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Thread: Resurrecting MRES

  1. #1
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    Default Resurrecting MRES

    I am currently conducting research, not solely with this case, into the loss of a particular Lancaster bomber and crew from 1945 in Eastern Germany.

    It would appear there is no exact site for the aircraft coming down and no remains of the seven crew were ever recovered. They are all listed at Runnymede.

    A copy of an Air Ministry letter of the time states that due to the political situation (Cold War) at the conclusion of hostilities, the MRES were not able to follow up their enquiry and recover any of the aircraft or remains of the crew.

    I find it difficult to except, and I know it does happen, that no remains were recovered. I am also aware that the civilian population of the time were somewhat aggressive with any aircrew they seized, and that German police / military units would meter out summary justice and dispose clandestinely with remains.

    However, as the MRES unit was closed down in 1952 and the 'Cold War' has thawed allowing access to previously 'secret' files, how would one go about re-opening the file and going to have another look etc. There may still be people in the area that know of, or have heard stories of, a particular crash / crew in that area and time scale, that may be able to eventually shed light on the crew's whereabouts.

    There are few and fewer survivors of that time and this may be the last chance to re-open any investigation. I am presently in contact with four of the crew's families, some of whom have made forlorn visits to the area without any success.

    Two of the crew were schoolboy friends from our town in North West England. I have today traced the pilot's niece who has a collection of memorabilia which is yet to be examined. We are also in contact with relatives of the navigator, lots of archive, and tail gunner and within touching distance of the mid-upper and bombardier.

    Big Makk

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Hi Makk,

    Can you supply any details on the crew? If there was an Aussie on the aircraft his crash file in our Archives should contain an MRES report. If not details of the crew might help bring some information to light.

    Cheers,

    John.

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Or if there was a Canadian on board - his R.C.A.F. Service File should be on ancestry.com and may have some details.

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    I am following up a couple of similar cases with 630 Squadron crews
    Lancaster III, ND982 (Codes LE – Y)
    Pilot – F/L Douglas George Twidle RNZAF. Age 24
    Flight Eng – Sgt Charles William Garner. Age 31
    Navigator – Sgt John Archer Akers. Age
    Bomb Aimer – Sgt Samuel Stanton. Age 21
    Wireless Op – F/S Leonard Prior. Age
    Mid Upper – Sgt Edward John Walton. Age
    Rear Gunner – Sgt Harold Walter Wickenden. Age 19
    ND982 was shot down at 01:48 hours by Feldwebel Schäfer of NJG102, 25km south-east of the target at (Gross Haferbeck) Gross Waldeck (renamed Ossokino by the Russians), east of Underwangen (renamed Tschechowo). Official records state that the Germans buried the crew in the local cemetery at Underwangen but post-war Graves Registration Units were refused permission to visit the area by the Russian Army in occupation. Although they do have graves the entire crew are named on Runnymede Memorial in accordance with Air Ministry instructions.
    cheers
    PeteS
    https://630squadron.wordpress.com/

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Hi John, and others. Thanks for your replies. Your questions :-
    61 Squadron, Lancaster Mk 1, NG 386 (QR-P), took-off Skellingthorpe, Lincs, 23:45 20th March, 1945. Nothing heard after take-off. Believed crashed south of Leipzig though no recorded wreckage or remains of crew members. Awaiting replies from two potential sets of modern relatives. There were no Australians or Canadians on board. A later M.o.D. letter states that the aircraft crashed in France near a German sounding town, which is near the ‘target for tonight’ namely the Bohlen synthetic oil plant south of Leipzig. A name tag of one of the crew was the only item recorded as found.

    184307 Flying Officer Kenneth William AINSWORTH, Pilot, b. 13 April, 1922, Preston, Lancs. Modern relatives traced with memorabilia.
    1146367 Sergeant Laurence Dorning MILLS, Flight Engineer, b. 17 Nov 1922, Preston, Lancs.
    163592 Flying Officer Raymond BREAKWELL, navigator, of Bath, Somerset. Modern relatives traced with substantial memorabilia.
    159994 Flying Officer Peter HAWKINS, air bombardier, of Mead Vale, Reigate, Surrey,
    1462497 Flight Sergeant Arthur William SNELLING, Wireless Operator, Bermondsey, London, b. c. 1922
    1678631 Sergeant Peter KITCHING, Air Gunner 1, Newport, Brough, Yorkshire, b. c. 1925
    1850986 Sergeant Francis Mervyn LANCASTER, Air Gunner 2, Worle, Somerset, b. c. 1924. Modern relatives traced.

    I’m just wondering what to do, how to approach for a dormant MRES file to be re-opened. I could almost write the reply myself, but if you don’t try……
    Has anyone any success or even attempted to do it?

    Big Makk

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    I'm not exactly sure what you are after here. An open file, so you can go and look, or the MOD to reinvestigate?
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Hi Jonny
    Initially I'd like to look through the MRES file, if it still exists, and see what is contained within it. Don't know yet if families who have previously visited area have gone that far. So far, the only indication that the Research was brought to a halt was because the Russians at the time would not allow access to the area or any investigation. Therefore, on the face of it, no Research has been done. Viz a viz, can the MoD have a re-look and provide a reasoned decision as to what can/can't be done to potentially find this crew. Time is of some essence, especially if any local inhabitants of the time are still around.

    Hi Ken
    Thanks for your P.M.
    Yes, I've picked up that story along the way. I do not believe that AINSWORTH was with the crew when they crashed near Brussells, all surviving.
    My first post on re-joining the Forum was a reply on 23rd June to you enquiry as to who was the War Correspondent on that flight.
    Many thanks to you both.
    Big Makk

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Hi Makk

    You state in an earlier post that there was an MoD letter stating that the aircraft had crashed in France. Leipzig is some 300 miles from the French border. Can you check the name of the town possibly?

    Mike

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    Even if it still exists, I'm not aware that the UK MOD would release MR&ES information, even following a FOIA request. However, it is certainly worth a punt. I have seen MR&ES reports in Canadian personnel records of the missing, so who knows what's lurking out there?

    Unfortunately, unlike the US DOD, the UK MOD does not proactively hunt for the missing, nor does it encourage others to do so. There have been issues caused in the past, when amateur aircraft archaeologists have failed to treat human remains with the respect that they deserve. Whilst I admire your determination to seek resolution in this case, I am not an advocate of this approach, particularly when wartime crash sites are often laden with unexploded ordnance. Having said that, there are plenty of amateurs in Europe that would be happy to dig away.
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Default Re: Resurrecting MRES

    The loss card for NG386 states one dead - Snelling A W , based on an identity card(?) handed in by a Frenchman, obtained from an ex-pow, between Espenhain (south of Leipzig) and a place I cant quite make out - possibly something like M u c k a m e l (?).

    There is no information regarding the rest of the crew.

    HTH

    Mike

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