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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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434 Squadron Crest
28/29.01.1944 434 (Bluenose) Squadron, RCAF Halifax V LK740 WL:V Sqn Ldr. Linnell

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 28th/29th January 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 434 (Bluenose), Squadron

Type: Halifax V

Serial: LK740

Code: WL:V

Base: RAF Croft, Yorkshire

Location: 1 km south of Linde, Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Lloyd Martin Linnell J2934 RCAF Age 26. KiA

Flt Eng: Plt Off. Francis John Elms C19960 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Nav: Plt Off. Albert Kencil Heaton J19464 RCAF Age 26. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Albert William Hornby J19466 RCAF Age 25. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Sydney William Herbert Taylor 168850 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Philip Francis Wicks R180285 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Oswald Drury Culverwell DFM. 962422 RAFVR Age 23. KiA


Took off at 23:57 hrs from RAF Croft to bomb Berlin. 677 aircraft taking part with cloud cover over Berlin, broken. Described as the most concentrated bombing attack of this period by Bomber Command. German reports reveal the true picture, in that although western and and southern areas of the city were hit, so were 77 other areas outside.

The following is an extract from the report by Flt Lt. I. R. MacIntyre Berlin Detachment No 4 MREU dated 22nd July 1947:

"During the week commencing 14th July 1947 I was on exhumation duties in the Russia Zone with Capt Cheetham, team commander and a Russian conducting officer. We proceeded to the village of Linde to exhume and attempt to identify the British airmen buried there".

The following information regarding this crew and their aircraft was given by Frau Gaul Burgomeister’s secretary Linde. During the night 28th-29th January 1944 at about 0300 hrs a large British aircraft approached the village from the South. It circled the village in flames once and crashed 1km South of the village. The wreckage burnt on the ground for a long time and about 10 hours after crashing the bombs exploded scattering the remains of the aircraft and crew over a wide area. It was considered that the aircraft had been shot down by a night fighter. German Military officials arrived and took charge and removed all remains of the wreckage presumably to Neu Ruppin. The remains of the six airmen all badly smashed and burnt were recovered from the wreckage and all documents and effects were removed by the Wehrmacht, who gave instructions for the airmen to be buried in Linde Cemetery. As far as was known there were no survivors from the crew. Two days after the crash the airmen were buried in the village cemetery with military rites. There were no cross marking the communal grave which was tidally kept with plants growing on it.

180,000 inhabitants were bombed out of their homes, many industrial premises did receive hits but also 6 hospitals, the French Cathedral, 4 theatres, 5 embassies and various other public buildings destroyed. Casualties on the ground were not recorded but are described to have been 'considerable.'

Above Rear L-R: Plt Off. Albert Heaton, Plt Off. Albert Hornby, Sqn Ldr. Lloyd Linnell and Plt Off. Francis John Elms. Front: Sgt. Philip Wicks, Sgt. Oswald Culverwell and Plt Off. Sydney Taylor. (Courtesy Bob Linnell)

The allies lost a huge number of aircraft during this operation. Some 53 with crews failed to return this night.

434 Squadron also lost 4 other aircraft, with 22 crew killed, 8 made PoW and 7 crew baling out over England on its return after engine failure:

Halifax V EB256 WL:S - Flown by Plt Off. Flewelling RCAF - Crew baling out after engine failure over Filey, Yorkshire, 1 crew member found dead, remainder all OK.
Halifax V LK649 WL:X - Flown Flt Sgt. Stanley RCAF - All 7 crew killed after being hit by flak.
Halifax V LK916 WL:D - Flown by Plt Off. Devaney RCAF - All 7 crew missing, lost without trace.
Halifax V LL134 WL:U - Flown by Sqn Ldr. Hockey RCAF - All 8 crew made PoW.

LK740 or 10 Sqn Halifax JP133 was claimed by Oblt. Friedrich Tober, his 3rd Abschuss, from 8./NJG2 in the Berlin, Falkensee area at 03:17 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January 1944 - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten).

Above: A personal and moving film documents filmmaker Robert Linnell’s attempt to make sense of his father’s death in combat during WW2.

Burial Details

The crew were initially buried at Linden on the 3rd February 1944, but reinterred after the end of the war.

Sqn Ldr. Lloyd Martin Linnell. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 9.H.15. Grave inscription: “OMNIA RELIQUIT UT PATRIAM SERVARET”. (Translation: HE DROPPED EVERYTHING TO SERVE HIS COUNTRY). Born on the 27th November 1917 the son of Harold Martin Linnell and Christina Josephine Linnell and husband of Marianne Elizabeth Linnell, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Plt Off. Francis John Elms. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Born on the 2nd October 1922 the son of Frank H. Elms and Elizabeth F. Elms, of 370 Queen Street, St. James, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Elms Lake on a peninsular in Nueltin Lake was named after Plt Off. Francis Elms in 1975.

Plt Off. Albert Kencil Heaton. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Born on the 27th May 1917. Understood to be from Windsor, Essex County, Ontario, Canada.

Plt Off. Albert William Hornby. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Born on the 25th November 1918. Understood to be from Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

Plt Off. Sydney William Herbert Taylor. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Grave inscription: “THEY WERE STAUNCH TO THE END AGAINST ODDS UNCOUNTED”. Son of Montague Rosslyn Taylor and Bessie Taylor.

Sgt. Philip Francis Wicks. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Born on the 14th December 1922 the son of Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Wicks of 403 Wardlaw Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Wicks Island in Red Sucker Lake was named after Sgt. Philip Wicks in 1995.

Sgt. Oswald Drury Culverwell DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.16-21. Grave inscription: “TELL ENGLAND WHO PASS THIS MONUMENT WE DIED FOR HER AND HERE REST CONTENT”. Son of Walter and Adelina Mary Culverwell, of Ealing, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Culverwell was awarded the DFM whilst with 10 Sqn. London Gazette 9th February 1943

Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Michel Beckers - June 2017. With thanks to the following for their contributions: Pete Webber, Uwe, other photographs from the Michel Beckers collection. Information on Lakes our thanks to the Geographical Names Board of Canada. Thanks to John Jones for the No. 4 MREU information (Dec 2019). Correction to crash site, new map and German fighter claim added by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2023). Thanks to Paul Markham for the link to the Robert Linnell’s video (Jan 2024)

RS 30.01.2024 - Robert Linnel's video added

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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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