Date: 20/21st July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 514 Squadron (motto: Nil Obstare Potest - 'Nothing can withstand') 3 Group
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: Neukirchen, Germany.
Pilot: F/O. Lamont Weir McLean NZ/422420 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George William Bumstead 1852441 Age 19. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Thompson Stone NZ/425298 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Simpson Mcilraith NZ/428982 RNZAF Age 27. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Kerr Durie NZ/427967 Age 37. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Ernest Digby 9190935 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Malcolm Duncan 1826247 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Waterbeach at 23:08 hrs as part of a group of 147 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes to attack the oil plant situated in the town of Homberg. German night fighters caught the Lancasters by surprise.
Above Sgt. Ronald Digby with his girlfriend Right: his brother, Reginald who is thought to have also served with 514 squadron.Some of the bomber stream got through - Northern parts of the target were reported as badly damaged, but no further information on casualties on the ground.
22 aircraft were lost during this operation, resulting in 133 aircrew killed, 9 taken pow, 2 evading capture with 5 crew members surviving a crash landing on return.
Lancaster LM181 is thought to have been shot down by either Fw. Klaus Möller of 12./NJG3 Fw. Hubert Allemeier 8./NJG2, or Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt of 2./NJG6 between 01.16 and 01:34 hrs with the aircraft coming down North West of the target, Homberg. Although Flak Abt. 401 also claimed it as coming down at Neukirchen at 01:22 hrs. (where the crew were initially buried)
514 Squadron were hit particularly hard, 4 aircraft and crews failed to return home this night:
Lancaster I HK570 JI-P Flown by W/O. John Ludlow Lassam 1332109 RAFVR 22 years old, from County Durham, England. All six other crew also killed.
Lancaster I HK571 JI-l Flown by 170283 RAFVR F/O. Stanley Milton Anderson 23 years old, of Clarkson, Renfrewshire, together with the other six crew killed.
Lancaster I ME858 JI-J Flown by 28 year old F/O. Douglas Millar 53841 RAFVR from Stockport, Cheshire killed with all six other crew.
(1) This was the first confirmed abschüss for Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt who became an ‘ace’ with 15 abschusse to his score. He survived the war - no further details.
Below, a series of photographs, believed to have been taken by Ronald Digby during his training in Egypt. Shown as others maybe able to recognise some. Perhaps some relatives may also have similar photographs that they wish to share.
The crew were initially buried at Neukirchen Cemetery - reinterred after war end.
/O. Lamont Weir McLean. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.7. Born on the 07th April 1921 at Paisley, Scotland. Family emigrated in 1922. Worked as a golf club maker for Sportsply Limited prior to service. After 3 months in the territorial army he enlisted in the RNZAF on the 27th March 1942 at Rongotai. Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant and also received his commission on the 25th June 1943 after training in Canada. Son of John and Elizabeth McLean (née Palmer) of Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Later Grey Lynn, Auckland, Brother of Jack and Nell McLean. Had at the time of his loss a total of 487 hours in his log book, but this his only 2nd operation after joining the squadron on the 10th July 1944 from 3 Lancaster Finishing School.
Sgt. George William Bumstead. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.11. Son of George Henry and Ethel Kate Bumstead of Hastings, Sussex, England. Attended Mount Pleasant Junior School, Manor Road, Hastings, England also remembered on the Alexandra Park War Memorial in Hastings, England. Grave inscription: 'His Life A Beautiful Memory, His Death A Silent Grief'.
l/Sgt. Arthur Thompson Stone. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.9. Born on the 09th August 1921 at Hastings. A radio wireman for Dominion Radio Company prior to service. Enlisted at Waipapakauri on the 30th May 1942. Awarded his navigators badge and promoted to sergeant on the 15th October 1943. Son of Arthur Thompson and Eva May (née Porter) Stone of Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. 262 hours flying time, his first operation after joining the squadron on the 10th July 1944 from 3 Lancaster Finishing School.
Fl/Sgt. William Simpson Mcilraith. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.6. Born on the 12th September 1916 at Waimate. Prior to service worked as a tractor driver for C.A. Lavers Farm. Enlisted on the 01st August 1942 at Masterton. Awarded his air bombers badge on the 23rd July 1943 and promoted to sergeant. Son of William and Georgia (née Wright) McIlraith of Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand. 325 hours - his first operation, after joining the squadron on the 10th July 1944 from 3 Lancaster Finishing School.
Fl/Sgt. Thomas Kerr Durie. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.12. Born on the 15th December 1907 at Law Junction, Scotland. (Although gave his birth year as 1911 when he enlisted) Family emigrated in 1926. Worked at the Masonic Hoel in Nelson prior to service. Joined the RNZAF after serving 3 months in the territorial army joined the RNZAF on the 10th July 1942 at Ohakea. Awarded his wireless operators badge and promoted to sergeant on the 04th October 1943 Son of Andrew Gilroy and Catherine Scott (née Kerr) Durie of Carluke, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Husband of Myrtle Ruby Durie (née Adams) of Taradale, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. 197 hours flying time - his first operation, after joining the squadron on the 10th July 1944 from 3 Lancaster Finishing School.
Sgt. Ronald Ernest Digby. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.10. Son of Harry and Ellen Rigby and brother to Reginald, Maisie, Eric B. and Renee B. Digby of Brentwood, Essex, England. Ronald's father, Harry served in the RAMC, his brother, Reginald also served in the RAF, possibly in 514 Squadron also. Ronald trained in Egypt, where he took his final air gunners exam before returning to England and a posting to a squadron. Some of the photographs shown on this page are from that period.Grave inscription: 'In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son And Brother. His Name Lives For Evermore'.
Sgt. Malcolm Duncan. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.13. Son of Thomas and Barbara Duncan. Husband of Agnes Duncan of Broughty Ferry, Angus, Scotland. Grave inscription: 'He Liveth For Ever In Our Hearts, Beloved And Unforgotten'.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Thanks to Aubrey Sinden for information on Sergeant Bumstead and Steve Brett for information on Sgt. Ronald Digby. Others sources used shown within section below.
KTY Updated 18-03-2021
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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