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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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426 Squadron Crest
22/23.03.1944 No. 426 Squadron Lancaster II LL647 OW-R P/O. Harold G. Wright

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 22/23rd March 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 426 Squadron RCAF

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: LL647

Code: OW-R

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse

Location: Greffen, north of Munster, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Harold Grover Wright J/85531 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Lawrence Pearson 1296342 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: P/O. Harold Hugh Gray J/88147 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Hugh F. Macdonald RCAF Age ? P.o.W. No: 3827 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. William J. Burrows RCAF Age ? PoW No: 1864 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria.

Air/Gnr: F/O. Earl Kitchener Sears J/14814 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. John William MacLean J/88874 Age 21. Killed


By mid March 1944 the crew had completed five operations. P/O. Wright had completed seven, two as a second pilot or ‘second dickey’. On the 22/23 March 1944 the squadron received orders to participate in an operation to Frankfurt. P/O. Wright and crew were on the roll. It was their 6th and 8th operation respectively.

That evening fourteen aircraft from 426 squadron RCAF (1) aircraft took off, commencing at 18.40 hrs. It is estimated that LL647 OW-R departed from Linton-on-Ouze at approximately 19.01 hours. En-route to Frankfurt they were attacked by a night fighter. (1) Two loud explosions were heard aft and Wright asked Burrows the W/Op. to check. Flying Officer Burrows reported, after the war, that almost immediately afterwards he found himself in the air and managed to deploy his parachute. MacDonald was able to remove the escape hatch and bail out.

Frankfurt - 1944 (courtesy I.W.M.)

Both were captured and became PoWs. Their stricken Lancaster rolled over and crashed into a field near the village of Greffen, north of Munster, killing all the remaining crew. On a dull and foggy morning at Linton-on-Ouze Sgt Lawrence Pearson and crew failed to return.

Left: Flight Engineer of LL647, Sgt. Lawrence Pearson (courtesy Sue Fenwick)

(1) 426 Squadron lost another aircraft / crew this night. Lancaster II DS741 OW-T Flown by 26 year old Fl/Lt. Henry H. Bow from Columbia, Canada, killed with all 7 crew - lost without trace.

Left: Ofw. Rudolf Frank

(2) It is thought that the ‘probable night fighter claim was that of Ofw. Rudolf Frank of 3./NJG3 at 21.54 hrs. Already a highly acclaimed night fighter ace with this, his 37 abschüsse of his war, total of 46 before he was also killed after a crash.

Just a few weeks later on the 26th/27th April 1944 he attacked a 12 Squadron Lancaster ND873 PH-H Flown by P/O. George Nicholls, during the attack debris hit his aircraft Bf110 G-4 D5+CL which crashed at Heeze, near Eindhoven.

Burial details:

The five were initially interred at Harsewinkel Cemetery but were later moved in to Reichswald Forest, Kleve. According to records they are buried together in row/column 29. In plot 1 lies Sears, the others are buried in 2-5.

P/O. Harold Grover Wright. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.D.2-5. Son of Mr and Mrs Wright, of 77 Park Avenue, Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

Left: P/O. Harold Grover Wright

Sgt. Lawrence Pearson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.D.2-5. Further information: Lawrence Pearson was born in April 1921 and grew up in Yeovil, Somerset. He was the eldest of five children. After completing his education he became an apprentice motor mechanic at Vincent’s Garage in Yeovil. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. in 1941 at the age 19. As a qualified mechanic it wasn’t long before he was accepted for training as a flight engineer. In October 1941 he was sent to Canada for further training. In the summer of 1943 he returned to the UK where he completed OTU and HCU on the Avro Lancaster. He was assigned to 426 squadron RCAF. In early February 1944, he was based at Linton-on Ouze, Yorkshire. Sgt Lawrence Pearson was not married. His parents were Alice and Ben Pearson and he had four siblings. He had hoped to return to Canada after the war.

P/O. Harold Hugh Gray. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.D.2-5. Son of Herbert C. and Winifred M. Gray, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

F/O. Earl Kitchener Sears. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.D.1. Son of Reuben and Mable Sears, husband of Thelma W. Sears, of Havelock, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. John William MacLean. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.D.2-5. Son of Donald and Adeline MacLean, of Fort William, Ontario, Canada

Researched by Sue Fenwick and dedicated to all the relatives of this crew, with thanks to National Archives AIR/27/1842, Laurence Motiuk ‘Thunderbirds at War, Diary of a Bomber Squadron’, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.

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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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