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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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630
630 Squadron Lancaster I LL886 W/O. James White DFM

Operation: Berlin

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

Unit: No. 630 Squadron (motto: Nocturna Mors - 'Death by night')

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL886

Code: LE-I

Base: RAF East Kirkby

Location: Not identified

Pilot: W/O. James White DFM. 657977 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Thomas Southworth 174331 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No 3844 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert James Brydon 174340 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No 3411 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Vincent Edward Moor 1439447 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No 4013 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Frederick Peter Settle 1390062 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No: 4020 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Elwood 1523527 RAFVR Age 20. PoW No: 3813 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank William Charles Guy 1890028 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No ? Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Lewis Alfred Jukes 1583802 RAFVR Age 19. PoW No 3823 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 18:45 hrs with 14 others from the squadron to bomb Berlin.

Of the 811 aircraft that took part in the sortie, 72 failed to return. Very high winds from the north blew the bombers off course that night which afterwards became known as ‘the night of the strong winds’. The lack of an accurate forecast and subsequent notification to the crews resulted in the scattering of the bomber stream to the southwest of the target.

Above rear: Sgt. Robert Brydon, Sgt. Jim Rossiter (1) and Fl/Sgt. Vincent Moor. Front: Sgt. Frank Guy, Sgt. Frederick Settle, W/O. James White, and Sgt Frank Elwood

Towns and villages well outside the city boundaries were hit as the markers drifted in the strong wind which accounted for 30 civilian deaths. In the southwest suburbs of Berlin, many houses were destroyed and 150 people were killed. Some industrial premises were damaged as well as five military targets the most important being a depot of the Waffen SS.

Claimed by Oblt. Walter Riedberger of 5/NJG-2 shot down the Lancaster near Krefeld at 00:42hrs.

The squadron lost two other crews:

Lancaster III ND788 Flown by 24 year old, Fl/Sgt. Arthur John Perry 17335 RAAF - 6 crew PoW with 1 evading capture.

Lancaster III ND657 Flown by 22 year old, F/O. Clifford Leslie Eldridge Allen 170941 RAFVR - 6 crew killed with 1 PoW.

It is thought that W/O. White chose to remain at the controls keeping the aircraft level to enable his crew to safely bale out.

By 02:30 hrs the remaining 11 aircraft from the squadron landed safely at East Kirkby.

W/O. James White DFM Citation:

'In December 1943, (1) this airman was the pilot and captain of a Lancaster aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig. On the outward journey, his aircraft was subjected to repeated attacks by a Me210. The starboard outer engine, the inter-communication and the hydraulic systems were rendered unserviceable whilst the rear gunner was killed. In spite of these harassing conditions Fl/Sgt. White continued his mission and bombed the target. A course for home was then set. Fl/Sgt. White was unable to maintain height but, displaying superb airmanship and great skill he succeeded in flying the aircraft back to this country where, with the bomb doors open and the main wheel tyre burst, he accomplished a prefect landing on a strange airfield. This airman's outstanding courage and determination set a praiseworthy example'.

(1) On the 04th December 1943 630 squadron Lancaster JB561 was on an operation to Leipzig. Whilst en route to the target at 03:50 hrs, the Mid Upper Gunner and Rear Gunner (Fl/Sgt. Rossiter) observed a ME210 appear astern and slightly above the Lancaster at a range of 300 yards. Instructions were given to corkscrew to port, and both gunners opened fire. At the same time, the enemy opened fire with cannon and machine gun and the return fire from the Rear Gunner ceased.

The Rear Gunner was heard on the Intercom to explain something but almost immediately the intercom was rendered unserviceable. The fighter broke away to starboard and attacked the Lancaster from dead astern at a range of 200 yards, again firing cannon and machine gun fire. Corkscrew manoeuvring was maintained and the Mid Upper Gunner continued firing until the enemy aircraft broke away and under the Lancaster.

The starboard outer engine was damaged and on fire and had to be feathered. The Bomb Aimer then observed a twin-engine aircraft believed to be the same ME210 appear from the port bow down firing cannon and machine guns. The Bomb Aimer fired a second burst at the fighter and the Mid Upper operating his guns and turret manually, also fired a short burst, and the enemy aircraft broke away. The ME210 then appeared dead astern and opened fire. The Mid Upper returned fire working his guns manually, and he observed a bright flash of flame appear on the enemy fighter which disappeared from sight and was not seen again.

The Intercom being unserviceable, the Flight Engineer went aft to the Rear Turret, but thinking the Rear Gunner was alright he returned to his position after seeing the turret appear to move. Upon landing the Rear Gunner was found to have lost his life with multiple injuries caused by the cannon and machine gunfire. Extensive damage was caused to the Lancaster with two front tyres punctured and the fuselage damaged with shell and bullet holes.

Burial details:

W/O. James White DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 30/B.18. Son of Robert and Mary White, of Clarkston, Glasgow, Scotland. Epitaph: 'He Who Lies Here Was Serene; From The Lips Now Dust, Never Came An Unkind Word',

Fl/Sgt. James Louis Rossiter. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave13936. Born on the 22nd December 1914 in Adelaide, South Australia. Enlisted on the 31st of January 1942 in Melbourne Victoria. Son of Sydney James Rossiter (died 27th August 1943, age 59) and Karoline Sofia Rossiter (née Geier - died 18th February 1989, age 101), of Murray Bridge, South Australia. Epitaph: 'Ii.Timothy Iv.7" The Memory Of Those We Love Will Never Die'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the National Archives Kew, AIR-27-2152-9/10. National Archives Australia, Kracker Luftwaffe Archives.

Kracker Luftwaffe Archive
Allied Losses and Incidents Database
Pages Related to 1944
Australian European database

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 11.06.2023

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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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