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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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419 Squadron Crest
27/28.12.1944 419 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF Lancaster I KB738 VR:D Fg Off. How

Operation: Opladen, Germany

Date: 27th/28th December 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF, 6 Group

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB738

Code: VR:D

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Leverkusen-Wiesdorf area

Pilot: Fg Off. Frederick Winston How J17469 RCAF Age 22. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Joseph Atkinson 613970 RAFVR Age 27. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Russell Karl Nickle J29618 RCAF Age 27. KiA

Bomb Aimer: WO2. John Alfred Stewart MacGregor R148448 RCAF Age 26. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Cecil David Benjamin Hubley J92593 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air/Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. Cecil Ralph Tait J92452 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. Norman Ray Springstein J92433 RCAF Age 19. KiA

Above front L to R: Fg Off. Norman Ray Springstein, Plt Off. Cecil David Hubley, thought to be a Victor Garratt not on this crew on this operation, Plt Off. Cecil Ralph Tait, Plt Off. John Alfred Stewart MacGregor, Rear: Plt Off. Frederick Winston How. (courtesy Dan Logan - see acknowledgements)


Taking off from RAF Middleton St. George in County Durham at 02:57 hrs. 328 aircraft made up from various squadrons with 227 Halifaxes, 66 Lancasters and 35 Mosquitoes.

The aiming point was the marshalling yards in the city. No results were reported.

The Luftwaffe night fighters were not dispatch in time and although some combats occurred none of the bombers were claimed.

KB738 or 428 (Ghost) Sqn, RCAF Lancaster X KB798 was credited to the Flak Grosse-Batterrie Kurtekotten (1. & 2./schw,Flak Abt.377 and 6./schw.Flak Abt,371 over Leverkusen. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January 1945 - 3 May 1945) Part 6 - Theo Boiten)

Lancaster I KB798 of 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF. Flown by Fg Off. Ernest William Page J35427 RCAF was KiA along with all his 6 other crew members.

Burial details:

Above: Initial grave markers from the service records of the RCAF airmen

Fg Off. Frederick Winston How. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.22. Grave Inscription: "THE ETERNAL GOD IS THY REFUGE, AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS". Born on the 5th December 1922 in Edmonton, Albert. Son of Arthur Langley and Ada Annie (née Crockett) How of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Sgt. Joseph Atkinson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.18. No further details - are you able to assist with further information?

Fg Off. Russell Karl Nickle. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.21. Grave Inscription: "OUR DEAR SON AND BROTHER. WHAT GREAT LOVE WHEN YOU GAVE YOUR ALL FOR OTHERS". Born on the 29th June 1917 in North Bay, Ontario. Son of Russell and Emma Florence (née Fitzer) Nickle of North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Plt Off. John Alfred Stewart MacGregor.. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.20. Grave Inscription: "SON OF MR. AND MRS. CHARLES MACGREGOR, MARTINTOWN,GLENGARRY COUNTRY, ONTARIO".BROTHER. WHAT GREAT LOVE WHEN YOU GAVE YOUR ALL FOR OTHERS". Born on the 3rd May 1918 in Martintown, Ontario. Son of Charles and Elsie (née Muir) MacGregor of Martintown, Ontario, Canada.

WO2. MacGregor was posthumously appointed to a commission and promoted to J92532 Plt Off. 24th January 1945

Plt Off. Cecil David Benjamin Hubley. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.13. Grave Inscription: "AT REST". Born on the 22nd April 1923 in Manitou, Manitoba. Son of James Dimmoc and Jeannie Barnett (née Duncan) Hubley of Manitou, Manitoba, Canada.

Hubley Lake Southeast of Split Lake in Manitoba was named after Plt Off. Cecil David Hubley in 1966.

Plt Off. Cecil Ralph Tait. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.19. Born on the 27th April 1924 in Ontario, Quebec. Son of Thomas and Alice Malinda (deceased Sep 1940) (née Duke) Tait. Had two brothers and three sisters.

At the time of enlistment he was employed as a scaler with Hawkesbury Lumber and was living with his family in Rapides des Joachimes, Quebec, Canada.

Plt Off. Norman Ray Springstein. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.17. Born on the 4th June 1924 in Kerrebert, Saskatchewan. Son of Archibald Peter and Margaret Ella (née Wilson) Springstein of Merid, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Springstein Lake West of Cree Lake in Saskatchewan was named after Fg Off. Norman Ray Springstein.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - April 2018. Dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Dan Logan of the 419 Squadron website for crew photograph.. Others from the collection of Michel Beckers. Also our thanks to Dave Champion for additional details - June 2018. Corrections and updates by Aircrew Remembered (Mar 2024)

Other Sources list below:

RS 14.03.2024 - Corrections and update to loss information

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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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