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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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622 Squadron Lancaster III LM595 F/O. John Edgar Alexander Pyle

Operation: Homberg

Date: 20/21st July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 622 Squadron (motto: Bellamus Noctu - 'We wage war by night). 3 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM595

Code: GI-O

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk

Location: Oude Tonge

Pilot: F/O. John Edgar Alexander Pyle 175907 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Albert Howard Hall 1544769 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Peter Alexander MacGibbon 1451336 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Tomlinson 659150 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ernest Crowther 1510703 RAFVR Age 36. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. William Harry Pool J/89375 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Leslie Spaven 1592133 RAFVR Age 35. Killed


Weather described as clear with little or no cloud over the Rhur.

4 Oboe equipped Mosquitoes with 2 in reserve were to drop red target target indicators, if these were not picked up then crews were ordered to bomb visually.

One of 15 aircraft detailed from the squadron to bomb the Homberg- Meerbeck synthetic oil installation, a total force of 158 aircraft. LM595 taking off at 23:10 hrs. Fl/Sgt. Alan Keith Nielsen Aus/418554 RAAF flying LM477 GI-L suffered a starboard outer engine failure and after jettison the 4,000 lb. bomb at 00:35 hrs return to land at 01:25 hrs.

Above L-R: Fl/Sgt. Peter MacGibbon, Sgt. Albert Hall, Fl/Sgt. Leslie Tomlinson, F/O. John Pyle and Fl/Sgt. Ernest Crowther.

20 Lancasters were lost, mainly due to night-fighter activity. The operation caused severe damage to the plant, resulting in output dropping from 6,000 tones of fuel per day to as little as 120. The 8th Air Force also hit this target.

The squadron lost another crew:

Lancaster III LL859 GI-Q Flown by Fl/Lt. Alan Leslie Smith 150429 RAFVR - killed with al his crew with LL859 shot down by Oblt. Dietrich Schmidt of 8./NJG1 crashing at Dongen, north west of Tilburg, Holland.

Above L-R: F/O. John Pyle, P/O. William Pool, Fl/Sgt. Ernest Crowther and F/Sgt. Leslie Tomlinson.

LM595 was shot down by Ofw. Rudolf Magelsdorf of 12./NJG3. Crashed at Molenpolder south-west of Molendijk, on the island of Overflakkee, Holland. The area had been flooded by the Germans to prevent Allied airborne landings. All of the crew were initially buried in the Dutch Protestant Churchyard at Oude Tonge and then re-interred at Bergen Op Zoom in 1946.

Above: Ofw. Magelsdorf and his crew

Above: The emergency axe/hammer from Lancaster LM595. A local chap, Mr Bas van Noord recovered it from the wreckage and passed it on to another villager Mr. Wim Kamp who then sent it to Ann and Peter Deaton as Ann was a relative of the pilot.

(Aircrew Remembered strongly advise relatives of other air or ground crew to donate any photographs, documents etc to the IBCC (Link shown below. We have found dozens of photographs - most not named in second hand shops. A great shame as these boys and indeed girls deserve to be remembered)

During the course of the war, 4 Lancaster's had crashed on the island of Overflakkee, and a Dutch War Historian Group, The Dutch Heritage Foundation W02GO, have erected Memorial Plaque Boards at each of the crash sites, as a tribute to the brave young men who gave their lives, helping to free their country from German occupation. The Memorial at Oude Tonge is situated beside the windmill in the village. The Group have been a great help in Peter and Ann research on the crash of LM595, especially Kees Stoutjesdijk who together with the Group have produced a book of the four crashes on the island of Overflakkee "Drama in the night".

You can purchase copies here (Available in English).

12 Squadron Lancaster III ND410 P4-Y - flown by P/O. Paul Dempster Wright 171442 RAFVR (all 7 crew killed), 101 Squadron Lancaster III LM459 SR-K - flown by P/O, Thomas Arthur Allen 170268 RAFVR (all 8 crew killed), 116 Squadron Lancaster I R5552 AS-P2 - flown by Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Bert Renelt 1387475 RAFVR (all 7 crew killed) and this aircraft Lancaster III LM595 GI-O.

Burial details:

F/O. John Edgar Alexander Pyle. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. Son of Arthur Edgar and Hedwiga Pyle; husband of Catherine S. E. Pyle, of Beeston, Nottinghamshire, England. Epitaph: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Remember'.

Fl/Sgt. Peter Alexander Macgibbon. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. No further details. Are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. Ernest Crowther. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave 18.B.3. Son of John and Martha Crowther, of Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Epitaph: 'In Loving Memory Of A Dear Son And Brother Never Forgotten. At Rest'.

Fl/Sgt. Leslie Tomlinson. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. Son of William and Marie Tomlinson, of Liverpool, England. Husband of Dorothy May Tomlinson, of Litherland, Liverpool. Epitaph: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning I Will Remember Him'. (Extract from For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon)

P/O. William Harry Pool. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. Son of Reginald Arthur and Violet Geniva Pool, (née Ellis) of Bowden, Alberta, Canada. Epitaph: 'To Our Only Son. Rest In Peace With God's Blessing. Mother, Dad And Betty'.

Sgt. James Leslie Spaven. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. Son of Jeremiah and Minnie Spaven, of Bierley, Bradford, Yorkshire, England. Epitaph: 'Not Forgotten But Lost In Civilization's Greatest Curse, War',

Sgt. Albert Howard Hall. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery. Collective grave 18.B.4-8. Son of George Frederick and Annie Hall, of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England. Epitaph: 'To The World, Just An Airman; To Mother, All The World. In Loving Remembranc'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to National Archives Kew AIR-27-2138-1/2, International Bomber Command Centre IBCC, Ann and Peter Deaton. Stichtwing WW2 Research, Wim Kamp, Bas van Noord, Kracker Archives.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 20-03-2023

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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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