Operation: Laon, Picardy, France
Date: 22/23 April 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 405 (Ducimus) Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Gransden Lodge, Cambridgeshire
Location: Conde-sur-Aisne, Picardy, France
Pilot: Flt.Sgt.. Russell Arthur Saltzberry J/85454 RCAF Age 24 Killed (1)
Flt.Eng: Sgt. George (Bud) Robert Berkey C/85532 RCAF Age 22 Killed (2)
Nav: WO2. William (Bill) Robert Oliver J/88087 RCAF Age? Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Edward Lloyd Alberts J/85518 RCAF Age? Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Sidney Bosworth 1393762 RAFVR Age 22 Killed
Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. John Walter Tonkyn 173599 RAFVR Age 19 Killed (5)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Grodecki J/85550 RCAF Age 22 Killed (6)
Lancaster Mk III aircraft (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster JB684 took off at 22.23 hrs from RAF Gransden Lodge for a bombing operation on the railway yards at Laon, Northern France. The aircraft was shot down by Obit. Dietrich Schmidt of 8.NLG1 at 00.21hrs over Conde-sur-Aisne south of Laon with combat taking place at 3,000 mtrs.
Obit. Dietrich Schmidt
This was Obit. Dietrich Schmidt's 18th abschusse of the war. (38 night abschusse by the end of the war, from which he survived) He was born on the 17th June 1919 and died on the 6th March 2002
Lancaster JB684 was one of 181 aircraft that took off that night on this operation. The attack on the railway yard caused severe damage. A total of 9 aircraft from this operation were lost
Map showing the area of the crash at Conde-sur-Aise, Picardy, France
The seven headstones of the crew who all rest in Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery (courtesy of the CWGC)
Plt.Off Russell Arthur Saltzberry (courtesy of the Canadian Virtual War Memorial)
Plt.Off. (Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off.) Russell Arthur Saltzberry. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Grave 2. Son of Alva and Florence Saltzberry of New Dundee, Ontario, Canada (1) Russell was born on the 24th February 1920 in Ontario. He enlisted in 1941 and gained his wings at No 2 Service Flying Training School, Uplands, Canada where he studied for his advanced flying and operational training. Russell is remembered in the Waterloo Region Museum, Ontario and also on a family headstone in the New Dundee Union, Cemetery, Waterloo County, Ontario
From The New Hamburg Independent November 6th 2012 by Doug Coxson: Quote "New Dundee street named after WWII veteran Russell Saltzberry.
Square Street, which links Main and South Street in the village, will be officially changes to Saltzberry Path this week when the new sign is installed. Russell Saltzberry was the only son of Alva and Florence Saltzberry, of New Dundee, Halold O'Kradka wrote, he was employed at the CNR shops in Stratford and prior to that had worked at the New Dundee Creamery. He was also a member of the New Dundee United Brethren Church and the New Dundee Band. He entered the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 and earned his Wings in 1943 before being transferred to England where he attained the rank of Pilot Officer and joined No 405 Squadron (Ducimus) Pathfinder Force. The Lancaster Saltzberry was in went missing during a night raid against Laon, France in April 1944. The entire crew was listed as missing in action until it was later determined the aircraft went down in a fiery crash that made identifying the bodies impossible
Plt.Off. George (Bud) Robert Berkey (courtesy of Barbara Kinsella niece )
Plt.Off. William (Bill) Robert Oliver is remembered on the Killarney War Memorial (courtesy of Gordon Goldsborough see credits)
Plt.Off. (Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off.) William (Bill) Robert Oliver. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 4-5. Son of J. W. Oliver of Killarney, Ontario. (3) Born on the 26th September 1922. William is remembered on the Killarney War Memorial, Manitoba.
In a 1981 Toronto Star special written by Eileen Thumm, she chronicles her search for her brother's grave. "William Robert Oliver was a navigator in the Pathfinder Squadron and flew on the same Lancaster as Russell Saltzberry. Eileen Thumm travelled to a churchyard cemetery in Conde-sur-Aiisne, France to find seven tombstones where her brother and fellow crewmembers are buried. She later wrote to and received a call from the mayor of the village who explained how he had witnessed the crash and knew that efforts were made to make sure the airmen who had been killed received an honourable burial" End quote
Plt.Off. (Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off.) Edward Lloyd Alberts. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Grave 1. No further information on next of kin as yet. Are you able to help? (4) Born on the 4th April 1920 in Saskatchewan. Edward married in 1943 and his wife's address in 1944 was 12011 97th Street, Edmonton
(Left) Sgt. Sidney Bosworth. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Grave 3. Son of Nathaniel and Louise Bosworth. Sidney had an older brother called Nat (Same as their father), and a younger sister by 2 years called Gladys. Both Gladys and Nat were part of the war effort and both survived him living into their 80's.
(Courtesy of Christopher Bell, a member of Sidney's family)
Plt.Off. John Walter Tonkyn. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 4-5. Son of John Addicott Tonkyn and Edith Tonkyn of Totton, Hampshire. (5) John is remembered on the Taunton College Association Memorial, Southampton
Plt.Off. (Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off.) Joseph Grodecki. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Grave 6. Son of Mr and Mrs Michael Grodecki of Erickson, Manatoba (6) Joseph is remembered on the Erickson War Memorial, Manitoba, Canada. In 1975 Grodecki Lake south of Nueltin Lake was named after Joseph
Erickson Flyer is Missing Overseas
Sgt. Joe Grodecki, of Erickson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Grodecki, of that town, is reported missing overseas following air operations over enemy territory. Joining the RCAF in 1942, Sgt. Grodecki trained in Brandon, Man., Trenton, Ont., and Macdonald, Man., where he graduated as a air gunner in June, 1943. He arrived overseas in July, and went on active service almost immediately. After making 14 trips over enemy territory, he transferred to another arm of the RCAF, from which he was reported missing. Sgt. Grodecki attended Erickson schools, and prior to enlisting in the air force he was employed in the box factory in Winnipeg. Besides his parents, there is one brother, Cpl. John Grodecki, serving in Newfoundland, and one sister, Rose, at home
A memorial to Lancaster JB684 of No 405 Squadron has been placed at the site of the crash on the D925 road between Missy-sur-Aisne and Conde-sur-Aisne (courtesy of Bernard Butet see credits)
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Don and Vera Berkey brother of George Robert Berkey, Barbara Kinsella - niece of George Robert Berkey, Chilliwack Museum, Library and Archives Canada, Bernard Butet - GenWeb, Gordon Goldsborough - Manitoba Historical Society and David Archer - Operation Picture Me
RS 26.02.2020 - Correction to ranks and inclusion of image for Sgt. Bosworth
KT July 17, 2015.
KT. Page updated with picture of Joe Grodecki.
KT. added newspaper clipping Sg. Grodecki 08.12.2016.
KT. 15.12.2016. Page update with information about Grodecki Lake
RS 26.02.2020 - Correction to ranks and inclusion of image for Sgt. Bosworth
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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