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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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50 Squadron Crest
12/13.05.1943 50 Squadron Lancaster I W4762 Plt Off. Huntley DFM

Operation: Duisburg, Germany

Date: 12/13th May 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4762

Code: VN:?

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe

Location: IJsselmeer, Holland

Pilot: Plt Off. Francis Hindmarch Huntley DFM. 143453 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Fl Eng: Sgt. Michael Bates 570468 RAF Age 23. KiA

Nav: Plt Off. Charles William Clarke 144446 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

2nd Nav: Fg Off. Geoffrey Douglas Priestley 111118 RAFVR Age 31. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Edward Hough 145180 RAFVR Age 29. KiA

Air Gnr: Plt Off. Harold Moseley Ivatt J17654 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Air/Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Alan Stott DFM. 985652 RAFVR Age 28. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Frederick Charles Greening 1317229 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Above and below: Crew photograph (courtesy of Diana Elizabeth Halstead)

Relatives of the crew are appealing for any further information and in particular photographs of the crew / aircraft.

Update: Thanks to Diana Elizabeth Halstead crew photographs now added!


Took off at 23:58 hrs from RAF Skellingthorpe to bomb the German city of Duisberg. 572 aircraft taking part (238 Lancasters, 142 Halifaxes, 112 Wellingtons, 70 Stirlings and 10 Mosquitoes) the fourth raid on the city so far with the others only partially successful. The marking on this raid was near perfect resulting in the bombing well concentrated.

The centre of the city and the port area just off the river Rhine (the largest inland port area in Germany) suffered enormous damage.

1,596 buildings totally destroyed, 273 people on the ground killed, 4 steel factories were damaged. In the port area, 21 barges and 13 other ships (18,921 tons) were sunk with a further 60 ships (41,000 tons) damaged) Duisberg was considered not necessary to attack again for awhile!

Above: Rear gunner, Sgt. Frederick Greening (courtesy Julie Taylor)

It didn't go all well though with Bomber Command losing some 38 aircraft during this operation. A total of 214 aircrew killed, 32 being made PoW.

Lancaster I W4762 was shot down by Lt. Robert Denzel of 12./NJG1 at 01:38 hrs 6 km North West Nijkerk - crashing into the IJsselmeer, Holland. This was the 7th Abschuss for 22 year old, Lt. Robert Denzel (3 during this night) These were his last claims - he was killed on the 25/26th June 1943 at Vollenhove after combat with a 141 Squadron Beaufighter flown by Fg Off. Kelsey and Sgt. Smith as his navigator.

Above: Lt. Robert Denzel (courtesy Kracker Archive)

During 1972/1973 during partial draining of the Polders in the South Flevoland area, the Royal Netherlands Airforce were called in to identify / salvage wreckage found. Identification led by the Salvage officer Mr. Gerrit J. Zwanenburg with his team, recovered items such as the twin tail wheels, engines and propellers as well as many pieces of alloy.

Some Of Our Airman Are No Longer Missing’ was made covering various losses in this area. (Directed by Douglas Stanley and narrated by Leo McKern)

Note: Dutch researcher Johnny de Groot, who has investigated various losses, felt that it had collided with Stirling III BF523 WP-G from 90 Squadron - Bill Chorley (Bomber Command Losses Vol. 4) and Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten / Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie (‘Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2’) both report that these aircraft were both shot down by night fighters.

Burial details:

The grave of Plt Off. Huntley is shared by Sgt. Reginald William Conuel 571115 of 7 Squadron lost on the 5th May on Stirling III BK773 MG:T.

Plt Off. Francis Hindmarch Huntley DFM. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 7. Son of Albert Huntley, and of Dora Huntley, of Broomicknowe, Midlothian.

Sgt. Michael Bates. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 7. Grave 136. Born in 1920. Son of James Harry and Alice Elizabeth (née Woolley) Bates of Wilmslow, Cheshire, England.

His father was the chief clerk (raw cotton purchases) for the Fine Cotton Spinners and Doublers Association Ltd., Manchester

Plt Off. Charles William Clarke. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 7. Grave 134. Son of Charles and Johan Clarke, of Southampton, England. Husband of Kathleen Mary Clarke, of Bitterne, Southampton, England.

Further information kindly submitted by Ian Clarke 23rd September 2021:

Charles William Clarke came from Southampton, his parents were Charles and Johanna Clarke and he was one of five children. A pupil of King Edward VI school Southampton (Watts House, 19th September 1922 - 29th July 1927). Married to Kathleen Mary Clarke on 26th June 1937. They had a daughter Diana. He enlisted early 1941 and his first posting was as 1185390 AC2 Clarke to Flight 10A of No.1 Receiving Flight at Babbacombe in Devon. His next move was to No.5 Initial Training Wing in Torquay.

