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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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70 squadron
13/14.07.1944 70 Sqn Wellington X LN806 Flt Sgt. Harry Pollard

Operation: Milan, Italy

Date: 13th/14th July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 70 Squadron, 231 Wing, Middle East Command

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LN806

Code: S

Base: Foggia No. 2/Tortorella, Italy

Location: San Bassano, Italy

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Harry Pollard 657517 RAF Age? KiA

Observer: Flt Sgt. Stephen Willoughby Godden 1319385 RAFVR Age 33. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. William ‘Bill’ Taylor 1558719 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 415 * (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Jack Desmond Broad 903310 RAFVR Age 24. PoW No. 383 * (2)

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Arthur Charles Roberts 1473119 RAFVR Age? PoW ** (3)

* Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).

** Stalag 3A and work camps (Also Oflag 3-6) Luckenwalde (was originally interrogation centre) Brandenburg, Prussia.

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the night of the 13th/14th July 1944 the squadron was detailed on a follow-up mission to the Lambrake marshalling yards in Milan, Italy. The mission on the 10th/11th July smashed both ends of the yards trapping numerous wagons and this mission was to “Finish the job”.

Initially 10 aircraft were assigned but one aircraft swung on take off and damaged a tyre and did not take part.

The bomb load for LN806 was 1 x 4000lb ‘Cookie’. In ordered for the Wellington to carry a ‘Cookie’ the bomb beam had to be removed from the bomb bay and a slot cut in the bomb doors. The bomb protruded slightly through this and, on release, simply fell out through the hole.

This was the crew's 34th operation, and they were quietly confident that they would reach their goal of 40 operations when they would be rested for 6 months.

(1) Sgt. ‘Bill’ Taylor’s account of the circumstances leading to the loss of the aircraft is retold in the Last Flight of “S” for Sugar. The following is based upon that account:

It was a moonlight night and the ground details were clear. They were briefed to attack on a westerly heading, and then turn south to keep clear of the incoming bombers. Flt Sgt. Pollard decided to attack at 4,000 feet for greater accuracy. The timing was good and they was running up on the target when the flares and target indicators went down. Their ‘Cookie’ scored a direct hit. After the photograph had been taken, Sgt Taylor took his position beside Flt Sgt. Pollard, who communicated that he was going to climb to 10,000 ft. At 9,500 ft they emerged above the clouds and collided with another aircraft. The collision knocked out both engines and the aircraft started to fall out of the sky.

Flt Sgt. Pollard gave the order abandon the aircraft and Sgt Taylor’s task was to open the door in the nose of the aircraft for the crew to escape, however, the door had been jammed by the impact. He then picked up his and Flt Sgt. Pollard’s parachute from the rack, who waved it away and ordered the crew to escape from the emergency hatch in the rear of the aircraft.

He held the aircraft in straight and level flight, which if he had not done so, none of the crew would have escaped. Flt Sgt. Godden decided to stay and assist Flt Sgt. Pollard.

Sgt Roberts, the rear gunner, had to collect his parachute from inside the fuselage, then manually rotate the turret onto the beam, open the doors and fall out.

By this time the Sgt. Taylor had reached the emergency hatch that had been kicked open by WO. Broad and dropped out. Sgt. Taylor quickly followed, hoping there was enough altitude for his parachute to open. As it opened he saw the two aircraft crash into the ground and burst into flames. In that moment he realised that Flt Sgt. Pollard and Flt Sgt. Godden had sacrificed their lives so the rest of the crew might live.

Sgt. Taylor’s PoW questionnaire is not available so the circumstances leading to his capture are not known. However, it is known that he was at Stalag Luft 7, Bankau and it is probable that his story thereafter was the same as WO. Broad see Ser 2. below.

It was later established that LN806 had collided with 142 Squadron Wellington X, MF120 and crashed at San Bassano, some 6½ km (4 mls) north of Pizzighettone where MF120 crashed.

San Bassano is some 54 km (33¾ mls) ESE of Milan

(2) After baling out WO. Broad was captured some 32 km (20 mls) south of Milan the same day. On the 16th July 1944 he was transported to Verona where he was interrogated.

He was then transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel arriving there on the 18th July 1944. Three days later on the 21st July 1944 he was transferred to Stalag Luft 7, Bankau.

With the Russians approaching, he was amongst 1,500 prisoners who were marched out of the camp in the bitter cold on the 19th January 1945. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on the 21st January and reached Goldberg on the 5th February where they were loaded onto a train. On the 8th/9th February they reached Stalag 3A located about 52 km (32 mls) south of Berlin near Luckenwalde, which already held 20,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of soldiers from Britain, Canada, the USA and Russia.

Finally, as the Russians advanced closed the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945. WO. Broad remained at the camp until the 7th May 1945 when he was evacuated. He was interviewed on the 15th May 1945.

Jack Desmond Broad was born on the 10th July 1920. He was a general and decorative plasterer in Liskeard, Cornwall prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 12th September 1939.

(3) In attempting to manually turn his turret Sgt. Roberts accidently pulled his ripcord and clutching the now insecure parachute he fell out backwards from his turret. However, his parachute fully deployed and he landed safely. On the ground he linked up with Italian partisans and headed for Switzerland but was captured at a farmhouse by the Germans who then shot the partisans.

Sgt. Roberts’ PoW questionnaire is not available so the circumstances leading to his capture are not known. However, it is known that he was at Stalag 3A, Luckenwald so it is assumed that he was liberated from there along with Sgt. Taylor and WO. Broad.

Burial details:

Above Milan War Cemetery

Flt Sgt. Harry Pollard. Milan War Cemetery Joint Grave V.D. 12-13. No further information found.

Flt Sgt. Stephen Willoughby Godden. Milan War Cemetery Joint Grave V.D. 12-13. Born on the 20th December 1910 in Oxford. Son of Henry Robert Russell and Amy Lucy Godden. Husband of Margaret Estelle ‘Betty’ (née Page) Godden, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape from Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.

Other sources listed below:

RS 07.02.2024 - Initial upload

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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', 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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