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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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166 squadron badge
01.03.1945 No 166 Squadron Lancaster I ME447 AS-E F/O. Phelps

Operation: Mannheim

Date: 1st March 1945 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 166 squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ME447

Code: AS-E

Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire

Location: Unknown

Pilot: F/O. George Richard Phelps 150236 RAFVR Age 22. Killed.

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Thomas Terry 1881084 RAFVR Age 21. Killed.

Nav: Fl/Sgt. William Forrester Webster 1672314 RAFVR Age 21. Killed.

Air/Bmr: F/O. John Johnson 164489 RAFVR Age ? Killed.

W/Op/Air Gnr: F/O. Leslie John Rich 176192 RAFVR Age 20. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Luther Milner 1051697 RAFVR Age 38. Killed.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie John Jeffery 3035068 RAFVR Age 20. Killed.

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off 11:40 hrs. from Kirmington. 478 aircraft - 372 Lancasters, 90 Halifaxes, 16 Mosquitoes - of 1, 6 and 8 groups. Three Lancasters lost.

This was a general attack on the city area. Sky marking was used because of the complete cloud cover. Nothing is known of what happened in Mannheim. The city’s recording procedure, one of the best in Germany until now, appears to have broken down completely and, if any report was prepared, it did not survive the war. From December 1940 on, Mannheim was bombed more than 100 times and was the goal of over 150 air raids. This was the last large Bomber Command raid on Mannheim.

The neighbouring town of Ludwigshafen was also hit by many bombs. A considerable amount of damage was caused right across the town and in nearby villages. Public, domestic and industrial buildings were all hit - 424 buildings destroyed and nearly 1,000 seriously damaged. Only 5 people were killed and 17 injured but 6,000 people lost their homes.

As an industrial town, Ludwigshafen was a prime target for strategic bombing and during the war 13,000 Allied bombers attacked the town in 121 separate raids.

F/O. George Richard Phelps served in the RAF from 1941 - graduating at Alabama USA, was a member of an RAF team of instructors from the RAF Delegation in Washington and served in that capacity with the USA Army Air Corp. He was one of the 1st members of Tenby Flight A.T.C. and had previously worked for the Pembroke Rural District Council. Whilst shown of Tenby he is commemorated at Carew.

Above: Carew War Memorial and family grave of F/O George Richard Phelps and his parents (1) (courtesy of Owen Vaughan) Shackleford War memorial (2)

These crew grave photographs are available in H/D for relatives free of charge - courtesy of David Franklin who recently visited the cemetery on our behalf.

Burial details:

F/O George Richard Phelps, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.4. Son of Joseph George Phelps and Phebe Jane Phelps of Pembroke, Wales. (1)

Sgt Robert Thomas Terry, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.6. Son of Robert Joseph Terry and Hannah Elizabeth Terry of Tottenham, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt William Forrester Webster, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.2. Son of Hugh Phillips Webster and Adelina Forrester Webster of Partick, Glasgow, Scotland.

F/O John Johnson, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.5. No further information currently available.

F/O Leslie John Rich, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.1. Son of Robert George Rich and Violet Maud Rich of Canton, Cardiff, Wales.

Sgt Charles Luther Milner, Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 2.D.3. Son of Luther Frederick Milner and Lottie Milner of Totley Rise, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt Leslie John Jeffery, Durnbach War Cemetery, Grave 2.D.7. Son of Job Jeffery and Ethel May Jeffery of Runfold, Surrey, England. (2)

Researched by: Lynn Herron. With additional material supplied by Owen Vaughan. With thanks to the following, David Franklin, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol. 6', Pembrokeshire War Memorial, Shackleford War Memorial, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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