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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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12 Squadron Crest
29/30.03.1943 No. 12 Squadron Lancaster I W4858 PH-A Sgt. Frank W. Pinkerton

Operation: Berlin

Date: 29/30th March 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 12 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4858

Code: PH-A

Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire

Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

Pilot: Sgt. Frank Wortley Pinkerton RAFVR Age 24. Evaded capture (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. R.G. Irons 1257644 RAFVR PoW No: 1019 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

Nav: Sgt. I.C. Clunas 1452049 RAFVR PoW No: 1005 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. W.A. Lees 1341383 RAFVR PoW No: 1023 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Morton 1214528 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. N.H.S. Wiliams 1320597 RAFVR PoW No: 1046 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Charles William Warren 1580874 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


Took off from RAF Wickenby at 21:35 hrs. to bomb the heart of Germany, Berlin, along with 328 other bombers. The flight out was hampered by heavy icing and electrical storms over the North Sea which forced 120 aircraft to return.

The remainder continued and met heavy night fighter resistance in the calmer weather conditions over the continent. Night fighter squadrons engaged from their bases at Twenthe and Deelen claiming 9 from the Berlin attackers.

During its home run Lancaster W4858 was hit by flak, killing the wireless operator and damaging both starboard engines. The aircraft continued on its return for another two hours when, with only limited fuel left the pilot ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft whilst he held in steady. Sgt. George Warren was sadly killed when his parachute failed to deploy fully. The aircraft crashed near Rotterdam in Holland.

Sgt Frank Pinkerton, managed to evade capture as he made his way through Holland and Belgium into France. Once in France he was assisted by the French resistance to cross the border into Spain from where he was finally repatriated to RAF Wickenby on board a Dakota, via Whitchurch airport, Bristol on the 21st June. (along with 6 other evaders) He was soon flying Lancasters again and was eventually posted to Aden for the duration of the war. (note: it was general policy to post aircrew who had evaded capture, to another theatre of the war in the event that if he was captured, the people who assisted his evasion would not be compromised)

Accuracy regarding the damage caused by the allied bombers is disputed, however, German sources claimed that 148 people were killed on the ground and the same number of buildings totally destroyed. The allied attack cost the allies heavily with 21 aircraft lost.

(1) Married in 1945. After the war he took up a career in civil aviation with British European Airways. Tragically, on Friday August 19th 1949, Captain Pinkerton was flying an ex RAF DC-3 from Belfast to Manchester Ringway with 29 civil passengers when the BEA Dakota G-AHCY crashed into Wimberry Stones Brow, Dovestones, Saddleworth. All the crew of 3 were killed along with 21 of the passengers.

Burial details:

Sgt. Frank Morton. Rotterdam General Cemetery (Crooswijk). Plot LL. Row 2. Grave 33. Son of William and Elsie May Morton, of Sheffield, England. Grave inscription reads: “He Died That We Might Live. Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten”.

Sgt. George Charles William Warren. Rotterdam General Cemetery (Crooswijk). Plot LL. Row 1. Grave 31. Son of George Fredrick and Kate Warren, of Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “I Thank My God Upon Every Remembrance Of You. Au Revoir”.

Researched by David Morton for Aircrew Remembered - April 2016. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 24.04.2016

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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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