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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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97 Squadron badge
29/30.07.1943 97 Squadron Lancaster III ED862 OF:P Plt Off. Douglas J. Marks DFM

Operation: Hamburg

Date: 29th/30th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 97 Squadron (motto: 'Achieve your aim')

Type: Lancaster III 'Straits Settlements'

Serial: ED862

Code: OF:P

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: 20 km (12¼ mls) north of Ameland, The Netherlands

Pilot: Plt Off. Douglas James Marks DFM. 148897 RAFVR Age 26. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman 569932 RAFVR Age 23. MiA

Nav: Fg Off. George Noel Hammond 125985 RAFVR Age 22. MiA

Bom Aimer: Flt Sgt. John Alexander Dunbar 1348084 RAFVR Age 27. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Daniel McDonald 1366019 RAFVR Age 31. MiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. John Cumming 998050 RAFVR Age 30. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Peter Henry Unwin 1318328 RAFVR Age 19. MiA

Above: left to Right: Plt Off. Marks, Fg Off. Hammond, Flt Sgt. Dunbar, Sgt. McDonald ; Course No. 47, 17th September 1942, on 19 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RAF Kinloss (Courtesy of Paul Markham)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 22:28 hrs from RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire bomb the port and city of Hamburg joining 776 other aircraft on the third raid on this target within the last five days. 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes made up the force. The Lancaster was carrying 6 x TI, 1 X 4,000 lb. and 3 x 1,000 lb. bomb load.

The idea was that the target be approached from the north to concentrate on the northern area of Hamburg which had not been bombed on previous occasions. The pathfinders dropped their markers too far east of the city. 707 aircraft got through to the target, dropping a total of 2,318 tons of bombs on residential areas - no figures are available as to the casualties on the ground for this raid although it is known that over 40,000 were killed during that week and over 16,000 residential buildings were destroyed.


The worst incident was when bombs hit a large department store in Wandsbek - the building collapsed and blocked exits from a shelter that was in the basement - 370 people died from poisoning by the fumes from a coke store nearby. 1,200,000 people fled the city after these raids.

The allies lost 31 aircraft on this operation with 176 aircrew losing their lives and a further 17 being made PoW.

Most of the aircraft were shot down by the Luftwaffe night fighters, although 14 were shot down by searchlight assisted flak over the target area.

List of operations carried out by the pilot, Plt Off. Marks DFM. (courtesy James Marks)

97 Squadron lost another crew on his operation:

Lancaster III EE172 OF:O Flown by 27 year old Canadian, Plt Off. Clifford Schnier, KiA with his crew

ED862 was claimed as a possible by Uffz. Hans Krepp, his 1st Abschuss, from 1./NJG3 over the sea 30 km west of St. Peter Ording at 6.000 m. at 00:24 hrs (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten)

Burial Details

Above Runnymede memorial, taken during a visit by Aircrew Remembered May 2013

Plt Off. Douglas James Marks DFM. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 132. Son of George and Lily Kate Marks and husband of Elsie Mary Marks, of Breamore, Hampshire, England.

1315801 Sgt.Marks was awarded the DFM whilst with 97 Sqn with effect 29th July 1943. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 28th July 1944.

Above: Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman (courtesy Barry Fentiman)

Sgt. Douglas Charles Fentiman. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 149. Born 3rd Qtr of 1920 in Romford, Essex. Son of William Charles and Violet (née Wiffin) Fentiman. Husband to Anne (née Agnew) Fentiman of Romford, London, England

Fg Off. George Noel Hammond. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 124. Son of James and Kate Hammond, of Coventry, England.

Flt Sgt. John Alexander Dunbar. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 136. Son of William and Elizabeth Dunbar, of Dallas, Morayshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Daniel McDonald. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 157. Son of Daniel and Violet McDonald, of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Husband of Jean McDonald.

Sgt. John Cumming. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 146. Son of James and Elizabeth Cumming, husband of A. W. Cumming, of Ardrossan, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Peter Henry Unwin. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 168. Son of Henry and Ethel Jane Unwin, of Ilford, Essex, England.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) for James Marks and all the relatives of the crew with thanks to the following for additional information from Barry Fentiman and James Marks. Updated by Kelvin Youngs (Nov 2019). Correction to fighter claim by Aircrew Remembered (Jul 2023). Thanks to Paul Markham for the photographs from when the crew were at 19 OTU (Jul 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 10.07.2023 - German Fighter claim and new photographs

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
Acknowledgements
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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