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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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49 Squadron Crest
05/06.09.1943 No. 49 Squadron Lancaster III ED416 EA-J Fl/Sgt. Kirton

Operation: Mannheim

Date: 05/06th September 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 49 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED416

Code: EA-J

Base: RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire

Location: South of Mannheim, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. B.W. Kirton 1575009 RAFVR Injured - PoW No: 612 Camp: Stalag Luft 6, Stalag 357

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frank Paul Wilby 1452153 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Nav: F/O. B.N. Perry 127964 RAFVR Injured - PoW No: 2631 Camp: Stalag Luft 3

Air/Bmr: P/O. William Thomas Mathison 157573 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Owen Davies 998630 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William James Batty 1289921 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald William Burdett 1575805 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Taking off from RAF Fiskerton in Lincolnshire at 19:36 hrs - 12 x 49 Squadron Lancasters joining 593 aircraft to bomb the city of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. This Lancaster’s target was Mannheim where although detailed reports were not made available regarding casualties or property damage the damage is thought to have been so severe that normal report gathering was not possible. The town described it as a 'catastrophe!'

The allies did not come off lightly on this operation. 37 aircraft were lost, 170 aircrew killed, 64 taken PoW and 9 evading capture.

This map shows the 'possible' area of the loss, it is not to be considered as an accurate location of the crash site - merely a representation of the area.

Various reports have been made regarding the loss of Lancaster III ED416 and the crew. Some state that it was shot down by night fighters, but many claims were not identified even though several claims were made for aircraft lost in the area shown on the map south of Mannheim. Other reports are that it had been hit by anti-aircraft fire which was intense during their arrival and again as they left.

The Luftwaffe controllers had first thought the target to be Nuremberg and scrambled at 00:17 hrs, arriving late at the actual target area. Most of the bombers that were hit had been after they had released their bomb loads and were turning to go home.

The pilot later reported that he had thought all the crew had baled out successfully prior to the aircraft blowing up in the air. Some reports state that it is possible that some of the crew were captured and murdered by German civilians (not an unusual occurrence) - but we are unable to confirm this story.

Burial details:

Sgt. Frank Paul Wilby. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.G.17. Son of Frederick Charles and Jessie Elizabeth Wilby, of Great Horkesley, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: “My Loved One’s Gone. And Yet He Stays And Walks Beside Me Every Day Dad.”

P/O. William Thomas Mathison. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.G.15. Son of Alexander and Jessie Ann Mathison, of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: “See Ye That Death Was Not In Van.”

Sgt. James Owen Davies. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.G.14. Son of George and Esther Alice Davies, husband of Vera Davies, of Wolverhampton, England. Grave inscription reads: “Parted, Yet In Dreams We Walk Together Side By Side.”

Sgt. William James Batty. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.G.16. Son of Frank and Florence Batty, of Eastbourne, Sussex, England. Grave inscription reads: “Out Of The Darkness Into Light Eternal.”

Sgt. Donald William Burdett. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.G.18. Son of William and Ida Burdett, of Rushden. Northamptonshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “He Loved His Home And His Life But Gave Up All In Sacrifice Mother And Dad.”

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to 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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