Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lions Bay, BC
    Posts
    414
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts

    Default Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    I am researching my father's operation to Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. The Master Bomber on this raid was Captain Swales of 582 Squadron. Swales and crew were engaged by a T/E night fighter. Swales lost his life that night and received the posthumous award of VC for valor. Air 27/2053 contains the appendix to the ORB for 582 Squadron for January-April 1945. It records the route of Swales A/C PB538 “M” after combat and crash site, as: "The route followed thereafter was 48o45’N 08o45'E, 48o28’N 07o45'E, 48o32’N 05o50'E, 49o20’N 04o15'E, 50o18’N 03o25'E (A/C crashed)."
    [note that I have taken the "liberty" of correcting the coordinates as "superscript o" for degrees and ' for minutes--convention of BC was to use first two digits as degrees and the second two digits as minutes.]

    The "Combat Report" for this attack, records the crash site as "Chapelle-aux-Bois" which is nowhere near 50o18’N 03o25'E.

    Does anyone have details of the crash of PB538 “M”.

    I find it interesting that details of the route after combat are available. Did the navigator leave the A/C with the route details? Did he recall them from memory? Or were the charts found on the A/C at the crash site?

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 27th October 2020 at 18:58. Reason: Clarification

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    485
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Jim, The comment on Wikipedia is that the crash occurred in the vicinity of Prouvy in France. Lat and long of Prouvy are: 50 19 N 03 27 E. Regards, Terry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,469
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 14 Times in 13 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Hello

    I haven't checked the actual wikipedia entry, but an older one was referring to "Pomoy, two miles SSEE of Denham in France). Denham was a corrupted version of Denain, Pomoy being probably a corrupted translation for Prouvy, which was the local airfield.

    From a French gendarmerie report, I have the crash site as Haspres, which is further south of Denain. I think that the Prouvy location given is because it's where the survivors were brought together after being collected from their landing places.

    The appendix in AIR 27/2053 has narratives from the survivors, as you say. I've copied them years ago. I've also made digital pictures of what seems to be a "K report" (reference 8G/K.4) which is typed, and uses exactly some of the same words that the manuscript version found in AIR 27/2053, but it's only two pages.

    Extract from that report : "The following day, they [the survivors] visited the wreckage of the A/C and found a body not identified but presumed to be that of the Captain in a position which suggested that he had made no attempt to bale out. The general opinion of the crews is that the Captain attempted to make a belly-landing, but that the aircraft was not sufficiently Under control and hit the ground in a moderate dive. "

    From my experience on crash sites, I found it difficult that a navigator's log would have survived the crash and usual fire that follows, in good enough condition to be read, but if the Lancaster hit the ground "in a moderate dive" as stated above, it's a possibility that papers could have been retrieved from it. I've never seen pictures of the wreckage, which would confirm the force-landing attempt rather that a near vertical impact.

    Joss

    Joss

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lions Bay, BC
    Posts
    414
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Thanks Joss and Terry. I had not looked at the Wikipedia entry, as I was trying to resolve,the disparity in the wartime documents. This is the route I have:

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/ed...nI&usp=sharing

    So the location as "Chapelle-aux-Bois" on the combat report seems to be in error. Boiten and MacKenzie should also revise their report for PB.538. Incidentally the “Y” report from Middleton St. George, records 419/B (dad’s crew) observing air-to-air tracer at 2006, which is the time recorded in the combat report of the attack.

    Dad mentioned In his audio memoirs this was a frightening raid. They observed lots of night fighters that night. He remembers the condition as being very clear. The moon was 85% full and there was snow on the ground. He felt very exposed to attack.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 28th October 2020 at 14:12.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,469
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 14 Times in 13 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Hello Jim

    I haven't been able to access your link. I just get a blank page.

    There's a village called "La Chapelles-aux-Bois", but it's in eastern France, in the Vosges département, so really too far.

    I rather think that it refers to a "lieu-dit", a place with a name, which is a common occurrence in France. Sometimes it's just a crossroad, or a couple of houses. It can also be a name which existed then, and no longer exist any more, or altered.

    Searching on GE, there's this chapel north-est of Haspres, and nearby there an area called "fond du bois". So the Chapel close to "fond du Bois" could have been known as "chapelle du Bois" or "chapelle-au-bois", or written as such in contemporary R.A.F. documents.

    Coordinates of the chapel are 50°16'28.2"N 3°26'02.3"E, so it's really really close to the coordinates from the Squadron appendix quoted in your #1.

    https://goo.gl/maps/hDbitAzJzYNBQfL27

    To be very precise on the location, the chapel is actually on the territory of the village of Verchain-Maugré, by a few meters only.

    Joss

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lions Bay, BC
    Posts
    414
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Hi Joss. I wonder if this link works? Googled has changed the method by which links can be shared and I don’t think it works well.
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/ed...nI&usp=sharing

    Google chrome might be a better browser to access the link, if you have that option. For some reason, my Netscape browser doesn’t work on these links either.

    That location may well be the crash site. I agree that "La Chapelles-aux-Bois" is some distance away, although quite close to to actual return route of the force.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 30th October 2020 at 03:16.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,469
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 14 Times in 13 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Hello Jim

    Link works fine now.

    I agree that the Vosges département is overflown by the return route (west of Strasbourg to be very rough). But the map coordinates given in the Squadron appendix and the location given in the French gendarmerie report are really a match. I've always wondered why Swales was not buried in the area. There are Commonwealth War Graves in Valenciennes St Roch cemetery for example.

    Joss

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lions Bay, BC
    Posts
    414
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts

    Default Re: Pforzheim. February 23, 1945. Route of Swales Crew after combat at Target.

    Thanks Joss. I agree with your assessment.

    Jim

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •