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Thread: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

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    Default 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    PB759 was believed lost on the 8 Feb 45 on the raid to Politz. 61 Sqn was thought to have lost 4 aircraft on this raid. The Squadron Operations Record Book reported 3 aircraft as missing, LL911 and two other aircraft which extremely hard to read although one could be **7*7 this was PB737. The remaining aircraft was QR-N and this had been reported as PB759 although the aircraft had not been recorded on operations since the 28 Dec 44. It was actually ME443 QR-N on its first operation with the Squadron.
    Further investigation revealed that PB759 had been lost on 30 Dec 44 due flying battle (FB) Air Ministry Form 78. The only Squadron operation on this date was the bombing of Houffalize but there is no record of this in the ORB. The raid reports for this operation stated that one aircraft was lost but the crew escaped safety parachuting in friendly territory. There was no indication as to which aircraft this was.
    It was then discovered the Station (51Base) records that an aircraft was missing from 61 Sqn.
    AlanW then found an item in “Air War Diary by Davis Scholes DFC” for Sunday 31 December 1944 that “Flt Lt Paul Crampton DFM and Spam is missing. He is a second tour bod, and last night he had a war correspondent flying with him”. (The raid on Houffalize.)
    We believe that Crampton flew with the Ainsworth crew who were lost on the 21 March 1945 on Ops to Bohlen, with the exception of Merritt who was awarded the DFC for his actions on the 30 December 1944.

    Crew details are:
    Flt Lt Paul Crampton DFM DFC Pilot
    Sgt L D Mills 1146367 FE
    F/O R Breakwell 163592 Nav
    F/O S F Merritt 153815 BA
    FSgt A W Snelling 1462497 Wop
    Sgt P Kitching 1678631 Ag1
    Sgt F M Lancaster 1850986 Ag2

    David Scholes reports that Crampton is back on duty on 16 Feb 45.

    What I would like to know is there any information out there to indicate who the War Correspondent was and if he followed up with a story of the events?

    Ken

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    Default

    Hello ,

    I have this
    20/03/1945 21/03/1945
    61Sqn Lancaster Mk I
    Bohlen NG386 QR-P
    Skellingthorpe
    F/O K W Ainsworth
    F/O R Breakwell
    F/O P Hawkins
    Sgt P Kitching
    Sgt F M Lancaster
    Sgt L D Mills
    F/Sgt A W Snelling All lost without trace Runnymede


    Regards
    Alain12

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    Hi Ken
    Only last weekend did I come across information as to who, I believe, was the war correspondent.
    Duncan Webb, Daily Express. Broke arm and ribs on bailing out / hitting tree on contact with ground. Gave an interview to an un-named radio station of his exploits on Saturday, 14th October 1950. Undated/known newspaper article by another journalist records Webb's arrival back in UK on stretcher two weeks after boarding Lancaster for raid on Houffalize and attack on enemy tank formations near Bastogne. Webb awarded 'Caterpillar Club' badge. Pre-war Webb served on the London Evening Standard newspaper, joined the Merchant Marine on the day war broke out, convoyed to Murmansk, Australia and South America, bombed and attacked by U-boats when he was wounded and subsequently invalided out of the Service. Made nine ops trips with RAF as W.C. for Daily Express. Accompanied Merchant Navy on D-Day.
    Stewart

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    Hi Stewart,

    A huge thank you for finding the War Correspondent, do you have a source for your information?

    I don't think Ainsworth was with his crew on this mission as he would have taken over when Crampton was wounded. Maybe he was sick or something and that is why Crampton flew the mission. There were reports that the aircraft came down in France but you say near Brussels.

    Sorry for some strange reason I missed your posting but I am extremely glad I looked at your one on the MRES.

    Ken

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    During my MRES research I found modern day relatives of members of crew of NG 386 who were also aboard PB 759 when it crashed.
    They forwarded to me memorabilia of crew member, three newspaper cuttings, which included that regarding Webb.
    Out of courtesy I shall have to ask permission of the relatives to release the details.
    I see you are in Australia, though none of the crew were such. What is you connection with researching this crew? It may assist in their deliberations.
    Big Makk.

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    Just been refering to my 'Avro Lancaster- The Definitive Record' Harry Holmes, Lancaster Losses by Squadron, and for 8th Feb 1945 Politz, four Lancasters are listed as lost to 61 Squadron, PB737, PB759 (not 30 Dec 44 !), ME443, and LL911. I highly recommend this book for anyone doing any Lancaster research.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    PB759 was lost 30 Dec 44, A.M Form 78 confirms. Both Chorley and Holmes are wrong.

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    I bow to both of you.
    Stewart

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    Interesting. It comes down to beleiving either form AM78 or Chorley and Holmes. Personally I would tend towards the latter two, both highly respected and compedent, and having done amazing work with their research and publications.
    Andrew

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    Default Re: 61Sqn Lancaster PB759 QR-N Houffalize 30 Dec 44

    I believe that this has been looked at many times. The 61 Squadron ORB has three aircraft lost on 8/9 February 1944 - PB737, LL911 and PB759 (Pilot Tasker and crew). However the Loss Cards list PB737, LL911 and ME443 (Pilot Tasker and crew). The Loss Cards are more likely to be correct.

    The Orb for 28/29th December 1944 have PB759 bombing shipping in Moss and returning successfully then no sign of it. No sign of Loss Card for PB759 30th December 44 or any date round there yet but will keep digging.

    Mike
    Last edited by lancasterlm342; 9th July 2020 at 18:16.

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