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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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619 Squadron Lancaster PG-S Fl/Sgt. Robert Ford Whinfield

Operation: Schweinfurt

Date: 26/27th April 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 619 Squadron (motto: Ad Altoria - 'To higher things). 5 Group

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL904

Code: PG-S

Base: RAF Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire

Location: Near Leirbach, Oppenhau, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Robert Ford Whinfield 980135 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Francis Saxton Young NZ/424543 RNZAF Age 28. PoW No: 3715 Camp: Stalag Kopernicus (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt, Hyman Goldberg 2206617 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: W/O.II James Chandler Horne R/150952 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. George James Langridge J/90385 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald Walter Chick 1339297 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Reginald Amesbury Wickham 611981 RAFVR Age? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Ernest Watson 1477926 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 21:27 hrs, one of fifteen sent by the squadron and one of two that failed to return.

The operation was described as a failure with the low-level marking of the Mosquitoes from 5 group both being accurate, the bombing was very poor and much of it fell outside the target area. 2 people on the ground were killed but following the fierce fighting with the Luftwaffe Night fighters the allies lost a total an appalling 21 aircraft of the 215 taking part!

LL904 was intercepted and shot down by the ace, Oblt. Martin Becker of 2./NJG6 flying a Me110 out of Illesheim airfield, his 28th claim of the war. Following the attack at 01:30 hrs the Lancaster crashed near Leirbach with only Fl/Sgt. Young baling out. It is reported that the aircraft exploded with its bomb load on impact with the ground. The crew were buried in a collective grave.

The other aircraft lost from the squadron:

Lancaster LL919 PG-W Flown by 22 year old, Fl/Lt. Guy Godfrey Charles Gunzi 169429 RAFVR shot down by Oblt. Dietrich Schmitt. LL919 crashed at Landeville. Read more here.

Above L-R: Sgt. Thomas Graham (not on the aircraft lost), Sgt. John Watson, W/O.II James Horne, Fl/Sgt. Robert Whinfield, Sgt. Donald Chick, P/O. George Langridge, Sgt, Hyman Goldberg. Shown in front of 1661 HCU Lancaster ED437 on the occasion of their first solo flight as a crew 22nd of December 1943. (Courtesy Kenneth Horne)

(1) Francis Saxton Young was flying as the second 'Dickie'. A PoW in Stalag Kopernicus in Thorn, Toruñ (now Poland).

Born on the 16th February 1916 in Bulls (near Palmerston North), New Zealand. Enlisted in May 1942. After liberation arrived back in UK on the 08th May 1945. Left service on the 24th March 1946 with the rank of flying officer.

Passes away in Otahuhu (Auckland), New Zealand on the 13th February 1991, age 75.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Robert Ford Whinfiel. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. Son of Frances Evelyn Whinfield, of Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Evelyn Whinfield. Epitaph: 'Today And Every Day In Silence We Remember'.

Sgt. Hyman Goldberg. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. Born on the 25th May 1922 in Whitechapel. A tailor originally from Manchester. Enlisted at Padgate at the end of 1942. Son of Isaac and Blanche Goldberg (née Bercovitch), of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (Grandparents originated from Poland) Epitaph: 'Treasured Memories Of Our Dear Son And Brother. May His Dear Soul Rest In Peace'.

W/O.II James Chandler Horne. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. Son of James (died 24th February 1948, age 61) and Mildred Elaine Horne (née Chandler - died 11th January 1976, age 81), of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada. Epitaph: 'Thou Wilt Keep Him In Perfect Peace'.

P/O. George James Langridge. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. Born on the 10th March 1922 in Toronto. Son of William Lutner Langridge (died 02nd March 1953, age 78) and Elizabeth M. Langridge, of 587 Lansdowne Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Epitaph: 'The Greatest Gift Of All, The Gift Of His Unfinished Life'.

Sgt. Donald Walter Chick. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. John Ernest Watson. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. Son of Howard James Watson and Catherine Watson, of Currock, Carlisle. Epitaph: 'A Day To Remember, Sad To Recall, Without Farewell He Left Us All'.

Fl/Sgt. Reginald Amesbury Wickham. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 8.H.12-19. No further details - are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Kracker Archive, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Kenneth Horne 'By Name Alone'. Auckland, Air-27-2131-21/22 National Archive. Paradie Archive.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 07.01.2023

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