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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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218 Squadron Crest
31st December 1944 No. 218 Squadron Lancaster I NF926 HA-X F/O. Roy W. Woodrow

Operation: Vohwinkel

Date: 31st December 1944 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 218 Squadron (Gold Coast)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: NF926

Code: HA-X

Base: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk.

Location: Solingen, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Roy William Woodrow 175154 RAFVR Age 23. Survived crash (1)

Pilot 2: Fl/Lt. George Neville Chandler 47598 RAF Age 25. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Derek Morris 15919398 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: Sgt. William Neil Watson 1568847 RAFVR Age 22. Survived crash (1)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Cyril Henry Robert James 1399446 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Leslie Stagg AUS/428566 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Carver 1595839 RAF Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. V. Welbourne 1629751 RAFVR PoW - Further details not known.


Leaving RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk at 11.14 to carry out a daylight bombing operation on the railway yards at Vohwinkel with 154 other Lancasters from 3 Group.

Little damage was done as strong winds carried the bombs south of the target. 83 people were killed on the ground and 97 injured.

Two aircraft were lost on this raid the other, also from 218 Squadron Lancaster I NG330 HA-M flown by 20 year old, F/O. Robert Harold Kench AUS/437135 RAAF killed with 6 other crew, the 7th crew member Sgt. John Barton 1622233 RAFVR was shot dead during an apparent escape attempt.

Crashed at around 14:50 hours on Sommerstraße 6, Solingen, a few kilometres south of the target. The inhabitants, in a nearby air raid shelter, heard the thump as the Lancaster hit the building. (Update September 2018 - further research continues as to exact location)

Joe Carver during training,, 3rd row from front, 3rd from right.

(1) Two men were found alive in the wreckage, one of them trapped by his legs kept shouting for help, but passers by turned their backs shouting “a murderer of women and children,” except for Fritz Schulze, a German policeman who pulled his pistol and shot dead both F/O. Woodrow and Sgt. Watson. (Although he was found guilty of just one of the murders - no eye witness for the other)

Schulze was sentenced to death at Hamburg for war crimes by hanging on Thursday, 17th July 1947 - sentence carried out on the 14th November 1947 in Hameln Prison. (See Vitz Archive on this site)

Joseph Carver wrote a letter to his wife, never posted and handed to his widow, Lily, with his possessions:

"Darling Lil,I just received my laundry yesterday and to-day I got your letter telling me you had received the cash, boy, I was glad about that, I was getting worried in case you didn’t get it for rent day.
Well my sweet I have just wrote to Mother telling her I had been building up hopes to you about being home for New Year, but darling I’m afraid after looking over the situation it’s about impossible, although we have done five since getting back, we still have three to do, and as there are only three more days left in the year, I’ll just have to be satisfied to get home shortly afterwards, as it will take at least two days to get cleared out and our passes made out, however my dear I will be away from this station as soon as I possibly can get away, so if I arrive home one day without letting you know I am coming don’t get too much of a shock.
On Xmas day we had a very lazy day just like yourself but just on account of the weather over the ‘drome being dirty, we bombed Jerry the night before, so I expect Santa Claus wouldn’t get there that night, and I doubt if he has got there since, as we have been keeping him very busy the last few days.I can’t think of anything more to tell you darling so will make it short and write again soon, take care of yourself dear, see you soon,
give my love to the children and my regards to all the folks,
Your loving hubby,

Burial details:

Crew originally buried at the Gräfrath Cemetery (part of Solingen) - reinterred after the war at the CWGC Cemetery.

F/O. Roy William Woodrow. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.10. Son of William Thomas and Mary Ellen Caroline Woodrow of South Ville, Bristol, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Stands As A Symbol Of Everything Fine".

Fl/Lt. George Neville Chandler. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.11. Son of Charles Henry and Beatrice Maud Chandler, husband of Christine Chandler of Staithers Cottage, Mitchley view, Sanderstead, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: "In Constant Memory Of "Chan", Dearly Loved Son And Husband".

(left) Sgt. Derek Morris. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.9. Son of Harry and Annie Elizabeth Morris, husband of Nancy May Morris of Newrport, Monmouthshire, Wales. Grave inscription reads: "A Beloved Heart At Rest. Wife Nan. Cherished For Ever In Our Hearts. Mum And Dad". (Courtesy: The War Graves Photograph project and Ralph Snape)

Sgt. William Neil Watson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.6. Son of Andrew Neil and Mary Watson of Dundonald, Ayrshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "Blessed Are The Pure In Heart: For They Shall See God" St.Matthew V.8".

Fl/Sgt. Cyril Henry Robert James. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.12. Son of Maurice Walter and Mary Ann James of Catford, London, England. Grave inscription reads: "Our Dear Beloved Son. In Memory He Always Will Be With Us. R.I.P".

Fl/Sgt. John Leslie Stagg. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.8. Born on the 06th April 1923 at Morwell, Victoria, the son of Thomas Henry and Lillian May Stagg and husband of Thelma Ellen Stagg of Chilwell, Victoria, Australia (Also of 119 Derby Street, East Kew, Victoria, Australia). Grave inscription reads: "Ever Remembered. His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done"

Sgt. Joseph Carver. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.7. Further information: Son of William and Mary Arm Carver of Newcastle–on-Tyne, England. Husband of Lily and father of Audrey, Ronnie and Alan (sadly died before reaching his first birthday) of Benwell, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Known as “Joe” to family and friends, he worked at many jobs including barman, grocer and auxiliary fireman. Grave inscription reads: "Sweet Are The Memories, Silently Kept, Of One We Loved And Never Forget".

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Special thanks to Angela Wheatley (niece) for the photos, letter and info on sergeant Joseph Carver. For further information our thanks go to Oliver Clutton-Brock for allowing details from his publication - “Footprints on the Sands of Time” to be used. With thanks to Ralph Snape for advising us of the correct crew positions - January 2018. Also to Traugott Vitz for his specialist advice on war crime trials. Other sources as quoted below.

RS 8.12.2018 - Addition of Grave Marker for Sgt. Morris

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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