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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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john williams
10.09.1942 No 22 O.T.U. Wellington IC R1616 Fl/Sgt. Williams loss

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 10th September 1942 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 22 O.T.U.

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: R1616

Code: - ?

Base: R.A.F. Stratford-Upon-Avon

Location: Biervliet, Holland

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Daniel Williams R/79368 R.C.A.F. Age 30. Killed

Obs: P/O. William Thomas Beilby McBratney J/85161 R.C.A.F. Age 28. Killed (1)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. William Thomas Cranna R/93683 R.C.A.F. Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Herbert Leslie Bell R/94770 R.C.A.F. Age 21. Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Raymond Woods Hughes R/99971 R.C.A.F. Age 23. Killed


Took off from Stratford-Upon-Avon at 20.05 hrs to bomb Düsseldorf. A huge force took off - a total of 479 aircraft made up of 242 Wellington's, 89 Lancaster's, 59 Halifax's, 47 Stirling's, 28 Hampden's and 14 Whitley's.

Above L - R: Fl/Sgt. John Williams, P/O William McBratney , F/Sgt. Raymond Hughes (courtesy Colin Bamford)

The pathfinders marked the target area successfully using the "Pink Pansies" (3) in converted 4,000 lb. bomb casings. The city was hit in all areas apart from the north, also hit was the neighbouring town of Neuss. Reports are that 39 industrial firms in Düsseldorf and a further 13 in Neuss were damaged to the extent that no production could take place for various periods, 8 public buildings were destroyed and 67 damaged. 911 houses were also destroyed, 1,506 seriously damaged and another 8,340 lightly damaged.

On the ground 132 people were killed, made up of 120 in Düsseldorf and 12 in Neuss. A further 11 people were classed as "missing" 2 days after the raid. 19,427 people were made homeless.

The raid took it's toll on the R.A.F. though with 33 aircraft lost. (20 Wellington's, 5 Lancaster's. 4 Stirling's, 3 Halifaxes and 1 Hampden) 60 crewmen were killed, 1 injured and 13 made P.O.W.

Pictured seated in the rear, Oblt. Albert Schulz (courtesy Tom Kracker)

Wellington IC R1616 was shot down by Oblt. Albert Schulz from 1./NJG2 at a height of 4,500 mtrs. South West of Biervliet at 23.45hrs. He became a night-fighter ace with a total of 10 kills (plus another during daylight) before he was killed on the 30th January 1944 during combat with B-17'S over Bodenwerder.

(3) "Pink Pansies" an incendiary bomb - 2,800 lbs - used as a target marker made up from Benzol, rubber and phosphorous)

Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery (courtesy C.W.G.C.)

Biographical and Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. John Daniel Williams. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row C. Grave 25. Son of Percy and Madeline Daisy Williams; husband of Margaret Mary Williams, of Verdun, Province of Quebec, Canada.
John, the eldest son of Percy and Margaret was born in Bermondsey, London in 1912 and came to Canada with his mother and younger brothers in 1919 to join their father in Montreal. A good student he was working at Montreal Tramways as an electrical draughtsman while taking courses at Sir George Williams College in order to gain a degree in electrical engineering. At the age of 29 and married only 6 months to Margaret, John was older than many of the recruits when he applied for enlistment in January 1941. Called up that April, he was posted to No.3 Initial Training School, Victoriaville, 3 July 1941 and completed his course there on 8 August. Selected as suitable for pilot training, John was posted to No.4 Elementary Flying School at Windsor Mills, training on Fleet Finch aircraft. Completing his training there he was next posted to No.9 Service Flying Training School, Summerside, PEI on 25 September to train on the larger and much more powerful Harvard. Awarded his Pilot's flying badge on 19 December 1941 he was recommended to continue training on twin-engined aircraft with a bomber squadron. Posted to "Y" Depot, Halifax, he embarked for the UK on 8 January 1942 arriving at No.3 PRC, Bournemouth two weeks later. Posted to No.6 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire on 1 April, John was introduced to flying the twin-engined Airspeed Oxford before being sent to No.22 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford on 7 July to train on the Vickers Wellington as a night bomber pilot.
To assemble a force consisting of multiple hundreds of bombers, Sir Arthur Harris pressed into service the aircraft and crews still in training at the various OTU's which became necessary with the introduction of the so-called "1000 Bomber Plan" at the end of May 1942 against Cologne. Of the 33 aircraft lost 16 were from the OTU's.

