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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 No. 419 Squadron Lancaster I KB738 VR-D F/O. How

Operation: Opladen

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

Unit: No. 419 Squadron (6 Group)

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB738

Code: VR-D

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Leverkusen-Wiesdorf area

Pilot: F/O. Frederick Winston How J/17469 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joseph Atkinson 613970 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: F/O. Russell Karl Nickle J/29618 RCAF Age 27. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. John Alfred Stewart MacGregor J/92532 RCAF Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Cecil David Benjamin Hubley J/92593 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Cecil Ralph Tait J/92452 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Norman Ray Springstein J/92433 RCAF Age 19. Killed


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.

It is thought that KB 734 was hit by flak crashing in the Leverkusen-Wiesdorf area. Two Lancaster were lost during this operation another crashed on take off. The other:

Lancaster I KB798 of 428 Squadron - Flown by F/O. Ernest William Page J/35427 RCAF Killed along with all his 6 other crew members.

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

Hubley Lake Southeast of Split Lake in Manitoba was named after P/O. Cecil David Hubley in 1966.

Springstein Lake West of Cree Lake in Saskatchewan was named after F/O. Norman Ray Springstein.

Burial details:

F/O. Frederick Winston How. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.22. Son of Arthur Langley How and Ada Annie How, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Grave Inscription reads: "The Eternal God Is Thy Refuge, And Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms".

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

F/O. Russell Karl Nickle. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.21. Son of Russell and Emeline Florence Nickle, of North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Grave Inscription reads: "Our Dear Son And Brother. What Great Love When You Gave Your All For Others".

P/O. John Alfred Stewart MacGregor. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.20. Son of Charles J. MacGregor and Elsie MacGregor, of Martintown, Ontario, Canada. Grave Inscription reads: "Son Of Mr. And Mrs. Charles Macgregor, Martintown,Glengarry Country, Ontario".

P/O. Cecil David Benjamin Hubley. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.13. Son of James and Jean Hubley, of Manitou, Manitoba, Canada. Grave Inscription reads: "At Rest".

P/O. Cecil Ralph Tait. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.19. Son of Thomas and Alice Malinda (née Duke) Tait. Born Pembroke, Ontario 27th April, 1924. 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.

F/O. Norman Ray Springstein. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.D.17. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A.P. Springstein, of Merid, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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.

MB - 01.06.2018

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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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