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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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576 Squadron Crest
16/17.12.1943 No. 576 Squadron Lancaster III DV342 UL-G2 F/O. Ronald S. McAra

Operation: Berlin.

Date: 16/17th December 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 576 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I           

Serial No: DV342

Code: UL-G2

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire. 

Location: Lichtenberg, some 10 km ENE from the centre of Berlin.

Pilot: F/O. Ronald Stenhouse McAra 134095 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Jack Leslie Barrett 577074 RAF Age ? Missing

Nav: Sgt. F/O. Geoffrey Livingstone Blackmore AUS/422388 RAAF Age 20. Missing

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Cyril Chapman 1425936 RAFVR Age 21. Killed 

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Russom 1214848  RAFVR Age 23. Killed 

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Albert Alfred Harris AUS/417837 RAAF Age 33. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Malcolm George Western AUS/417917 RAAF Age 20. Missing

Reason For Loss:

The aircraft took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 16:27 hours on an operation to bomb Berlin. Whist flying over the district of Lichtenberg at an estimated height of 10,000 feet, it was seen to bust into flames and a minute or two later exploded. (1)

Left: Fl/Sgt. Malcolm George Western (courtesy AWM) Right: Fl/Sgt. Albert Alfred Harris (courtesy Greg Keays)

Pieces of the aircraft fell over a wide area. One of the engines fell in Ritterguts-Strafle, another fell in Verbindungsweg. 

Two of the crew were found in the Bitterguts Strasse. Both airmen wore their parachute harness, but there was no sign of the parachutes. 

A local policeman remembered that they were both dressed in blue. He also stated that there was no sign of the other crew members adding that he presumed that the aircraft had exploded in mid air.

Berlin 1943 (courtesy Kracker archives)

The two crew members bodies were taken away the next day by a Lieutenant and six men to a central mortuary in Berlin, later to be buried in Doberlitz-Elsgrund German Military Cemetery.

Hptm. Walter Borgers (1) of Stab III./NJG5 (Tom Kracker collection)

This Lancaster DV342, was shot down by Hptm. Walter Borgers (1) of Stab III./NJG5 at 20.08 hrs 10 km east north east of Berlin.

Another Lancaster from 576 Squadron was also lost on this operation:

Lancaster III LM322 UL-B2 Flown by Fl/Sgt. Frederick Scott killed with all 7 other crew members when the aircraft collided with another Lancaster III from 103 Squadron flown by Fl/Sgt. Val Richter (from 576 squadron, but attached to 103 as were two other crew members of this aircraft) all 7 crew killed. Accident occurred at Ulceby some 10 miles east north east of Horncastle, Lincolnshire.

(1) This was the 19th kill for the ace nightfighter pilot Hptm. Walter Borchers (Total of 27-28 night kills/13-17 day kills) before he was shot down and killed on the 5/6th March 1945 between Salditz and Osgau by a 239 squadron Mosquito NT361, flown by W/Cmdr. Gibb DSO. DFC. and F/O. Kendall DFC.

Burial Details:

F/O. Ronald Stenhouse McAra. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 125. Son of Alexander McAra and Christian Philp McAra (née MacLaren) of Dundee Scotland. 

Sgt. Jack Leslie Barret. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 141. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. Geoffrey Livingstone Blackmore. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 187. Son of Walter Livingstone Blackmore and of Olive Eileen Blackmore, of Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia. 

Fl/Sgt. Cyril Chapman. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.H.14. Son of G.A. Chapman and Clara Chapman of  Bradford Moor,Yorkshire, England. 

Sgt. Eric Russom. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 4.H.22. Son of Cecil Ernest and Emily Russom, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England. 

Fl/Sgt. Albert Alfred Harris. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 192. Son of Alfred and Florence Harris of Adelaide, South Australia. 

Fl/Sgt. Malcolm George Western. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 194. Son of Hedley and Dora Annie Western of Marion, South Australia.

Researched by Bob Wilton for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to relatives of the crew. Thanks to Greg Keays, nephew of Fl/Sgt. Harris for photos. For further details our thanks to the following, Australian War memorial and other sources quoted below.

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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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