P/O. William Thomas Beilby McBratney. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row C. Grave 27. Son of Howard A. and Edith G. McBratney, of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada.
After applying to join the RCAF in November 1940, William was called up and taken on strength at No.2 Manning Depot, Brandon on 22 May 1941. Prior to his call-up, he was working at the Hudson Bay Mining Co., as a milling machine operator during the day and at night was very involved in music with a local band. On his application, he stated that it was his wish to be on flying duty as a pilot. Posted to No.2 Initial Training School, Regina, Saskatchewan on 15 July, he was selected for aircrew training with the rank of Leading Aircraftsman on 31 August and sent to No.19 Elementary Flying School, Virden, Manitoba. However, once training commenced by his own admission he felt incompetent in control of the aircraft and felt that he would be more suited as an observer. Posted to Composite Training School, Trenton for re-evaluation he was deemed as suitable for observer training and sent to No.3 Air Observer School, Regina on 27 October 1941. Next posted to No.2 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mossbank, Manitoba 1 February 1942 gaining his Observers badge on 14 March. Posted to No.1 Air Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba on 15 March and then to "Y" Depot, Halifax to await embarkation for the UK. Arriving at No.3 PRC on 12 May 1942, he was posted to No.3 Observers Advanced Flying Unit (No.3 (O) AFU) at RAF Bobbington on 11 June joining No.22 OTU on 7 July 1942.

Sgt. William Thomas Cranna. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row C. Grave 24. Son of William Forbes and Mary (nee Sutherland) Cranna of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada
Of Scottish descent, William was born in Lacombe, Alberta on 15 April 1916. At the time of his application, he was employed as a police constable in his hometown. Enlisting at Edmonton on 9 April 1941, he was posted to No.2 Initial Training School, Regina on 9 June and then to No.5 Elementary Flying School, High River, Alberta 15 July. Although William did well at ground school he was apt to be very nervous when flying which hindered his ability. He was given extra training in the air to try and overcome his nervousness but in the end, decided that he would re-muster as an observer. Ceasing training on 30 August he was transferred to Composite School (KTS) Trenton, Ontario where he was seen to be qualified to train as an observer being posted to No.3 Air Observers School, Regina on 27 October 1941. Struck off No.3 AOS 31 January 1942 and transferred to No.2 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mossbank to complete his training from 1 February to 14 March graduating with his Air Observers badge. After a month posting to No.1 Air Navigation School at Rivers, he was posted to "Y" Depot Halifax and embarked for the UK on 30 April arriving at No.3 PRC on 12 May. Posted to No.3 (O) AFU on 6 June until 4 July when he joined No.22 OTU.

Sgt. Charles Herbert Leslie Bell. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row C. Grave 30. Son of William Herbert and Florence Kate Bell, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Enlisted 17 March 1941 for training as a wireless operator/air gunner after having worked as a truck driver and steam-fitter upon leaving Balfour Technical School in Regina. From the Manning Depot at Brandon, Charles was posted to No.10 Repair Depot at Calgary from 30 April until 20 July 1941. Next posted to No.2 Wireless School, Calgary he completed his wireless training on 2 March 1942 and was awarded his Wireless Operators badge. Posted to No.5 Bombing and Gunnery School, Dafoe, Saskatchewan graduating with his Air Gunners badge on 30 March 1942. The remarks on his final report read, " Above average in theory and practical work". Posted to "Y" Depot, Halifax and embarked for UK 30 April, arriving at No.3 PRC 12 May 1942. Transferred to No.4 Signals School at RAF Madley near Hereford, 12 June and then to No.22 OTU on 21 July 1942.

Fl/Sgt. Raymond Woods Hughes. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row C. Grave 26. Son of Thomas James Hughes and Eva Lydia Green Hughes, of Kent Bridge, Ontario, Canada.
Raymond worked on the family farm for a number of years after leaving school and then decided to attend Chatham Vocational School to study electricity and mathematics but after a year took a job with a pulp and paper company in northern Ontario. Returning home he helped out on the farm and also worked as a service station attendant until he was accepted by the RCAF. Applying to be trained as an air gunner, he enlisted at London, Ontario on 25 June 1941 and was called up to report to No.1 Manning Depot, Toronto on 2 September. Posted to No.1 Equipment Depot for a period of three months, he finally got his posting to No.4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario on 18 January 1942 where he graduated with his Air Gunners badge on 16 February that same year. The remarks on his final exam read, "He made a good showing at all his work. Will be a first class A.G.". Transferred to "Y" Depot 4 March, embarking for the UK on the 13th. Arrived at No.3 PRC 24 March and then posted to No.7 Air Gunnery School near Pyle, Bridgend, Wales on 6 June. One month later on 7 July, Raymond was taken on strength at 22 OTU.

Researched by Colin Bamford. With thanks to; Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses" Vol 7, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt (Bomber Command War diaries) Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - "Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2", Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

(1) McBratney Lake in Manitoba is named after P/O McBratney

(2) Bell Coulee in Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Bell

CHB 26.10.2021 Added biographical details and Hughes photo

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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