07/08.01.1045 103 Squadron Lancaster I NF999 PM:T Fg Off. Mathieson
Date: 7th/8th January 1945 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit No: 103 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire
Location: Romanplatz, Munich, Germany
Pilot: Fg Off. Milton Alexander Mathieson 424614 RAAF Age 22. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Eric Walter Evans 1602244 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
Nav: Flt Sgt. Hugh Francis Stephens 1398405 RAFVR Age 30. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. John William Bickerton 189576 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Clifford Thomas Pollard 424606 RAAF Age 21. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Sgt. Donald Sleep 3040416 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Robert Alfred Marett 701338 RAFVR Age 26. KiA
The nephew of the rear gunner would like to hear from any other of the crews relatives.
Updates: September 2015 - relatives of pilot also contacted us February 2017 relatives of Bomb Aimer contacted us.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 18:21 hrs - part of 645 Lancasters with 9 Mosquitoes from 1,3,5,6 and 8 group taking part to bomb Munich on the last major operation of the war to the city. Losses of some 16 aircraft over France and Germany the raid was considered a great success with the target being hit, causing severe damage.
Above: Believed to be the crew of Lancaster NF999. L-R: Sgt. Eric Walter Evans, Plt Off. John William Bickerton, Plt Off. Clifford Thomas Pollard, Fg Off. Milton Alexander Mathieson, with Sgt. Robert Alfred Marett on extreme right (courtesy Jason Campbell he understands that his mother was engaged to Plt Off. Bickerton - she kept this photo for the rest of her life)
Above: Milton Alexander Mathieson, also shown with his parents (courtesy John Fripp)
Above as described, the first photo is an early - perhaps taken whilst at the Ballon Defence Unit, extreme right, the last photo taken of him in December 1944. (courtesy Mr. Bob Lovett)
Note: Other reports state that it came down in another area. We feel that we probably have the crash location as correct - but of course open to any new evidence.
NF999 was shot down by Ofw. Günther Bahr of 3./NJG6 between 22:36/38 hrs. Over the north west area of Munich with the aircraft coming down on the Romanplatz.
This was the 23rd Abschuss for Ofw. Günther Bahr (4 on this operation) He survived the war with a total of 37 confirmed claims. He died aged 87in April 2009 at Wacken/Schleswick-Holstein, Germany.
Above: Ofw. Günther Bahr with his crew (courtesy Kracker Archive)
103 Squadron lost another crew on this operation (all but one RCAF):
Lancaster I NN766 PM:R - Flown by 28 year old, Fg Off. William John McArthur J92212 RCAF of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - killed with all 6 other crew.
McArthur Island in Chatwin Lake, Manitoba, Canada was named after Fg Off. William John McArthur in 1986.
Lancaster NF999 history
Avro Type 683 Lancaster Mk.1 NF-999, constructed at the factory of Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd, Baginton near Coventry under contact no. Acft/239/SAS/C4(C). Delivered to RAF Elsham Wolds 1st September 1944. Some websites appear to indicate that the aircraft initially flew as part of 576 Squadron which was also based at RAF Elsham Wolds (which had evolved from 103 Squadron). 576 operated from RAF Elsham Wolds between November 1943 until October 1944 before transferring to RAF Fiskerton. 103 was based for the duration of the war at RAF Elsham Wolds from July 1941 onwards.
Previous crew operations
06 - November 1944 Gelsenkirchen: Daylight operation - Target - Synthetic oil refineries
09 - November 1944 Wanne-Eikel: Daylight operation, heavy clouds - Target - Oil refinery
11/12 - November 1944 Dortmund: Night operation, Target- Hoesch Benzin Synthetic oil plant
16 - November 1944 Duren: Daylight operation - Target - US Army support, German supply towns
21/22 - November 1944 Aschenaffenburg: Night operation, Target - Railway yards and lines
27/28 - November 1944 Freiburg: Night operation,Target - German troop garrison
06/07 - December 1944 Leuna: Night operation, heavy clouds - Target - Synthetic oil refineries
12/13 - December 1944 Essen: Night operation, Target Krupp Works
15/16 - December 1944 Ludwigshafen/Oppau: Night operation,Target - I.G. Farben Chemical plant
17/18 - December 1944 Ulm: Night operation,Target - Magirius Deutz and Kässbohrer lorry factories
22/23 - December 1944 Koblenz: Night operation, heavy clouds, Target - Mosel railway yards2
9/30 - December 1944 Scholven Buer: Night operation, heavy clouds Target - Synthetic oil refineries
02/03 - January 1945 Nuremberg: Night operation, clear conditions Target MAN and Siemens Facories, railway yards
05/06 - January 1945 Hannover: Night operation,Target - City
07/08 - January 1945 Munich: Night operation,Target - City - Crew final operation.
