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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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426 Squadron Crest
19/20.02.1944 No 156 Squadron Lancaster III JA921 GT-Q W/O. Ramsey Stanners

Operation: Leipzig

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

Unit: No. 156 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA921

Code: GT-Q

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire

Location: South East Eemnes, Netherlands

Pilot: W/O. Ramsey Stanners 1554370 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Royce Prankett 1131229 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

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

Air/Bmr: F/O. J.S. Kingston J/22365 RCAF PoW No: 2068 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagen and Belaria

W/Op/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: P/O. Thomas James Brewer J/93177 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 (1) of 11./NJG1 his 51st abschüsse of the war at 6,000 mrs 05:08 hrs.

Also lost from 156 squadron on this operation:

Lancaster III ND358 GT-Y Flown by Sq/Ldr. Anthony Douglas Saunders DFC. 111991 RAFVR, from Forest Gate Essex - killed with all 6 other crew.

Uffz. Heinz Vinke and his W/Op/Gnr. Karl Schödel (courtesy Kracker archives)

(1) 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 (Fl/Lt. Cheval L'Allemand and F/O. 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.

Burial details:

W/O. Ramsey Stanners. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Joint grave 176. Son of James and Sarah Stanners, of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

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. 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. Son of Eric J. and Aileen R. Merces, of Micros, Mill Lane, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England.

P/O. Thomas James Brewer. Amersfoort General Cemetery (Oud Leusden). Plot 13. Row 9. Grave 177. Son of Thomas R. and Ella J. Brewer, of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada.

Thanks to Ernest Doders of the Netherlands who is undertaking further research into this loss. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

KTY 25.06.2015

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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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