22/23.03.1944 514 Squadron Lancaster II LL684 JI:B2 Flt Sgt. Underwood
Date: 22/23rd March 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit No: 514 Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: Nieuw Dordrecht, Holland
Pilot: Flt Sgt. John Bernard Underwood 1454510 RAFVR Age 21. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Albert William Johnson 1607088 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
Nav: Fg Off. Ivor John Frederick Rich 136818 RAFVR Age 35. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Wyman Douglas McPhee J24235 RCAF PoW No: 3831 *
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Richard Jock Day 1238225 RAFVR Age 22. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid upper): Sgt. Robert Charles Sime R104854 RCAF PoW No: 3841 *
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Howell John 1656081 RAFVR Age? KiA
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18:26 hrs from RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to attack Frankfurt (The third attack on this City in a week).
Part of a huge force of 816 aircraft, made up from 620 Lancasters, 184 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos. To create confusion an indirect route was employed, crossing the Dutch coast north of the Zuider Zee, then flying due south to Frankfurt.
The city suffered another heavy blow with half of the city left without gas, water and electricity for what is described as a "long period". In this raid 948 people were killed on the ground, 346 seriously injured and 120,000 people were without homes.
Above and below Fg Off. Ivor John Frederick Rich with his wife, Peg and family. (courtesy Madeleine Bonicel)
One of the results of these heavy raids was that recently captured RAF crews often had to be protected by their guards from the assaults of angry civilians when they passed through Frankfurt to reach the nearby Oberursel Interrogation and transit camp.
The raid cost the allies dear with 35 aircraft lost, resulting in 184 aircrew killed, a further 53 being made PoW.
Oblt. Heinz Rökker of 2./NJG2 claimed LL684 SE of Emmen at a height of 4000 m. at 2130 hrs (local). This was his 15th victory. (Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 1 - Dr. Theo E.W. Boitem)
The Drenthe Air War Research Foundation has placed a Lost Wings Information Panel bearing the crash location of Lancaster II LL684 and dedicated a page to the aircraft and crew on their website.
Flt Sgt. John Bernard Underwood. Emmen (Nieuw Dordrecht) General Cemetery. Plot 9. Row B. Grave 25. Inscription: '"THOU WILT KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE" BELOVED MEMORIES. MUM, DAD, PAULINE.' Son of Percy Bernard and Alice Underwood, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Albert William Johnson. Emmen (Nieuw Dordrecht) General Cemetery. Plot 9. Row B. Joint Grave 24. Inscription: 'GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.' Son of Albert Edward and Eveline Nellie Johnson, of Sandhurst, Berkshire, England.
Fg Off. Ivor John Frederick Rich. Emmen (Nieuw Dordrecht) General Cemetery. Plot 9. Row B. Grave 23. Son of George Edwin and Rosina Minnie Rich, husband of Edith Peggy Rich, of Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, England. B.A. (Lond.) King's College.
Sgt. Richard Jock Day. Emmen (Nieuw Dordrecht) General Cemetery. Plot 9. Row B. Grave 22. Inscription: 'IT IS SAID WE SHALL MEET IN HEAVEN; IF THAT BE TRUE, I SHALL SEE MY BOY AGAIN - MOTHER'. Son of Ernest William and Lily Frances Day, of Goodrington, Devon, England.
Sgt. Howell John. Emmen (Nieuw Dordrecht) General Cemetery. Plot 9. Row B. Joint Grave 24. Inscription: '"FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH"'. Son of David Hopkin John and Margaret John, of Swansea, husband of Sarah Ann John, of Gendros, Swansea, Wales.
Researched for Madeleine Bonicel (relative of Fg Off. Rich) and for all relatives of the crew. Thanks to Mariusz Łożyński for providing the Christian names for Fg Off. McPhee (Nov 2019). Thanks to Yannic Wethly of the Drenthe Air War Research Research Foundation for the link to their website (Feb 2023)
Other sources listed below.