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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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460 Squadron Lancaster III ND674 P/O. James McCleery

Operation: Hasselt Railway Yards

Date: 11/12th May 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 460 Squadron (motto: 'Strike and Return'). 1 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND674

Code: AR-C2

Base: RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire

Location: Elkerzee hamlet, Scharendijke, Zeeland

Pilot: P/O. James McCleery Aus/415585 RAAF Age 21 PoW No: 5152 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Andrew Coutts Law 1434905 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 53362 Camp: Stalag Muhlhausen, Stalag Bankau, Stalag Moosburg

Nav: F/O. Wesley Hirst Betts Aus/410209 RAAF Age 22. PoW No: 5149 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Air/Bmr: W/O. Henry Jeffries Long Aus/417091 RAAF Age 24 PoW No: 396 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Victor Widdup Aus/415596 RAAF Age 24. PoW No: 3858 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug, Stalag Kopernikus

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Donald Jeffrey Dyson Aus/427309 RAAF Age 21. Evaded

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Frederick Hamilton 1895854 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 218 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau


Take off at 22:00 hrs for an operation to railway yards at Hasselt one of eleven sent by the squadron. The only one not to return.

Weather conditions were described as fine but the squadron ORB states that the operation was unsuccessful due to no markers being observed. All returning crews with the exception of two returned with the full bomb load of 121 x 1,000lbs, 44 x 500 lbs.

Claim by Uffz. Woitanowski (BF to Uffz. Schwenke) of 4/NJG1 - North West of Hasselt: 2,500m at 00:27 hrs.

Sgt. Law suffered after his jaw was broken by his own parachute harness and W/O. Long sustained injuries to his right hip. Both were admitted to a hospital in Antwerp, Brussels.

Sgt Hamilton was captured in Ghent on 13 May 1944.

Sgt Hamilton was part of Trupp 8. He arrived at on 3 July 1944:

'I was taken to a barrack and interrogated by a drunk Luftwaffe Officer. I gave him my name, rank and number and he wanted to know who gave me civilian clothing. I refused to tell him and he hit me in the throat with the butt of his revolver'. He spent the next six weeks in St Giles prison, Brussels on a very poor diet. Having arrived in Belgium weighing 12 stone, he returned to England in May 1945 weighing only six.

Sgt. Law was part of Trupp 49. He arrived at Bankau on the 24th November 1944. (mostly ex Hospital cases). He was confined to St. Giles Hospital. A report dated 09th June 1944 stated that he was suffering from lacerations of the nerves of his arm. Although Andrew would eventually reach Luft VII he was taken away for an operation on his damaged arm, but the operation never took place and he ended up at Stalag Moosburg.

Above: Rear, L-R: Fl/Sgt. Widdup, Fl/Sgt. Dyson, Sgt. Law and F/O. Betts. Front: Fl/Sgt. Long, Fl/Sgt. McCleery and Sgt. Hamilton.

Burial details:

None - all the crew survived - Further information:

P/O. James McCleery - Born on the 22nd June 1923 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Discharged from the RAAF on the 18th January 1946. He was interviewed by Laurie Field in May 1999 - we hold copies of the three interviews - contact us if you would like copies.
Sgt. Andrew Law - no further details.
F/O. Wesley Hirst Betts - Born on the 19th April 1922 in Carlton, Victoria, Australia. Discharged from the RAAF on the 25th August 1945. Died on the 07th January 2005.
W/O. Henry Long - Born on the 25th September 1920 in Black Forest, South Australia. Enlisted on the 06th December 1941. Discharged from the RAAF on the 07th June 1946.
Fl/Sgt. Victor Widdup - Born on the 15th May 1920. in Greenbushes, Westen Australia. Discharged from the RAAF on the 29th October 1945.
Fl/Sgt. Donald Dyson - Mid Upper Gunner- Evaded/Returned to UK via RAF Northolt on the 10th September 1944. Born on the 24th March 1923 in Freemantle, Australia. Married Ada Nuptial on the 07th July 1945. Discharged from the RAAF as a F/O. on the 25th August 1945. Died on the 31st of July 2017 at Fiona Stanley Hospital aged 94.

Above: Don Dyson in a post-op discussion with Station Commander Gr/Capt. Hughie Edwards VC (1). Betts is behind Hughie's right shoulder, with Long behind Don's right shoulder, then Hamilton and on far left Widdup. It is believed this photo was taken on the morning of 20th February 1944, with Don recounting his experiences of his first bombing raid.

(1) Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards, DFC. (39005), No: 105. Squadron. London Gazette on 22 July 1941: Wing Commander Hughie Idwal Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives.

On 4th July, 1941, he led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany. This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment. During the approach to the German coast, several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness. Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage. On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed. Nevertheless, he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss.
Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed, Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination.
Born on the 01st August 1914 in Freemantle, He died of a subdural hecatomb on the 05th August 1982 age just 68 in Sydney, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to John Jones, Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 2 - Theo Boiten, NAA, Air-27-1909-9/10 National Archives Kew, Kracker Archive, The Long Road - Oliver Clutton-Brock, 460 Squadron Association.

Other sources as shown below.

KTY 22-01-2023

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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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