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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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57 squadron badge
27/28.01.1944 57 Squadron Lancaster III JB366 Plt Off. Antony O. Wright

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 27th/28th January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 57 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB366

Code: DX:N

Base: RAF East Kirby, Lincolnshire

Location: Jetsch, 10 km (6¼ mls) NW of Luckau, Germany

Pilot: Plt Off. Antony Oliver Wright 158793 RAFVR Age 20. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Jack Kenneth English 967976 RAFVR Age 25. PoW No. 1176 * (1)

Nav: Flt Sgt. Douglas Norman 'Doug' Marsh 1452031 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No. 1621 * (2)

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. John Douglas 'Jack’ Rennie R155649 RCAF Age 23. PoW No. 1178 *

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Gerald James Huxtable 1385692 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No. 1065 * (3)

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Richard Anderson 991776 RAFVR Age 21. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Ronald Anthony Cook 423985 RAAF Age 28. MiA

* Stalag 357 Kopernikus at Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. Moved in September 1944. The camp was commonly referred to as Stalag 357 Fallingbostel, however, it was officially designated as Stalag 357 Oerbke.

Above left to right: Plt Off. Wright, Sgt. Anderson as an LAC, Flt Sgt. Cook - From his service record.

Note: The badge above Richard Anderson’s LAC badge of rank depicts that he was a qualified Ground Gunner (GG) in the RAF Regiment.


Relative of the pilot contacted us in June 2016 and would very much like to hear from other relatives of this crew - please contact us in the first instance. Update: January 2017 - another relative contacted us - page updated.


REASON FOR LOSS:

In all 515 Lancasters together with 15 Mosquitoes were committed to the raid on the night of 27/28 January 1944. 33 of the Lancasters did not return.

A diversionary minelaying operation had some effect in drawing off half of the night fighter defences but the remainder was sent up earlier than normal flying out 75 miles over the North Sea from the Dutch coast to meet the oncoming bomber stream.

In the city itself a further 567 people were killed including 132 foreign workers. 20,000 people were bombed out of their homes.

After taking off at 17:40 hrs. from RAF East Kirby, Lincolnshire JB366 failed to return.

Note: The regular Wireless Operate/Air Gunner, Sgt. George Allen, was sick and was replaced by Sgt. Huxtable.

57 Squadron Lancasters whilst at RAF Scampton (courtesy IWM)

JB366, 166 Sqn W4996 or 460 Sqn JA860 were claimed as a probable by three German night-fighters:

Oblt. Horst-Helmut Orpky, his 3rd Abschuss, from 6./NJG3, at 20:36hrs;
Ofw. Walter Kammerer, his 3rd Abschuss, from 6./NJG3, at 20:54hrs;
Oblt. Wilhelm 'Wim’ Johnen, his 9th Abschuss and one of three this night, from 5./NJG5, SSW of Berlin at 4.500 m, at 20:57 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January 1944 - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
.

JB366 was reported to have crashed at Jetsch, 10 km (6¼ mls) NW of Luckau, Germany. It is not known why the three who perished have no known grave.

(1) Sgt. English was captured at Crinitz, 75 mls SW of Berlin on the 29th January.

After the statutory visit to Dulag Luft Oberursel he was transferred to Stalag Luft 6 arriving there during February 1944. During July 1944 he was transferred to Stalag 357 Kopernikus at Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. On the 1st September 1944 the camp was forced marched to to the site of the former Stalag 9D, with construction being carried out by the Italian PoW from Stalag 9B. The camp was commonly known as Stalag 357, Fallingbostal but officially the designation was Stalag 357, Oerbke.

