19/20.09.1942 61 Squadron Lancaster I W4166 Sgt. Robert R.B. Owen
Date: 19th/20th September 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit No: 61 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Location: West of Cochem, Germany
Pilot: Sgt. Robert Rupert Bisgrove Owen 403292 RAAF Age 25. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Thomas Thompson 807161 RAuxAF Age 34. KiA
Nav: Plt Off. William Harry Donovan J9570 RCAF Age 22. KiA
Bom Aimer: Sgt. Donald Tennant McLean 403276 RAAF Age 24. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. John Olmstead Tuller R77248 RCAF Age 22. KiA
Air Gnr(Mid Upp): Sgt. Arthur Gladstone Sale 1184510 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Peter John Maxwell 1257889 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire at 19:45 hrs - a force of 89 aircraft tasked to bomb München. Night fighters claiming 10 aircraft from both this and the raid to Saarbrücken and at least 3 others were claimed by flak.
A Casualty Enquiry and Investigation report from the No. 2 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit (MREU) determined that the aircraft crashed at Cochem. A visit by the unit to Cochem on the 31st January 1947 obtained the following information from the Bürgermeister:
The aircraft was shot down by a German night-fighter on the 20th September at 03:00 hrs. The bomber crashed on fire in a wood on the west side of the town. The German military took charge of the crash site and recovered five of the crew from the wreckage. Eight days later the two missing crew members were found about 500 metres from the scene of the crash.
No records have been found that document any German night-fighter claim for the shooting down W4166.
Above: photograph of the tail section of W4166 taken on the 20th September 1942 where it lay in what is now a camping ground at the top of the chair lift above Cochem Germany (Sourced from the Bunderarchive and provided to Aircrew Remembered by John Jones)
Above: Initial grave marker for the collective grave for five of the crew (Credit: National Archive of Australia)
Sgt. Robert Rupert Bisgrove Owen. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.18-22. Born on the 11th January 1917 in Sydney, the son of Charles Rupert Norman and Edith Margaret Francis Owen, of Sans Souci, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “Cherished Memories Of Our Loving Son And Brother”.
Sgt. Thomas Thompson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.H.17. Son of Thomas and Doris Thompson and husband of Doris Thompson, of Castletown, County Durham, England. Grave inscription reads: “Till Memory Fades And Life Departs. Remembered By Loving Wife And Family”.
Plt Off. William Harry Donovan. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.18-22. Born 17th May 1920 in Toronto, York County, Ontario. Son of William Henry and Dorothy (née Branson) Donovan, and nephew of Rose Harvey, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Give Peace In Our Time, O Lord”.
Sgt. Donald Tennant McLean. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.18-22. Born on the 29th November 1917 at Chatswood, the son of Edward Grierson McLean and Alice Isabella Florence McLean, of Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia and husband of Dorothy Ellen McLean, of Moree, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This…”.
Flt Sgt. John Olmstead Tuller. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.18-22. Born on the 22nd July 1920 in Lethbridge, Alta. Son of Dr. Philo William M.D., and Annie Alice (née Connell) Tuller of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Sgt. Arthur Gladstone Sale. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.H.18-22. Son of Walter and Elizabeth J. Sale, of Stechford, Birmingham, England. Grave inscription reads: “Love So Amazing, So Divine, Demands My Soul, My Life, My All”.
Sgt. Peter John Maxwell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.H.16. Son of Major John E.H. Maxwell and C.R. Doreen Maxwell, of Henleyin-Arden, Warwickshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “Sunward He Climbed And Slipped The Surly Bonds Of Earth”.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to John Jones for crash photograph. Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2021). Missing attribution for the crash photograph added with thanks to David Owen, a nephew of Sgt. Owen. (Dec 2022).
Other sources as shown below.