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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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115 Squadron Crest
12/13.06.1944 115 Squadron Lancaster I HK545 KO-E Sqn.Ldr. Shadforth DFC

Operation: Gelsenkirchen, Germany (Gelsenberg AG)

Date: 12/13th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: HK545

Code: KO-E

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire

Location: Gelsenberg-Benzin Works, Gelsenkirchen

Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Wallace Gordon Shadforth DFC. 61040 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Alfred Joseph Veale DFM. 1853807 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Nav: Flt.Sgt. Ronald Parkyn 1393242 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fg.Off. Gordon Christopher Townend 422765 RAAF Age 32. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Walter Thomas Weir DFM. 1370487 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fg.Off. Ian William Entwistle 41400 RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Anthony Frederick William Farley 1382100 RAFVR Age 23. Killed


Took off at 23:32 hrs from RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire to attack the Nordstein Oil plant at Gelsenkirchen. Part of a force of 286 Lancasters and a further 17 Mosquitos.

Very heavy losses received on this raid with 17 Lancasters lost! Crew killed: 108, PoW: 6, Evaded capture: 6. Damage inflicted was huge - 1,500 bombs hit the target owing to the fine work from the pathfinders. The plant was damaged to the extent that oil production ceased for several weeks with the loss of 1,000 litres of precious aviation fuel every day. 270 were killed during the attack both at the plant and nearby Horst.

It is understood that the Lancaster HK545 was hit by flak, although there are several claims by night fighters for Lancasters shot down on this operation.

With regards to the decorated crew members, this was their citation dated 9th June 1944:

“This officer and these airmen were pilot, flight engineer and wireless operator (air) respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Karlsruhe one night in April, 1944. Early on the outward flight some navigational equipment became useless. This did not deter Flight Lieutenant Shadforth who continued to the target and executed a successful attack. On the return flight the aircraft was attacked by a fighter and sustained much damage.

The throttle connections of the 2 outer engines were severed, a portion of the starboard elevator was shot away, the oxygen supply was affected and 3 members of the crew, including Sergeant Weir, were wounded. Nevertheless, Flight Lieutenant Shadforth evaded the attacker and set course for home. Meanwhile, Sergeant Veale went to the assistance of the rear gunner who was trapped in his turret. Despite the lack of oxygen, he worked strenuously to hack away the doors of the turret in order to extricate his wounded comrade to whom he rendered efficient first aid. Despite his injuries, Sergeant Weir remained at his post fully determined to assist his pilot in every way in his endeavours to reach home.

Eventually, Flight Lieutenant Shadforth reached base where he effected a masterly landing. This officer displayed a high degree of skill, courage and resolution. Sergeants Veale and Weir also proved themselves to be a valiant and resolute member of aircraft crew, rendering invaluable 'assistance to his pilot in his endeavours to fly the aircraft home.”

The citation relates to Lancaster I ND800, KO-C, captained by Flt.Lt. Shadforth, which took off at 2200 hrs on the 24th April 1944 for a mission to bomb targets at Karlsruhe. The aircraft sustained damage as a result of flak and an enemy night fighter. Three crew were injured but the aircraft was successfully brought back and landed at RAF Manston.

The injured crew were the Bomb Aimer, Fg.Off. N. Baker; Mid-Upper Gunner Sgt.T. Sharpe and the Rear Gunner Sgt. W.Bradley, R/207257 of the RCAF. The three were stood down for the mission that saw the loss of their former crew.

Above: seated extreme left: Flt.Sgt. Anthony Frederick William Farley - also shown below (courtesy Terence Farley - see note)

Note: We do have a card of the names shown on the upper photograph - if you feel that you recognise them, click on the text right to download. card signatures

Burial details:

Sqn.Ldr. Wallace Gordon Shadfort. DFC. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 19.F.16. Son of William and Emily Harriett Shadforth.

Sgt. Alfred Joseph Veale. DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 19.G.17. Son of Joseph and Caroline Veale; husband of Catherine Veale, of Bristol, England.

Flt.Sgt. Ronald Parkyn. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 13.C.9. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Parkyn, of Crouch Hill, Middlesex, England.

Fg.Off. Gordon Christopher Townend. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 19.G.14. Born on the 22nd November 1911, the son of Sherwood and Elizabeth Mary Townend (née Stockton), of Banbury, Oxfordshire, England.

Sgt. Robert Walter Thomas Weir. DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 19.F.17. Son of William and Isabella Weir, of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Fg.Off. Ian William Entwistle. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 19.G.18. Born on the 09th December 1921, the son of William Entwistle and of Ella Margaret Entwistle (née Townsend), of Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand.

Flt.Sgt. Anthony Frederick William Farley. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 13.C.10. Son of William Arthur and Rose Ann Farley, of South Lambeth, London, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Amanda McFadgen (née Smart) relative of Fg.Off. Ian William Entwistle, Terence Farley, relative of Flt.Sgt. Anthony Frederick William Farley and also to sources as shown.

KTY - 09.08.2017 KTY 2020-06-15 Corrected name to Shadforth, courtesy Graham Butler

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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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