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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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166 Squadron Crest
01/02.02.1945 166 Squadron Lancaster I ME648 AS:J2 Flt Lt. Spankie DFC

Operation: Ludwigshafen, Germany

Date: 1st/2nd February 1945

Unit No: 166 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: ME648

Code: AS:J2

Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire

Location: 1½ miles south of Niederlustadt, in the forest of Gemeindewalde, Weingarten, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Edward Spankie DFC, J86068 RCAF Age 29. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Raymond Stennett 1590355 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: Flt Lt. John Edward Shannon DFC, 87419 RAFVR Age 28. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Hugh Henry Teggart 553937 RAF Age? KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Alexander McIvor 1573475 RAFVR Age 20 KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. James Pirie Brown R22067 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. Francis Alma Coombs J92482 RCAF Age 25. KiA

Above left to right: Flt Lt. Spankie DFC, Flt Sgt. Brown, Plt Off. Coombs, from their service records

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 15.25 hrs from Kirmington, Lincolnshire (Now Humberside International Airport) to attack the town of Ludwigshafen. 382 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes took part from which 6 Lancasters were lost (3 from 166 Squadron alone) with 56 crew members killed, 3 more being made PoW.

The raid destroyed or damaged 900 homes but also the railway yards were seriously damaged and one of the Rhine bridges was hit by 2 bombs and was temporary closed. 25 people were killed on the ground and a further 6 injured. The lack of casualties on the ground suggest that the town had been evacuated or were well protected with shelters.

The others lost from 166 Squadron:

Lancaster I NG391 AS:M Flown by Plt Off. Smithers taken PoW along with 2 other crew, 4 KiA;
Lancaster I NG385 AS-W Flown by Flt Lt. Edward Alexander Pollack 124182 RAFVR of Vine Del Mar, Chile, all 7 crew KiA.

It is thought that Lancaster ME648 was shot down by either (or even both, as the combat occurred at the same time in the same area) German night fighters Hptm. Helmuth Schulte or Oblt. Peter Spoden. The combat took place at between 3,500 - 4000 mtrs. at around 19.34 hrs over Bruchsal, Germany.

Both were aces (25 claims - Spoden - above right, and 23 claims - Schulte - above left) and both survived the war. Hptm. Helmuth Schultze died in 1982.


Note: Research conducted by the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) record that the aircraft crashed at 19:38 hrs approximately 1½ miles south of Niederlustadt, in the forest of Gemeindewalde, Weingarten. This is some 80 km (58 miles) east of Saabrücken and 27 km (16¾ miles) west of Brunchsal.

The graves concentration report confirms that the crew were initially interred in the Niederlustadt cemetery.

Note: The crash location makes the claim for ME648 by Hptm. Schulte for a 4-mot, 20-30 km south of Mannheim at 19:30 hrs, the more probable of the two claims.


Burial Details:

Above: Initial collective grave marker for five of the crew

Flt Lt. Edward Spankie DFC. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 8. E. 3-6. Born on the 1st July 1915 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Son of James Miller and Helen Dorward (née McKenzie) Spankie. Husband of Dorothy Ellener (née Hughes) Spankie, of Stettler, Alberta, Canada.

Flt Lt. Spankie’s DFC was awarded posthumously. London Gazette 12th February 1946.

Flt Lt. Edward Spankie DFC right and memorial left.

Sgt. Raymond Stennett. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 8. E. 2. Grave inscription: 'DEEP IN OUR HEARTS A MEMORY IS KEPT OF ONE WE LOVED AND SHALL NEVER FORGET'. Son of George Hammond and Helen Stennett, of Spalding, Lincolnshire, England.

Flt Lt. John Edward Shannon DFC. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 8. E. 1. Grave Inscription: 'R.I.P. BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF YOU JOHN, DARLING, CAN NEVER DIE. DAD AND MUM'. Son of John Patrick and of Margaret Mary Agnes Shannon, of Hampstead, London, England.

Flt Lt. Shannon’s DFC was awarded posthumously. London Gazette 11th December 1945.

Above Grave Marker for Flt Sgt. Shannon (Courtesy of Des Philippet - FindAGrave)

Flt Sgt. Hugh Henry Teggart. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 8. E. 3-6. Grave Inscription: 'R.I.P.' Son of James and Elizabeth Teggart, of Killough, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

Flt Sgt. Alexander McIvor. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 8. E. 3-6. Grave Inscription: 'EVER REMEMBERED BY MUM AND DAD R.I.P.' . Son of Alexander and Helen McIvor, of Brodie, Morayshire, Scotland.

He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Scottish National War Memorial.

Flt Sgt. James Pirie Brown. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 8. E. 3-6. Born on the 8th June 1925 in Collingwood, Ontario. Son of Beverly Egerton and Mary Winifred (née Piree) Brown of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. His mother predeceased him in March 1942.

Plt Off. Francis Alma Coombs. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 8. E. 3-6. Grave Inscription: 'WE SHALL MEET AGAIN'. Born on the 3rd January 1920 in Nottingham, England. Son of Bertram John and Hannah Coombs. Husband of Edith Lucy Thelma (née Easter) Coombs, of Rosemary, Alberta, Canada.

Research by Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the crew and their families. Reviewed and updated by Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 05.11.2023 - Reviewed and updated

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Acknowledgements
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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