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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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138 Squadron Crest
14/15.04.1945 No. 138 Squadron Lancaster I RF143 NF-O F/O. Granville Horsaman

Operation: Potsdam

Date: 14/15th April 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 138 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: RF143

Code: NF-O

Base: RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk

Location: Drewitz, 6 km south west of Potsdam

Pilot: F/O. Granville Horsaman 153841 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Stephen Larcombe 1338252 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: F/O. Vincent Rees Macdonald Williams 16424 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. J.W. Neve 164616 RAFVR Survived - PoW.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Graham Morris Bagshaw AUS/417779 RAAF Age 22. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Anthony Cotter 1903525 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Victor Stokes 2223471 RAFVR Age ? Killed


Taking off at 18:13 hrs from RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk. 500 Lancasters and 12 P.F.F. Mosquitoes taking part in this operation with bombing taking place between 22:43 hrs and 23:16 hrs.

Some reports state that the Lancaster had been coned in by searchlights and shot down by a night-fighter. Although no claims have been acknowledged by the Luftwaffe high command for this. According to the MREU a statement was made by a Herr. Gerhard Helmer who was a member of a flak battalion based in the area who had come forward to identify the aircraft/crew to the unit after an appeal in the local press.

(The MREU section reported that the local population in Berlin had been surprisingly very supportive in identification of missing aircraft/crews following newspaper appeals post war)

The aircraft had been brought down by anti aircraft fire and that he found papers on one of the crew enabling identification to take place on the 20th February 1947. He confirmed that the aircraft had exploded on impact at about 23:00 hrs but that 3 crew bodies were thrown clear from the aircraft.

Fl/Sgt. Stephen Larcombe a qualified pilot, but flying on this operation as flight engineer. Although the loss card for RF143 F/O. Neve described him as ‘safe’, he was in fact taken PoW.

This was the last major Main Force area attack of the second World War, 138 Squadron, recently transferred from S.O.R. duties, participated in nine bombing raids, despatching 105 sorties for the loss of one crew, described here.

Burial details:

F/O. Granville Horsaman. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 7.L.22-25. Son of Allan Brown and Dora Horsaman of Atwick, Yorkshire, England and husband of Catherine Mary Horsaman.

Fl/Sgt. Stephen Larcombe. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 7.L.22-25. Son of Frederick and Lily Larcombe of Chard, Somerset, England.

F/O. Vincent Rees Macdonald Williams. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 7.L.21. Son of John and Mary Elizabeth Williams of Hirwain, Glamorgan, Wales.

W/O. Graham Morris Bagshaw. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 7.L.22-25. Son of Clarence Dale and Ella Maud Hamilton Bagshaw of 248 Young Street, North Unley, South Australia.

Sgt. Thomas Anthony Cotter. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 7.L.19. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Harold Victor Stokes. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 7.L.22-25. Son of Frank and Henrietta E Stokes of Stafford England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Further information posted by webmaster in January 2016. Uwe Jenrich for grave photographs. With thanks to sources quoted below.

(1) 26 Operational Training Unit RAF Wing near Leighton Buzzard - Sunday 13th August 1944: During take off at 23:27hrs Wellington X HE172 on a training exercise, the aircraft suffered engine failure. Although the crew tried to control an immediate landing the aircraft swerved violently and ended up close to the bomb dump at the airfield. All the crew were injured following the crash.

On the both August 1943 this aircraft had been very badly damaged whilst with 17 OTU. At the time of this last lost it had a recorded 538.25 hours including a period of operations whilst with 429 Squadron.

Crew - all treated at RAF hospital Halton:

Fl/Sgt. James Cameron AUS/419585 RAAF - serious multiple injuries and burns.
Sgt. Allday 1520949 RAFVR - serious injuries.
Sgt. John 1653432 RAFVR - injured.
Sgt. Graham M. Bagshaw AUS/417779 RAAF - leg injuries and 2nd degree burns.
Sgt. Honeyman 1565877 RAFVR - injured.
Sgt. Harding 189948 RAFVR - injured.
Sgt. Jenkins 1898263 RAFVR - injured.
It is thought that all but Sgt. Bagshaw survived the war.

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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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