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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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9 Squadron Crest
25/26.05.1943 9 Squadron Lancaster III ED834 WS:Z Fg Off. Woodhouse

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 25th/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED834

Code: WS:Z

Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire

Location: Schelde south of Vlissingen, Holland

Pilot: Fg Off. Harold Walter Woodhouse 110587 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Leslie John Daker 1579189 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Nav: Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett 1553400 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Bom Aimer: Sgt. Harold John Warren 1388638 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William "Bill" Smith 1034418 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Albert Glyn Coffin 1578186 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Edgar Leslie Matthews 1457373 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

(Above: Courtesy Veronica Kingston) Sgt. William Smith photographed with his mother Berta Smith - date unknown)

(Above: Courtesy William Morley) Sgt. "Bill" Smith and his mother Bertha Smith - date unknown

Above: Probably a photograph taken at an Air Gunner training School. Aircraftman (AC) William "Bill" Smith is 3rd from the left, on the 2nd Row down. (Courtesy William Morley)

It appears that this is a photograph depicting two sections of airmen under aircrew training. The two Sergeants (centre of each group) are wearing Air Gunner Brevets and the airmen are wearing trainee bands on their forage caps and have no rank badges. Many of them (probably all) have "Sparks" badges which means that they would have already passed their Wireless Operator training. So this would have been the final training course at one of the Gunner Training Schools, Pembrey in South Wales being one such place.


Taking off from RAF Bardney at 23:19 hrs together with 15 other aircraft from the squadron. In total 323 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 142 Wellingtons, 113 Stirlings with 12 Mosquitos were to bomb Dusseldorf - 759 aircraft in total.

This crew had only been together for two operational flights. 13th May 1943 operation to Pilsen and 23rd May 1943 operation to Dortmund.

The weather on leaving England was fine with showers, over the Dutch coast broken cloud, which increased as the target was approached. Dusseldorf was covered in 10/10 cloud at various heights.

Despite the huge bomber force the raid was classed as a failure with bombing scattered over a wide area. Between 50 - 100 buildings were destroyed with some 50 people killed on the ground. It is understood that the Germans lit various fires and also placed decoy markers to fool the allies.

The allies lost some 29 aircraft - one on return, Halifax II HR747 from 51 Squadron, crashing at Highfield Farm near Doncaster, all crew survived uninjured. Another, Halifax II HR806 crashing immediately after take off, all 7 crew injured but survived. 27 others were lost either on route or returning from the operation. 27 were taken pow with a shocking 170 other crew killed or missing!

The night fighters were hampered by the cloud cover plus the half moon rose at about 03:00 hrs. when the crews were on their way home. However 21 were confirmed to have been shot down, mainly on the very slow return trip, when the allies suffered 40-60 mph head winds. 2 other aircraft were lost when 77 Squadron JB837 was shot down by Maj. Walter Ehle of stab II./NJG1 over Eisdorf at 01.51 hrs. The full bomb load exploded bringing down two Stirlings. Maj. Ehle was credited with 5 abschüsse on this night - not including the 2 Stirlings.

ED834 was claimed by Lt. Werner Hopf of II./NJG5 on detachment from 2./NJG1 , his 1st Abschuss, 2km SSE of Vlissingen at 5.500m at 03:22 hrs. The Lancaster crashed into the Schelde some 2 km south of Vlissingen. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 22 June) 1943 Part 1 - Theo Boiten)

Lt. Werner Hopf was credited with 21 confirmed Abschüsse. On the 30th April 1945 flying a Ju88 with 2 fellow officers, 2 women and a child he flew to Dübendorf in Switzerland and was interned. No further information. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 2).

Burial details:

Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen)

Left to Right: Fg.Off. Woodhouse; Sgt. Daker; Sgt. Warren (Courtesy Veronica Kingston)

Left to Right: Sgt. Coffin; Sgt. Matthews (Courtesy Veronica Kingston)

Fg Off. Harold Walter Woodhouse. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Joint grave 18-19. Inscription: "GOREU ARF, ARF DYSG". Born on 13th September 1910 Tonbridge, Kent. Son of Ernest Walter and Jane Ann (née Hagger) Woodhouse. (BA, BSc).

In 1939 Harold’s profession is shown as schoolmaster and living in City of Westminster London. Harold’s Probate/Estate record shows that his estate was left to his brother Leslie Ernest Woodhouse Lieutenant Commander RN, HMS Totland.

Sgt. Leslie John Daker. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Joint grave 18-19. Born on the 1st March 1913 in Stafford, Staffordshire. Son of John and Ada Mary (née Edwards) Daker. Husband to Daisey Rosamund May (née Sandbrook) Daker, of King's Norton, Birmingham, England.

On 1939 his profession is shown as an Assistant Manager, Production Engineer residing on Glenwood Road in Birmingham.

Above: Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett

Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 13. Inscription: "HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE". Son of Matthew and Mary Corbett, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Harold John Warren. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 17. Inscription: "THAT'S ALL I NEED: THE SONG OF A BIRD AND THE LONELY MOORS BEFORE ME". Son of John and Winifred Beatrice Warren, of Horsell, Woking, Surrey, England.

(Above: Sgt. William Smith Courtesy Veronica Kingston)

Sgt. William Smith. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 14. Inscription: "REQUIESCAT IN PACE". Born on the 2nd March 1921. Son of William and Bertha Smith, husband of Edna Pearl (née Doodson) Smith, of Gorton, Manchester, England.

Sgt. Albert Glyn Coffin. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 16. Inscription: "A MEMORY THAT WILL NEVER FADE". Son of Albert and Mary Coffin, of Chester, England.

Sgt. Edgar Leslie Matthews. Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) Row E. Grave 15. Inscription: "IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR SON. HE GAVE HIS LIFE THAT WE MIGHT LIVE. MUM & DAD". Son of Edgar and Annie Louise Matthews, of Sheffield, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Grant Macleod for photo of Sgt. James Brownlie Corbett- October 2016. Thanks to Veronica Kingston for NoK details and photographs of Sgt. William Smith and the Grave markers for the rest of the crew. Thanks to William Morley, the nephew of Sgt. William Smith for the additional images. With thanks to Kate Tame - senior research editor for Aircrew Remembered for the ORB details. Thanks to Janice McKnight for the update to NoK details for Sgt. Daker and Fg Off. Woodhouse (Aug 2022).

Other sources as quoted below.

RS 26.08.2022 - Update to NoK details for Sgt. Daker.

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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