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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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101 Squadron
04/05.05.1943 101 Squadron Lancaster I W4784 Sgt. William Nicholson

Operation: Dortmund, Germany

Date: 4th/5th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: 101 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4784

Code: SR:E

Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire

Location: IJsselmeer 1 km north of Spakenenburg, Netherlands

Pilot: Sgt. William Nicholson 919205 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Bernard William Squires 654516 RAF Age 35. Killed

Nav: Fg Off. Norman Ainsworth 49737 RAF Age 20.Killed

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Harold Keith Wainer 126745 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Geoffrey Eastwood 1078947 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. George Brick 1580102 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Dennis William Rowley 1434822 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


W4784 took off at 22:05 hrs on the night of the 4th May 1944 and joined a force of 596 aircraft to bomb targets in Dortmund, Germany. This was the largest ‘non 1000’ bomber raid of the war to date and the first major attack on Dortmund.

Sgt. Nicholson was on his first operational mission as the aircraft captain. W4784 was lost along with 30 other aircraft on this raid. His Lancaster was one of six lost from 101 Squadron although only two of the losses could be described as missing as four aircraft crashed in a number of different locations in England.

It is recorded that the W4784 was lost without trace. However, the following German night fighter claim has been found recording the loss of the Lancaster.

Oberfeldwebel (Ofw) Fritz Kruse from 3./NJG1 claimed his 5th Abschuss, as a Halifax, over IJsselmeer north of Spakenenburg at 5.900m at 01:10 hrs. This claim was attributed as 101 Sqn Lancaster W4784. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 22 June) 1943 Part 1 - Theo Boiten)

Ofw Kruse was killed on the 17th May 1943 at 23:58 hrs when he crashed his Bf110 G-4, G9+BL (Wk No. 4888) taking off from Venlo. He was credited with 6 Abschüsse. He is buried in the Ysselsteyn War Cemetery. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 2)

The remains of a B-17 opposite Spakenburg and what was thought at the time to be a Stirling opposite Harderwijk, came to light when the southern part of Flevoland began to dry out in 1967-1968. It is thought that an Air Force Salvage Service team had been on the scene. The Dutch Study Group Air War 1939 - 1945 lists Lancaster I W4784 on their loss register but no information regarding any recovery efforts has been posted.

Burial details:

Sgt. William Nicholson. Runnymede Memorial Panel 160. Born 27th September 1918 in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. Son of John William and Effie Lettice (née Bingham) Nicholson (his father predeceased him in 1933); husband of Amelia Elizabeth (née Lee) Nicholson, of Reading, Berkshire, England.

Sgt. Bernard William Squires. Runnymede Memorial Panel 165. Born in Hoo, St. Werbergh, Kent. Son of Herbert and Lucy (née Day) Squires; husband of Ada V. (née Watt) Squires, of Romford, Essex, England.

Fg Off. Norman Ainsworth. Runnymede Memorial Panel 122. Son of Isaac and Alice Ainsworth, of Craghead, Co. Durham, England.

Fg Off. Harold Keith Wainer. Runnymede Memorial Panel 130. Born 2nd Qtr. 1921 in Nottingham. Son of Harold and Ivy Elsie (née Davis) Wainer (his mother predeceased him in 1939) ; husband of Gladys Dorothy Prime (née Wood) Wainer, of Thorneywood, Nottinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Geoffrey Eastwood. Runnymede Memorial Panel 148. Born 4th Qtr. of 1922 In Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Son of Harry and Eleanor (née Hemsley) Eastwood, of Rotherham, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Eastwood is also remembered on Panel 3 at the Rotherham Grammar School, Moorgate.

Sgt. George Brick. Runnymede Memorial Panel 143. Son of John Heath and Sarah Boston Brick, of Porthill, Staffordshire, England.

Sgt. Dennis William Rowley. Runnymede Memorial Panel 163. Son of Alfred and Edith Rowley, of St. Helens, Lancashire, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 25.02.2022 - Initial Upload

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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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