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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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15 Squadron Crest
24/25.03.1944 15 Squadron Lancaster III LM490 Flt Sgt. Wheeler

Operation: Berlin

Date: 24th/25th March 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 15 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM490

Code: LS:L

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk

Location: Teltow South West of Berlin.

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Leslie William Charles Wheeler 1388461 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Herbert Longworth 974506 RAFVR Age 27. KiA

Nav: Flt Sgt. Robert McIntosh 951312 RAFVR Age 26. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Augustus Edward Smith 547611 RAF Age? KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Francis Donald Wells 1600882 RAFVR Age 27 KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Eric Donald McCallum 425586 RNZAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. James Briggs 1132443 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

Another huge raid with 811 Allied bombers formed up to bomb Berlin. The weather was extremely good with very high visibility which resulted in many losses to the german night fighters who were already closing in on the bomber stream as early as 19:45 hrs! Un-forecasted jet stream winds scattered the bombers to the South of the intended route and many of the aircraft were flying without the protection of "Windows".

The night became known within Bomber Command as the "night of the strong winds".

The raid itself resulted in the usual damage to civilian properties with 150 people being killed on the ground in the target area (A further 30 people killed in other areas bombed by the scattered force.) No major industrial targets were hit although some damage was done to 5 military establishments - including the Waffen SS depot in Lichterfield

A total of 72 aircraft were lost in this last major raid on Berlin of the war. LM490 was delivered to 15 squadron on the 13th March 1944 and was one of two Lancasters from 15 squadron to be lost on this operation, the other being LM441 LS:T flown by Flt Lt. William Grove who, together with his crew of 6 were all killed.

Lancaster LM490 had just eleven hours of flying time before it took off at 18:48 hours from Mildenhall. Homeward bound, shot down by a night-fighter probably flown by Oblt. Friedrich Tober of 8./NJG2 in a Ju 88C at 23:15 hrs. and exploded with great force over Teltow, 16km SW from the centre of Berlin.

Oblt. Frederick Tober survived the war as an ‘Ace’ with 6 night claims and 1 daylight operation

Burial details:

On 1st April all were laid to rest at Teltow, but since the cessation of hostilities, their bodies have been taken into Berlin and interred in the 1939-1945 War cemetery.

Flt Sgt. Leslie William Charles Wheeler. Berlin War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.J.3-4. Son of William and Emily Wheeler, of Highbury, London, England.

Sgt. Herbert Longworth. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.1. Grave inscription: “THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND.” Son of Jeptha and Martha Longworth and husband of Dorothy Longworth, or Blackpool, Lancashire, England.

Flt Sgt. Robert McIntosh. Berlin War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.J.3-4. Born circa 1917 in Nairn, Scotland. No further information found.

Sgt. Augustus Edward Smith. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.5. Born on the 31st May 1920 in London. Son of Augustus John and Alice (née Morgan) Smith in Poplar, London, England.

Sgt. Francis Donald Wells. Berlin War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.J.3-4. Born in London, England in 1917 and known as “Frank” by his family and friends. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Eric Donald McCallum. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.6. Son of Kennedy Barclay McCallum and Pearl Maud McCallum, of Porangahau, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

Sgt. James Briggs. Berlin War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.2. Grave inscription: “ PEACEFULLY AT REST.” Son of Ethel May Briggs, of New Herrington, Co. Durham, England.

Researched by: Linda Ibrom for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to Nikki Castle for photograph of Sgt. Wells

Other sources listed below:

KTY 27.12.2016 Map added

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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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