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Thread: 10/11 May 1944 - Lille - 97 Squadron

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    Default 10/11 May 1944 - Lille - 97 Squadron

    Two 97 Squadron Lancs are reported to have exploded in flight over different parts of Lille on this night, JB708 (F/L Smith) and ND813 (F/O Edwards). I havent seen anything to suggest a cause for these losses, could they have been shot down by flak ? thanks for any help

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    Hello

    12 Lancaster (out of 84 or 85) were lost on that raid on Lille that night, a case I've been researched for nearly 20 years now, and I'm still adding snippets of information. 2 crashed in nearby Belgium, 1 crashed within the Lille-Lesquin airfield limits, JB708 captained by F/L J.B. SMITH, DFC who was "director" for the raid. The other 9 crashed in various places in the Lille suburbs, and it is very difficult to ascertain which bomber crashed in each location. What's more some airmen are still missing in action, so some sites can be considered as "war graves".

    There's a mix of causes for the losses, there are a couple of night-fighter claims, mid-air collision is a possibility as well. The bombers had to circle over the South of the target area for about 20 minutes, waiting for the smoke and dust over the target area to fall down. During this delay the night fighters were able to arrive in the Lille area, Flak gunners were also waiting and could also aim better. Mid air collision with bombs dropped from above are also possible.

    There was only one survivor from the 12 crews, Australian S/L Philip SMITH, and I was very happy to be in touch with him, and I flew to Sydney to meet him. He couldn't tell himself how his Lancaster had been shot down that night !

    There are several crews who are buried in different cemeteries, and 4 of the crew of ND813 are buried in Hellemmes, 2 in Forest-sur-Marque (not that close to Hellemmes), and Sgt Kent in unaccounted for. There's a unknown buried in Hellemmes, but there are still 6 all together, and the MRES couldn't identify him in the late 40es, in connection with the 6 unaccounted for.
    4 of
    I imagine that some Flak archives may have survived somewhere in Germany, but without them, it's difficult to give precise informations.

    Joss

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    thanks Joss, I corresponded with Emil Nonnenmacher for many years and have some material on nightfighter claims but have never been able to find much useful information on flak claims, it has to be out there somewhere !

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    Hello,

    A snippet of information on F/O Edwards and crew (ND813):

    26/27 November 1943
    No.630 Sqn.
    Lancaster III JB597 LE-
    Op: Berlin

    Took off 1723 East Kirkby. On return, attempted to land at Holme-on-Spalding Moor airfield, Yorkshire, but undershot the runway in the process. No injuries reported.

    F/S S A Edwards
    Sgt D H Ryder
    F/S R Heap
    Sgt H Grant
    Sgt H M Kent
    Sgt G J Hill
    Sgt L Diggle

    See: BCL4/407

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 25th May 2013 at 13:05.

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    I've just come across this thread whilst searching on Google for raids on May 10th/11th 1944 - I'm looking for info on a local airman who was killed that night.
    If anyone has any information I would love to find out more as we are planning to visit his grave next year.

    The only information we have is from the local newspapers and CWGC Website -
    Flt Sgt Tom Harris of Woodville Derbyshire is buried in Forest-Sur-Marque near Lille he was killed on May 10th 1944 aged 23.

    Sadly his older brother Frank (aged 32) was killed at Imphal in Burma 5 days before him

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    Hello

    A few years ago I organised a commemoration at Forest-sur-Marque, in memory of the 23 airmen buried in the village. 83 airmen from 12 Lancasters lost their lives that night. Tom Harris was the flight engineer in the crew captained by P/O J.H. MASON DFC. We had actually built a 1/72 scale Lancaster with the markings of that Lancaster, NN694 coded VN-L. 3 Lancasters crashed in the village that night.

    I'm quite interested as the CWGC site gave no family detail about him.

    You can e-mail me a send me a private message, by clicking on my name on the upper left of the message.

    regards

    Joss

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    Hello, I am new to the Royal Air Force comments site and was intrested in you search for Flt Sgt Tom Harris, my wife is related to another crew member Sgt Roland Bechrel wireless operator and gunner on NN694 VN-L Lancaster we beleive it might have been shot down by a Night Fighter piloted by Friedrich Pottast Luftwaffe, we have the names of the rest of the crew from 50 Sqdn.
    We are visiting the graves in June 17 at Forest-sur-Marque.
    regards
    Phil

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    Hello

    I've e-mailed you directly Phil.

    Never made contact with Stacker985 who posted only once.

    Joss

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    Hi Phil

    I haven't gathered any further info i'm affraid. The trip we took in 2014 was a group trip so we didn't get chance to visit the graves.

    This is Roland's record on CWGC http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/ca...0ROLAND%20JEAN so they are together. If you do visit the grave I would appreciate it if you could take a pic of Flt Sgt Haris' grave

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    Hello Stacker985,

    I can provide pictures of the cemetery in Forest, and of the individual grave. We had the family of another crewmate from the crew of Mason attending.

    I'd be interested to exchange informations about the crew. MASON, HARRIS, WATERS and HENRY initially flew with No. 97 Squadron, starting their first tour of operations in 1943. In July they were posted to No. 619 Squadron, where they flew 14 ops (if my count is correct). During their first tour, the Wireless operator was E.F. or H.F. SPENCE, and the two air gunners were E.A. DONALDSON and W.H. WEBB.

    After the completion of their tour, they were "rested", and MASON, HARRIS, WATERS and HENRY reformed their crew with BECHEREL, W.C. BULL and W.G. WOOD, being posted from No. 51 Base to No. 50 Squadron on May Day 1944. They were lost on their fourth of their second tour.

    You can contact me at JossLeclercq AT orange DOT fr (replace by the obvious)

    Joss

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