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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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106 Squadron Crest
16/17.09.1942 106 Squadron Lancaster I W4179 Sqn Ldr. Howell

Operation: Essen

Date: 16th/17th September 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 106 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4179

Code: ZN:?

Base: RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire

Location: Laurensberg (Aachen), Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Cecil Moreton Howell 70332 RAFVR Age 25. KiA

Pilot: Plt Off. Henry William Long 120559 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Leslie Tate 617977 RAF Age 21. KiA

Nav: Sgt. Joseph Smillie Balfour 656517 RAF Age 24. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Michael Joseph O’Sullivan J15443 RCAF Age 24. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Flt Sgt. Terence George Clark 402983 RNZAF Age 23. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. John Donald MacLeod J10161 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Above: RAF Halton, Summer Camp 1936 - Cecil Howell whilst he was a member of the University of London Air Sqn (ULAS). On the left of Cecil is Wg Cdr. F.H.M. Maynard the first OC ULAS. (Courtesy: Richard Davidson)

F.H.M. Maynard (CB, AFC) was three times mentioned in Despatches (MiD) as an Air Vice Marshall (AVM). Promoted to Air Cdr. on the 1st January 1940. Promoted to AVM on the 2nd June 1943

Above: RAF Halton, Summer Camp 1936 - Cecil Howell is standing extreme right. (Courtesy: Richard Davidson)

Above: Left Flt Sgt. Clark and Right Plt Off. MacLead

Above 2nd from right: Flt Sgt. Terence George Clark, extreme right Sgt. Mel Banks, both of 106 Squadron. Carolyn sent this into us in order that someone is able to identify the other two aircrew members and perhaps when and where it was taken?

New information from Carolyn Clark identifies the above airmen as follows: Left to Right; Flt Sgt. Robin William Caskey (RNZAF), Unknown, Flt Sgt. T.G. Clark, Sgt. Mel Banks.

Note: Flt Sgt. Caskey, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, was KiA along with his crew on the 12th August 1942, aboard 106 Sqn Lancaster I W4109 which was lost on a mission to Mainz.


Taking off from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire at 20:30 hrs. 369 aircraft taking part to bomb the Krupps works at Essen. Although it is reported at the majority of the bombing was scattered, this was described as the most successful on what was known to be a difficult target.

33 large fires with a further 80 medium sized fires with 8 industrial and 6 transport premise being hit. The Krupps works were also damaged, hit by 15 high explosive bombs - further damage was caused when one of the allied aircraft crashed into the target full of incendiary bombs - 47 people reported killed on the ground with a further 92 suffering various degrees of injuries.The scattered bombing also hit Bochum causing 50 fires with a reported 13 killed. The towns of Herne and Cochem were also hit - killing a further 15 people on the ground.

The Krupps factory was headed by Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (1870–1950), who assumed the surname of Krupp when he married the Krupp heiress, Bertha Krupp. After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the Krupp works became the centre for German rearmament. In 1943, by a special order from Hitler, the company reverted to a sole-proprietorship, with Gustav and Bertha's eldest son Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (1907–67) as proprietor.

After Germany's defeat, Gustav was senile and incapable of standing trial, and the Nuremberg Military Tribunal convicted Alfried as a war criminal in the Krupp Trial for "plunder" and for his company's use of slave labor. It sentenced him to 12 years in prison and ordered him to sell 75% of his holdings. In 1951, as the Cold War developed and no buyer came forward, the authorities released him, and in 1953 he resumed control of the firm.

W4179 was hit by 1./schw. Flak Abt. 514 and crashed vat Laurensberg (Aachen) at 23:45 hrs. The aircraft was claimed as a Halifax. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (30 May - 31 December 1942) The Early Years Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

The Squadron were to lose 3 crews during this operation, the others:

Lancaster I W4178 Flown by Plt Off. Desmond James Downer 111550 RAFVR KiA with all his 6 crew;
Lancaster I R5681 Flown by Plt Off. William Ogwyn Williams 46839 RAF KiA with all his 6 crew.

Burial details:

Crew initially buried at Aachen on the 19th September 1942 - reinterred after the end of the war

Sqn Ldr. Cecil Moreton Howell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.18. Grave inscription reads: “THANK GOD FOR HIS COURAGE HUMOUR AND INTEGRITY”. Son of Frederick Valentine and Kathleen Rose Howell, of Sutcombe, Devon, England.

Holder of a BSc in Engineering. Joined the Metro-Vicker's Comapny as a Probationary College Apprentice in October 1934 and returned as a College Apprentice in October 1938. Joined the RAFVR in which he held the rank of Pilot Officer and was later promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader.

Plt Off. Henry William Long. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.15. Grave inscription reads: “IN EVERLOVING MEMORY OF HENRY OUR BELOVED ONLY SON MUM, DAD AND FAMILY”. Son of Henry William and Lucy Edith Long, of Forest Gate, Essex, England.

Sgt. Leslie Tate. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.16. Grave inscription reads: “EVER REMEMBERED BY HIS FATHER AND MOTHER FREDA ISABELLA AND BROTHER FREDERICK”. Son of Frederick and Theresa Tate, of Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham, England.

Sgt. Joseph Smillie Balfour. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.21. Grave inscription reads: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEARLY BELOVED HUSBAND JOSEPH SMILLIE”. Husband of Lizzie Laura Paul Balfour.

Plt Off. Michael Joseph O’Sullivan. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.20. Born on the 12th February 1918 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of John and Ellen O’Sullivan of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Flt Sgt. Terence George Clark. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.19. Son of Eliza Jane Clark, of Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 252 flying hours logged and on his 12 operation.

Plt Off. John Donald MacLeod. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5.E.17. Born on 30th October 1921 in Ottawa, Ontario. Son of John Donald and Henrietta (née Cole) Macleod of Overbrook, Ontario, Canada.

Researched by Kevin Youngs (Webmaster) (Jun 2017) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Carolyn Clark - relative of the Mid Upper Gunner, Flt Sgt. Terence Clark. Thanks to John Jones for the loss information (Aug 2019). Thanks to Richard Davidson for the Cecil Howell images (Jan 2022). Thanks again to Carolyn Clark for the updated identification of the image of the four airmen (Oct 2022). Thanks to Clive Smith for the correction to the Serial No for Flt Sgt. Caskey's Lancaster (Jan 2023).

Other sources listed below.

RS 30.01.2022 - Corrections

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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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