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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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578 Squadron Crest
12/13.08.1944 578 Squadron Halifax III NA604 LK:T Fg Off. Pearson

Operation: Russelsheim

Date: 12th/13th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 578 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: NA604

Code: LK:T

Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire

Location: Mönchbruch

Pilot: Fg Off. John Joseph Pearson J89814 RCAF Age 30. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Leonard Henry James Borley 1864945 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Sgt. William Henry Scott 1486629 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Sidney William Higgins 1319732 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Donald Leslie James Rolfe 1601823 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Anthony Stewart 1825643 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Joseph Patrick Birmingham R200346 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Above: left to right, Fg Off. Pearson as a recruit from his Service Record, Sgt. Borley, Plt Off. Birmingham from his Service Record.


Taking off at 21:37 hrs from RAF Burn in Yorkshire - joining some 296 other aircraft flying deep into southern Germany to bomb the Opel works at Russelsheim (The factory was thought to be manufacturing the wings for the V1 flying bombs).

The bomber stream encountered night fighters from Brussels all the way to the target and also on their homeward bound flights. The allies lost some 20 aircraft in the onslaught.

The target was only slightly damaged, most of the bombs landed in open countryside. However the tyre and dispatch departments and powerhouse were hit - some 9 people killed on the ground with a further 31 injured.

NA604 was hit by 4./schw Flak Abt. 291 (o), 1., 4., 5. & 7./schw Flak Abt. 322 (o), 5., 7. & 8./schw Flak Abt. 637 and Grossbattr Sindlingen. The. aircraft crashed near Jagdschloss Monchbruch 7km North East of Gross Gerau at 00:12 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 4 - Theo Boiten).

The Squadron lost another crew on this operation:

from New South Wales, Australia - killed with 3 other crew, 2 evaded capture with 1 taken PoW.

Burial details:

Fg Off. John Joseph Pearson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave G7.F 12-17. Grave inscription: "Three Winged, Proud Sons Sailed Across The Sea, One Returned, God Reward". Born on the 24th June 1914 in Toronto, Ontario, Son of John Henry and Mary Elizabeth (née Cronan) Pearson from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Leonard Henry James Borley. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave G7.F 7-11. Son of Percy James and Ada Eleanor and brother of Percy James Borley of Chiswick, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. William Henry Scott. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7.F 1. Son of Henry T. and Catherine Scott of Amble, Northumberland, England. Grave inscription: "Gods Greatest Gift, Remembrance, Peace Be Thine, My Beloved".

Sgt. Sidney William Higgins. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 7.F 5. Son of Samuel and Alice Isabel Higgins of Fulham, London, England. Grave inscription: "Gone From Us, But Not Forgotten, Never Shall The Memory Fade, Rip".

Sgt. Donald Leslie James Rolfe. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave G7.F 12-17. Born on the 6th October 1922. Son of Clara Rolfe, from New Windsor, Berkshire, England.

Sgt. Anthony Stewart. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave G7.F 18-22. Ward of Mr. J.G.Tollerton of Arbroath, Angus, Scotland. Grave inscription: "The God life Bliss, To Give, Alone Excels".

Plt Off Joseph Patrick Birmingham. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective Grave G7.F 7-11. Born on the 11th April 1919 in Stratford, Ontario. Son of Patrick and Rose (née Bannon) Birmingham from Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

Commissioned and promoted the Plt Off (J89900) with effect 11th August 1944

Researched by Linda Ibrom for Aircrew Remembered - June 2017 and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Leonard Borley, (nephew of Sergeant Borley, named after his uncle) for Sergeant Borley's photograph. Thank to John Jones for the Flak claim. (Aug 2021) Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Aug 2021). Other sources as quoted.

RS 15.08.2021 - Addition of loss details and update to photographs and NoK details

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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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