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Thread: W/O J Mason 1800438, shot down 20/21-2-1945, 578 Squadron

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    Default W/O J Mason 1800438, shot down 20/21-2-1945, 578 Squadron

    Hi all,

    The above airmen was shot down on the night of the 20th/21st of February 1945 whilst flying as a mid-under Gunner with 578 Squadron, in Halifax NA618 (Chorley '45, p84 refers) and was seriously injured. He had previously flown a tour with 100, over the winter of 1943-44, completing 10 trips to Berlin over that winter. He died earlier this year in Staffordshire.

    Can anyone add any details of W/O Mason's time with 578, where he came from immediately prior to joining the squadron, or any details additional to those in Chorley regarding the loss of NA618?

    Although he is recorded in the 100 Squadron ORB and Chorley as "Mason", he was a member of the 100 Squadron Association and known to us all as "John Andrews-Mason".

    Thanks in anticipation as always,

    Greg
    "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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    Thanks Col, that's one piece of the jigsaw fitted :)

    Greg
    "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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    Posted from 41 Base 28th Oct 44.
    16/11, Julich.
    18/11, Munster.
    21/11, Sterkrade.
    29/11, Essen.
    12/12, Essen.
    18/12, Duisburg.
    22/12, Bingen.
    28/12, Opladen.
    1945...
    2/1, Oppau.
    6/1, Hanau.
    13/1, Saarbrucken.
    14/1, Dulmen.
    28/1, Stuttgart.
    14/2, Chemnitz.
    17/2, Wesel.
    20/2, Reisholz.

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    Alan - once again you have come up trumps with an amazing response!! Many thanks, yet another beer I owe you I believe :-) He died a few weeks ago and I'm just preparing the obit for the 100 Squadron Association newsletter.

    Thanks again, all the best,

    Greg
    "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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    Greg,

    l've just dug out my copy of Hugh Cawdron's, Based at Burn MkII":

    No.578 Squadron. 20 February (1945).

    Ten aircraft took off from Burn as part of a night attack on the Rhenania Ossag oil refinery in the Reisholz district of Dusseldorf, eight of them attacked the target through thick cloud. Numerous small explosions were observed throughout the attack. After an explosion, a column of black smoke appeared through the cloud at a height of 4,000-5,000 feet. Defences over the target were not heavy. Eight Squadron aircraft returned safely but one was damaged on landing as the result of a burst tyre. Two aircraft, LK-K (NR191) and LK-N (NA618), were lost on this operation.

    LK-K (NR191), was attacked by a Junkers 88 night fighter and set on fire before exploding in mid-air. Wreckage was scattered over a wide area. The bodies of three of the crew were found close to the scene of the crash, on a wooded hillside adjoining Lake Lister near Olpe. The pilot, wireless operator, flight engineer and rear gunner survived as prisoners of war. The rest of the crew is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. They were:

    Flying Officer Hugh Ernest James Perry - Navigator

    Flying Officer John Robert Moffatt Mills - Bomb Aimer

    Sergeant Philip Blake - Mid-Upper Gunner; age 23.

    LK-N (NA618), was also attacked by a Junkers 88 night fighter and set on fire. The pilot ordered his crew to abandon but before they could all do so, the machine exploded. The parachute of the Bomb Aimer failed to open properly and he was killed, as was the Flight Engineer, whose body was recovered several months later from the wreckage in Lake Lister near Olpe. Both are buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. The Mid-Upper Gunner was severely wounded but survived, as did the Pilot, Navigator, Wireless Operator, Mid-Upper Gunner , Mid-Under Gunner and Rear Gunner, to be made prisoners of war. The Dead were:

    Flight Sergeant Cecil George Jerram - Bomb Aimer.

    Sergeant Walter Bean - Flight Engineer; age 19.

    The pilot of LK-K, Flying Officer Ron Carabine, describes his experience on that night and thereafter...

    "In February 1946 the 'Missing Research and Enquiry Team' was told by eye-witnesses that LK-K flew in from the North at about 2230 hours, was already on fire and exploded in mid-air. Wreckage was scattered over a large area.

    The bodies of the crew were found close to the main wreckage on a wooded hillside. Much later, l met Flying Officer Denley*. The Germans had taken him to the wreckage of my aircraft, LK-K, insisting that it was his. Laid out were the dead bodies of my navigator, bomb aimer and mid-upper gunner.

    Denley had been attacked by a Ju 88 and had ordered his crew to bail out, before they could do so his aircraft had also exploded, dropping into a lake by the Lister Dam and disappearing into the depths. This is probably why the Germans identified him with LK-K which had crashed in a wooded hillside overlooking the dam."

    * AUS424159 F/O Colin DENLEY RAAF, pilot of No.578 Sqn Halifax III NA618:LK-N (Denley, and his WOP, AUS428680 F/S Donald James FORD RAAF, both became members of the Caterpillar Club - can't speak for the others.).

    See:
    Based At Burn Mk II.
    Cawdron,Hugh (with Veterans of 578 Squadron Royal Air Force and others).
    Saltford:Author,2001(2nd.,Lim.Ed.).
    pp.309-10 & 316.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 26th April 2014 at 15:39.

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    Col,

    That's brilliant, exactly the details I was after. Many thanks indeed - a pint for you my friend!! :-)

    Greg
    "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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    Hi Greg

    I have just sent you an email, John was my father.

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    Hi there Macc-Lad - many thanks for the post. I've just got in from work, and will respond to your email shortly.

    Very best wishes,

    Greg
    "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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    Hi Greg,

    I look after the website for the 578 squadron association so if you would like me to contact the archivist for the squadron (Des Hollis) to see if he has any more information on W/O J.Mason then I will do.

    It is coincidental that my Uncle was Sergeant Walter Bean the F/E of NA618 on that operation. Sadly he was one of the two casualties and didn't get out of the Halifax. The other casualty, Jerram perished as his chute did not open. It was reported that W/O Mason was badly injured, but he must have made a full recovery. He was not a regular member of the crew. NA618 had an underbelly turret so I guess that J Mason would have been a spare bod gunner drafted in for this operation. The crews regular Halifax was NR150 which did not have an under turret. I am not sure if Mason had a regular crew or if he was a permanent spare bod.

    I would be interested in any information that you have on W/O J.Mason as I am trying to research what became of my Uncles crew mates.

    Thanks,

    Paul.

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