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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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44 squadron badge
24/25.06.1944 44 Squadron Lancaster I ME628 KM:V Flt Sgt. Oswald

Operation: Pommerval

Date: 24th/25th June 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ME628

Code: KM:V

Base: RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire

Location: Bellencombre, Seine-Maritime, France

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Roy Oswald 1438718 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

Flt Eng: Sgt. J.A. Hurley 1325774 RAFVR. PoW. No: 24844 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Nav: WO2. A.R. Shoebottom R130000 RCAF Evaded capture

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. T.W. White 1323132 RAFVR Evaded capture

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Arthur John Richardson 910760 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Leslie John Harry Hutchinson 1874082 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Robert Hawley Sargent 1624840 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Taking off at 22:35 hrs to destroy a flying bomb site at Pommerval - a total of 739 aircraft were taking part on this night to bomb various flying bomb locations. The reports regarding the success or not of these raids were becoming increasingly difficult as they had by now been attacked many times and the sites were full of craters.

The operation was carried out on a clear moonlit night and so with the help of the effective searchlight units many aircraft were destroyed by night fighters, 22 Lancasters were lost!

44 Squadron Lancasters (courtesy I.W.M.)

ME628 was claimed by Maj Paul Semrau Stab II/NJG2 - Bellencombre/Torcy-le-Grand (N. part SC-S part RC): 1,800m at 00:17. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

Maj. Paul Semrau was killed on the 7/8th February 1945, with the rest of his crew when his Ju88G-6, Wnr.620562 from Stab./NJG2 was shot down by Flt Lt. Sleep in a Spitfire at Twente on 7th/8th February 1945. His final score as a night-fighter ace stood at 46 victories. (shown below left).

44 Squadron also lost another aircraft during this operation:

Lancaster III ND751 KM:J Flown by 23 year old Plt Off. Douglas Earl Aiken J85822 RCAF, killed with all other six crew.

ND751 was claimed by Oblt Heinz Rokker 2./NJG2 - South of Dieppe: 2,800m at 00:16. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten). This was his 33rd confirmed claim of the war. He was to survive the war with a total of 65 confirmed victories (shown above right)

Above: Bellencombre Communal Cemetery, photographed by our Kate Tame during her visit in 2012. Any relative who would like a higher resolution of these images please don't hesitate to ask.

Burial details:

Flt.Sgt. Roy Oswald. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 221. Son of Frank and Alice Oswald, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England

WO. Arthur John Richardson. Bellencombre Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Arthur and Sarah Ethel Richardson, of Epping, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: "IN MEMORY OF JOHN, WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US ALL. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN".

Sgt. Leslie John Harry Hutchinson. Bellencombre Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Edward Leslie and Beatrice Mabel Hutchinson, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: "THERE'S SOME CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD THAT IS FOR EVER ENGLAND".

Sgt. Robert Hawley Sargent. Bellencombre Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Robert Wilson Sargent, and of Winifred Sargent, of Highfield, Southampton, England. Grave inscription reads: "GREATER LOVE THAN THIS NO MAN HATH, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to John Jones for the update to the German night-fighter claims (May 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (May 2021).

RS 04.05.2021 - Update to German night-fighter claim and other updates.

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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