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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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90 crest
18/19th November 1943 90 Squadron Stirling III LK379 P/O. Simpson

Operation: Mannheim-Ludwigshafen

Date: 18/19th November 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 90 Squadron (motto: Celer - 'Swift'). 3 Group.

Type: Stirling III

Serial: LK379

Code: WP-F

Base: RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk

Location: Lampertheim, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Ross McCulloch Simpson Aus/415279 RAAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Douglas Leon Hollamby 1624700 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Donald Arthur Brown 133716 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. David Edward Blain 55025 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher NZ/39590 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Leonard William Heason Aus/415531 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Whitton Sykes 1239644 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Page sponsored by Jackie Cassidy - relative of Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher

Anzac Day 2021


Taking off at 17:18 hrs to bomb Mannheim-Ludwigshafen. 395 aircraft taking part with 23 failing to return. The main operation was to Berlin with 440 aircraft and this was a diversionary raid. There was cloud cover over the target and bombing was scattered as a result. Most of the damage fell to the north of the town, where the Daimler Benz car plant suffered a 90% loss in production as a result. 21 deaths on the ground and 7500 people were bombed out of their homes.

The planned route and return: RAF Tuddenham - Beachy Head - Cayeux - Target - Beachy Head - RAF Tuddenham.

They were expected to return to base at around 23:00 hrs. At 20:44 hrs they were coned by searchlights and shot down by Oblt. Martin Becker (1) of Stab I./NJG 6, flying Bf 110 G-4 2Z+HB from the Mainz-Finthen airfield.

Following post war enquiries in 1947 by No. 16 section Missing Research and Enquiry Unit it was established that LK379 attempted to make a forced landing on Biedesand Island and that it had been previously damaged. The Stirling collided with a tree and exploded scattering wreckage over a wide area. Local eye witnesses stated that the rear turret was found some 500 yards away with the body of Fl/Sgt. Sykes inside. The Luftwaffe from Sandhoven buried five bodies at the Lampertheim Cemetery.

In 1950, following exhumation of graves in Lampertheim Cemetery, the remains of Flight Sergeant Sykes, Flight Sergeant Ussher, and Flight Sergeant Heason were identified. The other four crew members have no 'known' grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Surrey.

Th squadron lost another crew on the operation: Stirling III EH996 WP-H Flown by Fl/Lt. Leonard Anthony Smith AUS/416521 RAAF. 7 crew were killed (including the 2nd pilot) with 1 other taken PoW. Further details here.

(1) This was the second claim of the war. He was one of the most successful night fighter pilot of the war with 58 claims. Born on the 12th April 1916 in Wiesbaden. Thought to have flown approximately 110 combat operations. He survived the war and passed away on the 08th February 2006 in in Oberneisen. Information courtesy of the Kracker Archive.

Burial details:

P/O. Ross McCulloch Simpson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 191. Born on the 03rd July 1921 in Sydney. Enlisted on the 17th August 1941 at Perth. Son of Alexander Edward Nicholl Simpson and Rita Prudence Simpson, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Douglas Leon Hollamby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 155. No further details, are you able to assist?

F/O. Donald Arthur Brown. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of Frank William and Annie Margaret Brown, of Silsoe, Bedfordshire, England.

F/O. David Edward Blain. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of John Clark Blain and Amelia Lowe Blain

Fl/Sgt. Owen Neville Ussher. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.11. Born on the 07th May 1919 at Auckland. Worked as a farmer on his fathers farm at Piha. Enlisted at Ohakea on the 20th September 1939.Embarked for Canada on the 27th April 1942. Awarded his wireless operators badge and promoted to sergeant on the. On the 26th January 1943 embarked for England. Joined 90 squadron on the 10th September 1943 from 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit. Son of Neville Claude Ussher, and of Dulcie May Ussher (nee Yearbury), of Piha, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 263 flying hours logged and on his 6th operational sortie.

F/O. Leonard William Heason. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.12. Born on the 09th July 1922 in Perth. Prior to service worked as a bank clerk. Enlisted on the 09th November 1941. Son of Percy Charles and Lucy Heason, of Mount Hawthorne, Western Australia. Grave inscription: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun We Will Remember Him'.

Fl/Sgt. Eric Whitton Sykes. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.10. Son of Sam and Lizzie Sykes, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jackie Cassidy, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26-04-2021

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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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