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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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106
106 Squadron Lancaster III PD214 Fl/Lt. Douglas Steward

Operation: Bremen

Date: 06/07th October 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 106 Squadron (motto: ro Libertate - 'For Freedom')

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PD214

Code: ZN-D

Base: RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire

Location: near railway station Staatsforsten-Varrelbusch

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Douglas Stewart 50448 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Colclough Barlow Aus/405992 RAAF Age 35. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ronald Pascoe Barton 1894713 RAFVR Age 34. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. George Bowering Kirby 1333680 RAFVR Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Clyde James Service J/88887 RCAF Age 31. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Gordon Stuart Grogan 1320894 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Anthony Fell 1472950 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald James Paul 1593431 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

233 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitoes were dispatched to bomb Bremen. Weather conditions were described as very good with no cloud and excellent visibility. Target marking was accurate and subsequently the bombing was very concentrated.

14 aircraft from the squadron took part with PD214 taking off at 17:45 hrs load with 2,700 x 4lb. incendiaries. 13 located the target and bombed the Pathfinder markers. The bombing was made from an average of 16,000 ft between 20:20 - 20:34 hrs. with the returning crews reporting good results.

Sq/Ldr. John Grinder's (1) Lancaster PB232 was severely damaged when hit by falling incendiaries during the operation. He managed to nurse his aircraft back to England making a forced landing at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk at 22:05hrs.

The crew was on its last operation of the tour.

PD214 was coned by 2. and 3./Flakscheinw. Abt. 269 and 3./Flakscheinw. Abt. 268, hit by 2. and 4./ schw. Flak Abt. 531, 1., 5. and 6./schw. Flak Abt. 390, 2./schw. Flak Abt. 542 and 1./schw. Flak Abt. 521.

The aircraft crashed and exploded on the farmyard of Hans Broening. Only two bodies were identified, such was the extent of the impact and explosion.

In 2015 the crash site was identified to the exact location (previously reported as being lost over the North Sea) and a race was on to find relatives of the crew led by Julie Barton (the paternal grandaughter of Sgt. Ronald Barton). The urgency was because the land was to be sold for a housing development. Julie and her sister Debbie Bartlett of Essex enlisted the help of a German aviation archaeologist.

The German authorities proved most helpful in permitting an excavation of the site prior to building work. Sadly, although many pieces of wreckage were unearthed (later donated to the Metheringham Museum), insufficient human remains were discovered and it was not possible, therefore, to place any additional remains in graves so as to lay with the rest of the crew at Beckingen War Cemetery.

(1) John Evelyn Grindon (shown above) went on to become a Group Captain DSO AFC CVO. He became Commander of the Queen's Flight in June 1953. He retired from the RAF in 1959, and passed away on the 01st November 2001, age 84.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Douglas Stewart. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203. Son of John and Ada Mary Stewart and husband of Vera Elizabeth Stewart, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England.

Fl/Lt. John Colclough Barlow. Beckingen War Cemetery. Joint grave 12. E. 1-2. Born on the 10th June 1919. A bank clerk prior to service. Enlisted on the 23rd July 1942. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Barlow and husband of Edna Ema Barlow and father of two children, of Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.

Sgt. Ronald Pascoe Barton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Grew up in Swansea but moved to London after failing to get into Swansea Police due to height restriction then joined the Metropolitan Police. Son of Harry and Elizabeth Barton and husband of Hetty Iris Barton, of Streatham, London, England.

Fl/Sgt. George Bowering Kirby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 219. Son of Bertie and Evelyn Dorcas Kirby and husband of Rose Eileen Violet Kirby, of West Norwood, London, England.

P/O. Clyde James Service. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 252. Son of William and Margaret Service, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Gordon Stuart Grogan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Also remembered on family grave at St. Peters Churchyard in Frimley, Surrey, Son of Robert (died 4th October 1923, age 37) and Bertha Grogan (née Webb - died in April 1976, age 88), of Frimley Green, Surrey and husband of Terry Grogan, of Frimley Green, Surrey, England.

Fl/Sgt. James Anthony Fell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Husband of Phyllis Beatrice Fell, of Hayes End, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Ronald James Paul. Beckingen War Cemetery/ Joint grave 12. E. 1-2. Son of George and Lydia Blamire, of Whitehaven, Cumberland. Epitaph: 'He That Believeth On Jesus Hath Everlasting Life. St. John Iii.36'.

Above video courtesy Julie Barton and family

Above video courtesy Dietmar Schellschmidt

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the work of Theo Bioten 'Nachtagd Combat Archives 1944', National Archive Kew, Air-27-834-19/20, Australian National Archives, Dietmar Schellschmidt, Barton family.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 19-05-2023

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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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