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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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115 Squadron Crest
26/27.08.1944 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster I HK556 A4-F F/O. Holder

Operation: Kiel

Date: 26/27th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: HK556

Code: A4-F

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire

Location: Brodersdorf woods, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Donald Fraser Holder NZ/421053 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Maxwell John Pearson 1836265 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Henry Herbert Hartley 1582326 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. John William Swannell 1339960 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Roy Clatworthy 1338676 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Allen Stewart Jackson AUS/434791 RAAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Athol Grant Webber AUS/432605 RAAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed


Taking off from RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire at 20:19 hrs - 372 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3 and 8 Groups despatched to Kiel. 17 Lancasters lost, 4.6 per cent of the Lancaster force.

The Pathfinder marking was hampered by smoke-screens but the local report tells of a very serious raid with heavy bombing in the town centre and surrounding districts and widespread fires fanned by a strong wind. The Rathaus was completely burnt out and many other public buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged. Some 134 people on the ground were killed with a further 1,002 suffering various degrees of injuries.

Above left: Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott, F/O. Donald Fraser Holder, FL/Sgt. Arthur Russell Young and Sgt. Steve Holder, thought to be his brother. Right: Sgt. Steve Holder, Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott, Fl/Sgt. R.W. Vaney, Fl/Sgt. Arthur Russell Young.

No confirmed reports regarding the loss of Lancaster HK556 but other reports state that it is possible that the aircraft came down in the Brodersdorf woods area, other reports state that it was Lancaster I LM230 from 12 Squadron. The remains of the crew (the aircraft crashed with a full bomb load) were buried at the Kiel Cemetery as unidentified. Consequently they are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

The others lost from the Squadron:

Lancaster I HK560 A4-K Flown by P/O. Howard Charles Braun J/88272 RCAF from Toronto, Canada, killed with all 6 other crew.
Lancaster I LM127 KO-H Flown by 29 yearly, F/O. James Edward Morgan 182018 RAFVR from Hammersmith, London - killed with all 6 other crew.

Burial details:

F/O. Donald Fraser Holder. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 262. Son of Albert William Holder and Leila Beatrice Holder (née Burrows), of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand.

Sgt. Maxwell John Pearson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 236. Son of Melville Llewellyn Pearson and Mary Louise Pearson, of Croesyceiliog, Monmouthshire, Wales

Fl/Sgt. Henry Herbert Hartley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Son of Frederick and Ellen Hartley, of Birmingham, England.

Fl/Sgt. John William Swannell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 222. Son of John and Violet Constance Swannell, of Hastings, Sussex, England.

Sgt. Douglas Roy Clatworthy. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 227. No further details - are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. Allen Stewart Jackson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 260. Son of John Joseph and Olive Isabel Jackson, of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Athol Grant Webber. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 262. Son of William Thomas Webber and May Webber, of West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jan Field Hodgson who’s relative, Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott left a photo album with many great historical photos of 75 Squadron aircrew - submitted to Aircrew Remembered in May 2017. Also many thanks to Donald Holder, nephew of F/O. Holder who contacted us in June 2017. Further pages are being added daily thanks to the great work from Jan for us.

KTY - 02.05.2017 - updated 03.06.2017

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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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