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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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617 Squadron Crest
16.04.1945 617 Squadron Lancaster I NG228 KC:V Sqn Ldr. John L. Powell DFC, MiD

Operation: Swinemunde

Date: 16th April 1945 (Monday)

Unit No: 617 squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: NG228

Code: KC:V

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire.

Location: Karsibor woods, Swinoujscie, Poland

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. John Leonard Powell DFC, MiD. 103039 RAFVR Age 29. KiA

Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton DFM. 1809630 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: Flt Lt. Michael Terence Clarke DFC. 151151 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Alfred Laurence Heath 148768 RAFVR Age? KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Kenneth Arthur John Hewitt 188618 RAFVR Age? KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. William Knight 195713 RAFVR Age? KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. James Watson 174282 RAFVR Age 24.KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 13:49 hrs. from Woodhall Spa carrying 12 x1,000 lb. bombs on a mission to attack the pocket battleship Lützow which was moored in the Kiel Canal, using it’s guns to attack the advancing Red Army. The first raids were aborted due to bad weather. On the final raid there was heavy flak over the target from the ship and shore batteries. The Lützow had a large hole blown in her below the water line and sank. The Lancaster was hit by flak and the port wing fell off causing the aircraft to spin, in flames, and crash into Karsibor woods near the target area.

Above: The German cruiser Lützow, damaged by British bombers, in the Kaiserfahrt canal (today Kanał Piastowski) in western Pomerania, Germany (today Poland), on 25 April 1945. (Public Domain)

Note: The Lützow was the former Deutschland, the lead ship of her class of heavy cruisers also referred to "Pocket Battleships".

One parachute was seen to open at 2,000 feet and Flt Sgt. Felton’s family were led to believe that some of the crew, including Will Knight had escaped, but apparently there were no survivors, although there had been a rumour that some had been shot. All the crew were buried on the 18th April in the Caseburg, Friedhof at Swinemunde. On 2nd March 1949, they were exhumed and re-interred in Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.

This Lancaster was the last operational loss for 617 Squadron. Wojciech Krajewski of Archelogia Lotnicza, Warsaw created a memorial to the crew with part of the Lancasters tail-unit. This was refurbished and re-dedicated in 1998.

Memorial Karsibor woods, Swinoujscie, Poland (courtesy J.P. Tomas)

Flt Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton - insert and Poznan Garrison Cemetery (courtesy David Felton)

Burial details:

Sqn Ldr. John Leonard Powell DFC, MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Inscription: ’HEDD, PERFFAITH HEDD’ (PERFECT FLIGHT). Born on the 30th April 1915, Single , living in accommodation in Kensington. Son of David Albert and Elizabeth Powell of Rhos, Glamorgan, Wales.

Prior to WW2 John Leonard Powell was employed as a member of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Police Staff as a Clerical Officer. He is mentioned in the list of Police Civil Staff in the "The Metropolitan Police at War a booklet" published by HMSO in 1947 page 88. (HM Howgrove-Graham (Secretary of Metropolitan Police 1927-1946)).

Acting Sqn Ldr. Powell was awarded a DFC with effect 15th April 1945 (Since deceased), Gazetted 26th March 1946. Flt Lt. J. L. Powell was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) on the 6th August 1943. London Gazette 7th September 1943.

Flt Sgt. Henry “Will” William Felton DFM. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Born 28th August 1923. No further information.

The DFM was awarded to Sgt. Felton whilst with 50 Squadron, Gazetted 7th December 1943.

Flt Lt. Michael Terence Clarke DFC. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Inscription: "THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE IN THE HAND OF GOD". Son of James Kiliam and Evelyn Muriel Clarke of Farnham, Surrey, England.

Flt Lt. Clarke was awarded a DFC whilst with 37 Squadron, Gazetted 16th January 1945.

Fg Off. Alfred Laurence Heath. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. No additional information available as yet - are you able to assist?

Plt Off. Kenneth Arthur John Hewitt. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Born April 1922 in Kingston, Cambridgeshire. Son of John Arthur and Ena Victoria (née Wade) Hewitt of West Ham, Essex, England. His mother predeceased him in April 1935.

Plt Off. William Knight. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Inscription: "SWEETEST MEMORIES ALL WE HAVE LEFT. A DEARLY LOVED HUSBAND. WIFE PHYL., SON MICHAEL". Son of Thomas and Edith Knight and husband of Phyllis Mabel Knight of Croydon, Surrey, England.

1880229 Flt Sgt. Knight had been granted a commissioned and promoted to 195713 Plt Off with effect 16th February 1945. He had completed his operational tour with 227 Squadron and was only posted to 617 Squadron on his promotion . On ground duties but volunteered for this final mission. Also served with 50 Squadron.

Fg Off. James Watson. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective grave. 5.B.1-5. Inscription: "IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DARLING JIMMY". Son of James and Rebecca Watson of West Linton, Peebleshire, Scotland.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered volunteer, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits to David Felton (brother). Special thanks to Graham Griffiths. Also to Elvira Powell who contacted us in 2013. Thanks to Barry Nicholson, researcher for the Metropolitan Police Service, for NoK, DoB details for Sqn Ldr. Powell (Jun 2020). Thanks to Juan Carlos Salgado Rodríguez for the correction to the name of the Lützow (Nov 2020). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2020). Corrections and addition of battle damage photograph by Aircrew Remembered (Mar 2023).

RS 17.11.2020 - Correction to the name Lützow and additional updates

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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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