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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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9 Squadron
07/08.10.1943 9 Squadron, Lancaster III ED836, 1st Lt. Eric G. Roberts

Operation: Stuttgart, Germany

Date: 7th/8th October 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED836

Code: WS:C

Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire

Location: Kiechlinsbergen, 5 km (3 mls) SW of Endingen, Germany

Pilot: 1st Lt. Eric George Roberts O-886059 USAAF Age 23. KiA (1)

Flt Eng: Sgt. Percy Shaw 1585786 RAFVR Age 39. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Frank George Arliss 151047 RAFVR Age 27. KiA (2)

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. William Chadwick 151375 RAFVR Age 24. PoW No 3009 * (3)

Wireless Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Bailey 1039496 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Thomas Henry Tibbles 1873950 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Robert John Darby 1324474 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland.

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 7th October 1943 343 Lancasters which included the first aircraft from 101 Sqn which deployed with ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC). The German Night-Fighter controller was confused by a Mosquito diversionary raid on Munich and only a few Night-Fighters reached Stuttgart at the end of the raid.

Two Lancasters were claimed by Night-Fighters along with two Stirlings and a Wellington. The loss of ED836 is not reported in the OKL lists and the other Lancaster lost was abandoned over Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire with only one injury.

ED836 crashed at Kiechlinsbergen, 5 km (3 mls) SW of Endingen and 135 km (84 mls) SW of Stuttgart. No explanation has been found as to why they were heading in a SSW direction instead of west towards England.

However, it is possible that they were lost and crashed after running out of fuel, or that the aircraft had been damaged by Flak and/or German night-fighters and they were trying to make for Switzerland. Why Plt Off. Chadwick was the only one to bale out cannot be explained in either of the speculated scenarios.

(1) Eric George Roberts along with his family emigrated from Wales to the United States in 1923 where they lived in Delaware, Camden, New Jersey.

Eric and his brother, William Norman George Roberts, enlisted in the USAAF on the 5th November 1941 and 18th December 1941, respectively, as Aviation Cadets. Eric was eliminated from the army primary school at Orangeburg in South Carolina largely as a result of a shoulder injury from which he recovered.

Orangeburg was a contracted civilian primary flying school.

Eric was offered a commission as an armament officer, however, he was determined to fly so he requested a discharge and enlisted in the RCAF.

His older brother was commissioned in the USAAF as a 2nd Lt. and was stationed with a fighter Squadron. No records have been found for his service in the USAAF, however, records show that after the war he became a flight Instructor at a private flying school in Dade, Florida.

Above Wings award to the three American pilots (Courtesy of The Morning Post, dated 16th November 1942)

Above clipping (Courtesy of The Courier News, dated 12th November 1942)

The other two Americans who graduated from the 9th Class from Falcon Field as Sgt. pilots in the RCAF were:

Loren J. Koon who was on his way to becoming a US navy pilot but was eliminated for flying deficiencies from Pensacola;

2nd Lt. Loren J. Koon O-2044710 DFC, Air Medal (2 OLC) was KiA on the 13th November 1943: He was the pilot aboard the 330rd Bombardment Sqn, 93rd Bombardment Group, B-24D 41-24226 'Utah Man' (8 KiA, 2 PoW) which collided with the 329th Bombardment Sqn, 93rd Bombardment Group, B-24D 42-40765 'Valiant Virgin' (7 KiA, 3 PoW) over Germany. Note: his DFC and Air Medals were awarded whilst he held the rank of Flight Officer (FO) T-190566 (Equates to Warrant Officer Class 1 in the RCAF).

Edward B. Giorchino who gave up his studies at Dartmouth College "to get into the big show".

Capt. Edward B. Giorchino O-2044436 DFC (OLC), Air Medal (2 OLC). Killed on the 30th June 1944 on his initial check flight in P-38J 42-67687 which crash landed beyond his airbase.

It is assumed that some time in late September 1942, around the time the three “Eagle” Squadrons transferred to the USAAF, that Eric was also transferred to the USAAF with the rank of 1st Lt. His Army Service Number (ASN) was in the same series as those in the “Eagle” squadrons.

Note the rank of 1st Lt. equates to that of Fg Off. in the Commonwealth Air Forces, however, no record of his appointment to a commission and subsequent promotion to Fg Off. has been found.

Eric was posted to 9 Squadron on the 5th September 1943 as a 1st Lt. so his transfer to the USAAF occurred either during his training at an OTU or whilst at 1661 Conversion Unit (CU) at RAF Winthorpe.

(2) Frank George Arliss volunteering for service in the RAFVR and he was selected for Aircrew and was assessed suitable for Navigator training. In early 1941 he was sent to Canada under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Above: Cpl. Frank G. Arliss (Courtesy of Simon Muggleton)

Trainee Arliss was promoted to Cpl. and appeared to take on the role of class leader. He graduated with the highest marks in his class and was awarded the Dominion Skyways (Observers) Limited, Award of Proficiency.

Above: Image of the Dominion Skyways (Observers) Limited, Award of Proficiency presented to Cpl. Arliss (Courtesy of Simon Muggleton)

Above left to right: LAC. S. Harwood, LAC. H.J. Hirst, Cpl. F.G. Arliss, LAC. P.N. Garner, LAC. L. Fletcher. Backdrop is an Avro Anson training aircraft.

