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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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460 Squadron Crest
23.10.1944. No. 460 Squadron Lancaster III PB351 AR-H2 P/O. Denis R.G. Richins

Operation: Essen

Date: 23rd October 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 460 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB351

Code: AR-H2

Base: RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire

Location: Houghton Hall Grounds, 10 miles west of Fakenham, Norfolk

Pilot: P/O. Denis Richard Garth Richins AUS/422298 RAAF Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Eric Arthur Sunderland 1593402 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Thomas Frankish AUS/427818 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: W/O. Wren Stobo AUS/421764 RAAF Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. John Richings Treloar AUS/421524 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Jack J.G. Cannon AUS/431006 RAAF Age 19. Survived - injured (1)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Rupert William Bergelin AUS/428900 RAAF Age 20. Injured (2)

We would like relatives of the crew to contact us to perhaps add to the information and maybe add a photograph if possible.


Taking off from RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire during the daylight hours of the 23rd October at 16.15 hrs to bomb the city of Essen. This was the largest operation to the city with 1.055 aircraft taking part. Essen was understood to have had most of the burble building already destroyed from earlier raids so high explosive was the main type of bomb - 4,538 tons of them were to fall this night.

607 buildings were totally destroyed, 812 suffering severe damage. 662 people in the city were killed, a further 569 injured. A further operation as mounted on the 25th - same devastating results to the city which could not contribute much more to the German war effort from the Krupps Steelworks.

Area of crash and below, Houghton Hall - 2015

It is thought that this Lancaster had been hit by flak over the target area, the pilot skilfully manager to nurse the aircraft home, it was severely iced up and unable to climb above the cloud base. After sending a signal that they could not make their base they were diverted to the RAF station at Bircham Newton. During the approach they hit a tree in the grounds of Houghton Hall and crashed at 21.56 hrs.

Fl/Sgt. Cannon had no recollection of the crash, it seems that he was thrown clear at the time of impact as the aircraft erupted in flames once to hit the ground. He recovered in the RAF hospital at RAF Bircham Newton. Many of the staff at Houghton Hall were involved in trying to effect rescue of the crew from the aircraft but were driven back by the intense fire and exploding ammunition.

(1) Fl/Sgt. Jack Cannon was from 6 Edna Street, West Malvern, Vicoria, Australia.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Rupert Bergelin died of his injuries the same day.

Australian members of the crew graves at Cambridge City Cemetery. Taken by Aircrew Remembereed in February 2015 -any relative who would like a higher resolution of these are invited to contact us.

Below: Memorial to the crew at Houghton Church (courtesy Pamela Campbell - September 2017)

Burial details:

Military funeral took place for the Australian members of the crew on the 28th October 1944 at 11.00 hrs. The body of Sgt. Sutherland was taken to his home town for burial.

P/O. Denis Richard Garth Richins. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15126. Son of Albert and Alice Gertrude Richins, of Caringbah, New South Wales, Australia. His grave inscription reads: “Ever in our hearts”.

Sgt. Eric Arthur Sunderland. Shipley (Nab Wood) Cemetery. Sec U. Grave 302. Son of Arthur and Mary E. Sunderland, of Shipley, Yorkshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Thomas Frankish. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15124. Son of Richard Wetherall Frankish and Sylvia Amy Frankish, of Walcott Street, Mt. Lawley, Western Australia. His grave inscription reads: “Farewell Ken a good innings well played”.

W/O. Wren Stobo. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15125. Son of Thomas Charles and Mabel Stobo, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, husband of Florence Margaret Stobo, of 211 Grafton Street, Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, Australia. His grave inscription reads: “Loved husband of Flo and daddy of Francis”.

W/O. John Richings Treloar. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15123. Son of Thomas John and Mollie Richings Treloar, of 44 Upper Street, Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. His grave inscription reads: “Tradidit Lampada Vitai” (Given the torch of life)

Fl/Sgt. Rupert William Bergelin. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15122. Son of Rupert Wilhelm and Gertrude Elsie Bergelin, of 70 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi, New South Wales, Australia. His grave inscription reads: “His duty nobly done. Ever remembered.”

For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, National Archives of Australia, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. With thanks also to Pamela Campbell who took the trouble to take photographs of the memorial (placed in 2015) and send them into us in September 2017.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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