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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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83 Squadron
28/29.03.1942 83 Squadron Manchester IA R5830 Sqn Ldr. David A.J. McClure

Operation: Lübeck, Germany

Date: 28th/29th March 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 83 Squadron

Type: Manchester IA

Serial: R5830

Code: OL:L

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Location: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. David Alston Johnstone McClure 41596 RAF Age 22. Returned (1)

2nd Pilot: Flt Sgt. Arnold James Frederick Rayment 400155 RAAF Age 21. Returned

Observer: Sgt. Alan MacPherson MacPherson 789537 RAFVR Age 21. Returned

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Flt Sgt. Joseph ‘Joe’ Taylor 751639 RAFVR Age? Returned

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Sgt. Eric Stead 1310159 RAFVR Age? Returned

Air Gunner (Mid Upper): Sgt. John Ernest Ryan 1325538 Age 21. Returned /Wounded

Air Gunner (Rear): Sgt. Harold Clinton Duffield DFM R64743 RCAF Age 25. Returned /Wounded


On the 28th March 1942 R5830 was one of seven Manchesters from 83 Sqn detailed to join a force of 234 aircraft to bomb Lübeck, Germany for the first time. Take off from RAF Scampton commenced at 21:16 hrs with R5830 being the last away at 21:36 hrs.

This was to be only major attack of the war on Lübeck by the RAF, after an agreement was negotiated by the International Red Cross (IRC), which used the port to ship medical supplies.

When approaching the western coast of the Schleswig-Holstein peninsular R5830 was attacked by an unidentified German night-fighter. The Mid-Upper and Tail gunners were injured and the aircraft suffered extensive damage. The captain accepting that it was not possible to reach the target, jettisoned the four 500 lb bombs a short distance inland, SE of Tönning, before turning for home.

The 4000 lb ‘Cookie’ would not release and in order to maintain height and get the aircraft and crew back to safety everything that was not structural was thrown overboard to reduce the weight.

The aircraft successfully landed back at RAF Scampton where Sgt. Ryan and Sgt. Duffield were admitted to hospital for treatment to their injuries.

Sgt. Ryan was discharged from hospital on the 15th February 1943 to return to no-operational duties as a Link Trainer(insert Link) instructor.

Sgt. Duffield DFM was repatriated to Canada on the 27th December 1942. He served on a number of aircrew training establishments in Canada and two Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) in England for the remainder of the war.

Above: Rear Turret and rear centre and rear fuselage sections badly damaged by cannon shell, aircraft hydraulics, rudders, tailplane, starboard propeller, bomb doors, port and starboard. The main plane was also damaged. (Courtesy of World War Photographs)

The aircraft was declared “Cat AC” and was repaired on site by another unit or contractor. The aircraft survived for another 20 months before being transferred to 39 Maintenance Unit (MU) on the 14th November 1943 and was Struck Off Charge (SOC) two days later.

A letter from the 83 Squadron Gunnery Officer described the fighter attack and the damage sustained by the aircraft:

“At a position about 54 25N, 09 05E whilst flying at height of 1600 ft on the 29th March 1942 at 00:25 hrs Manchester I aircraft of this squadron letter "L", R5830 was attacked by an enemy cannon fighter believed to twin engined”.

Note: the Lat/Long of 54 25N, 09 05E is some 121 km (75 mls) NNE of Lübeck.

“It is believed that the attack was delivered from astern the enemy breaking away to port. The MU and Rear Gunner being wounded and the intercom made u/s by cannon file entering the fuselage on the port side. No fire was returned by the Rear and MU Gunners. The Rear Turret was immediately u/s the attack was delivered. The cannon shell holes in the port side of the fuselage seems to confirm that the attack came from the tail and slightly below. The 2nd Pilot caught a momentary glimpse of the enemy aircraft and was the only person besides the Rear and MU Gunners, now in hospital, to see the enemy”.

The action aboard the aircraft when the German night-fighter attacked was summarised in the citation accompanying the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) that was awarded to Sgt. Duffield, which was promulgated in the London Gazette on the 24th April 1942.

Citation: “Can R.64743 Sergeant Harold Clinton DUFFIELD, Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 83 Squadron. On 28th March, 1942, this airman was the rear gunner of an aircraft which participated in an attack on Lübeck. During the operation his aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter whose fire rendered the rear turret unserviceable and wounded Sergeant Duffield in the head, stomach and in both his knees. Undismayed, he crawled from the turret and dragged himself to the mid-upper turret where he manned the guns in readiness to meet any further attack; the gunner in this turret had been wounded in the arm. The fighter had broken away, however, and did not return and Sergeant Duffield was then extricated from the turret, being unable to walk. Throughout the return journey he displayed great fortitude and cheerfulness in spite of his wounds, and his great devotion to duty was a fine example”.

(1) The captain, Sqn Ldr. McClure, was severely wounded on a mission to Essen on the 6th/7th April 1942 aboard Manchester IA R5837 OL:R.

A matter of a couple of days after returning to operational flying Sqn Ldr. McClure DFC was KiA on the 12th/13th March 1943 aboard Lancaster I W4928 OL:S.

Burial Details

None – The crew survived

Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jeff Ryan the son of Sgt. Ryan for his information. (Sep 2023)

Other sources listed below:

RS 21.09.2023 - Initial Upload

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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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