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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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78 Squadron Crest
30/31.08.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II JD201 EY-Y Fl/Lt. Albert R. Short

Operation: Mönchengladbach

Date: 30/31st August 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD201

Code: EY-Y

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire.

Location: Murrow Station, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Albert Robert Short 131009 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Walter George Onion 576165 RAF Age ? Killed

Nav: P/O. Frank Street 139622 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Terence Donovan O'Boyle 134769 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Max Howard Davies 138148 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Alfred White 1396247 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Leslie John Victor Cotton 155939 RAFVR Age 37. Killed


Took off at 00.03 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to join 660 aircraft (297 Lancasters, 185 Halifaxes, 107 Stirlings, 57 Wellingtons and 14 Mosquitoes) to make a double attack on Mönchengladbach (1) and Rheydt. With a two minute pause after the first phase to enable the pathfinders to transfer the marking from Mönchengladbach to Rheydt. The attacks were classed as a "model" of pathfinder marking.

Mönchengladbach reported that over 1000 buildings were destroyed of which 171 were classed as industrial - Rheydt reported 1,280 buildings destroyed. Losses on the ground for the combined raids was 370 people killed on the ground and a further 2,152 people injured with 12 missing.

The allies lost 34 aircraft (7 Lancaster's, 6 Wellington's, 13 Halifax's, 6 Stirling's and 2 Mosquitoes) with 78 Squadron losing 3 this night - JD453 EY-C Flown by Sgt. Ronald Collins (3 killed and 4 made p.o.w.'s see "Here") and JD409 EY-D flown by Sgt. Alan Johnstone (6 killed and 1 evaded capture).

It is understood that Halifax JD201 with it's very experienced and qualified crew on route to the target had a major problem when one of the propeller's detached and the aircraft broke up. The aircraft came down near Murrow Station, Wisbech in Cambridgeshire at about 01.00 hrs. - killing all the crew.

The webmaster has visited the grave of the pilot and placed flowers on remembrance day 2013.

(1) Mönchengladbach was renamed from Mönchen-Gladbach in 1960.

78 Squadron, 1943 (archives)

Left: Grave of the pilot, Fl/Lt. Short (archives)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Albert Robert Short. Great Yarmouth (Gorleston) Cemetery. Sec. W. Grave 42. Son of Charles R. Short and Elizebeth E. Short, of Great Yarmouth, husband of Rose Lillian Short, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

Sgt. Walter George Onion. Plymstock Churchyard. Row A.6. Grave 33. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

P/O. Frank Street. Bollington Churchyard. South of church. Son of Harry and Clara Street of Bollington, Cheshire, England.

F/O. Terence Donovan O'Boyle. Kensall Green R.C. Cemetery. Sec. N.E. Grave 855. Son of John and Elizabeth O'Boyle, husband of Dora Merrick O'Boyle, of Kentish Town, London, England.

F/O. Max Howard Davies. Sutton Bridge Churchyard. Sec. S. Grave 31. Son of Albert Edward and Brunetta Rose Davies, husband of Evelyn Barham Davies, of Northampton, England.

Sgt. Ernest Alfred White. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14337. Son of George and Jessie Louise White, of Peckham, London, England. Husband of Margaret Eileen White, of Peckham, London, England.

P/O. Leslie John Victor Cotton. St. Laurence-In-Thanet Churyard. North of Church. Son of Henry Herbert and Florence Cotton, of Totton, Hampshire, England.

Researched for all the members of the crew. With thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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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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