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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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426 Squadron Crest
19/20.02.1944 156 Squadron Lancaster III JA921 GT:Q WO. Ramsey Stanners

Operation: Leipzig

Date: 19/20th February 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 156 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA921

Code: GT:Q

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire

Location: South East Eemnes, Netherlands

Pilot: WO. Ramsey Stanners 1554370 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Royce Prankett 1131229 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Ernest Hopcraft 1577726 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Edward Joseph Casimir Kryskow J22366 RCAF Age? Evader (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. ‘Taffy’ Humphrey Watkin Hughes 1066930 RAFVR Age 29. Missing

Air Gnr: Sgt. Ainsley Charles George Merces 1602737 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas James Brewer R133415 RCAF Age 21. Killed


Took off at 00:23 hrs from RAF Warboys in Cambridgeshire to attack the city of Leipzig, together with 822 other aircraft (561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes. 7 Mosquitoes)

A tragic operation for Bomber Command - they had though that the German controllers would send their night-fighter to the diversionary raid on Kiel Bay, but when this bomber stream crossed the Dutch coast they were met by a larger force of the night fighters (some that had left for the Kiel diversionary raid returned) They were then under attack all the way to the target.

The winds had not been as forecasted and a number of the bombers had to circle the target waiting for the pathfinders during this period they lost 4 aircraft in collisions and a further 20 from the heavy flak.

The target was cloud covered and the pathfinders had to use the sky-marking technique. No details regarding the effect of the bombing were available.

Shot down by Ofw. Heinz Vinke of 11./NJG1 his 51st Abschss of the war at 6,000 mrs 05:08 hrs.

Uffz. Heinz Vinke and his Bordfunker. Karl Schödel (courtesy Kracker archives)

23 year old, Ofw. Heinz Vinke went missing on the 26th February 1944 some 15 km. north west of Dunkirk after being shot down by two Typhoons from 198 Squadron (Flt Lt. Cheval L'Allemand and Fg Off. George Hardy) Born 22nd May 1920 - Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

(1) Hurt foot on landing. Liberated on the 10th May 1945 (RAF Evaders - Oliver Clutton-Block). No further details.

Burial details:

WO. Ramsey Stanners. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Joint grave 176. Inscription Reads: "ALWAYS THOUGHTFUL, EVER KIND, A BEAUTIFUL MEMORY LEFT BEHIND. CHERISHED". Son of James and Sarah Stanners, of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire,

Sgt. Royce Prankett. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Joint grave 178. Son of William and Gertrude Prankett, of Selby, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Ernest Hopcraft. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Joint grave 176. Inscription Reads: "YOUR SMILING FACE AND LOVING WAYS ARE MEMORIES OF BYGONE DAYS". Son of Ernest Albert and Ada Alice Hopcraft, of Bordesley Green, Birmingham, England.

Sgt. Humphrey Watkin Hughes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 231. Son of the Revd. Richard Rhys Hughes and Ann Lloyd Hughes, husband of Catherine Hughes, of Llanllechid, Caernarvonshire, Wales.

Sgt. Ainsley Charles George Merces. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Joint grave 178. "DEATH IS A PASSING INTO ETERNAL LIFE. I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU. THERE IS NO DEATH." Son of Eric J. and Aileen R. Merces, of Micros, Mill Lane, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England.

Above: Sgt. Brewer from his service file.

Plt Off. Thomas James Brewer. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Grave 177. Inscription Reads: "WITH A CHEERY SMILE AND A WAVE OF HIS HAND HE HAS WANDERED INTO AN UNKNOWN LAND." Born on the 9th December 1922 in Telkwa, British Columbia.. Son of Thomas Richard and Ella Jane (née Wilkinson) Brewer of Shawnigan Lake , British Columbia, Canada.

Posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. (J93177) with effect 19th February 1944.

Thanks to Ernest Doders of the Netherlands who is undertaking further research into this loss. Thanks to Gina Heinbockel-Bolik (National Air Force Museum of Canada) for the correction to crew listing for the Bomb Aimer position. (Jul 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jul 2021). For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

RS 06.07.2021 - Correction to crew listing and updates to the narrative

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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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