12/13.06.1943 No.50 Squadron Lancaster III ED429 VN-? P/O. John Michael McCrossan
Operation: Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Date: 12/13 June 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 50 Squadron. Mottos: "From defence to attack" and "Sic fidem servius" ("Thus we keep faith")
Badge: A sword in bend severing a mantle palewise. This unit formed at Dover and adopted a mantle being severed by a sword to show its connection with that town, the arms of which include St. Martin and the beggar with whom he divided his cloak. The mantle is also indicative of the protection given to this country by the Royal Air Force.
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Location: Near Bövinghausen, Dortmund, Germany
Pilot: P/O. John Michael McCrossan D.F.M. 146317 (previously 1371558) RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Thomas Wilkinson D.F.M. 935356 RAFVR Age 27 - Killed (2)
Nav: Sgt. David McDougall Buchan 1345053 RAFVR - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: Sgt. George Lowe Stewart (Angus) 1023131 Age 30 - PoW No. 1341 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang - L1 (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Keenan Morgan 1333266 RAFVR - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Harold Raymond Stone 933382 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. John Aitken 1110660 RAFVR - Killed (7)
We appeal to relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the Helpdesk
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire at 23:01 hrs on a mission to bomb Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
This aircraft carried a mixed bomb load of High Explosive and Incendiary Bombs.
The only special equipment on board was Gee (see abbreviations)
Route as briefed per Bomber Command Report on Night Operations and RAF Loss Card: N of Texel - 5200N 0711E - Bochum - turn left - 5210N 0730E - N of Texel
323 Lancasters, 167 Halifaxes and 11 Mosquitoes were despatched to bomb Bochum. The weather was good with small amounts of cloud en route increasing towards the target which was covered in layer cloud. There was a half moon and visibility was moderate.
Zero hour was 01:15 hours but the first target markers attacked at 01:11 hours Other target markers and backers up were distributed throughout the main force which attacked in 8 sections from 01:15 hours until 02:00 hours Despite the cloud cover over the target the accurate sky marking by the Oboe Mosquitoes enabled the main force to make an effective attack. A most unusual incident occurred at zero + 25 when one of the Mosquitoes dropped a salvo of Red TIs in error 14 miles from the aiming point and 2 minutes later were backed up with green TIs. About 50 aircraft bombed on these markers.
430 aircraft reported bombing the primary target (including those that bombed on the wrongly placed markers) and 6 the alternative target whilst 43 aborted the mission mainly due to technical and manipulative defects. 24 aircraft were lost 22 of which were observed by other crews who reported the losses as follows: 6 due to flak (2 outbound, 3 over the target and 1 home-bound) 11 due to fighters (4 outbound, 2 over the target and 5 home-bound) 2 collided over the target and 3 went down over the target, cause unknown. The enemy night fighters were no doubt assisted by the bright moonlight with the greatest activity over the Zuyder Zee by aircraft based on Bergen/Alkmaar. Flak was first encountered at Texel, Vlietland and Terschelling and to a lesser extent at the towns of Zwolle and Hengelo but heavier at Münster and Dülmen assisted by about 50 searchlights at Münster. Severe opposition was also encountered at Essen, Dortmund and Gladbach. Over the target area flak (both predicted and barrage) was unusually intense although the cloud cover hampered the effective use of the searchlights situated mainly in a belt to the north and west of the town.
Later reconnaissance photographs revealed heavy damage in the centre of the town and very severe devastation to Eisen-und-Hüttenwerke AG manufacturers of sheet metal and steels where a number of important buildings were put out of action. Residential and business properties suffered widespread damage. 14000 square yards of the upper stories of barrack buildings at a new military camp north-west of Kornharpen and several related buildings were destroyed or damaged. Railway buildings were gutted and nearby sheds demolished.
Bomber Command estimated that 134 tons of bombs fell on built up areas of the target, 3.18 million sq feet (about 74 acres) of target visibly damaged, 6000 housing units rendered uninhabitable, 400 people were killed and 400 seriously injured.
German reports said that 449 buildings were destroyed, 916 severely damaged and 312 people killed.
Scale: 1"= 3 Miles
Hit by flak over the target the Lancaster ED429 blew up and crashed near Bövinghausen, Dortmund.