Following his basic training, having volunteered for aircrew Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Clarke went to No.5 Service Flying Training School at Brantford, Ontario, Canada. His next move was to No.5 Air Observer's School at Stevenson's Field near Winnipeg, Manitoba. His final duty in Canada was to No.7 Bombing and Gunnery School, Paulson, Manitoba.

Returning to the UK as a Sergeant he was sent to No.2 (Observers) Advanced Flying School at RAF Millom, Cumberland.

July 1942, he started his operational training at No.16 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Upper Heyford. Here he crewed up with five of the final crew training on Wellingtons.

Following his OTU training he was sent to No.49 Conversion Flight at RAF Scampton and it was her that they picked up two more members of the crew, a flight engineer and another air gunner to make up the 7 man crew of a Lancaster

On Wednesday the 25th Nov the crew took part in a cross country training flight. Skellingthorpe-Newbury-Taunton-Norwich. Flight was mainly above cloud base with clouds as far as one can see. Due to being unable to land as Skelly they were diverted to a different base. With the poor visibility it was a difficult landing with the undercarriage collapsing stopping with a sickening crunch, all the lights went out and all the crew evacuated as quick as possible. Returning later to collect kit. The bottom of the plane and the props were all bent up with the aircraft being written off. The pilot will have to attend a board of enquiry having written of £100,000 of aircraft.

6th/7th December 1942 Lancaster R5685 VN-P Gardening – Nectarine (Friesian Islands)

Sgt. F.H. Huntley Pilot, Sgt. M. Bates Flt Eng, Sg.t C.W. Clarke Nav, Sgt. H.M. Ivatt WOp/Air Gnr, Sgt. E. Hough Bomb Aimer. Sgt. A Stott Air Gnr, Sgt. F.C. Greening Air Gnr.

8th/9th December 1942 Lancaster W4383 Bombing - Turin

Extract from letter after 2nd Turin raid: 'If all tours are like this you will have nothing to worry about and neither will I'.

14th/15th December 1942 Lancaster W438 Gardening – Nectarine area Recalled (Friesian Islands)

Note from letter this was recalled half way to the drop point and we returned to base. When theY found out we still had the mines on board they told us to return to sea and drop them in deep water. On the way back again an engine failed but we managed to land safely on the three.

Daily routine

09:45 all crew to briefing room for lecture/ Return to aircraft to test in the air back in time for Lunch

Navigators to briefing for tonight raid before the rest of the crew to enable routes to be plotted.

21st/22nd December 1942 Lancaster W4800 Bombing - Munich

Extract Munich was covered in low cloud and we bombed on to existing fire we could see through the clouds. Flack was light there and back. Skelly was low visibility and we were diverted to Middleton St George.

9 days leave over the new year

11th/12th January 1943 Lancaster R5687 VN-D Bombing - Essen

Extract" Our rear gunner is in hospital with tonsillitis. We had a replacement rear gunner but he couldn’t fit in the rear turret, he was a big chap and had a lot of flying gear on. Our mid upper gunner could not get into the rear turret either. So we had to wait until another Squadron gunner came along. The reason they were wearing so much gear is because we were flying at 20,000 feet mostly at -30C. I was quite warm in my cabin. Sgt W. Dawe made up the crew

13th/14tg January 1943 Lancaster ED388 VN-K Bombing - Essen

Sgt. W Dawe and Sgt. A.G. McBay made up the crew

16th/17th January 1943 Lancaster ED468 VN-A Bombing - Berlin

In his letters home Charles wrote to say on the Saturday night we were the first Lancaster to bomb Berlin, and the first plane to drop a 4000lb bomb on Berlin and the first plane to bomb it from England for 14 months. Sgt G.l. Hill made up the crew

17th/18th January 1943 Lancaster W4367 Bombing - Berlin

Sgt A.G. Maguire made up the crew

Extract on the way to Berlin one of our engines played up, so we had to return to base dropping our bomb load in the North Sea. 22 Bombers were lost on that raid.

Extract from 23 Jan 43 Today we started Ultra violet ray treatment every morning.

27th/28th January 1943 Lancaster ED491 VN:H for Harry Bombing - Dusseldorf

Extract 9 days leave

21st/22nd February 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Bremen

Extract plane diverted to Raf Topcliffe due to poor weather at skelly

Took of skelly but no landing again due to weather, this time we were diverted to Waddington.

26th/27th February 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Cologne

28th February 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing – St Nazaire

Fg Off. Day flew with this crew for training

Extract. Next trip is number 13

1st/2nd March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Berlin

Extract number 13 completed

3rd/4th March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Hamburg

5th/6th March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Essen

Extract 15 raids completed half way there

8th/9yj March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Nuremburg

Sgt M. Cooper flew on this mission Sgt Hough absent

Note from me;

Paper must be getting scarce as these letters are written on the back of typed stuff on one side

9th/10th March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Munich

Sgt R.Goldstraw made up this crew Sgt Hough not on board

11th/12th March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Stuttgart

Sgt R.Goldstraw made up this crew Sgt Hough not on board

12th/13th March 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Essen

In a letter written 13th March he says - the Wing Commander has recommended me for a commission. On 16th April he had an interview with Sir Charles Coburn, his final interview about the commission which was successful.

