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Thread: Lancaster JB653 FTR Le Mans 20 May 44

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    Default Lancaster JB653 FTR Le Mans 20 May 44

    Hello All,
    Can anybody tell me (I do not have the vast libraries that many on this forum have!) what the current thinking is with regard to the loss of Lancaster JB653 at Le Mans on 20 May 44? My prime aim is to establish what might have happened to W/O R T Hunt. He was the WOp on JB653. CWGC have him as NKG and, therefore, on Runnymede. One account is that two 7 Sqn a/c (Master, and Deputy, Bomber(s)) collided over the target (Tsk tsk!). If I have interrogated the CWGC database at Le Mans West Cemetery correctly there are too many bodies for one Lanc, but not enough for two! Unless what went into that Collective Grave was all the unidentifiable remains?
    And I am assuming (V dangerous!!) that this raid was yet another part of the pre-D-Day strategy to try to isolate Normandy by rail such that German reinforcements could not be rushed to oppose the landings? I can almost hear Arthur Harris ‘muttering’!!! Any help will be gratefully received.
    TIA
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hello Peter,

    A quick quote from Chorley to keep you rolling :
    JB653
    S/L J.M. DENNIS DSO DFC
    Sgt P.J.J. KOFOED
    F/L R.J. HEWETT DFM
    F/L W.F.M. PORTEOUS DFC DFM
    W/O R.T. HUNT
    Sgt L. TIMMINS
    F/Sgt A.G. LAWRENCE
    no survivor. DENNIS was deputy Master Bomber. hit by light Flak and crashed 1 km NE of the local airfield. Burials took place on 23 May ; however W/O HUNT is commemorated on panel 214 of RM.

    ND845 MG-C
    W/C J.F. BARRON DSO & bar, DFC DFM RNZAF
    S/L J. BAKER DSO
    F/Sgt D.W. WOOD
    S/L P.R. COLDWELL DSO DFM
    P/O A. PRICE
    F/O J.W. WALTERS DFC RNZAF
    F/O R.L. WEATHERALL DFM RCAF
    W/O J. LAMONBY
    no survivors either. Was the Master Bomber. Hit by Flak and crashed 3 km NW of the town's airfield. Funerals were held on 20 May but only 5 bodies could be positively identified and, thus, P/O PRICE, F/O WALTERS and W/O LAMONBY are on RM. WEATHERALL was transfered to Bretteville-sur-Laize canadian cemetery (not Brettenville)

    Indeed it was raid against marshalling yards, in the view of disturbing the railway system and the transport of reinforcement troops against the future bridgehead.

    Hope this helps.

    Joss

    PS : incidentally, No. 7 Squadron lost another crew that night, on a raid against a radar station near Boulogne-sur-Mer. An extra navigator onboard was F/L R.B. HUNT RCAF, who was transfered to Calais Canadian War Cemetery postwar, following initial burial at Marquise. So two HUNTs from No. 7 Squadron lost their lives that same night.
    Last edited by jossleclercq; 20th June 2012 at 16:01. Reason: adding PS

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    Peter

    I can't answer your question re the activities that night, but the following link may help you unravel who is buried where and why the numbers seemingly don't add up:

    http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=405

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Joss and Pete,
    VMT yr responses. Much appreciated
    Peter
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Re ;Acting W/O R.T.Hunt

    R.T.Hunt was my late uncle.My maternal grand parents always understood that his aircraft crashed as a result of a mid-air collision.This collision,as far as they could understand,was as a result of one aircraft (not known which one)trying to avoid heavy flak making a course correction and subsequently colliding with the second aircraft.Both aircraft crashed in flames near Le Mans,one within a kilometre and the second two or three kilometres away.My grand parents were told that it was not possible to identify my uncles remains (presumably because they were were too badly burnt).
    Apart from his name being recorded at Runnymede he also appears on the Essex Police War Memorial website.
    His name is also recorded on his parents grave at Shaw Cemetary in Newbury,Berks.
    I am the proud holder of his posthumously granted war medals and various cap and jacket badges plus photographs etc.
    My late Aunt(his sister) and my own mother visited Le Mans quite a few years ago and were shown the part of the cemetary where the other crew members are buried.Near-by there were some graves containing unidentified remains including possibly my uncles.

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    From my trilogy 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Two: Fates 1943-1998)':

    Fri 19/Sat 20 May 1944
    BOMBER COMMAND

    Raid on railway yards at Le Mans, France (by 112 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitoes - 5 lost)
    7 Squadron, RAF (Oakington, Cambridgeshire - 8 [PFF] Group)
    Lancaster III ND845/C - took off at 2222 and brought down over the target area while acting as ‘Master Bomber’, crashing in the vicinity of the Renault works, 3km NW of the Le Mans airfield. All eight crew died, the captain and four others being buried at Le Mans on the 20th. The RCAF mid-upper gunner was later reinterred in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bretteville-sur-Laize, while the wireless operator, air bomber and rear gunner have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. ND845 was last heard stating its intention to descend below cloud to join Deputy Master Bomber 7 Sqn Lancaster JB653, which had descended earlier, and it is thought the two collided. However, 115 Squadron Lancaster HK547 is also a possibility as it crashed in the same area as the Master Bomber, whereas the Deputy came down several kilometres away. There were no survivors from any of the three Lancasters. Captured German documents claim that ND845 was brought down by flak and the other two ‘presumably’ and ‘probably’ so, respectively. It is possible that flak damage to one Lancaster led to loss of control followed by a collision with one of the others. A measure of the experience of ND845’s crew may be gained from the glittering array of nine awards held between them - four DSOs, 2 DFCs and 3 DFMs.
    Captain: NZ401749 Wg Cdr James Fraser BARRON, DSO* DFC DFM, RNZAF - Age 23. 1264hrs. 79th op.
    Wireless Op: NZ404106 Fg Off Jack William WALTERS, DFC, RNZAF - Age 23. 51st op.
    Barron, having returned to 7 Sqn the previous December after nine months instructional duties, was on his third tour. He had also flown ops with 15 Sqn, and 1651 HCU, RAF.
    This was Walters’ second tour, his first being flown with 75 (NZ) Sqn, RAF. The CWGC register incorrectly records him as being with 180 Sqn, RAF, with which he never served.

    Errol

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    Hello All,
    By a process of iteration I think we may have got as close to an approximation of the truth as it is possible to get. Tks to all for their inputs. It's the NKG bit that always get me. I never served in WW2 but I have lost colleagues in air accidents, etc, since. One can understand that if it's a CC trip over water. But to realise, in WW2, that the bloke you might have been drinking beer with a couple of days ago had suddenly been vapourised - or, at least, not enough recognisable remains to bury - is a very sobering thought. But it happened to quite a lot!
    We will remember them!
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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