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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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626 Squadron Crest
20/21.07.1944 No. 626 Squadron Lancaster I LM136 UM-D2 F/O. Wilson

Operation: Courtrai

Date: 20/21st July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No: 626 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LM136

Code: UM-D2

Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire.

Location: North Sea

Pilot: F/O. William David Wilson 142063 RAFVR Age 33. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John McBean Meaney 1573695 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. Harold Leslie Stevens 1263452 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Keith Cedric Binnie AUS/423602 RAAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Derek John Stanley Clarke 1600718 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr (mid upper): Fl/Sgt. Frank Lorne Robertson AUS/428608 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr (rear): Sgt. William Thomas Woodhouse 1324803 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed


Lancaster LM136 took off at 23:55 hrs to bomb the railway marshalling yards at Courtrai. The force totalled 302 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitoes. 626 Squadron were starting to leave from 23.43 hrs at various intervals. Weather for the route was cloudy with moderate visibility - over the target no cloud, some haze with moderate visibility.

This aircraft carried a 13,000 mixed load with 1 x 1,000 lb. and 1 x 500 lb. H.E bomb. Opposition over the target area was very light flak but night fighters extremely active both on the outward flight over Ostend and also over the sea on the homeward route. The target was marked on time and very accurate with the result of the bombing described as very well concentrated and accurate with the sidings totally destroyed along with the main locomotive sheds, repair yards, passenger station and a bridge.

Above and below the crew of LM136.

9 aircraft failed to return, with most falling victim to the night fighters.

Lancaster LM136 is claimed to have been shot down by Obstlt. Helmut Lent (1) of Stab NJG3 between 02:19 hrs and 02:16 hours with combat taking place at around 2,000 mtrs over the sea mid way between Dover and Dunkirk.

Another 626 Squadron Lancaster was also lost - LM633 UM-D2 flown by 32 year old, F/O. John Bowen AUS/414334 of the RAAF who was made PoW along with another crew member, 4 crew evaded capture but 21 year old, Fl/Sgt. John William Houseman AUS/424634 of the RAAF was listed as missing - believed killed.

The body of Fl/Sgt. Frank Lorne Robertson was washed up at Loon-Plage and that of Sgt. Derek John Stanley Clarke at Middelkerke, the remaining 5 crews bodies have no known graves.

(1) Helmut Lent went on to claim 102 night fighter kills and a further 8 kills before on the 7th October 1944 he died after suffering injuries sustained during a crash landing on the 5th October 1944 during a crash landing in his Ju 88 G-6 at Paderborn Airfield following engine failure and subsequent collision with a high tension cable. His crew were rescued - injured from the crash. Walter Kubisch (radio operator) and Hermann Klöss (2nd radio operator) died the same day, Werner Kark (War correspondent and Air/Gnr) died the next morning.

Burial details:

F/O. William David Wilson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Son of James and Elinor Wilson; husband of Dorothea M. Wilson, of 5B Willow Road, Hampstead, London, England

Sgt. John McBean Meaney. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 234. Son of Francis and Elizabeth Meaney, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Harold Leslie Stevens. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. 27 St. Georges Avenue South, Wolstanton, Staffordshire, England.

F/O. Keith Cedric Binnie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 257. Born on the 08th August 1920 at Strathfield, NSW, the son of Charles Stewart Binnie and Jessie May Binnie, of 23 Waimea Street, Burwood, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Derek John Stanley Clarke. Middelkerke Communal Cemetery. Row D. Grave 6. No further details, are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. Frank Lorne Robertson. Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery. Plot 10. Row B. Grave 37. Born on the 05th January 1924 at Artarmon, NSW, the son of Walter Foxton Robertson and Jessie Sophia Harriek Robertson (née Faddy), of Rural Bank, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. William Thomas Woodhouse. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 241. Son of John and Martha Woodhouse, of Fishponds, Bristol, England.

Researched for Sunta Cilia (Relative of Sgt. Woodhouse) and for all relatives / friends of the crew. Acknowledgments: With thanks to the following: Anne Law of the RAF Wickenby website for the crew photo's, other sources as quoted.

KTY Updated 06.12.2018

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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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