Date: 29/30th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 467 Squadron (RAAF)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Location: Ahrensfelde, Ohlsdorf, Germany
Pilot: Flt.Sgt. Robert William Park 414118 RAAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. George Hopkins 1415465 RAFVR Age 36. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Flt.Sgt. Jack Routledge Chapman 414992 RAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed
Air Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Michael Joseph McMahon 422243 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Ronald Charles McBean 409478 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Henry Outred Hillier 420566 RAAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Douglas Angus Reid 414080 RAAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23:06 hrs from RAF Bottesford. A total of 777 aircraft taking part in the bombing of the port city of Hamburg bomb the port and city of Hamburg joining 776 other aircraft on the third raid on this target within the last five days. 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes made up the force.
The idea was that the target be approached from the north to concentrate on the northern area of Hamburg which had not been bombed on previous occasions. The pathfinders dropped their markers too far east of the city. 707 aircraft got through to the target, dropping a total of 2,318 tons of bombs on residential areas - no figures are available as to the casualties on the ground for this raid although it is known that over 40,000 were killed during that week and over 16,000 residential buildings were destroyed.
The worst incident was when bombs hit a large department store in Wandsbek - the building collapsed and blocked exits from a shelter that was in the basement - 370 people died from poisoning by the fumes from a coke store nearby. An amazing 1,200,000 people fled the city after these raids.
The allies lost 31 aircraft on this operation with 176 aircrew losing their lives and a further 17 being made pow. Most of the aircraft were shot down by the Luftwaffe night fighters, although 14 were shot down by searchlight assisted flak over the target area.
Above: Hamburg after the 'Firestorm' 1943
The majority of the reports note that this aircraft was lost without trace. However, using various sources we can now state that the aircraft was shot down during the inbound trip ‘possibly’ by Lt. Frans Rübsam (1) of 1./JG Herrman at 01:25 hrs some 13 km North East of Hamburg. Further reports as described by units of the Missing Research and Enquiry Units concluded that the aircraft crashed with its full bomb load and that very little remained of either the aircraft and crew. But it was concluded that the location of the crash was Ahrensfelde - the MREU visited the crash site in 1948 and obtained eye witness reports of the crash. They also discovered pieces from the aircraft and it was clear that no remains were available for burial.
So, although the crew are remembered at the fine memorial at Runnymede, we can now assure the relatives of the approximate location where they were lost.
(1) This was the first claim by Lt. Frans Rübsam who went on to claim another, but was finally killed on the night of the 10/11th August 1943 in air combat some 2 km. South of Dortmund.
Flt.Sgt. Robert William Park. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Son of William James Park and Marie Ann Park, of Ascot, Queensland, Australia. Also of Kitchener Road, Ascot, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Sgt. George Hopkins. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 153. Son of William and Emily Jane Hopkins, of Tonna, Glamorgan, Wales.
(Left) Flt.Sgt. Jack Routledge Chapman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 192. Born on the 1st May 1918 at Wellingborough, England, the son of William and Emily Newman Chapman, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Also of 29 Charles Street, and 182 North Street, Rockhampton. Prior to service worked as a carpenters labourer.
(Right) Flt.Sgt. Michael Joseph McMahon. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 15th August 1920 at Balmain, NSW, the son of Michael and Amy McMahon, of 17 George Street, Manly, New South Wales, Australia. Prior to service worked as a clerk.
Flt.Sgt. Ronald Charles McBean. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 24th December at Murchison , the son of William John and Mary Ann Grace McBean, of Shepparton, Victoria, Australia.
Flt.Sgt. Henry Outred Hillier. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 04th September 1921 in Gravesend, England, the son of Son of Henry and Margaret Hillier, of Gravesend, Kent, England.
Flt.Sgt. Douglas Angus Reid. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 3rd October 1922 in Townsville the son of William and Rebecca Muirhead Reid, of Eudlo, Queensland, Australia.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted below as well as the Australian Archives. Thanks to Graham for the correction to the information for Flt.Sgt. Chapman.
RS 19.04.2020 - Correction to information for Flt.Sgt. Chapman
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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