14/15.03.1945 No 49 Squadron Lancaster I RF153 EA-K Fl/Lt. McPhee
Date: 14/15th March 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 49 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Fulbeck, Lincolnshire
Location: Near Bedra South of Braunsbedra (Lutzkendorf)
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Joseph Noel McPhee J/29733 RCAF Age 23 - Killed (4)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Philip Frederick Ivett 1624266 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed
Nav: F/O. Graeme Alastair Robinson J/39006 RCAF Age 20 - Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Raymond Franklin Thompson J/27160 RCAF Age ? - Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas George William Dew 1892018 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Edward Gordon Coke Richards R/252612 RCAF Age 28 - Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. G. Keith 'Corky' Corrigan R/218547 RCAF - PoW - details not known
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 16:47 hrs from RAF Fulbeck in Lincolnshire, to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Wintershall (1). 244 Lancasters with 11 Mosquitoes from 5 Group taking part in what has been described as a “moderately successful operation, although some 18 Lancasters were lost.
Above as described (courtesy Edith Albrecht - see credits)
The bomber stream approached the target from the south west with the Luftwaffe night fighters hunting the stream - 7 Lancasters and Fortress were shot down. During the homeward bound trip they attacked again, shooting down a further 6 aircraft with Lancaster RF153 (understood to be this crews 17th operation) being claimed as a ‘possible’ by Hptm. Martin Becker (2) of Stab IV./NJG6 or Lt. Helmut Bunje (3) of 4./NJG6 between 21:59 - 22:15 hrs. (Others being claimed by the fierce anti-aircraft batteries)
Showing actual crash area of Lancasters RF153 and PB411 - Courtesy of the research from Jörg Helbig - he has compiled a book: “Zum nächtlichen Luftkriegsgeschehen über Mitteldeutschland" ("About the nightly air war over Central Germany") He discovered the crash location from eye witness reports and also the personnel files of the RCAF crew at the Archives in Ottawa, Canada. Various parts of RF153 have recently been discovered during pipeline laying in the area. (with many thanks to Stephan R. Schilling who sent this information - December 2016)
For further information on loss of Lancaster PB411 UM-Y2 05th April 1945.
(1) 2016: Wintershall Holding GmbH is Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer. The company is based in Kassel, Germany. Wintershall is a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF, based in Ludwigshafen. The name Wintershall is derived from the surname of the enterprise co-founder Carl Julius Winter and the Old High German word for salt (hall) together. The company made a profit of 2.4 billion euros in 2011. In 2012, the company had 2164 employees worldwide. The Chairman of the board of Executive Directors is Mario Mehren.
(2) Hptm. Martin Becker of Stab IV./NJG6, a Luftwaffe nightfighter ‘ace’ survived the war with 58 victories.
(3) Lt. Helmut Bunje of 4./NJG6, a Luftwaffe nightfighter ‘ace’ survived the war with 11 victories. Passed away on the 08th July 2000.
(4) McPhee Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia renamed after the pilot, Fl/Lt. Joseph Noel McPhee.
Fl/Lt. Joseph Noel McPhee. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.Z.15. Son of Wallace Piercy McPhee and Marjorie Annabelle McPhee, of Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: 'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.
Sgt. Philip Frederick Ivett. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.Z.16. Son of George and Florence Ivett, of Worsborough Bridge, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'A Dearly Loved Son From Kingwell, Barnsley, Yorkshire. Now In God's Keeping'.
F/O. Graeme Alastair Robinson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 6.Z.18-27. Son of Henry Robinson, and of Elizabeth J. Robinson (née Allen), of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: 'Our Eternal Love To Those Who Finished Their Course And Kept The Faith'.
F/O. Raymond Franklin Thompson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.Z.17. Thought to be from Belleville, Ontario, Canada - no further details, are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Thomas George William Dew. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 6.Z.18-27. Son of George William and Florence May Dew, of Prickwillow, Cambridgeshire, England. Grave inscription reads: 'A Loving Son, True And Kind. A Beautiful Memory Left Behind. Rest In Peace'.
Fl/Sgt. Edward Gordon Coke Richards. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 6.Z.18-27. Thought to be from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. No further details - are you able to assist?
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Stephan R. Schilling, Jörg Helbig for detailed crash location, Uwe Jenrich for grave photos, also to Jack Albrecht who submitted photographs of the pilot - taken from the collection of his mother Edith Albrecht. Edith was a friend of the pilot. Jack's Uncle, W/O. John David Owen who graduated from Courtney High School as well as Fl/Lt. Joseph Noel McPhee. Further sources as quoted below.
No. 49 Squadron Association Home Page
Personnel Index - Detail: Evader
First Names: G K
Service Number: R218547
Crew Position: Rear Gunner
14/15 March, 1945; LÜTZKENDORF:
On Wednesday night, 14 March, 5 Group reverted to its solo efforts, sending 244 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes to attack the Wintershall synthetic-oil refinery at Lutzkendorf near Leipzig. Group requested a maximum effort, and 49 was able to provide 20 aircraft.
The bombers were confronted by extremely aggressive and accurate defences, with the result that 18 Lancasters failed to return (this represented 7.4 per cent of the Lancaster force). 49 Squadron did not escape the onslaught, with several aircraft receiving damage. F/O Littley (PB373) and crew were attacked by a Ju88 whilst on their bombing run.
The returning 5 Group Lancasters received diversion orders away from their Lincolnshire bases;
However, one 49 Squadron aircraft was outstanding; F/Lt ‘Joe’ McPhee RCAF (RF153) and crew, consisting of five Canadians and two British, had failed to return. Sadly, six of the crew were later confirmed as killed, whilst F/Sgt 'Corky' Corrigan RCAF (rear gunner) had escaped death and indeed custody, turning up at Fulbeck a few weeks later.
The other six members of the crew are buried alongside each other in the Berlin War Cemetery.
'Corky' Corrigan was a tough looking, swarthy Canadian NCO in fellow Canadian Joe McPhee's crew. He happened to be the proud owner of a motor bike, which he kept outside his crew's hut at Fulbeck. When he failed to return from the Lützkendorf trip, other motor bike owners on the squadron virtually stripped Corrigan's machine for spare parts.
When F/Sgt Corrigan returned 'out of the blue' back at Fulbeck, having escaped from the Germans... mysteriously all the missing spare parts suddenly reappeared on his motor cycle overnight…
We are grateful to John Naylor for bringing this vignette to our attention. JA