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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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102 Squadron Crest
31.08/01.09.1943 102 Squadron Halifax II JN909 DY:B Sgt. Edward T.S. Rowbottom

Operation: Berlin

Date: 31st August /1st September 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 102 (Ceylon) Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JN909 

Code: DY:B 

Base: RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire

Location: 2½ km west of Ladbergen, Germany

Pilot: Sgt. Edward Thomas Samuel Rowbottom 1294895 RAFVR Age. 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Richard Harvey Day 1379869 RAFVR Age? KiA.

Nav: Sgt. John Kenneth Keele 1004003 RAFVR Age 19. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. R.V. Wallace 1392870 RAFVR Age? Evader (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alan Raymond Pearce 1382481 RAFVR Age 27. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Murton Lawrence McClay R147010 RCAF Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Russell Lloyd Collins R65016 RCAF Age? PoW No: 222679, Stalag 4B

Above: Flt Sgt. Murton L. McClay (from his service record)


Took off at 20.21hrs. from Pocklington to attack Berlin. 622 aircraft - 331 Lancasters, 176 Halifaxes, 106 Stirlings, 9 Mosquitos.

This raid was not successful due to cloud in the target area; this, together with difficulties with H2S equipment and probably the ferocity of the German defences, all combined to cause the Pathfinder markers to be dropped well south of the centre of the target area and the Main Force bombing to be even further away.

The main bombing area eventually extended 30 miles back along the bombers' approach route.

Wreckage of JN909 (courtesy Mike Harrison)

After this raid, Gauleiter Goebbels ordered the evacuation from Berlin of all children and all adults not engaged in war work to country areas or to towns in Eastern Germany where air raids were not expected. 47 aircraft - 20 Halifaxes, 17 Stirlings, 10 Lancasters - lost, 1.6 per cent of the force.

JN909 was hit by 4. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 324 and crashed 2½ km west of Ladbergen at 23:30 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 September - 31 December) 1943 Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

(1) Sgt. Wallace evaded capture and made his way to Switzerland via Holland, Belgium and France. He left Switzerland and via France he was flown to St. Eval on the 10th September 1944.

Burial Details:

Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

The five crew members who were killed were initially buried at Saerbeck, but after the Second World War, their graves were re-located to the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

Sgt. Edward Thomas Samuel Rowbottom. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 12. Grave inscription: 'NOT A DAY DO WE FORGET YOU, IN OUR HEARTS YOU ARE ALWAYS NEAR. MUM, DAD AND FLORRIE'. Son of Edward and Florence H. Rowbottom, of Purley, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Richard Harvey Day. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 14. Next of Kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. John Kenneth Keele. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 13. Grave Inscription: 'LOVING MEMORIES OF A BRAVE SON WHO GAVE HIS ALL. REST IN PEACE. DEAREST AND POP'. Son of Thomas Alexander Keele and Winifred Keele, of Finsbury, London, England.

Sgt. Alan Raymond Pearce. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 11. Grave Inscription: "SAFE IN THE EVERLASTING ARMS". Son of Herbert and Margery Mary Pearce, husband of Margaret Elsie Pearce, of St. John’s, Worcester, England.

Flt Sgt. Murton Lawrence McClay. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 18. E. 10. Born on the 21st September 1920 in Belmont, Manitoba. Son of Thomas and Bella May (née Hall) McClay of Belmont, Manitoba, Canada.

Researched by Mike Harrison for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. Thank also to Brian Mackenzie for the correction to the crew listing (Jul 2018). Thanks to Scott Hazelwood for the Next of Kin details for Flt. Sgt. McClay (Dec 2023). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 12.12.2023 - Reviewed and updated

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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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Last Modified: 12 December 2023, 08:01

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