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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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50 Squadron Crest
04/05th October 1943 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster I W4905 VN-H F/O. Wilkie CGM

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 04/05th October 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: W4905

Code: VN-H

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire

Location: Near Goethe Tower, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt

Pilot: F/O. Cecil James Morley Wilkie CGM. 147357 RAF Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Stanley Wilkinson DFM. 993249 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. James Albert Brett 130599 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Howard George Paskins 1312779 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Maurice Mensworth 1127575 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Fred Tweedale 1063624 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: T/Sgt. John Watson Brant 10601028 USAAF Age 18. Killed


Taking off at 18:30 hrs from RAF Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire to bomb Frankfurt - 406 aircraft taking part made up from 162 Lancasters, 170 Halifaxes, 70 Stirlings, 4 Mosquitoes along with 3 B-17’S. The last operation from the RAF with the USAAF taking part.

Clear weather conditions and great pathfinder marking produced the first serious damage to the city so far in the war, extensive damage caused to the eastern parts of the city and damage to the docks on the river Maine. Sadly an orphanage was also hit - killing some 90 children, 14 nuns and others members of the staff. In the following days Frankfurt station was packed with local residents wanting to leave the city.

Above L-R: Fred Tildsley, Bob Pollock, Don Grant. Alan and Howard Paskins. Howard Paskins. (courtesy Howard Paskins)

Above Left: Fl/Sgt. John Robert Pollock, Fl/Sgt. Lenard Reginald Cook, P/O. W. Donald Tildsley, unknown, Bottom: F/O. James Hubert Mason DFC, Sgt. Fred Tweedale and Fl/Sgt. Norman Stott. Above Centre: F/O. James Hubert Mason DFC, Fl/Sgt. Lenard Reginald Cook and P/O. Don Tildsley. Above Right: unknown, Fl/Sgt. Norman Stott, Fl/Sgt. John Robert Pollock, Sgt. Fred Tweedale, Fl/Sgt. Lenard Reginald Cook (courtesy Carol Black - daughter of Bob Pollock)

Notes on photographs: The crews shown are the original crew that flew with F/O. James Hubert Mason DFC IN 50 Squadron. Air Gunner Fl/Lt. John Robert Pollock DFM. MiD. survived the war - details to follow, Air Bomber Fl/Lt. Lenard Reginald Cook DFM survived the war, Flight Engineer P/O. W. Donald Tildsley MiD. survived the war, Pilot F/O. James Hubert Mason DFC - this page, Air Gunner Sgt. Fred Tweedale 1063624 RAFVR killed on the 04th October 1943 whilst with 50 Squadron - Lancaster I W4905 VN-H, Navigator W/O. Norman Stott DFM. 1097284 RAFVR missing believed killed on the 21st March 1945 whilst with 189 Squadron - Lancaster I RF132 CA-K.

Above with 'C' for Charlie: Bob Pollock, Fred Tweedale and Don Grant. (courtesy Carol Black)

13 allied aircraft were lost during the operation. It is thought that Lancaster W4905 was shot down by Lt. Otto Brüning (1) of 1./JG300 although following his attack, the 88 mm flak unit based at the Goethe Tower, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt also fired at the aircraft as it came down - made a direct hit and the aircraft exploded mid air - killing all the crew.

Above: The remains of Lancaster W4905 with Günther Kürze of the Offenbach Luftschutz Polizei posing with the remains of the aircraft. (courtesy Eugene Lux via Günther Kürze and Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten, Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie)

(1) This was the second claim by Lt. Otto Brüning who went on to become an ‘Ace’ with 12 claims. He was killed on the 30/31st January the following year at Münchengladbach after running out of fuel.

Burial details:

F/O. Cecil James Morley Wilkie CGM. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 9.G.15. Son of William and Elizabeth Wilkie, of Catford and husband of Megan Myfanwy Wilkie, of Catford, London, England.

London Gazette - 23 July 1943 Citation:

"One night in June, 1943, F/O. Edward Harty Elliot Hearn 131973 and Sgt. Frank Pointon 938804 and Sgt. Stanley Wilkinson 993249 were air bomber, mid-upper gunner and flight engineer respectively of an aircraft, piloted by Sgt. Wilkie, detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area, the bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The windscreen round the pilot's cabin was shattered and Sgt. Wilkie was blinded by flying splinters. Despite this he remained at the controls. F/O. Hearn and Sgt. Wilkinson were injured by fragments of shrapnel. Nevertheless, the former uncomplainingly remained at his post ready to release his bombs whilst Sgt. Wilkinson went to the assistance of his pilot and the bombing run was completed. Still unable to see. Sgt. Wilkie remained at the controls, piloting his aircraft by touch, being aided in various ways by the flight engineer and by F/O. Hearn who directed him in avoiding the searchlights and continuous anti-aircraft fire to which the bomber was subjected.
Some time later, whilst still over enemy territory, Sgt. Wilkie recovered his vision in one eye and soon succeeded in flying clear of the defences, afterwards flying the aircraft back to this country. In the course of the action Sgt. Pointon had one finger severed when his turret was damaged by a shattering blow. Although in considerable pain he remained at his post, constantly alert to the danger of fighter interference. In most harassing circumstances these members of aircraft crew displayed courage, fortitude and determination of the highest order.'"

Left: Sgt. Howard George Paskins (courtesy Howard Paskins - nephew)

Sgt. Stanley Wilkinson DFM. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 9.G.16. Son of Mrs. G. Wilkinson, of Higher Tranmere, Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. He was awarded his DFM for the same feat that his pilot had been awarded as shown above.

F/O. James Albert Brett. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 9.G.12. Son of Archibald and Janet Brett, of Staplehurst, Kent, England.

Sgt. Howard George Paskins. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 9.G.13. Son of Allan Paskins, and of Mary Ada Paskins, of Haywards Heath, Sussex, England.

Sgt. Maurice Mensworth. Durnbach War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.G.17-19. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Mensforth, of Middlestone, County Durham, England.

Above: Fred Tweedale with sister Hilda (courtesy Debbie Willetts)

Sgt. Fred Tweedale. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 9.G.14. Born on the 22nd December 1923 the son of Harry Booth and Doris Tweedale, brother of Hilda and Harry of 11 boundary street, Rochdale, Lancashire, England. Prior to service he worked in a metal factory, a reserved occupation but all his friends had gone to war so he decided to enlist. Sadly, just a year before his loss, he was home on leave when he discovered his mother dead - coroners report stated that she died from a faulty heart valve at just 48 years old.

T/Sgt. John Watson Brant. Greenwood Cemetery, Fulton County, Illinois, USA. Grave 160. Division M. Born on the 11th April 1925, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Brant of Canton, Fulton County, Illinois, USA.

Researched for Debbie Willetts relative of Sgt. Fred Tweedale and also with assistance from Carol Black - also thanks to Howard Paskins who contacted us in June 2017. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown below. In addition to our Kracker Luftwaffe Archive, and Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2’. Eugene Lux, Günther Kürze for crash photo. Also to Edd Marks for taking the photo of the grave of T/Sgt. John Watson Brant - September 2017.

KTY New photo's added 15.07.2017

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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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