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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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153 Squadron Crest
22/23.01.1945 No. 153 Squadron Lancaster III PB636 P4-D Fl/Lt. Alan E. Jones DFC

Operation: Duisberg

Date: 22/23rd January 1945 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 153 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB636

Code: P4-D

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Alan Edgar Jones DFC 47423 RAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Sydney Strettle James 1869987 RAFVR Age 39. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Jack James Lewis McDonell AUS/428340 RAAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Charles Leslie Cullen 143961424 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. John Edwin Bateup AUS/424283 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reuben Victor Trafford 638898 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Simpson 1238641 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed


The crew of Lancaster III PB 636 P4-D left RAF Scampton at 16:45 hrs. or an operation involving some 286 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitoes to Duisberg.

The target was the Benzol plant in Bruckhausen district of the city. Some 500 high explosive bombs fell on the Thyssen steelworks, 163 houses were destroyed and a further 289 seriously damaged - 152 people on the ground were killed, sadly 115 of these were foreign workers or PoW.

Two Lancasters were lost: The other, also from 153 squadron - NG185 P4-A, flown by 33 year old F/O. Kenneth William Winder 53989 RAF from Stamford, Lincolnshire - killed with all 6 crew members after crashing in Germany.

Despite intensive investigations by the Missing Research Enquiry Service after the war, no trace could be found of the aircraft and crew for PB636 and consequently they are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Alan Edgar Jones DFC. Runnymede Memorial Panel 265. Son of Edgar Robert and Edith Jones of Stoke Newington, London, England.

Sgt. Sydney Strettle James. Runnymede Memorial Panel 275. Further information: Son of Sydney Boyd and Emily Florence James and husband of Ethel Beatrice James and father of Derek James of Wimbledon, Surrey, England. Worked as a diamond mounter before becoming a shop assistant in the mid 1930’s, later working at Vickers Armstrong. Also served in the Auxiliary fire service during the London blitz. Enlisted as aircrew in 1943.

Fl/Sgt. Jack James Lewis McDonell. Runnymede Memorial Panel 284. Further information:

Son of Mr and Mrs Alexander McDonell and brother of Bill, Betty, Lola and Barry McDonell of Ormond, Victoria, Australia. Born on the 19th of July 1924, his nickname “Coogan” after the actor Jackie Coogan. Attended Melbourne High School where he excelled at cricket and was a member of the school rowing team. Worked as an audit clerk before enlisting in the RAAF on the 10th of October 1942 aged 18. Trained in Canada and awarded his navigators badge on 14th of October 1943. After serving in 166 Squadron he joined 153 Squadron on the 7th of October 1944.

Fl/Sgt. Charles Leslie Cullen. Runnymede Memorial Panel 270. Further information: Son of Charles Ernest and Aileen Emma Cullen and brother of Des, Fred and Albert Cullen of Lincoln, England. Husband of Muriel Cecilia Cullen and father of David Cullen. Born on the 8th of December 1920 known as "Les" to family and friends and worked as a policeman before enlisting in the airforce. Married his wife Muriel on the 14th of October 1941, they had one son, David. Trained partly in South Africa in 1942 with further training in Canada in 1943.

W/O. John Edwin Bateup. Runnymede Memorial Panel 283. Further information: Born on the 16th November 1922 at Gunning, New South Wales enlisted at Sydney. Son of Arthur Edwin and Kathleen Ann Bateup of Gunning, New South Wales and husband of Anne (nee Short) Bateup of Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Also remembered on the roll of honour for Gunning, New South Wales.

Sgt. Reuben Victor Trafford. Runnymede Memorial Panel 277. Further information: Son of Horace and Kate Trafford of Crowie, Lincolnshire and husband of Vera May Trafford of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. Known as “Vic” to his family and friends, born on 11th October 1925. Enlisted on the 29th March 1939 at RAF Scampton as a driver on a seven-year stint. When war broke out posted to a salvage and recovery unit as a driver and served on many stations throughout England. On June 25th 1942 married Vera May Drury at St.Mary’s church, Frodingham. In mid 1943 he volunteered for aircrew and after his initial training attended air gunnery school. Following this he did aircraft familiarisation training on Wellingtons and then Lancasters. On 24th March 1944 he was promoted to sergeant. September 1st 1944 he was posted to 166 squadron at RAF Kirmington before being transferred along with the rest of his crew to 153 squadron at RAF Scampton which at the time comprised A and B flights. Went on to complete various sorties over Europe before being killed on this mission.

Sgt. Albert Simpson. Runnymede Memorial Panel 276. Son of Tom and Agnes Simpson of Preston, Lancashire and husband of Elsie Simpson, of Preston, Lancashire, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Dedicated to all relatives of the crew. Photo credits: Reuben Trafford to Patrick Quickfall, nephew, Charles Cullen to David Cullen, son, Sydney James to Derek James, son, Jack McDonell to Colin Rees, nephew. Further information from sources as shown below.

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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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