On Friday 16 March 1945, a member of the 431 Sqdn, Flight Lieutenant A G Edwards, took off from Croft in the United Kingdom. His mission is mentioned elsewhere on Back to Normandy. You can find the other details of this mission by searching here. Training and cargo flights are not seperately mentioned as a mission. The plane left at 16:21.
He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type X, serial KB815, code SE-K).
My Granddad was Alfred Charles Harris who was an RAF Pilot Officer in the role of Flight engineer on the Lancaster mk BX and serving as a volunteer to the Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron 431 (Iroquois) based at RAF Croft (Nr Darlington). He was shot down on 15/3/1945 and died, he was 35 years old when he died his service number was 187961.
He has a grave in Perwez cemetery in Belgium along with the other members of the crew, as this is where he came down. They were due to fly their last mission but their navigator was taken ill and it took a while to get a replacement. When they finally got a replacement navigator for this mission it was a few weeks later. On March 15, 1945 they departed at 16:21 from Croft airfield in Lancaster KB815 SE-K with a bombing mission over the city of Hagen in Germany.
On the way back they went down but the cause is unknown, we believe that they were shot down as the aircraft came down in a mass of flames according to witnesses. The plane hit very hard and created a crater that was around 20 feet deep and very wide, no bodies were recovered. Photo 3 is a picture of my Granddad’s actual uniform in the museum in Belgium, my Dad donated it to them and the picture in the dummies hand is my Granddad. Photo 1 and 2 are a couple of pictures of the memorial plaque given to each member of the family at a service held in their honour 6th May 2012, I have one on display in my lounge.
Pictures of the graves : https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/18775/Commonwealth-War-Graves-Perwez.htm
Campaign report of the USAAF:
(Eighth Air Force):: During the night of 16/17 Mar, 12 B-24s drop leaflets in Germany and the Netherlands and 20 of 22 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions.
(Ninth Air Force): In Germany, 280+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit the Landau barracks area and communications center, the Niederscheld town area and rail bridge, 6 other town areas, a marshalling yard, rail junction, crossroads, and also drop leaflets; fighters escort the bombers, fly patrols, sweeps, armed reconnaissance, and cover the VIII, XII, and XX Corps in an assault across the Mosel River from W of Koblenz and N of Boppard, at one point, as far E as Bad Kreuznach, and as far S as Merzig; HQ 365th Fighter Group moves from Juzaine Airfield, Florennes, Belgium to Aachen; the 153d Liaison Squadron, IX Tactical Air Command (attached to Twelfth Army Group), moves from Duren to Euskirchen with L-5s; and the 392d Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group, moves from St Dizier to Conflans, France with P-47s.
Campaign report of the RAF:
15/16 March 1945
267 aircraft - 134 Lancasters, 122 Halifaxes, 11 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked Hagen. 6 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxes lost. This area attack took place in clear visibility and caused severe damage; the local report estimated that the bomber force was 800 aircraft strong! The main attack fell in the centre and eastern districts. There were 1,439 fires, of which 124 were classified as large.
257 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked the Deurag refinery at Misburg, on the outskirts of Hannover. Visibility was good and some fires were started but the main weight of the raid fell south of the target. 4 Lancasters lost.
54 Mosquitos to Berlin, 27 to Erfurt, 16 to Mannheim and 5 each to Jena and Weimar, 53 RCM sorties, 37 Mosquito patrols. 1 RCM Fortress lost.
Total effort for the night: 729 sorties, 14 aircraft (1.9 per cent) lost.
16/17 March 1945
Raid on Nuremburg by 231 Lancasters of No 1 Group and 46 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of No 8 Group. 24 Lancasters, all from No 1 Group, lost, 8.7 per cent of the Lancaster force and 10.4 per cent of the No 1 Group aircraft involved. Most of these losses were due to German night fighters, which found the bomber stream on its way to the target. A local report states that the southern and south-western districts were hit as well as the ruins of the Altstadt which was destroyed in a previous raid. A serious fire was established in the Steinbuhl district. The main railway station was also on fire and the city's gasworks were so badly damaged that they did not resume production before the end of the war. This was the last heavy Bomber Command raid on Nuremberg.
225 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked Würzburg. 6 Lancasters lost. This was another dramatic and devastating blow by No 5 Group. 1,127 tons of bombs were dropped with great accuracy in 17 minutes. According to a post-war survey, the old cathedral city with its famous historic buildings suffered 89 per cent of its built-up area destroyed. Würzburg contained little industry and this was an area attack.
56 Mosquitos to Berlin, 24 to Hanau and 6 each to Brunswick and Osnabrück, 32 RCM sorties, 40 Mosquito patrols, 12 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the night: 717 sorties, 30 aircraft (4.2 per cent) lost.
With thanks to the RAF and USAAF.net!
This record can also be found on the maps of Back to Normandy with Google coordinates. You can find the maps by clicking on this link on this location.
There are several possibilities to investigate the flight records on Back to Normandy. All the flights are plotted on maps, sorted "day by day", "by squadron", "by type aircraft", "by year or month", "by location" and much more! Don't miss this!!!
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