The sole survivor of the crew was bomb aimer Sgt. G.L. Stewart who was initially hospitalised and in September 1944 was repatriated to the U.K. The Loss Card records that he stated:
"Direct hit over target and bombs exploded, throwing me thro' side of plane. I was only one wearing a chute, hence escaping with my life. Landed in (cemetery?). Taken to hospital in (Ruhr?) and stayed 10 weeks undergoing ----- and ------ when our boys blitzed the place in night".
Two other aircraft of No. 50 Squadron were lost on this raid, they were:
Lancaster III ED472 VN-? piloted by Fl/Sgt. Arthur John Weber 1169330 RAFVR - the pilot and crew were all killed.
Lancaster III ED828 VN-S piloted by A/Fl/Lt. Philip John Stone 66031 RAFVR - the pilot and four crew members were killed, the two other crew members became prisoners of war.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) P/O. John Michael McCrossan D.F.M. was born c1922 at Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland the son of James and Margaret McCrossan of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. He was promoted to Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) with effect from 19 May 1943 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 13 July 1943. He is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
(2) Sgt. John Thomas Wilkinson D.F.M. was born in 1916 at Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, the son of John and Ethel Wilkinson nee Longthorn of Bradford, husband of Ivy May Wilkinson nee McNicholas of Tyersal, Bradford, and father of Rita Wilkinson born Bradford 1942.
P/O. McCrossan and Sgt. Wilkinson were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for their actions during the same operation and announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 6 July 1943. The citation reads:
'1371558 Sergeant John McCrossan, No. 50 Squadron
935356 Sergeant John Thomas Wilkinson, No. 50 Squadron
Sergeants McCrossan and Wilkinson were pilot and flight engineer respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Wuppertal. Before the target was reached the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, which rendered 1 engine ineffective and damaged another. Some height was lost but Sergeant McCrossan continued to the target and bombed it. The aircraft was again hit and much equipment was damaged including the hydraulic system which prevented the bomb doors from being closed. The aircraft rapidly lost further height. All moveable equipment was jettisoned and sufficient altitude was maintained to enable Sergeant McCrossan to cross the enemy coast at 500 feet. Displaying superb airmanship, he eventually reached base. During the return flight Sergeant Wilkinson displayed great skill and resource and proved of considerable assistance to his pilot. These airmen set a fine example of courage and tenacity in difficult circumstances'.
(3) Sgt. David McDougall Buchan - nothing further known - can you help?
(4) Sgt. George Lowe Stewart (Angus) was born in August 1912 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He died in 2005.
In April 2016 the memoirs of George Lowe Stewart were submitted to Aircrew Remembered by his friend of several years Mr Kevin Walford . To read this most interesting and detailed account of his life in the RAF click here
(5) Sgt. Joseph Keenan Morgan the son of Joseph and Mary Morgan.
(6) Sgt. Harold Raymond Stone was born in 1921 at Elham, Kent, the son of Thomas James Stone and Ella May Stone nee Uden of Peckham Bush, Kent.
(7) Sgt. John Aitken was born at Greenock, Scotland c1922. He is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS
The RAF Loss Card records that the Pilot, Navigator and 2 unknown were buried on the 18th June 1943 at Dortmund.
Commonwealth Graves Commission records show that all six crew members killed were originally buried at Dortmund Main Cemetery and re-interred at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery on 6 December 1946 except for Sgt. Wilkinson who was re-interred on 9 December 1946.
(1) P/O. John Michael McCrossan D.F.M. - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Grave No. 3.D.15.
May the Sacred Heart
Have mercy on his soul
(2) Sgt. John Thomas Wilkinson D.F.M. - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Grave No. 3.F.4.
Of a dear husband and daddy
We will remember
Loving wife and family
(3) Sgt. David McDougall Buchan - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Grave No. 3.D.14.
(5) Sgt. Joseph Keenan Morgan - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Coll. Grave No. 3 E1-6
(6) Sgt. Harold Raymond Stone - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Coll. Grave No. 3 E1-6
Not just today but every day
In silence we remember him
(7) Sgt. John Aitken - Buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Coll. Grave No. 3 E1-6
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2016.
With thanks to the sources quoted below.