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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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115 Squadron Crest
29/30.12.1943 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster II DS834 KO-F Fl/Sgt. J.Y. Lee

Operation: Berlin

Date: 29/30th December 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS834

Code: KO-F

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire.

Location: Tungelroij, Holland

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Youdale Lee 1480142 RAFVR PoW No: 269857 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe (4B) (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt Anthony F. Gunnell 1625022 RAFVR - Evaded capture via Comet Line

Nav: Sgt. Herbert Langford Pike 1396474 RAFVR PoW No: 270070 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3) (2)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Keith Selwyn Bell AUS/414457 RAAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Laurence Havard Jones 1576162 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Morley Wilkinson R/182329 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Graham Johnson 1818684 RAFVR Age 19. Killed (3)


Took off at 17:28 hrs. from RAF Witchford near Ely to bomb the heart of Germany, Berlin. Carrying a bomb load of 1 x 4000 lb, 32 x 30 lbs incendiaries, 720 x 4 lb incendiaries. A long approach route from the south, passing south of the Ruhr and within 20 miles of Leipzig, together with Mosquito diversions at Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Magdeburg, caused the German controllers great difficulty, leaving Berlin defended by few fighters. Bad weather on the outward route also hindered German fighters finding the bomber stream.

Berlin was cloud-covered. The Bomber Command report claiming a concentrated attack on sky-markers is not confirmed by the local report. The heaviest bombing was in the south and south-eastern districts, but many bombs also fell to the east of the city. 388 houses and other mixed properties were destroyed. 182 people were killed, more than 600 injured and over 10,000 bombed out.

21 aircraft were lost from the 712 that left for this raid. with 79 aircrew killed, 53 being made PoW with 1 escaping capture. DS834 was shot down by Lt Otto Fries (4) of 5./NJG1 after the Lancaster had dropped its bombs and started the homebound route, with combat taking place near Tungelroij at 2,800 mts.

Right: Lt Otto Fries (2) of 5./NJG1 (courtesy Tom Kracker collection)

The aircraft crashed at 22.16 hrs. The Luftwaffe pilot commented that the Lancaster put up a huge fight lasting over 10 minutes - the pilot Fl/Sgt. Lee was corkscrewing as if in a fighter aircraft, so much so the Lt. Fries noticed the wings flexing during the engagement.

Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre

(1) WO. John Youdale Lee was born on 12 May 1920 at Cockermouth, Cumbria, the son of Edward Lee and Norris Lee née Youdale. He had six siblings: Norman Lee (1926-1950), Eric Malcolm Lee (1926-1983), William Kenneth Lee, Edward Lee, Gordon R. Lee, born 1928 and Raymond Thomas Lee , born 1929. In 1939 John Youdale Lee was employed by the Post Office in the Electrical Testing Engineering Department and lived at 52 Ainslie Street, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

On 30 May 1945 he married Matilda Reeves at Cockermouth. They later had two children together.

John Youdale Lee died at Southend-on-Sea, Essex on 14 April 2013 aged 93.

(2) Sgt. Herbert Langford Pike was born on 12 December 1922 at Willesden, Middlesex the son of Herbert Benjamin Pike and Gertrude Pike née Langford. He had six siblings: Gertrude Pike born 1910, Joan Pike born 1911, Muriel D. Pike born 1913, Barbara A. Pike born 1917, Daphne E. Pike born 1919 and Clifford R. Pike born 1924.

Prior to joining the air force Herbert was employed as a Junior Clerk.

He died at Farnham, Surrey on 30 October 2004 aged 82.

(3) Sgt. Graham Johnson was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar School (Now secondary/grammar school. We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.

(4) This was the 5th victory for Lt Otto Fries making him an ace. He went on to claim a total of 14 kills and survived the war, despite being shot down 4 times, the second of which was by catapult ejection seat out of the He219 - only the third such ejection in combat in the world. His story is told in the publication 'Under A Bombers Moon'.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Keith Selwyn Bell. Tungelroij Roman Catholic Cemetery Row 1. Grave 4. Born on the 03rd May 1920 at Ipswich, Queensland, the son of Gordon Percy and Minnie Bell, of Cunnamulla, Queensland, Australia. Prior to service worked as a clerk with Shire Council.

Sgt. Laurence Havard Jones. Tungelroij Roman Catholic Cemetery Row 1. Grave 3. Son of Francis Arthur and Elizabeth Jones, of Bournville, Birmingham, England.

Fl/Sgt. Arthur Morley Wilkinson. Tungelroij Roman Catholic Cemetery Row 1. Grave 1. Son of Walter Morley Wilkinson and Zilpah H. Wilkinson, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Graham Johnson. Tungelroij Roman Catholic Cemetery Row 1. Grave 2. Son of Esmond and Elsie Mary Johnson, of King's Heath, Birmingham, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, other sources as quoted below.

22.12.2021 Biographical details of John Lee and Herbert Pike and photo of Arthur Wilkinson added - courtesy David Champion

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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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