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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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100 Squadron Crest
25/26.06.1943 100 Squadron Lancaster III ED988 HW-J Flt.Sgt. Naile

Operation: Gelsenkirchen

Date: 25th/26th June 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 100 Squadron (motto: Sarang tebuan jangan dijolok - 'Never stir up a hornet's nest')

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED988

Code: HW-J

Base: RAF Grimsby, Lincolnhire

Location: Westbeenster, Netherlands

Pilot: Flt.Sgt. Leslie Jack Naile 415174 RAAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Cyril Connah 1005899 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. Ronald William Mepsted 1387214 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Bmr: Fg.Off. Charles Pharaoh Reynolds 132095 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Dillon 1126212 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Mid Upp. Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Lawrence George Porritt 416016 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Rear Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Bennett 650929 RAF Age 29. Killed


Taking off from RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire at 23:23 hrs on an operation to bomb Gelsenkirchen with another 217 Lancasters, 190 Halifaxes and 10 Mosquitoes. The raid was not at all as had been hoped. Weather was cloudy with no moon until about 03:00 hrs.

Above: Thought to be crew photo in front of Lancaster ED988 (courtesy Greg Harrison)

(Left) Sgt Leonard Bennett and unknown family members. His uniform shows no Air Gunner Brevet and his forage cap has no aircrew band so it is assumed that this were taken whilst he was a recruit. (Courtesy Nicholas Bennett)

Equipment failure in half of the Mosquitoes and another dropping target markers 10 miles off target! The bombing as a result of this made the Germans think that the raid was actually on Bochum. However some industrial targets were hit in the town.

100 Squadron had sent 15 aircraft on this operation, 2 returned early one with a technical failure another with navigation failure. 3 aircraft returned with flak damage. In all the allies lost 33 aircraft this night.

They were intercepted and shot down en-route to the target by Ofw. Karl-Heinz Scherfling, one of three by the German ace on this operation. The aircraft crashed at 00:54 hrs. The Germans removed three of the crew bodies before the full bomb load exploded at around 03:50 hrs. 6 Germans suffered various degrees of injuries from the explosion, none fatal.

Right: Ofw. Karl-Heinz Scherfling and crew.

(1) Ofw. Scherfling OF 10./NJG1 was already an ace at this time with 14 claims. He was killed after 31 confirmed night kills when on the 20/21st July 1944 he crashed following an interception by a Mosquito NT113 from 169 Squadron flown by W/Cmd. Bromley OBE. DFC. and Fl/Lt. Truscott DFC. Both of whom were also killed on the 6th September 1944 after their Mosquito VI PZ230 exploded in the air during a bomber support operation. (courtesy Kracker Archives)

Burial details:

Flt.Sgt. Leslie Jack Naile. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 06th November 1916 in Bath, England, the son of Arthur Edward and Bessie Naile and husband of Phyllis Alison Naile, of Subiaco, Western Australia. Worked as a projectionist prior to enlisting on the 21st July 1941.

Sgt. Cyril Connah. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 145. Son of Thomas and Hilda Connah, of Pontblyddyn, Flintshire, Wales.

Memorial placed to the crew in 2018 (courtesy Peter Hakze)

(Left) Sgt. Ronald William Mepsted. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row B. Collective grave 19. Son of Horace William and Kathleen Mepsted, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England.

(Courtesy Robbie Pearson - FindAGrave)

Fg.Off. Charles Pharaoh Reynolds. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 129. Son of Charles and Jane Reynolds, of Netherton, Cumberland, England.

Sgt. John Dillon. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 147. Son of Thomas George and Mary Jane Dillon, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

(Right) Flt.Sgt. Lawrence George Porritt. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row B. Collective grave 19. Born on the 23rd April 1922 at Auckland, the son of George Lupton Porritt and Linda Elizabeth Porritt (née Lawrence), of Henry Street, Avondale, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to joining the RNZAF he worked as a dental mechanic for W.D. Pardy. 180 flying hours logged and on his 9th operational sortie.

(Grave marker Courtesy Robbie Pearson - FindAGrave)

Newspaper cutting and Telegram for Sgt. Bennett (Courtesy Nicholas Bennett)

(Right) Sgt. Leonard Bennett. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row B. Collective grave 19. Son to Mr and Mrs H. Bennett of Haworth, Bradford. England.

Joint grave marker for Plt.Off. Jospeh Horrace Addison, C/16683, RCAF, Rear Gunner from 103 Sqn, Lancaster I, W4827 and Sgt. Bennett. (Courtesy Robbie Pearson - FindAGrave)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, National Archives Australia, Stuff New Zealand, Thanks to Nicholas Bennett, the grandson of Sgt. Bennett for the photographs and other information, other sources as quoted below:

Flt.Sgt. Lawrence George Porritt: AWNS19430825 -20-25: 25 August 1943.

RS 27.02.2020 - Grave marker for Sgt. Mepsted and Flt.Sgt. Porritt added

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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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