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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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101 crest
101 Squadron Lancaster III ED618 W/O. John David Steele

Operation: Duisberg

Date: 09/10th April 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 101 Squadron motto: "Mens agitat molem" (Mind Over Matter) 1 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED618

Code: SR-X

Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire

Location: Doornspijk, Netherlands

Pilot: W/O. John David Steele R/94702 RCAF Ae 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Hence 632926 RAF Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Michael John Bennett 957663 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt D'Arcy Gould 1255195 RAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Norman James Ritchie Aus/412843 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt Stanley Grundy DFM 626664 RAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt William David George O'Brien 1323095 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Taking off during the late evening of the 09th April 1943 together with a force of 103 other Lancasters and 5 Mosquitoes from various bases in the North of England.

7 were shot down by night fighters, another was lost during a forced landing at Bodney airfield in Norfolk, 6 of the crew survived but 35 year old, Sgt. Richard Herbert Howell 1389535 RAFVR was killed.

Another 101 Squadron Lancaster III ED608 SR-T flown by 22 year old, P/O. Earle Milton Nelson Aus/401227 was hit by flak and crashed 23:14 hrs at Grefrath. 5 of this crew were taken PoW with 2 others killed.

ED618 was shot down at 22:45 hrs by the Luftwaffe ace (6) Lt. Oskar Kostler of 10./NJG1, the Lancaster still carried a full bomb load and exploded in the air. Most of wreckage landed near Doornspijk with further wreckage at Elburg, some 3 kilometres apart.

Debris hit the BF110 F-4 which crashed at Elburg killing the pilot (Some reports state that he was killed in the initial explosion). His radio operator Uffz. Heinz Huhn survived by parachute. However, after this close call he decided never to fly again. He spent the remainder of the war as an operations officer.

Burial details:

W/O. John David Steele. Son of Samuel and Caroline Mable (nee Horne) Steele of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Grave 1. Born on the 07th November 1919.

Sgt. John Hence. Son of John and Eleanor Harrison Hence of Durham. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Collective grave 2-5. Grave inscrption: "Always A Beautiful Memory Often A Silent Tear. Loved By Mam, Dad And Sister".

Fl/Sgt. Michael John Bennett. Son of John and Annie Louise Bennett and husband of Beatrice Adelaide Bennett, of Coventry, England. Born on the 14th May 1921. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Collective grave 2-5. "Grave inscription: All That They Had, They Gave. - They Gave - In Sure And Single Faith".

Sgt. D'Arcy Gould. Son of D'Arcy Jack Wilton Gould and Maud Evelyn (née McGinley) Gould, of Auckland City, New Zealand. Born on the 13th February 1921 at Auckland. on his 21st operation, a total of 450 flying hours logged. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Grave 6. Grave inscription: "Until We Meet Again, Dear, Rest In Peace. Mam, Dad And Family".

F/O. Norman James Ritchie. Son of Frank and Clarice Maud Marion Ritchie, of Caringbah, New South Wales, Australia. Born on the 28th July 1921 at Paddington, NSW. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Collective grave 2-5.

Sgt. Stanley Grundy DFM. Son of Fred and Stella Grundy, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Collective grave 2-5. Grave inscription: "Until We Meet Again, Dear, Rest In Peace. Mam, Dad And Family".

Sgt. William David George O'Brien. Son of William Charles and Nellie Louisa O'Brien of Moulsecoomb, Brighton, Sussex. Doornspijk General Cemetery. Collective grave 2-5. Grave inscription: "We Loved Him Well God Loved Him Best And Took Him Home With Him To Rest"

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Frank Hop who is arranging plaques to be placed at each of the crews graves. Also to Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1943. Vol 1) Also you our Tom Kracker and his extensive Luftwaffe Database. To the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 13-12-2020

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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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