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Thread: History of Lancaster LM395 - lost to night fighter?

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    Default History of Lancaster LM395 - lost to night fighter?

    Hello,

    Can anyone shed any further light on the History of Lancaster LM395. I know she was built at Yeadon and served with the Royal Aircraft Establishment before joining 101 Squadron. Was she engaged in testing the Rose Turret at the RAE, which was being introduced to 101 Sqn?

    I suspect she joined the Squadron around April 1944. The bomb aimer of the crew she was lost with joined 101 Sqn around that time and reports LM395 SR-Q was allocated to his crew, but was not ready for operations when they went to Mailly-Le-Camp 3/4th May. Was this due to the installation of Airborne Cigar (ABC) equipment?

    F/O L N Davidson and his crew subsequently flew LM395 on four sorties to Rennes 7/8th May, Orleans 19/20th May, Duisberg 21/22nd May and her last opeartion to Dortmund 22/23rd May. The aircraft was shot down over Dortmund probably by a night fighter, and crashed in the Hengsteysee near Hagen. F/O Davidson (pilot), W/O I D Jacobs (navigator) and F/Sgt N E Gregory survived to be taken p.o.w.

    Sgt J W Johnson (air gunner), Sgt R M McClure Flight engineer, Sgt L H Milligan (Wireless Operator), Sgt W J Hayman (air gunner) P/O C M Beauregard (special operator) were killed.

    Many thanks for your help with this enquiry,

    Sam

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    Hello Sam,

    Here's the prob. claimant details:

    Oblt. Werner Kucharsowsky: 2 4./JG300 prob. Lanc Dortmund-Witten (LP 3): 5.000-5.600 m. 00.55

    Do you, from your records, have any indication about the (exact) time when LM395 was shot down, and if the crew indeed reported that they were shot down by a single-engined NF?

    Cheers, Theo

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    Hi Theo,

    Thanks for your prompt reply. Regarding time, the other aircraft of 101 Sqn bombed from 0048 - 0053.1/2. The bomb aimer N.E. Gregory is certain it was a fighter. He remembers discussing the matter afterwards with his pilot and navigator, they too thought a fighter was responsible.

    The wireless operator first informed the crew the aircraft was on fire, and Mr Gregory worked out cannon fire had set the incendiaries alight. He recalls baling out at 01.00 hrs, having first completed his bombing detail and carrying out the necessary drills. Oblt. Werner Kucharsowsky's claim could very well fit.

    On the point of what the aircraft was doing at the RAE, it seems LM395 was fitted with the usual
    .303 armed rear turret. My guess of Rose turret trials is obviously wide of the mark.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Best wishes,

    Sam

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    Hello Sam,

    Cheers and thanks for sharing these details, very interesting!

    Cheers, Theo

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    Just to add a little detail to the Rose Turret issue, some of 101 Squadron's Lancs were fitted with this modification, but these mods were always carried out locally. To the best of my knowledge, the RAE were never involved directly with any of the trials involving the Rose Turret, the development work and subsequent manufacture being sorted out between 1 Group HQ and the Rose's facility in Gainsborough.

    There is a brief overview of the development at the following link: -

    http://www.bphs.net/GroupFacilities/...gh/index.htm#9

    In the narrative on that page it states that 101 received the first of the Rose turrets for evaluation in the late spring of 1944. Without looking at the ORB I wouldn't like to say how accurate that statement is, but I'm pretty confident that it's pretty much bang on. If you want me to, I'll check the 101 Sqn ORB tomorrow for you. The resident 101 Squadron gen man on here, Dave aka "alieneyes", will likely be able to add much more detail for you.

    As an aside, a former 170 Squadron Rear Gunner lives just around the corner from me, and we often meet in the local pub for a few pints and a chat about the bomber campaign and the rugby. His regular aircraft was fitted with a Rose Turret and the twin .50 calibre guns, and he can verify very enthusiastically for their firepower!!
    "You can take the boy out of Wales,
    But you can't take Wales out of the boy!!"

    Greg Harrison
    100 Squadron and 100 Squadron Association Historian
    100 Squadron Researcher 1917 - present day
    1 Group Researcher 1940 - 1945

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    The ORB shows LM395 being flown on operations by W/O TJ Drew & crew on April 18, 20,22, 24,26 & 30. Their next operation was Mailly-de-Camp on the 3rd/4th of May which they did in LM417 but failed to return from that operation. 101 dispatched 20 Lancasters to Mailly-de-Camp that night and four of them failed to return.
    LM395 did not fly any operations between April 30th and May 7th so it was likely undergoing some sort of maintenance. Perhaps the Davidson crew was allocated this aircraft as a result of the Drew crew not returning.
    Cheers
    Dave Wallace
    Last edited by David Wallace; 5th September 2013 at 22:06.

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    Dear Greg and Dave,

    Thank you for the extra info. I did buy the May 1944 101 Sqn ORB from the NA online (This being the period the LM Davidson crew were operational), so it's very interesting to see the aircraft was was already operating in April.

    The May ORB refers to crews undergoing Rose turret training in several entries, that makes a lot of sense as it was a local modification. I hadn't previously been aware of that.

    Greg, interesting to hear about your 170 Sqn gunner. I'm in touch with a 90 Sqn R/G who curses the poor fire-power of the standard fit .303s - he still hankers after those .50s!

    Thanks to you all for you assistance,

    Sam

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    Dave,

    May I make a couple of further enquiries (sometimes it takes a while for things to work their way to the surface!)?

    I'm guessing that LM395's operation on April 18 was the first time she appeared in the squadron ORB, is that correct?

    Do the operations flown by W/O TJ Drew & crew list an 8 man crew? ( I read somewhere that not all 101 Squadron aircraft had ABC, so 8 crew would indicate the equipment was already fitted).

    Information from the Library & Archives Canada shows that P/O Beauregard joined 101 Squadron from No. 11 Base, 6th April 1944. Had he flown any ops before joining the L M Davidson crew, if so how many?

    Sorry for being a bit slow and many thanks for all your help.

    Best wishes,

    Sam

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    Hi Sam
    I had looked back to the beginning of March and April 18 is the first appearance that I found for LM395.
    The Drew crew did have 8 crew.
    Beauregard was posted in on April 6, he was one of ten WOPs posted in from 11 Base on that date for Special Duties. Davidson and the rest of the crew were posted in 3 days later on the 9th from 11 Base. Beauregard flew one op with another crew, going to Lyon with the Rippon crew in LM369 'I' on May 1st.
    As Greg pointed out "alieneyes" is the person that has a large information archive on 101 Squadron & Dave is the best person to check in with on anything related to 101 Squadron. I am sure he will see your post here in a few days.
    Dave Wallace

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    Dear Dave,

    Thank you for your patience with my double checking questions! It's great to learn that P/O Beauregard had flown another Op with the Rippon crew and all the details. The Davidson crew had flown without him on their second Op to Rennes, 7th May. On that occasion the Special operator was Sgt M T Wheeler.

    Thanks again.

    Best wishes,

    Sam

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