Stalag 357 Fallingbostel (Oerbke) was liberated on the 16th April 1945 by British troops from B Squadron 11th Hussars and the Reconnaissance Troop of the 8th Hussars. They were met at the main gate of Stalag 357 by a guard of Airborne troops, impeccably attired and led by RSM Lord. He was interviewed on the 20th April 1945

Sgt. English was amongst some of the PoWs who were forced marched from Stalag 357 Fallingbostel (Oerbke) towards the end of the war towards Lübeck. On the 8th April 1945 under the cover of darkness Sgt. English and Flt Sgt. Whittle escaped from the column some 30 mls NE of Hannover. They contacted elements of No. 6th Commando at the Aller river on the 16th April 1945. He was interviewed on the 20th April 1945.

Note: There were three NCOs named Whittle at Stalag 357 so it has not been possible at this time to identify which of the three escaped with Sgt. English.

Jack Kenneth English was born on the 12th February 1918 in London. He was an Engineer prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 15th September 1939.

(2) Flt Sgt. Marsh landed without injury about 96 km (60 mls) south of Berlin at Raddusch and started following a train line with the intention of getting a ship to Sweden. He met up with a French PoW gang working on the train track and they clothed him and fed him then passed him down the line to another French work gang who then passed him on to a Polish work gang. He managed to evade for 10 days before he was eventually caught. After being interrogated by the Gestapo he was then sent to Stalag 357 Kopernikus at Thorn in Poland.

(3) Sgt. Huxtable was captured the same day about 160 km (100 mls) south of Berlin and after the statutory visit to Dulag Luft, Oberursel for 4 days he was transferred to Stalag Luft 6, Heydekrug arriving there on the on the 13th February 1944.

On the 15th July 1944 he was transferred to Stalag Luft 4, Groß-Tychow, Pomerania arriving there on the 19th July 1944.

Over a period of 3 days from the 6th February 1945 some 6,000 prisoners were ordered to leave the camp on foot with little notice. The PoWs in groups of 250 to 300 were marched, heading west, covering long daily distances on starvation rations.

On the 28th March 1945 the column arrived at Ebbsdorf where a large number of the men were jammed into railway box cars and sealed in for some 33 hours until the train arrived at Stalag 11B, near Fallingbostel on the 30th March.

Many camps on the eastern edge of Germany were combined into one large camp here. The treatment was a repetition of that at previous camps, with the exception of food, of which there was virtually none. There were no beds or bedding in the buildings.

On the morning of the 2nd May 1945 the main column was resting in a ditch next to the River Elbe near Lauenburg, Germany, when British troops arrived and liberated the camp. He was interviewed on the 4th May 1945.

Gerald James Huxtable was born on the 16th June 1921 in Wandsworth, London. He was employed as a clerk prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 28th February 1941.

Burial details:

Memorial to 57 and 630 Squadron at East Kirkby

Plt Off. Antony Oliver Wright. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 213. Born on the 20th April 1923 in North Witchford, Cambridgshire. Son of Oliver and Nelly (née Stacey) Wright of Wimblington, Cambridgeshire, England.

Also remembered on the war memorial lists for 1939-1945 at Manea and Wimblington. Cambridgeshire, England

Sgt. Richard Anderson Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Born at 63 Morgan Street, Sunderland, England on the 27th March 1920. Information from his younger brother mentioned that he lived with his Grandfather as he was from a large family and not enough room at the family home.

He enlisted with the RAFVR during April 1940 after having worked as a riveter in the Sunderland shipyards having previously worked at the coal mines. He sent all his meagre salary home to his parents.

Flt Sgt. Ronald Anthony Cook. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 260. Born on the 29th June 1915 at Parramatta, New South Wales, the son of George James and Edna Grave Cook of 4 Walker Street, Rhodes, NSW, Australia, and husband of Lila May Cook of 19 Woodside Avenue, Lindfield, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Josef McGrath for photo of his Uncle, the pilot, Plt Off. Antony Oliver Wright - June 2016. Also, many thanks to James Vanderpeer, younger brother of Richard Anderson who contacted us in January 2017. Thanks to Roger Stones for the information about his father-in-law, Sgt George Allen and for the Evasion story for Flt Sgt. Marsh (Dec 2023). Reviewed and update with new information by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 30.12.2023 - Reviewed and updated with new information

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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', 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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