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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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150 Squadron
23/24.02.1945 150 Squadron Lancaster I PB780 Fg Off. Pierre A.G. Ythier

Operation: Pforzheim, Germany

Date: 23rd/24th February 1945 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 150 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PB780

Code: IQ:T

Base: RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire, England

Location: Neuhausen, Germany

Pilot: Fg Off. Pierre Aimé Gérard ‘Gerry’ Ythier 184182 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. J.A. ‘Nobby’ Clark 13020463 RAFVR Age? PoW *

Nav: Flt Sgt. L.B. Horrox 1582512 RAFVR Age? PoW *

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Albert William Delieu 154385 RAFVR Age 24. Murdered (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Ronald Samuel ‘Ron’ Lewis 1042987 RAFVR Age? KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Robert Harold ‘Bob’ Conning 2219046 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William Edward Buckley 2221755 RAFVR Age? PoW *

* Unknown PoW Camp

REASON FOR LOSS:

The Sqn was detailed to provide 16 aircraft for a mission to attack the communications centre of Pforzheim near Stuttgart.

The aircraft took off from RAF Hemswell commencing 15:22 hrs on the afternoon of the 23rd February 1945. The weather was cloudy on take off but cleared shortly after reaching the French coast. The markers were clearly seen and well placed and bombing under the Master Bomber’s instructions at 7,000 ft was well concentrated and appeared very successful.

Enemy opposition experienced by the Sqn though slight was accurate, and light flak appeared effective. Fighter opposition was met and Fg Off. Ythier, on his 16th operation, failed to return. All remaining aircraft landed safely at base.

PB780 was attacked by a Ju88 night-fighter within minutes of leaving the target area. The port wing caught fire and the order to abandon the aircraft was issued.

There were 11 Lancasters claimed by 4 Luftwaffe night-fighter pilots in and around Pforzheim. Currently it has not been possible to attribute the loss of PB780 to a particular night-fighter.

The aircraft crashed at Neuhausen in southern Germany which is some 12½ km SE of Pforzheim.

The bodies of Fg Off. Ythier, Flt Sgt. Lewis and Sgt. Conning were recovered from the wreckage of the aircraft.

(1) In a brief by the legal staff of the War Crimes Group (NW) Flt Sgt. Clark, who witnessed the events leading to what he believed to be the murder of Fg Off. Albert William Delieu, provided the following statement:

"On 23rd February, 1945, we were briefed to bomb Pforzheim, and after we had dropped our bombs at approximately 20:05 hrs, we were attacked by a German night fighter from underneath our port wing. The effect of this attack set both port engines on fire and also Nos. 1 and 2 port fuel tanks.

The order to bale out was given by Fg Off. Ythier at approximately 20:10 hrs, and the bomb aimer (Fg Off. Delieu) and I left the aircraft almost simultaneously. Owing to a faulty parachute I alighted on the ground badly injured and observed Fg Off. Deliue alight some 50-100 yds away. (As far as I can remember the name of the village was Neuhausen, and we alighted roughly 500 yds. from the nearest houses). Fg Off. Delieuimmediately stood up and snapped off his harness. He then started to run to the nearest hedge when a crowd of people appeared and intercepted him.

The last I saw was he appeared to be fighting with them, and my attention was then diverted by the approach of two soldiers who searched me and carried me off to prison.

Next day I was taken out and put in an ox cart and Fg Off. Delieu's uniform dumped on top. During the drive to Pforzheim I inspected the uniform, and found it to be covered with blood and the uniform itself had large cuts in various places. I attempted to question my guards but owing to the difficulty of language I could elicit no information. They merely pointed out vaguely where the members of the crew were buried."

The War Crimes Group North West Europe (NWE) requested a preliminary investigation be conducted and an interim report sent their office. They appreciated that the evidence was vague and the case may be dropped unless definite information could be obtained as to the identity of the persons committing the crime.

Fg Off. Delieu’s death was investigated but on the 18th February 1948 the War Crimes Group (NWE) decided to close the file.

Burial details:

Above Grave marker for Fg Off. Ythier (Courtesy of BobB – FindAGrave)

Fg Off. Pierre Aimé Gérard Ythier. Durnbach War Cemetery 9.H.19. Inscription: “SON AME PARCOURANT L'ESPACE S'EST EVADEE VERS D'AUTRES CIEUX. SEIGNEUR, RECEVEZ - LE” (Translation: HIS SOUL TRAVELLING THROUGH SPACE HAS ESCAPED TO OTHER HEAVENS - LORD RECEIVE HIM). Son of Dr. Pierre René and Maria Lucienne Yvonne (née Boulanger) Ythier, of Rose Hill, Mauritius.

Fg Off. Albert William Delieu. Durnbach War Cemetery 9.H.17. Inscription: “YOU DID NOT DIE IN VAIN, MY DEAR, NOR WILL YOU BE FORGOTTEN. WIFE JESSIE AND FAMILY”. Son of William and Beatrice May (née Russell) Delieu, of Plumstead, London. Husband of Jessie (née Pemberton) Delieu.

Flt Sgt. Ronald Samuel Lewis. Durnbach War Cemetery 9.H.18. No further details found.

Sgt. Robert Harold Conning. Durnbach War Cemetery 9.H.16. Born in 4th Qtr of 1922 in Liverpool. Son of Harold and Alice Mary Maud (née Turner) Conning of Liverpool, Merseyside, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 15.11.2022 - Initial upload

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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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