Five of the thirteen Navigators and Bomb Aimer students from Course No. 60 and Course No. 65 respectively who passed out on the 22nd January 1943 at No 9. Air Observers School (AOS), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada (Courtesy of Simon Muggleton)

Fg Off. Harold John Hirst 151048 RAFVR. He was KiA along with his crew on the 8th February 1944 when their Wellington returned with engine trouble and during a wheels up landing the 4000 lb 'Cookie' Bomb, still aboard, exploded.

Fg Off. Leslie Fletcher 151050 RAFVR. He was the only fatality on the 16th December 1943, aboard 1663 HCU Halifax V EB208 which crashed 3 miles NNW of Marston Moor airfield, North Yorkshire, during a night practice sortie.

No records have been found on the CWGC database or in PoW lists for LAC. S. Harwood RAFVR, and LAC. P.N. Garner RAFVR, therefore it is assumed that they both survived the war.

1156894 Cpl. Frank George Arliss was appointed to a commission and promoted to 151047 Plt Off. with effect 22nd January 1943 (London Gazette 6th April 1943). He was promoted to Fg Off. with effect 22nd July 1943 (London Gazette 6th August 1943).

(3) Fg Off. Chadwick was captured near Kaiserstuhl on the 9th October some 3½ km (2¼ mls) SSE of the crash site and was trying make for Swiss frontier, some 58 km (26 mls) to the SSE.

He was transferred to Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia after the statutory visit to Dulag Luft, Oberursel arriving there on the 23rd October 1943.

Fg Off. Chadwick was amongst those selected to escape on the night of the 24th/25th March 1944. He was one of the 86 airmen that had entered the tunnel but he was arrested when the tunnel was discovered. Of the 76 men who escaped 23 of the captured airmen were returned to Sagan-Silesia, 3 made it home and 50 were murdered on the direct orders of Hitler.

Just before midnight on the 27th January 1945, because of advancing Russian forces, the PoW’s were marched out of the camp to Spremberg. From here he was in the column that was force-marched to Milan-Marlag Nord PoW camp arriving there on the 4th/5th February 1945.

Milan = Marinelager (naval prisoner of war camp) and Milag = Marine-Internierten-Lager (naval internment camp), Nord (North). Located at a former Luftwaffe (German Air Force) barracks near Westertimke NE of Bremen in Germany.

The camp guards fled the camp on 9th April 1945 and were replaced by elderly civilian guards. When it was announced that the Allied officers in Marlag were going to be moved to Lübeck, many of them fled into the nearby woods or concealed themselves in the camp. The camp was liberated by units of the British 11th Armoured Division on the 28th April 1945. Fg Off. Chadwick was interviewed on the 3rd May 1945.

He was promoted to Flt Lt. (War substantive) on the 19th February 1945. London Gazette 16th Match 1945. He remained in the service and on the 7th October 1957 he relinquished his commission and retained the rank of Flt Lt.

William Chadwick was born on the 7th October 1912 and prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 7th October 1941 he was a Police Officer in Preston, Lancashire.

Burial details:

The crew were initially buried in the Kiechlinsbergen Cemetery in a collective grave numbered 346 and a single grave numbered 397. Their remains were recovered and finally laid to rest on the 13th August 1948 at the Durnbach War Cemetery.

Grave marker for 1st Lt. Eric G. Roberts (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

1st Lt. Eric George Roberts. Purple Heart. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. grave 1.D.19-21. Born on the 13th August 1920 in Flintshire, North Wales. Son of Frederic George and Annie (née Morris) Roberts of Delaware, Camden, New Jersey, USA.

Grave marker for Sgt. Percy Shaw (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

Sgt. Percy Shaw. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. grave 1.D.19-21. Born circa 1905. Son of Feaster and Elizabeth Mary (née Loveridge) Shaw of Bishop Auckland, Durham, England. Both his parents predeceased him in July 1909 and December 1936 respectively.

Above left; Fg Off. Frank G. Arliss ((Courtesy of Simon Muggleton); right Grave marker (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

Fg Off. Frank George Arliss. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. grave 1.D.19-21. Born on the 7th March 1916. Son of Charles Henry and Elizabeth Arliss of Retford, Nottinghamshire, England.

Grave marker for Sgt. Arthur Bailey (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

Sgt. Arthur Bailey. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. grave 1.D.19-21. Grave inscription: ‘HE GAVE HIS ALL, THE GIFT OF HIS UNFINISHED SELF’. Son of Francis and Mary Ellen Bailey of Thatto Heath, St. Helens, Lancashire, England.

Grave marker for Sgt. Thomas H. Tibbles (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

Sgt. Thomas Henry Tibbles. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. grave 1.D.19-21. Born on the 8th February 1913 in Bermondsey, London. Son of Edward Thomas and Ellen Sarah (née Dingvean) Tibbles of Bermondsey, London. Both his parents predeceased him in 1938 and 1941 respectively. Husband to Elsie (née Curran) Tibbles of Battersea, Surrey, England. Elsie also predeceased him in 1938.

Sgt. Robert John Darby. Durnbach War Cemetery 6.E.25. Grave Inscription: ‘TOO FAR AWAY FOR SIGHT OR SPEECH BUT NOT TOO FAR OUR THOUGHTS TO REACH’. Born on the 6th April 1923 in Kent. Son of Fredrick William and Alice (née Gilham) Darby, of Herne Bay, Kent, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Simon Muggleton and dedicated to the crew and their families

Other sources listed below:

RS 07.12.2023 - updated to include newspaper cuttings and new information

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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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