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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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156 Squadron Lancaster III ND504 Fl/Lt. Maurice Cecil Stimpson DFC

Operation: Berlin

Date: 15/16th February 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 156 Squadron (motto: 'We light the way') 8 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND504

Code: GT-?

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire

Location: North Sea - lost without a trace

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Maurice Cecil Stimpson DFC. 155249 RAFVE Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Walter John Catchpole 1802374 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. Harold Naylor Jackson DFC. J/18946 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. John Leonard Gurton DFM. 1335009 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John Hammond Wright DFC. 50580 RAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Henry Smith 611657 RAF Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Royle Dutton 1032629 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed


21 aircraft from the squadron were detailed to take part. ND504 took off at 17:11 hrs with a bomb load of 1x4 Fl, 1x4000 lb, 4x1000 lb as well as various flares and target indicators,

891 aircraft - 561 Lancasters, 314 Halifaxes, 16 Mosquitos - were dispatched to Berlin. This was the largest force sent to Berlin and the largest 1,000 bomber force sent to any target, exceeding the previous record of 826 aircraft (which included Stirlings and Wellingtons) sent to Dortmund on the night of the 23/24th May 1943.

It was also the first time that more than 500 Lancasters and more than 300 Halifaxes were dispatched. The German controllers were able to plot the bomber stream soon after it left the English coast but the swing north over Denmark for the approach flight proved too far distant for many of the German fighters. The German controller ordered the fighters not to fly over Berlin, leaving the target area free for the flak, but many fighters ignored him and attacked bombers over the city.

The diversion to Frankfurt-on-Oder failed to draw any fighters. 43 aircraft - 26 Lancasters, 17 Halifaxes -were lost.

Above L-R: P/O. Harold Jackson DFC, Fl/Sgt. Harry Robinson (not on this flight - last operation with the crew was to Berlin on the 26th November 1943. Killed on the 15th July 1944), Fl/Lt. Maurice Stimpson DFC, F/O. John Wright DFC Front: Fl/Sgt. William Smith, Fl/Sgt. Thomas Royle Dutton and Fl/Sgt. John Gurton. (Courtesy Stimpson family and IBCC)

Berlin was covered by clouds for most of the raid. Heavy bombing fell on the centre and south-western districts and some of Berlin's most important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area. This was really the end of the true 'Battle of Berlin'; only one more raid took place on the city in this period and that was not for more than a month.

ND504 is believed to have been shot down by Oblt. Heinz0Wolfgang Schnaufer of 12./NJGQ at 22:58 hrs over the North Sea 20 kilometres west of Texel. Although a claim by Lt. Achim Woeste of Stab IV./NJG3 is also possible.

Another aircraft from the squadron was also attacked. Fl/Lt. Kenneth Doyle flying Lancaster III ND464. Although the pilot managed to nurse the aircraft back to England, two of the crew were seriously injured. Fl/Lt. Kenneth Doyle and crew were all killed later on the 24th of September 1944 - details here.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Maurice Cecil Stimpson DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203. Also remembered at Tower Hill High School in Harrow, London. Born on the 08th of September 1921. Son of Harry and Nellie Louisa Stimpson, of Headstone Lane, Harrow, Middlesex, England. Brother of twin sisters Vera and Nellie and Maurice Arthur.
DFC Citation:

'Throughout his tour of operations, this officer has displayed skill, courage and keenness of a high order. One night m January, 1944, Flight Lieutenant Stimpson captained an aircraft detailed to attack targets in Berlin. During the bombing run his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Although the bomber sustained much damage and the navigator was injured, Flight Lieutenant Stimpson pressed home his attack and afterwards flew safely to base. This officer has attacked a wide variety of targets in Germany, including it sorties against the enemy's capital city'.

Fl/Sgt. Walter John Catchpole. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 216. Son of John Durrant Catchpole and Martha May Catchpole, of 294 Beccles Road, Carlton Colville, Suffolk, England.

P/O. Harold Naylor Jackson DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Born on the 22nd of June 1921 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Aero Engineer prior to service for Canadian Airways. Enlisted on the 30th of December 1940. Son of Albert (died 1952, age 64) and Mary Jackson (née Thomas - died 08th July 1938. age 53), of Millet, Alberta, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. John Leonard Gurton DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Son of Thomas Leonard and Lilian Gurton, of 44 Mountgrove Road, Highbury, London, England.

F/O. John Hammond Wright DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Son of Harry James Wright and Hilda Ann Wright and husband of Betty Joan Wright, of Shepperton, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. William Henry Smith. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 222. Of 24 Fore Street, Seaton, Devon, England.

Fl/Sgt. Thomas Royle Dutton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Son of Alfred Edgar and Eva Dutton, of 136 Arabella Street, Cardiff and husband of Daisy Maud Dutton, of Runcorn, Cheshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to National Archives Kew, Sir-27-1042-3/4, International Bomber Command Centre IBCC, National Archives Australia NAA, Theo Boiten 'Nachtjagd Combat Archiver 1944 Part 1', Kracker Luftwaffe Archives.

KTY 05-05-2023

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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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