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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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418 Squadron Crest
03.01.1944 No. 418 Squadron Mosquito FB.VI LR268 F/O. Joseph E. McGrath

Operation: Intruder

Date: 03rd January 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 418 Squadron (RCAF - Fighter Command)

Type: Mosquito FB.VI

Serial: LR268

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Ford, Sussex

Location: Osterhausen near Cappeln Germany

Pilot: F/O. Joseph Earl McGrath J/16363 RCAF Age 22. Missing (1)

Obs: F/O. Donald Clifford Bissell J/24280 RCAF Age 31. Missing


Taking off from RAF Bradwell at 03:15 hrs on an intruder operation to Diepholz. They were not heard from again and classed as missing.

In 2012 a group of German researchers claimed to have discovered the remains of the aircraft, we understand that the authorities were contacted in case human remains could also be found - we have no further information on the outcome of this. Two eye witnesses at the time recall the crash stated that the crew could not be identified. Shortly after the war the aircraft pieces including the engines were recovered for scrap. 
The nephew of the pilot, Joel McGrath, recently visited the crash site, met the two eye witnesses also being presented with a piece from the Mosquito. We also understand that a memorial is being planned for the crew.

418 Squadron RCAF was Canada's highest-scoring squadron in World War II, in terms of both air-to-air and air-to-ground kills, and in terms of both day and night operations. The Squadron's most active period was 1944, when assigned to Intruder and Ranger sorties across occupied Europe.

These sorties, made at low level to escape radar detection, took 418 Squadron crews into the heart of enemy territory, there to wreak havoc among departing or returning Luftwaffe night-fighter crews (Intruder sorties), or to shoot up enemy airfields, or indeed anything else of military value, in Ranger sorties.

As an Intruder squadron, 418 squadron aircraft did not carry radar sets - even at night, targets had to be found, identified, lined up and attacked all with the naked eye. The squadron's success speaks volumes of the skill of its crews that it achieved such success under these conditions. (extract courtesy Wikipedia)

(1) McGrath Island in Big Sand Lake was named after F/O. Joseph Earl McGrath in 1995.

Burial details:

F/O. Joseph Earl McGrath. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 247. Son of Maj. Joseph E. McGrath, MBE, and Agnes McGrath, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Born in Quebec City, moved to Kingston and then to Winnipeg at Fort Osborne Barracks and then at 1017 Strathcona Street where he lived until enlisting in February 1941.

F/O. Donald Clifford Bissell. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 245. Son of Olin C. Bissell and Irene (née Mallory) of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Parents buried at Bissell Cemetery, Augusta Township, Grenville County, Ontario, Canada - his name is also inscribed on the family headstone. Born 21st August 1913.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Martin Frauenheim from Germany for newspaper reports. David Franklin for translation.

KTY 24.08.2015

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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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