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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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166 Squadron Crest
26/27.11.1943 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster I DV387 AS-W F/O. Desmond H.P. O’Brien

Operation: Berlin Germany

Date: 26/27th November 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 166 Squadron

Type: Lancaster Mk. I

Serial: DV387

Code: AS-W

Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire

Location: Mönchengladbach area Germany

Pilot: F/O. Desmond Henry Patrick O'Brien 55024 RAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Edward John Ballard 1697871 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: F/O. Jack Howe 137472 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Harold James Beattie R/161665 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald James Howell 1386465 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Francis Edward Nowland AUS/425347 RAAF Age 29. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Arthur Green 1591531 RAFVR Killed


Took off at 17:20 hrs from RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire to bomb Berlin - together with a further 442 aircraft. Most of the Luftwaffe thought the main target had been Frankfurt and were diverted there.

They intercepted the bomber stream as it passed with several losses to the allies, over the target itself they were bothered very little by fighters, the main threat were the intensive German radar controlled flak guns and it is thought that DV387 was hit by these as no German claims were made for this Lancaster.

The Luftwaffe were waiting to hit them on the return - a total of 28 aircraft lost with a further 14 crashing over England.

Berlin was hit again and although no accurate figures are available to this raid alone the damage attributed to these and the other 2 earlier raids stood at 104,613 apartments destroyed (417,665 people made homeless) and the death toll on the ground stood at 4,330 people.

Another aircraft from the Squadron was also lost during this operation:

Lancaster III DV247 AS-F Flown by W/O. J.E. Thomas DFC - shot down with 5 crew taken PoW and 2 others killed.

Burial details:

Understood to have been buried initially at Mönchengladbach City Cemetery - reinterred at war end.

F/O. Desmond Henry Patrick O'Brien. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Germany. Grave 3.G.14. Son of Doctor Patrick J. O'Brien and Elisabeth O'Brien, of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Irish Republic. Grave inscription reads: ‘Requiescat In Pace. Under The Shadow Of The Cross.’

Sgt. George Edward John Ballard. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Germany. Grave: 3.G.16. Son of Albert Edward and Mary Elizabeth Ballard, of St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: ‘Redeemed With The Precious Blood Of Christ.’

F/O. Jack Howe. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Germany. Grave: 3.G.15. Son of George and Florence Howe, husband of Joan Howe, of Elland, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription reads: ‘Age Shall Not Weary Him. Nor The Years Condemn.’ (uniform shown right)

Fl/Sgt. Harold James Beattie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 181. Son of Walter and Isabel Beattie, of 310 Flora Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (shown left)

Sgt. Donald Howell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 154. Son of Horace Victor Howell, and of Hilda Louise Howell, of Southgate, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Francis Edward Nowland. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Germany. Grave: 3.G.17. Born on the 27th January 1914 the son of Victor Hilton Nowland and Jessie Nowland, of West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia. Also Fiancee to AUS/91546 Fl/Sgt. Lisa D. Doman of the Allied Geographical Section 225 Domain Road, South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia. (shown right)

Sgt. William Arthur Green. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 151. No further details - are you able to assist?

Researched Michel Beckers - August 2016 for Aircrew Remembered. With thanks to Don Howard for grave photographs - remainder from the Michel Beckers collection.

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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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