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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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103 squadron badge
11/12.05.1944 No. 103 Squadron Lancaster III JB733 PM-K P/O. Whitley

Operation: Hasselt

Date: 11/12th May 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 103 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB733

Code: PM-K

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire

Location: Hallaar, Belgium

Pilot: P/O. Richard Whitley 173057 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Keith Lund Ramage 1863365 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: P/O. James Alexander Carter J/85969 RCAF Age 27. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Bennett Webb 658394 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Neller Crutchfield 1324786 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John William Smith 1583360 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Mark Martin 1873541 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Took off at 21.58 hrs from RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire to bomb the rail yards at Hasselt. One hundred and eleven aircraft took part in the raid made up from ninety six Halifaxes, twenty Lancasters and four Mosquitoes. 


                   Above left - bomb crater damage and right area of JB733 crash


                   Some of the crew Left to right: P/O. Whitley, Sgt. Ramage, P/O. Carter, Fl/Sgt. Webb, Sgt. Crutchfield and Sgt. Martin.

Not classed as a successful raid as the majority of the bombs missed the target and landed in open fields - a few hit the railway yards. Eight Halifax's and one Lancaster were lost. The bomber force did not encounter many enemy attacks on the outward leg. 

Attacks came after the raid and on their home run. A total of forty one crew members were killed, seven were made P.O.W's and a further six evaded capture and returned. Two Aircraft in this total crashed on either take off or landing with three crew members injured.


                   Bomb damage at Hasselt

Left:: Hptm. Werner Baake

Lancaster JB733 was shot down by Oblt. Werner Baake of 2./NJG1 at 00.43 hrs over North East Antwerp with the aircraft coming down in Hallaar, Belgium.

Hptm. Werner Baake survived the war with a total of fourty one abschüsse and became a flight captain with Lufthansa. He was killed in an car accident at Heilsbronn on the 15th July 1964. 


                   The wonderful memorial erected - with relatives in attendance



Burial details:

P/O. Richard Whitley. Schoonselhof Cemetery Coll. Grave IVa. E. 47 - 49. Son of Robert John and Mary Whitley, of Woodsmoor, Stockport, Cheshire, England.

Sgt. Keith Lund Ramage. Schoonselhof Cemetery Coll. Grave IVa. E. 47 - 49. Son of James Lund Ramage and Hilda Lund Ramage, of Dartford, Kent, England.

P/O. James Alexander Carter. Schoonselhof Cemetery IVa. D. 1. Son of Robert Alexander Carter and May Carter, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Bennett Webb. Schoonselhof Cemetery Coll. Grave IVa. E. 47 - 49. Son of Lionel and Ethel Webb, husband of Maisie Webb, of Chiswick, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Peter Neller Crutchfield. Schoonselhof Cemetery Joint Grave IVa. E. 50. Son of Aruther and Edith Crutchfield, of Hayes, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. John William Smith. Schoonselhof Cemetery Joint Grave IVa. D. 30. Son of Samuel and Edith Annie Smith, husband of Doris May Smith, of Wyken, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Mark Martin. Schoonselhof Cemetery IVa. D. 2. Son of Clifford Arbor Martin and Muriel Edith Martin, of Thorpe Bay, Essex, England.

Page of Remembrance dedicated to relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Steven Volckaerts from Belgium - for his extensive research into this as well as the supply of the majority of the photographs, City of Hasselt Fire Department.

Also thanks to Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 5", Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt "Bomber Command War Diaries", Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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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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