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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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22/23.04.1944 101 Squadron Lancaster I ME619 SR:U Plt Off. Ian H. McDowell

Operation: Düsseldorf, Germany

Date: 22nd/23rd April 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 101 Squadron (motto: Mens agitat molem - 'Mind over matter'), 1 Group, Bomber Command

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ME619

Code: SR:U

Base: RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire

Location: Lank-Latum, Germany

Pilot: Plt Off. Ian Hugh McDowell 54387 RAF Age 24. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Lawrence Andrew Young 1604444 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 3583 *

Nav: Plt Off. Charles Frederick Leverett 146624 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 3569 *

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Gordon Albert Speers J26691 RCAF Age 23. PoW No: 4238 **

Spec Op: Sgt. Terence John Burleigh 1874533 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Edward Sim Mowatt 1397130 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No: 3570 * (1)

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Robert Henry Hall 1581458 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William George Ault 1292143 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

* Stalag 357 Kopernikus at Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. Moved in September 1944. The camp was commonly referred to as Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, however, it was officially designated as Stalag 357 Oerbke.

** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland.

Above: Plt Off. Ian Hugh McDowell in civilian attire (Courtesy of Dr. Jayne Kirk and Tracey van Oeffelen)

Above L-R: Sgt. Robert Hall, Sgt. Terence Burlei and Sgt. William Ault


Taking off from RAF Ludford Magna with a bomb load of 1x4000 lb M2 (Cookie), 1053x4lb incendiary, 117b 4 lb x1,108x30 lb. incendiary, at 22:40 hrs. to join 595 aircraft to bomb Düsseldorf.

The squadron dispatched a further 5 aircraft to Brunswick this night and 15 to Düsseldorf. They were all equipped with ABC transmitters (Airborne Cigar) that were used by the specialist operators to jam the narrow frequency bands used by German night fighter controllers.

2,150 tons of bombs were dropped causing widespread destruction - 56 very large industrial premises and over 2,000 homes destroyed. Casualties on the ground amounted to 883 killed, 593 injured with many others classed as ‘missing’.

Nearly 600 heavy bombers went to Düsseldorf on the 22nd and crews returned to speak of extremely heavy night fighter activity. They recorded that fires could be seen as much as 110 miles away.

Losses to the allied bombers on this raid were huge with 29 aircraft being shot down resulting in 133 aircrew killed and a further 68 being made PoW.

ME619 was claimed by Uffz. Herbert Ter-Steegen, his 6th Abschuss, from 11./NJG5 at 4000 m. at 01:43 hrs, 20 km west of the target area of Düsseldorf. Note: Also claimed by flak from 2. -4./schw. Flak Abt .472 (o) at 01:41 hrs over Lank-Latum, but Ter-Steegen claim was later confirmed on the 29th August 1944. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten).

Uffz. Herbert Ter-Steegen had a total of 7 claims before he was killed the following month on the 24th May 1944. Born on the 23 August 1919 in Rheydt, Mönchengladbach, buried at Mönchengladbach Hauptfriedhof. Grave 452

Above: ME619 paining by Paul Couper, commissioned by David Burleigh - see links where you can purchase a copy.

Above: ME619 model as present by the Tangmere Military Museum - see links to list the museum

Above: short video explains the ABC System

(1) Sgt. Mowatt was captured near Duisburg the same day.

After the statutory visit to Dulag Luft, Oberursel he was transferred to Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug, Memelland arriving there In May 1944. On the 12th July 1944 he was transferred to Stalag 357, (Toruń) in Poland arriving there on the 19th July 1944.

On the 1st September 1944 the PoWs were force-marched from Thorn to the site of the former Stalag 9D, with construction being carried out by the Italian PoWs from Stalag 9B. The camp was commonly known as Stalag 357, Fallingbostal but officially the designation was Stalag 357, Oerbke.

He remained there until the camp was liberated on the 16th April 1945 by British troops from “B” Squadron 11th Hussars and the Reconnaissance Troop of the 8th Hussars. They were met at the main gate of Stalag 357 by a guard of Airborne troops, impeccably attired and led by RSM Lord.

He was interviewed on the 11th May 1945.

Edward Sim Mowatt was born on the 28th January 1921 and was a Chef prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 3rd October 1941.

Burial details

The crew were originally buried close to the churchyard wall in the village of Lank-Latum.

Plt Off. Ian Hugh McDowell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective. Grave 17.F.17-19. Grave Inscription: 'FOR EVERMORE: STORIES OF THE FALLEN'. Son of Captain William Wrightson McDowell and Marie Margaret McDowell, of Northfield, Birmingham, England.

Sgt. Terence John Burleigh. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective. Grave 17.F.17-19. Grave Inscription: 'HIS MEMORY IS OUR GREATEST TREASURE, IN OUR HEARTS HE WILL LIVE FOR EVER'. Son of George Edward and Doris Margaret Burleigh, of Dereham, Norfolk, England.

Sgt. Robert Henry Hall. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective. Grave 17.F.17-19. Born on the 27th November 1922 at Coventry. Son of Frank Thomas Hall and Winifred Mary Hall, of 71 Huntingdon Road, Earlsdon, Coventry, England.

Educated at Broadway School. Worked at Carbodies Ltd. of Coventry prior to enlisting June, 1942. Made a freeman of the City of Coventry.

Sgt. William George Ault. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 17.F.16. 'HAPPY MEMORIES, SILENTLY TREASURED, A DEAR HUSBAND. WIFE RUBY, JACKY AND MARION'. Born on the 10th April 1912 in Shoreditch, London. Son of Ellen Ault and husband of Ruby Ault, (née Drew - married 3rd March 1945), father of Jacqueline Ruby (born 6th November 1935) of Shoreditch, London, England.

Previously served for two years in the Royal West Kent Regiment. Enlisted on the 14th October 1940. Joined 101 squadron on the 9th April 1944.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Karen Ault (relative of Sgt. William Ault), David Burleigh (relative of Sgt. Terence Burleigh), National Archives Kew, AIR-27-803-7/8. Paradie RCAF Archive, Kracker Luftwaffe Archive, Tangmere Military Museum, Paul Couper (Artist), David Burleigh. (Oct 2023). Thanks to Tracey van Oeffelen for source the photograph of Ian Hugh McDowell and Dr. Jayne Kirk for permission to add it to the report (Jan 2024).

Other sources listed below:

RS 17.01.2024 - Addition of new photograph and updated narrative

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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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