had remained in the outer office saw that both Gawliczek and Bussem were visibly ill at ease as each emerged from Dinge’s office.
Bussem collected his motorcycle/sidecar combination and met Gawliczek at the Fliegerhorst gates but found he did not have enough fuel to complete the journey. He phoned the MT section and ordered Johann Clemens, a former Unteroffizier (L/Cpl), to pick them up in his ambulance.
Clemens drove Gawliczek and Bussem to Groß Schwülper where Clemens helped Sgt. Webb into the ambulance whilst Gawliczek and Bussem signed for the custody of the airman. During the return journey Clemens learned of Dinge’s orders and refused to be party to the crime and told Gawliczek and Bussem that he was driving directly to the Fliegerhorst.
However, just short of the Fliegerhorst Bussem ordered a halt, alighted and collected his motorcycle. Sgt. Webb was loaded into the sidecar and they started out for the bridge over the Mittelland Canal between Völkenrode and Wendezelle.
The bridge in question no longer exists but its location was some 350 metres west of the current railway bridge.
They stopped on or near the bridge where Sgt. Webb was killed from a gunshot to the back of his neck. It was unclear whether he had alighted from or if he remained seated in the sidecar. His body was then thrown into the canal.
Which of the two accused fired the shot was unclear as neither of them admitted that Sgt. Webb was shot in this manner. They both claimed that the airman was shot when he attempted to escape and that he fell over the bridge into the canal. Their depositions were contradictory in this regard and despite of the fact Sgt. Webb had difficulty in walking they both maintained that he tried to escape.
Gawliczek and Bussem then reported to Dinge and told him that the airman had been shot while he was trying to escape. Dinge, it was claimed, made no comment.
This was a common practice in order to justify the unlawful shooting of a PoW.
Two months after the shooting, on the 5th December 1944, a body was seen by a ships captain floating in the canal about 500 metres from the bridge in question. The captain informed a Max Kabelitz, a Meister (WO) in the Wasserschutzpolizei (water police) in Veltenhof, of the location. He and a colleague went to the location and pulled the body out of the water.
Kabelitz believed that the body was of a British airman because of his blue uniform. The airman was identified from an ID disc attached to his belt which had the following inscription “CE 162973 RAF WEB.C.”. The Bürgermeister of Völkenrode ordered a funeral for Sgt. Webb who was interred in the NE corner of the old cemetery at Völkenrode without ceremony or gravestone.
Sgt. Webb’s body was exhumed on the 19th April 1947 and a post-mortem performed, however, no bullet was found.
The court found all three of the accused guilty of the charge and sentenced them to death. After confirmation of the findings of the court and sentences they were hanged in Hamelin prison by RSM Richard Anthony O’Neill on the 14th November 1947; Gawliczek at 10:12 hrs, Bussem at 11:22 hrs and Dinge at 14:03 hrs.
Sgt. Cyril Stanley Webb. Hannover War Cemetery, Grave 2.G.14. Born during the 2nd Qtr of 1924 in Farington, Berkshire. Son of Henry Charles and Elsie May (née Hillier) Webb of Great Coxwell, Oxfordshire, England.
Above: Sgt. Cyril Stanley Webb.
Sgt. George Patrick Boyd. Hannover War Cemetery, Grave 2.G.15. Inscription reads: “THE PARTING WAS SUDDEN THE SHOCK SEVERE TO PART WITH ONE WE LOVED SO DEAR”. Born on the 7th February 1921 in Dover, Kent. Son of George Cornelius and Edith Elizabeth Ellen (née Benn) Boyd of Dover, Kent, England.
Above: Sgt. George Patrick Boyd's medals (courtesy Michel Beckers)
Originally researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster), Marc Hall and Sean Feast for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.
Thanks to Malcolm Hoad, son of the pilot who contacted us in March 2015. Also to Ernest Donders from the Netherlands, for information on the compass and goggles. Thanks to Gavin Anderson for the update to Sgt. Webb's NoK details. Also to Normand Hoad for crew photograph, the Boyd family for George Boyd photograph, Sarah O'Donovan for photograph of Sgt. Cyril Stanley Webb.
Reviewed and updated by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz .Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’ (Jan 2022).
Marc Hall developed an interest in aviation at an early age, and gained a commercial pilots license. Marc's research into RAF Bomber Command is ongoing and his first book 'Bomber Command Operation Hurricane' met with critical acclaim. Sean Feast started a career in journalism in 1985, concurrently training at the London College of Printing and later joining Maxwell Business Communications. He has written or co-written more than a dozen books.
'Operation Hurricane': 256 pages Published by Fighting High Publishing (19th January 2013) ISBN-13: 978-0957116337.
'Missing - Presumed Killed': 240 pages Published by Fighting High Publishing (1st September 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1-9998128-5-0.
RS & TV 04.01.2022 - Reviewed and updated narrative.
KTY 22.06.2015 - Photograph of parts added.
MB 15.09.2015 - photo of medals added.
RS 27.8.2018 - Update to Sgt. Webb's NoK details
KTY 09.09.2018 - Photo of Sgt. Webb added, together with further information
RS 19.10.2018 - Minor corrections to punctuation and German place names
RS & TV 04.01.2022 - Reviewed and updated narrative.
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them. - Laurence
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