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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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7 Squadron badge
03/04.12.1943 No. 7 Squadron Lancaster III JA685 MG-Z Sgt. Phillips

Operation: Liepzig

Date: 3/4th December 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 7 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA685

Code: MG-Z

Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire

Location: De-Krim (Overijssel), 6km NW of Gramsbergen 

Pilot: Sgt. Cecil Howard Phillips: 43155 PoW Camp: Stalag Kopernikus 

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Bernard Cooper Survived PoW No: 267154 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe

Nav: Sgt. John Henry Forrester Cochrane 1586300 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. William R.J. Craze Survived PoW No: 267155 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Walter Hewitt 955034 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Aubrey Herbert Bale 1338274 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Vivian Duncan Smith 1435478 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


Taking off at  00:14 from RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire joining 526 aircraft - 307 Lancasters, 220 Halifaxes - to Leipzig. The bomber force took a direct route towards Berlin before turning off to bomb Leipzig. German fighters were in the bomber stream and scoring successes before the turn was made but most of them were then directed to Berlin when the Mosquito diversion opened there. There were few fighters over Leipzig and only 3 bombers are believed to have been lost in the target area, 2 of them being shot down by flak. 

A relatively successful raid, from the point of view of bomber casualties, was spoiled when many aircraft flew by mistake into the Frankfurt defended area on the long southern withdrawal route and more than half of the bombers shot down on this night were lost there. 24 aircraft - 15 Halifaxes, 9 Lancasters - were lost. 

The Pathfinders found and marked this distant inland target accurately and the bombing was very effective, this was the most successful raid on Leipzig during the war. A large area of housing and many industrial premises were severely damaged. One place which was hit by a large number of bombs was the former World Fair exhibition site, whose spacious buildings had been converted to become war factories, the largest buildings being taken over by the Junkers aircraft company.

The Lancaster was shot down by a nightfighter and crashed at 04:45 on the E bank of the River Vecht and only a few kilometres from the Dutch/German border. No claim can be matched for this loss though.


Burial details: 

Sgt. John Henry Forrester Cochrane Gramsbergen General Cemetry Plot 3 Grave 2. Son of Comdr Morris Edward and Charlotte Cochrane of Braydon, Wiltshire, England.

Sgt. George Walter Hewitt Gramsbergen General Cemetry Plot 3 Grave 1. Son of Willie and May Hewitt of Nether Green, Sheffield, England.

Sgt. Aubrey Herbert Bale Gramsbergen General Cemetry Plot 3 Grave 4. Son of Herbert F and Hilda F Bale of Mortlake, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Robert Vivian Duncan Smith Gramsbergen General Cemetry Plot 3 Grave 3. Son of Walter Raleigh and Elsie Maud Smith of Burton on Trent, England.

Researched by Emma Scott and sent to Aircrew Remembered, with information supplied by some great research publications including, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 4, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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