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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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106 Squadron Crest
27/28.07.1943 No. 106 Squadron Lancaster I ED303 ZN-J Fl/Sgt. McLeod

Operation: Hamburg

Date: 27/28th July 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 106 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ED303

Code: ZN-J

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire.

Location: Unknown

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Ellis George McLeod R/119526 RCAF Age 19. Missing (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frank Robertson 653317 RAF Age 21. Missing

Nav: F/O. Donald Allister Campbell J/22215 RCAF Age 25. Missing

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ian George Armet 1561872 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Vernon Russell Jacob 1384790 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Allen Barnfather 1432057 RAFVR Age 25. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Francis Langhorne Backhouse 1393720 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Anyone with further information on this loss we would appreciate hearing from them in order to pass to relatives.


Took off from RAF Syerston at 23:00 hours as part of a group of 787 aircraft - 53 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 116 Stirlings and 74 Wellingtons - on one of the raids against Hamburg known as ‘Operation Gomorrah’. This was the night of the firestorm, which resulted from a combination of unusually dry and warm weather, the concentration of the bombing in one area and firefighting limitations.

A total of 2,326 tons of bombs were dropped. In the period following the raid, approximately 1,200,000 people fled the city in fear of further raids. The aircraft together with another from 106 Squadron ED708 was lost without trace and all the crew from both aircraft are remembered on the Runnymede War Memorial.

Fl/Sgt. Ellis George McLeod, Sgt. Francis Backhouse (courtesy Cristobal Labbé Backhouse),Sgt. Ian George Armet (courtesy Stuart Armet)

Sgt. Vernon Russell Jacob (courtesy John Vernon Jacob), F/O. Donald Allister Campbell (courtesy Clive Smith)

Sgt. Vernon Russell Jacob during training in 1942 - 3rd row from front extreme right (courtesy John Vernon Jacob) Air Crew Cadets No. 4 S of S 1942. If anyone recognises a relative from this shot we would be happy to provide you with a copy at a higher resolution. The names have been retyped as they appear, in order this this could be searchable.
Row 6: W. Penniston, A.E. Waters, M.D. Shakespeare, J. Kemm, D. Grindrod, A. Hollingworth, R.J. Young, J.L. Hills, H.F. Jordan, C. Jones, H.J. Knightsbridge, B.L. Scott.
Row 5: R.H. Chapman, F.A. Sugden, C. Bailey, A.C. Borrett, C. Daft, S.W. Cook, N.E. Lind, N.H. Williams, E. Widdowson, F.A. Anderson, J.H. Bissell, W.J. Reedman.
Row 4: C.J. Ryder, G. Senty, A. Warrell, K.R. Tester, James Walker Neilly, (2) G.H. Riley, R.W. Wilson, K. Saville, W. Barrett, J.F. Turnbridge, F. Powell, E.C. Shelley
Row 3: G. Glover, J.W. Parnaby, J. Dennison, R.C. Rushbrooke, G. Martin, J.P. Graham, A.A. Liddington, H. Townend, S. Bray, H. Tite, J.C. Whiteman, R.W. Gilbey, J.T. Sharp, V.R. Jacob.
Row 2: T.G. Cox, L.B. Watts, R.F. Boots, Cpl. J.T. Owen, Fl/Sgt. Colthorpe, P/O. Courtney, Fl/Lt. L.S. Smith, W/O. G.J. Lord, J. Kilbey, J. Beveridge, W.R. Watkins, D. McLachland, A.R. Staney.
Row 1: A.J. Small, S. Emmett, P.R. Comley, A.G. Hadley, T.R. Hough, R.M. Hill, J.M. Julien, J.H. Mann, J. Humble, A. Lund.

ED303 Loss card

ED303 was a Mk.1 and was delivered to No. 467 Squadron November 1942, joining No.106 Squadron, re-engined with Merlin 22's, February 1943.

ED303 took part in the following key Operations:

With No.467 Squadron as PO- Z Berlin 16/17th January 1943
Berlin 17/18th January 1943.
With No.106 Squadron:
Lorient 13/14th February 1943
Nuremburg 25/26th February 1943
Nuremburg 8/9th March 1943
St.Nazaire 22/23rd March 1943
Berlin 27/28th March 1943
Berlin 29/30th March-aborted
Dusseldorf 11/12th June 1943
Bochum 12/13th June 1943
Turin 12/13th July 1943
Hamburg 24/25th July 1943
Hamburg 27/28th July 1943 - When lost this aircraft had a total of 220 hours.

Above: Runnymede memorial (archives)

(1) McLeod Lake in Manitoba is named after Flt/Sgt. McLeod

(2) We are very pleased that the daughter of James Walker Neilly contacted us in April 2014.

Right: Runnymede Panels for the crew (courtesy John Vernon Jacob)

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Ellis George McLeod. Runnymede memorial. Panel 184. Son of Albert James McLeod and of Mabel Louise McLeod (nee Brockwell), of Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Canada.

Sgt. Frank Robertson. Runnymede memorial. Panel 163. Son of John George and Selina Robertson, father to Pearline. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?

F/O. Donald Allister Campbell. Runnymede memorial. Panel 173. Son of Alexander and Barbara R. Campbell, of Malagawatch, Inverness Co., Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sgt. Ian George Armet. Runnymede memorial. Panel 140. Son of John and Helen Armet, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Vernon Russell Jacob. Runnymede memorial. Panel 154. Son of William Walker Jacob and Edith Kate. Brother to Trevor Walker, Doreen Edith and Stanley Neville. Tooting, South London, England. Vernon was born in Perth, Australia on 2nd November 1920

Sgt. Douglas Allen Barnfather. Runnymede memorial. Panel 141. Son of Thomas and Nora Barnfather, of Banfield, Argentina.

Left: Telegram sent to the family of Sgt. Barnfather (courtesy Claudio Meunier)

Sgt. Francis Langhorne Backhouse. Runnymede memorial. Panel 141. Son of Joseph and Blanche Backhouse, of Concepcion, Chile, South America.

For Cristobal Labbé Backhouse nephew of Sgt. Francis Langhorne Backhouse, Pearline Shaw, daughter of Sgt. Frank Robertson, John Vernon Jacob - nephew of Sgt. Vernon Russell Jacob, Claudio Meunier - Argentinian aviation researcher and for all the relatives of the other crew members. With thanks to the sources quoted below.

14.01.2016 Aircraft code added - courtesy Clive Smith

28-02-2021 Photo F/O. Donald Campbell added - courtesy Clive Smith

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'
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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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