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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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427 Squadron Halifax III LW574 W/O. Adolf Edward Yaworski

Operation: Berlin

Date: 24/25th March 1944 (Friday/Saturday

Unit: No. 427 Squadron (motto: Ferte manus certas -  'Strike with a sure hand')

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LW574

Code: ZL-J

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire

Location: Ahaus - north west Minster

Pilot: W/O. 1 Adolf Edward Yaworski R/128270 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas King Rigby 1685848 RAFVR Age? Killed

Nav: W/O.2 Alastair James Young R/128730 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Joseph Jean Louis Hamel R/164784 PoW No. 3448 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus / Stalag Luft Heydekrug (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O.1. Herbert R Armstrong R/97338 PoW No: 3433 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus / Stalag Luft Heydekrug (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Jean Leon Jette R/194134 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Alexander Mcbeath R/175940 RCAF Age 21. Killed


Bomb load: 390x4 lb incendiary, 6x4 lb. 4G and 56x30 lb bombs.

Weather: Cloudy - Fair to fine later. Visibility is moderate to good.

Taking off at 18:45 hrs with 14 others from the squadron. The last major raid on the capital of Germany with a force of 811 aircraft.

The night became known as 'the night of the strong winds'.

A powerful wind from the north carried the bombers south at every stage of the flight. Not only was this wind not forecast accurately but it was so strong that the various methods available to warn crews of wind changes during the flight failed to detect the full strength of it.

The bomber stream became very scattered, particularly on the homeward flight and radar-predicted flak batteries at many places were able to score successes. Part of the bomber force even strayed over the Ruhr defences on the return flight. It is believed that approximately 50 of the 72 aircraft lost were destroyed by flak, most of the remainder were victims other night fighters. the strong winds severely affected the marking with, unusually, markers being carried beyond the target and well out to the southwest of the city.

It was recorded in the interrogation papers from the two survivors that they had been hit by flak. This information was backed up by No. 20 Missing Research Enquiry Service (MRES) (2) in June 1946. The aircraft crashed in the town of Ahaus at 20:40 hrs. The aircraft was described as torn apart in a sudden explosion in the air.

However, Theo Boiten describes that they were possibly shot down by Oblt. Peter Ehrhardt of 8./NGJ5 at 00:05 hrs? we feel that this is unlikely due to time difference.

The squadron lost two other crews on this operation:

Halifax III LW577 ZL-K 4 Flown by P/O. Stanley Geddes Dowdell J/85604 RCAF - killed with 3 others, 3 PoW.
Halifax III LK752 coded ZL-V Flown by W/O.1. William Frederick Magdalinski R/115617 RCAF - taken PoW with 2 others, 4 killed.

(1) Herbert R Armstrong was from 1A Pinewood Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Joseph Jean Louis Hamel of 5968 Chateau Briand Street, Montreal, Canada.

Above: nose art for LW574 ZL-J for Joan.

(2) The Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was set up in 1944 to trace the 42,000 personnel who were listed as ‘missing, believed killed’. The demand was so great that the department was expanded in 1945. Flight Lieutenant Noel Archer of the MRES noting details of aircrew graves at a civilian burial ground in France.

These men had no special training and did not have the benefits that modern technology offers; only a strong desire to bring home those who had not returned. Despite the obstacles caused by the lack of tools, the MRES was able to account for over two thirds of the missing personnel. Those found were identified and reinterred in Commonwealth War Graves Commission plots.

Without the commitment shown by the dedicated teams of the MRES, many families would go on not knowing what had happened to their loved one or of the location of their Final resting place. The MRES allowed families the dignity to finally grieve. The unit was disbanded in 1952.

Burial details:

Initially buried on the 27th of March in the Old Catholic Cemetery in Ahaus.

W/O. 1 Adolf Edward Yaworski. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.5. Born on the 15th of April 1923 in Rama, Saskatchewan, Canada. Enlisted on the 18th of September 1941. Son of Jacob and Mary (Szymkiw) Yaworski (Parents of Polish origin). Fiancee of Audrey Thomason of Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. Epitaph: 'Son Of Mr. And Mrs. Jacob Yaworski, Of Rama, Saskatchewan, Canada'.

Sgt. Thomas King Rigby. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.3. Son of William Rigby (died 17th September 1955, age 66) and Mary Elizabeth King Rigby (died 27th December 1965), of Bromborough, Cheshire. His brother Eric King Rigby also died on service.

W/O.2 Alastair James Young. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.2. Born on the 16th of December 1920 in Dumfries, Scotland. Son of John Young (died 19th April 1961, age 78) and of Mary Donald Young (nee Bryson - died 1962, age 71), of 1764 Westbrook Crescent, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Epitaph: 'The Eternal God Is Thy Dwelling Place, And Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms'.

Sgt. Joseph Jean Leon Jette. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.4. Born on the 03rd August 1922 in Montreal. Son of Leon Arcadius Jette (died 1965, age 80) and Helene Jette (died 1974, age 91), of Belveil Station, Verchers County, Province of Quebec, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Robert Alexander Mcbeath. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.A.1. Born on the 21st November 1923 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Son of Robert Lamond Ritchie Mcbeath (died 10th September 1974, age 85) and Isabella Anderson Stronach (née McNeill - died 29th December 1981, age 90. They married on the 01st January 1923). 3336 West 2nd Avenue, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to National Archives Kew, Air-27-1846-5/6, Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1944 Part two, Paradie Archive, International Bomber Command Centre IBCC. Kracker Archive.

KTY 07-03-2023

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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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