Date: 1st/2nd January 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit No: 630 Squadron, 5 Group
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Location: Großbeuthen, Germany
Pilot: Flt Lt. Douglas Allister Macdonald DFC J14691 RCAF Age 20. KiA
2nd Plot: Wg Cdr. Kenneth Frederick Vare AFC 40273 RAF Age 30. KiA (1)
Flt Eng: Sgt. Robert Francis Smale MiD 646926 RAF Age 21. KiA
Nav: Fg Off. Niels Erik Westergaard DFC 133578 RAFVR Age 21. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. John Mowbray Turnbull 1044419 RAFVR Age 22. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Richard Tyrie DFM 1385473 RAFVR Age 21. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. William Jenkins 978344 RAFVR Age? KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. William Joseph Roche 426161 RAAF Age 29. KiA
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23:55 hrs from RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire. 471 Lancasters taking part in this operation, one of four attacks on the capital within 10 days. The Luftwaffe night fighters intercepted the bomber stream very early, despite a diversionary raid made on Hamburg by 15 Mosquitoes.
About 10 of the 28 Lancaster losses were made early en-route to the target. 2 were victims over Berlin, two were claimed by Berlin flak units, with the remainder on return from the target.
Bombing was scattered in the southern parts of the city with only 21 houses and 1 industrial building destroyed.
On the return leg of the mission JB532 was hit by flak. The aircraft was claimed as a probable by 1.-4./schw.Flak Abt. 126, 3. & 5./schw.Flak.211 and 1./schw.Flak Abt. 418 (Eisb.). (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
The flak shot one engine from its frame and it fell away from the aircraft but the aircraft did not catch fire. The Lancaster dived steeply and crashed about 1/4 km NW of Großbeuthen, 4 km NNW of Trebbin, between midnight and 01:00hrs.
According to eye-witnesses on the ground no-one bailed out and the entire crew perished in the crash. The remains of the crew were recovered from in and around the aircraft.
(1) Plt Off. Kenneth Frederick Vare: On Friday, 25th November 1938 whilst with 52 Squadron flying a Fairey Battle I K7603 took off from RAF Upwood on a high level bombing practice. On return to the airfield the aircraft’s engine caught fire, with no chance of making the airfield, the pilot was forced to land the aircraft as fast as possible. He did just that, landing on a railway line near Ramsay - he escaped injury but the aircraft burnt out. At the time of his death he had 17:35 hrs logged and this was thought to be his 26th operation - most of these whilst with 108 Squadron in the Middle East.
The crew were buried on the 4th January by the local police in a communal grave at a cemetery 1 km SE of Großbeuthen but without a religious service. The communal grave had been marked with a cross and had been kept in good order by local Germans with flowers placed at the grave from time to time. Following great work of the MREU on the 16th April 1947 the original graves were exhumed and crew identified, made easier as they had not suffered burns, uniforms with various identifiable chevron’s, badges, ID Discs and even names tags.
Flt Lt. Douglas Allister Macdonald DFC. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.20. Inscription Reads: "DOUGLAS, REST THY WARFARE O'ER, SLEEP THE SLEEP THAT KNOWS NOT BREAKING. MOM & DAD". Son of William and Caspara Nicoline (née Jager) Macdonald, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Flt Lt. Macdonald was awarded the DFC whilst with 630 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 7th January 1944. Citation reads: "Flight Lieutenant Macdonald is a highly skilled and most determined pilot who has taken part in very maity attacks on targets important to the enemy's war effort. He has displayed a high degree of courage and resolution in pressing home his attacks, qualities which have earned him much success. One night in November, 1943, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald piloted an aircraft detailed to attack a target in central Germany. Before reaching the target one engine of his aircraft became Useless. Despite this, and in the face of extremely trying weather, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald completed his task successfully. His achievement was most Commendable".
Wg Cdr. Kenneth Frederick Vare AFC. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.27. Son of Frederick William and Amelia Hammell Vare, of Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.
His AFC was promulgated in the London Gazette on the 1st January 1944.
Sgt. Robert Francis Smale MiD. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.22. Inscription reads: "YE HAVE SEEN... HOW I BARE YOU ON EAGLES' WINGS, AND BROUGHT YOU UNTO MYSELF EXODUS XIX.4". Son of Thomas Alfred and Ethel Beatrice Smale, of Henfield, Sussex; husband of Joyce Phyllis Smale.
Sgt. Smale was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) when he was an LAC. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 1st January 1943.
Fg Off. Niels Erik Westergaard DFC. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.24. Son of Otto Ludvig Blædel Westergaard and Inger Westergaard, of Earls Court, London. After German occupation on the 9th April he left with his parents from his home in Denmark and joined the RAF.
Fg Off. Westergaard was awarded DFC whilst with 619 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 24th November 1944. Citation reads: "(Since deceased) As navigator, Flying Officer Westergaard has participated in many successful sorties against the enemy. In October, 1943, he was detailed to take part in an attack at Leipzig. During the flight all the nagivational aids, including compasses, became unserviceable but, with no knowledge of the airspeed being maintained Flying Officer Westergaard, with outstanding skill and courage, navigated his aircraft back to this country. Throughout his operational tour, this officer has displayed a fine fighting spirit and devotion to duty of the highest order".
Above left: Flt Sgt. Turnbull and right: Initial Grave marker (Courtesy of Tony McQuaid)
Flt Sgt. John Mowbray Turnbull. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.26. Inscription reads: "TO LIVE IN HEARTS THEY LEAVE BEHIND IS NOT TO DIE. MAM AND DAD". Son of John George and Edith Turnbull, of Sunderland, Co. Durham.
Sgt. William Richard Tyrie DFM. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.25. Inscription Reads: "NOT JUST TO-DAY BUT EVERY DAY I REMEMBER YOU, DEAR SON". Son of Sarah Tyrie, of Wandsworth, London.
Sgt. Tyrie was the DFM whilst with 619 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 10th December 1943. Citation Reads: "Sergeant Tyrie has taken part in many operational sorties against important German targets. An outstanding Wireless Operator, he has consistently displayed coolness and courage of a high degree. In October 1943, the aircraft in which he was flying was completely lost over enemy territory with no instruments available but, with great skill and initiative, this airman succeeded in guiding the bomber safely back to base".
Flt Sgt. William Jenkins. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.23. He hailed from Bedford Road, Cefn Cribwr in Glamorgan. He was the son of Elizabeth Jenkins and was the brother of three sisters. His older sister, Winnifred, was expecting Will’s nephew when Flt Sgt. Jenkins, and his nephew was later named after him. In turn, that nephew’s son was later to serve in the British Army.
There is a war memorial in his home village of Cefn Cribwr (One of a community of villages in Glamorgan now Bridgend County Borough) in Wales, on which Flt Sgt. Jenkins is named as "W. Jenkins"
Flt Sgt. William Joseph Roche. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.21. Born on the 6th June 1914 in Myrtleford, Victoria, the son of Patrick Henry and Mary Margaret Roche, of Whorouly East, Victoria, Australia.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to Uwe Jenrich at Find-A-Grave for grave photographs and Linda Ibrom for her research. The New Zealand Auckland Cenotaph. Thanks Sally Lehniger for the NoK details for Flt Sgt. Williams (Oct 2021). Thanks to Tony McQuaid for the images for Flt Sgt. Turnbull (Jan 2023).
Other sources listed below:
RS 21.10.2021 - NoK details added for Flt Sgt. Jenkins along with an update to the narrative
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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