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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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61 Squadron Crest
10/11.09.1942 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I R5888 Fl/Sgt. Hobson

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 10/11th September 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5888

Code: QR-?

Base: RAF Syerston

Location: Not known

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Frank Hobson 912096 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Gordon Anthony Hill 819006 RAF (A) Age ? Killed

Nav: Sgt. Lloyd Watson Thomas AUS/402282 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Wilfred Thomas Belton 1058416 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Philip Haig Fairbanks 1112526 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Cranston Yates R/70975 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest West Catlin 1076033 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 20:35 hrs to bomb Düsseldorf. A huge force took off - a total of 479 aircraft made up with 242 Wellingtons, 89 Lancasters, 59 Halifaxes, 47 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens and 14 Whitleys.

The pathfinders marked the target area successfully using the 'Pink Pansies' (2) in converted 4,000 lb. bomb casings. The city was hit in all areas apart from the north, also hit was the neighbouring town of Neuss.

Reports are that 39 industrial firms in Düsseldorf and a further 13 in Neuss were damaged to the extent that no production could take place for various periods, 8 public buildings were destroyed and 67 damaged. 911 houses were also destroyed, 1,506 seriously damaged and another 8,340 lightly damaged.

On the ground 132 people were killed, made up of 120 in Düsseldorf and 12 in Neuss. A further 11 people were classed as "missing" 2 days after the raid. 19,427 people were made homeless.

The raid took its toll on the allies though with 33 aircraft lost. (20 Wellingtons, 5 Lancasters. 4 Stirlings, 3 Halifaxes and 1 Hampden) 60 crewmen were killed, 1 injured and 13 made PoW.

There are no records of this Lancaster being shot down by night fighter or anti-aircraft fire.

(2) "Pink Pansies" an incendiary bomb - 2,800 lb.'s. - used as a target marker made up from Benzol, rubber and phosphorous.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Frank Hobson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.12. Son of Frank and Rosetta Hobson, of Liverpool, England. (Batchelor of Arts Degree) Grave inscription: 'Dying, He Dies Not, But Lives On In Our Hearts'.

Sgt. Gordon Anthony Hill. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.F.14. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. Lloyd Watson Thomas. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.F.18. Born on the 05th November 1921 at Sydney, the son of Robert William and Eva Elizabeth Thomas, of 'Hundleby', Station Street, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia. Clerk prior to enlisting on 22nd July 1940. Grave inscription: 'They Never Fail Who Die In A Great Cause'.

Sgt. Wilfred Thomas Belton. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.F.13. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. Philip Haig Fairbanks. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.14. Son of Richard William and Norah Christine Fairbanks, of Whitkirk, Yorkshire, England. His brother, 28 year old, third officer Gordon Maguire Fairbanks was lost just just months earlier on the 26th January 1942. On board S.S. Refarst when it was torpedoed from U-582 commandered by Lt. Werner Schulte south of St. Johns. (note: Lt. Schulte and all his crew of 46 were also lost on the 05th October 1942 south wet of Iceland in U-582)

Gordon Maguire Fairbanks. Tower Hill Memorial. Panel 86. Husband of Lilian Fairbanks, of Austhorpe, Yorkshire, England. (note: the CWGC incorrectly list his loss as on the 26th June 1942 - we have advised them)

Sgt. Albert Cranston Yates. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.F.15. Son of Albert Martin Yates and Maud Yates, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Grave inscription: 'At Rest'.

Yates Bay in Kazan Lake, Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Albert Yates

Sgt. Ernest West Catlin. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.13. Son of Arthur Harold and Evelyn Catlin, of Leicester, England.

Researched for Jane Fairbanks (niece of Sgt. Philip Haig Fairbanks) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted below:

However, a very special mention to Mitch Buiting for taking photographs of the crews graves on the day request sent. Amazing!

KTY 24.01.2020
CHB 29.01.2020 Link to Canadian Commemorative Feature added.

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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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