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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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No 405 Squadron
22/23.04.1944 405 Squadron Lancaster III JB684 Flt.Sgt. Russell Arthur Saltzberry

Operation: Laon, Picardy, France

Date: 22/23 April 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 405 (Ducimus) Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB684

Code: LQ-U

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)


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)

Burial details:

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. (Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off.) George (Bud) Robert Berkey. Conde-sur-Aisne Communal Cemetery, Picardy, France. Grave Ref: Coll. Grave 4-5. Son of George Dewey Berkey and Martha W. Berkey of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada (2) From the Chilliwack Times, November 9th 2007: Quote " In 1922, George Berkey was born 10 miles south of Herbert, Saskatchewan. He first attended school at Wicke, Saskatchewan and in 1934 the family moved to Chilliwack. Following public school at Robertson and Chilliwack Elementary Schools, he graduated from Chilliwack High School in June 1940. During his school years, George worked as a caddy at Meadowlands golf course and operated a paper route on Fairfield Island. At the First Baptist Church he worked as a janitor. George Berkey joined the RCAF in 1940 and became a flight engineer. George served with 405 Squadron on several missions against the heavily defended German capital city, Berlin. He failed to return from a mission against Laon, France, on April 23, 1944, when the Lancaster that he was flying in crashed. In 1946 George Berkey Sr. received his son's RCAF engineer's wings" End Quote. George's uncle Edward Roy Berkey was killed on the 9/10th July 1941 in (Hampden AD924)

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

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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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