Crew initially buried at Wesfriedhof Cemetery prior to reinterment on the 15th November 1947.
Fg Off. Milton Alexander Mathieson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.22. Born on the 23rd January 1922 in Hamilton NSW, Australia, the son of Milton Montague Mathieson and Ethel Mathieson, of Waratah, New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted in Sydney.
Sgt. Eric Walter Evans. (Above) Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.21. Born on the 8th August 1924 in High Wycombe, the son of Robert Victor and Alice Evans (née Standee), brother to Jean of Upper Hughenden Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England.
Flt Sgt. Hugh Francis Stephens. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.23. Born on the 3rd November 1914 in Cleveland. Son of Francis Hugh and Ivy Annie Stephens of St. Pancras, Middlesex. Husband to Margaret Elizabeth (née Martin) Stephens of St. Pancras, Middlesex, England.
Above (courtesy Jason Campbell - April 2018)
Plt Off. John William Bickerton. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.20. Born on the 28th January 1924, the son of John William and Emma Henroetta (née Patten) Bickerton living in West Ham, London.
He Joined Air Cadets as a boy as he always wanted to fly according to Sue Pittard's mother, who was a younger sister of John's mother.
Lee Tuffley, a great nephew of Plt Off. John Bickerton, contacted Aircrew Remembered and provided a copy of last letter written by John to his parents. This letter is included in a book describing the Bickerton family history, written by Lee’s grandfather Frederick Oscar Bickerton.
Plt Off. Clifford Thomas Pollard (Above). Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.25. Born on the 10th December 1923 In Thornleigh, NSW, Australia, the son of William Wallace Pollard and Winifred May Pollard, of Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted North Sydney.
Sgt. Donald Sleep. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.19. Son of William James Sleep and Mary Sleep, of Haswell, Co. Durham, England.
Sgt. Robert Alfred Marett. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7H.24. He was born in the 3rd Qtr of 1918 in Southampton. His mothers maiden name was Bouchet. No further details found.
He enlisted for 5yrs from his job as a Gentleman’s Clothing Salesman at the CO-Op in Southampton on the 3rd November 1939 mustering as an untrained Aircraft hand Fabric Worker. He then went on to join 916 Balloon Squadron in May 1940 and served for 3 years in various other Balloon squadrons/Flights until Mustering as an Air Gunner on 13th September 1943. He qualified as an Air Gunner on the 16th February 1944 (we have one of his uniform Wings) and went on to 26 Operational Training Unit (OTU), Wing where he had a serious accident just after the photograph was taken and was hospitalised at RAF Hospital Halton, Buckinghamshire on the 21st March 1944. Being declared fit on the 1st September 1944 he went to No. 31 Base (No. 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) Chedburgh in Suffolk finally joining 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds on the 2nd November 1944.
Researched by Kelvin Young (Webmaster) following contact with, Mr. Bob Lovett, the nephew of the rear gunner Sgt. Marett and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. Also thanks to John Fripp, relative of Fg Off. Mathieson who contacted us in September 2015. Jason Campbell for crew photograph - January 2017. Sue Pittard, cousin of John Bickerton for identification of the crew photo and detailed information on aircraft and operations with the help of David Fell on the operations - February 2017. Also to Robert Pollard for allowing the use of the photo of his relative, Plt Off. Pollard. Thanks to Lee Tuffley, a great nephew of Plt Off. John Bickerton, for the copy of John's letter (Jul 2023). Next-of-Kin details updated by Aircrew Remembered (Jul 2023).
Other sources listed below: