Date: 28/29th June 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 76 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor
Location: Vottem, Belgium
Pilot: Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Parritt 1313333 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Lawrence Burnside 1039031 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Harris 1335461 RAFVR Age 27. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Basil Leonard Howard 658131 RAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ralph Edgar Archer 1382654 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles George Leonard Vallance 517088 RAF Age 28. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roland John Coggins 1321293 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23.24 hrs from RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor on an operation to Cologne. Carried out by the largest force of Allied aircraft since the 1000 bomber raid one year earlier in May of 1942.
In total 608 aircraft participated comprised of 267 Lancasters, 169 Halifax’s, 85 Wellingtons, 75 Stirlings and 12 Mosquitos. Despite cloud over the target and only six of the seven Pathfinder Mosquitos reaching Cologne dropping sky markers, the raid was determined as a success.
However, 25 aircraft failed to return from this mission.
4,377 people were killed on the ground, 10,000 were injured and another 230,000 were forced to leave their damaged homes. The R.A.F. lost 25 aircraft. 157 Aircrew were killed and another 19 made pow.
Halifax DK137 was one of two from 76 Squadron lost this night. Sgt. Geoffrey Parritt and crew were shot down by Lt. Heinz-Wolfgand Schnaufer (2) with his Funker, Lt. Dr. Baroof 11./NJG1 at 01.55 hrs with combat taking place at 5.300 Mts. near Vottem some 4 km. north of Liege. This was his 3rd confirmed claim for this night, making his total of 17.
The other, Halifax V DK150 MP-E flown by Sgt. Dennis Coles, was also killed with all 6 other crew members. Probably due to the 88mm flak.
(1) The son of Fl/Sgt Harris wrote a book (shown extreme left) on his fathers life. We understand that copies are still available from Woodfield Publishing.
left: Lt. Heinz-Wolfgand Schnaufer
(2) Lt. Heinz-Wolfgand Schnaufer went on to obtain a total of 121 to his credit. He survived the war but was killed in a car accident, France, 1945.
Crew graves at Heverlee War Cemetery (Courtesy Tijl Vereenooghe - available at full resolution to family/relatives, please contact us)
Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Parritt. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.B.6. Son of Walter and Mary Arm Parritt, of Northfleet, Kent, husband of Marjorie Myrtle Parritt, of Northfleet, England.
Sgt. John Lawrence Burnside. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of John William and May Burnside, of Darlington, Co. Durham, England.
Fl/Sgt. Leslie Harris. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of William and Dorothea Irene Grace Harris, husband of Mary Sarah Monica Harris, of Milton Regis, Sittingbourne, Kent, England.
Sgt. Basil Leonard Howard. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of Ernest Thomas Norman Howard and Edith Howard.
Sgt. Ralph Edgar Archer. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of Henry George and Ellen Mary Archer, of Peckham, London, England.
Sgt. Charles George Leonard Vallance. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of Charles Leonard and Alice Emily Vallance, of Downham, Bromley, Kent, England.
Sgt. Roland John Coggins. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll Grave 6.D.1-20. Son of Alfred and Doris Vera Coggins, husband of Louisa Coggins, of Stoke Newington, London, England.
Researched for Leslie David Harris and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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