Sgt R.Goldstraw made up this crew Sgt Hough not on board

Extract return to skelly after 9 days leave

8th/9th April 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Duisburg

Extract trip 20 completed 10 to go. Went to RAF Waddington to see the group captain reference my commission and he is willing to put it forward to command.

Sgt H.L. Rutherford made up this crew Sgt Hough not on board

9th/10th April 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Duisburg

Sgt H.L Rutherford made up this crew Sgt Hough not on board

13th/14th April 1943 Lancaster ED491 Gardening-Mullet region (spezia)

14th/15th April 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Stuttgart

Extract good raid and flew low back over France at 300ft. Gunners had fun shooting up trains and cars. Went to group HQ and had an interview with air vice marshall Sir Charles Coburn and he has approved my commission.

Sgt Grey flew on this mission for training

20th/21st April 1943 Lancaster ED491 Bombing - Stettin

Extract. We had to land away from base and returned at tea time.

28th April return from 7 days leave.

30th April/1st May 1943 Lancaster ED393 Bombing - Essen

25 ops done only 5 to go.

On 2nd May he wrote that that the pilot had been awarded the DFM and the mid upper Gunner the DFM. The bomb aimer, wireless operator, and me all have their commissions coming through.

Plt Off. Butler flew on this mission for training

4/5 May 1943 Lancaster ED470 Bombing - Dortmund

Air speed indicator failed, bombs jettisoned safe RTB sortie not completed

Sgt Clarke on board to make up crew on F/L Evans crew

12/13 May 1943 Lancaster W4762 Bombing - Duisburg Failed to return

Plt Off. F H M Huntley. Sgt. M Bates. Plt Off C W Clarke. Sgt H M Ivatt. Plt Off. E Hough. Sgt A Stott. Sgt F C Greening. Fg Off. Priestley

On the night of the 12th May 1943, Lancaster W4762 took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 23.58 to bomb Duisburg. The operational Record Book states "This aircraft was detailed to attack the above-named target, but after take-off no message was received, and the aircraft failed to return. Presumed missing due to enemy action"

Sgt H.L Rutherford and Sgt fellows made up this crew Hough and Greening absent

William Chorley's Bomber Command losses quotes, "Shot down by night fighter and crashed 03.32 in the Ijsselmeer, 6Km NW of Nijkerk. Three lie in Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery; four rest at Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) general Cemetery, while Sgt Ivatt has no known grave. Both P/O Huntley, a Kings Scout and Sgt Stott won their DFMs for outstanding fortitude and skill during operations to Stettin in April. Details were Gazetted on 25 May 1943. Fg Off Priestley was flying as second navigator".

Extract non-operational but interesting


I get 13/6 per day

I give you 8/0 per day

Balance 5/6 per day

£1.15. 6 per week

You get £1.1.6 per week as wife

9.6 for Diana

£2.16.0 from me

£4.7.0 per week

Fg Off. Geoffrey Douglas Priestley. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 7. Grave 135. Husband of Winifred Mary Priestley, of Lightcliffe, Yorkshire, England. (MA. Cantab).

The grave of Sgt. Hough is shared with Sgt. John William Avent 1336690 of 10 Squadron - lost the following day - Halifax II DT732 ZA-X, whilst the grave of Sgt. Greening is shared by Sgt. Eric John Charles Howard 1260589 from the same 10 Squadron Halifax.

Plt Off. Edward Hough. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 12. Son of Edward and Elizabeth Hough, husband of Dorothy Margaret Hough, of Levenshulme, Manchester, England.

Plt Off. Harold Moseley Ivatt. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 176. Born on the 20th August 1918. From Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada . Son of Frank Moseley and Edith Florence Ivatt of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. .

Sgt. Alan Stott DFM. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 7. Grave 133. Son of Ernest and Mary Jane Stott, of Burnley, Lancashire, England. Husband of Isobel Stott, of Burnley, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Frederick Charles Greening. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 13. Born in the 2nd Qtr of 1921 in Pontypridd, Glamorganshire. Son of May Greening (née Weston) of Gelli, Rhondda, Wales. Frederick was one of 13 children.

Researched for Mr. Ian Clarke - relative of Plt Off. Charles William Clarke. Ian also supplied some details on some of the crew. Also thanks to Julie Taylor for submitting further details of Sgt. Greening - May 2016. Julie's father was his cousin. Diana Elizabeth Halstead for wonderful crew photographs - April 2018. Thanks to Rosie Rowley for the Next of Kin details for Sgt. Bates (Mar 2024)

Other sources listed below:

RS 02.03.2024 - Next of Kin details for Sgt. Bates added.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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