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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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15
12/13.09.1944 15 Squadron Lancaster I NF958 Fg Off. Norman R. Overend

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 12th/13th September 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 15 Squadron (motto: 'Aim Sure'), 3 Group

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: NF958

Code: LS:M

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk

Location: Wielblingen near Heidelberg, Germany

Pilot: Fg Off. Norman Rupert Overend 422090 RNZAF Age 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Barry James B. Howarth 575933 RAFVR Age 22. PoW *

Nav: Sgt. George B. Thomson 1572977 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No. 870 ** (1)

Bomb Aimer: FIt Sgt. John David Jones 573430 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 850 **

WOp/Air Gnr: FIt Sgt. Robert Eric Kendall 1457152 RAFVR Age? PoW, Unknown PoW Camp

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): FIt Sgt. Harry Albert Beverton 1880277 RAFVR Age 30. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Isador Spagatner 1896294 RAFVR Age 28. PoW No. 817 ** (2)

* Stalag 3A and work camps (Also Oflag 3-6) Luckenwalde (was originally interrogation centre) Brandenburg, Prussia

** Stalag Luft 7, Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).

Above the crew of NF958.

Standing, left to right: Sgt. George B. Thomson, Flt Sgt. Robert E. Kendall, Flt Sgt. John D. Jones, Sgt. Barry J. Howarth, Fg Off. Norman R. Overend.

Front left to right: Sgt. Isador Spagatner, FIt Sgt. Harry A. Beverton

REASON FOR LOSS:

378 Lancasters with 9 mosquitoes detailed to bomb Frankfurt. 15 squadron contributed with 13 aircraft.

Reports stated that the target was attacked in clear conditions with crews reporting a very good attack observing several large fires.

NF958 took off at 18:41 and brought down over Heidelberg, crashing in the western outskirts of the city near the Wielblingen railway station at 23:00.

NF958 was claimed by Ofw. Heinrich Schmidt, his 2nd Abschuss, from 2./NJG6, over Grossachsen east of Mannheim at 3000 m. at 22:55 hrs.

Note: also claimed by Flak of 1., 3. and 4./gem. Flak Abt. 491 (o), 4. and 5./schw. Flak Abt. 492 (o) and 3./schw. Flak Abt. 418 (Eisb) ('Lancaster , 5200 m. 22.49 hrs'). Flak claim annotated by OKL (Luftwaffe High Comman) 'Jäger', ('Shot down by fighter'). (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten).

The squadron lost another crew:

Lancaster I LM110 LS:G Flown by 26 year old, Plt Off. Allan Douglas Macdougall 405955 RAAF from Beaufort, Victoria, Australia. He and his entire crew were KiA.

(1) George B. Thomson sadly passed away on the 10th November 2023, 2 months shy of his 100th birthday.

(2) Sgt. Spagatner was captured that day and was transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel arriving there on the 18th September and remained there until the 21st September. He was then transferred the transit camp at Dulag Luft, transit camp Wetzlar the next day. On the 25th September he was transferred to Stalag Luft 7 arriving there on the 9th October 1944.

Whilst at the camp he and thirteen other PoWs dug a tunnel beneath the fireplace of their room in order to build a chamber to hide out until the Russian came. They started just before Christmas 1944 and had almost completed it when it was discovered by accident by the Germans on a 02:00 hrs surprise inspection.

He also reported that whilst at the camp a German High Command order was enacted in November 1944 to segregate Jewish PoWs from the other PoWs. It is not known if this was carried out or resisted..

On 17th January 1945, he was joined the 1,500 prisoners that were marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on 21st January, reached Goldberg on 5th February, and were loaded onto a train. On the 8th February they reached Stalag 3A located about 52 km (32 mi) south of Berlin near Luckenwalde, which already held 20,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of soldiers from Britain, Canada, the US and Russia.

Finally, as the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945.

Isador Spagatner was born on the 28th November 1906 in Whitechapel, London. He was a Sales manager in Catford, London prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 12th June 1943. Isador Spagatner died on the 18th December 1995 in Peacehaven, East Sussex.

Above: L-R: Rear; W.C Campbell, H.R Wootten, Edward Nigel Jeffreys Thomson 416552 ✞, C.C Dumbleton, Nigel Llewellyn-Langston, Kenneth Macindoe MacKay 421829 ✞, C.G Fantham, AC Iversen.
Centre; C.A Megson, H.G Irons, D.W Mann, B.C Cornish, J.H. Atkinson, Harold Hayward Beard 422076 ✞, Trevor Gerrick Page NZ/422999 ✞, Norman Rupert Overend 422090 ✞, Marcel Launcelot Hore 422402 ✞.
Front; EJ Lawson, Edward Percival Smith 428798 ✞, W.L Stewart, Plt Off. R.J Walton, Sgt. W.H Smart, H.W Thoms, R.H McAlister, Norman Harold Benton 428759 ✞. Donald Cook 422373. (Courtesy Ar Museum of New Zealand)

Burial details:

Initially buried in Heidelberg town cemetery - later reinterred at Durnbach.

Fg Off. Norman Rupert Overend. Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 7.A.19. Born on the 22nd November 1922 in Christchurch. Son of Rupert David (died 24th December 1971) and Anslie Winchester Overend (née Adams - died 5th February 1977), of Otahuna, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.

He was educated at Christchurch Technical College. Worked as a slipper worker for Carlyle Slipper Company of Christchurch. Enlisted at Rongotai on the 19th March 1942. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 5th September 1942. No. 1 Service Flying Training School on the 28th November 1942. Pilot badge awarded on the 19th February 1943 and promoted to sergeant on the 9th April 1943. Embarked for England on the 12th May 1943. No. 12 Personnel Reception Centre on the 20th June 1943. Further training with 11 Operational Training Unit, 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit, No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School. Joined 15 squadron on the 18th June 1944. Carried out 19 operational sorties, with 586 flying hours logged. Commissioned on the 5th August 1944.

Fit Sgt. Harry Albert Beverton. Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 7.A.18. Grave inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF HARRY. REST IN PEACE, DEAR. ESTHER, LITTLE MAUREEN, MUM AND DAD’. Born on the 9th July 1913 Wandsworth, Surrey. Son of Arthur Jarmain Beverton and Edith Mary Beverton; husband of Esther Beverton, of Croydon, Surrey, England.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archives, Kew - AIR-27-204-17/18 (Mar 2023). Thanks to David Howarth, the son of Sgt. Barry Howarth, for identifying the members in the crew photograph and for providing the information about the passing of George B. Thomson. (Dec 2023). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2023).

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 29.12.2023 - Updated with new information.

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Acknowledgements
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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