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Thread: 582 Squadron, Merseburg, Dec '44/Jan '45

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    Default 582 Squadron, Merseburg, Dec '44/Jan '45

    I'm trying to find out some information about a Pathfinder's op to Merseburg involving a relative of mine, Walter Edwards DFM, a Pathfinder navigator whom I've mentioned elsewhere on this forum. Some more information has come to light via relatives and a newspaper article about the award of his DFM, which refers to an incident where "five bombs dropped on his aircraft while over the target at Merseburg, damaging the aircraft so severely that it was brought home with only the two port engines operating".

    Dorothy, Walter's sister, says that a bomb went right through the fuselage, and the plane went into a dive. She says Walter helped the pilot get the plane back to England by helping him to haul on the controls (not sure why he would do this; would have thought the flight engineer would be a more obvious person, unless he was incapacitated).

    There is also an account by my father, who is a notoriously unreliable witness, which says that Walter burned his hands badly by picking up burning TIs or incendiaries and throwing them out of the plane.

    So much for the story. Now for the evidence.

    I have kindly been given the ORB records for all of Walter Edward's ops with 582 Squadron. (He also did three other ops with another squadron, but I am not sure which one it was.) Walter Edward's crew, led by F/O P. Lloyd, did two ops to Merseburg, one on 6/7 December 1944, and one on 14/15 January 1945. The latter seems to have been a dramatic and successful raid, with 3 men from the squadron being given immediate DFC/DFMs (though none from his crew). There is a tantalising reference in the ORB entry to "A'Craft losing height. Safe." However, this is the only thing which might be construed as referring to what was obviously a very lucky escape. The plane, PB681, landed at Manston, the only one to do so, which may or may not indicate an emergency landing. Several other 582 Sq. aircraft were diverted to Tangmere that night because of bad weather at base.

    So: any suggestions? I am also hoping to get hold of a copy of Walter Edward's logbook, which may shed more light on the subject, but in the interim, can anyone enlighten me as to this incident and which raid it occurred on? Can anyone give me more information about the raid of 14/15 January, which I think is the more likely one?

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    Natalie,
    I would have thought that if the incident happened during one of his 582sqdn operations, something would probably have been given a mention in the right hand column of the ORB (541) opposite the a/c and crew list, where they give a brief description of the attack.
    AlanW.

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    I agree, it does seem strange that nothing is mentioned, and others have also made this comment. But the ORB notes for all the crews follow a very similar pattern. That 14/15 Jan raid was obviously a hairy one (all those DFMs!) but you wouldn't know it from the records.

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    Default 582 Sqdn Lancaster III PB681 6O-P

    Hi Natalie,

    the following details come from AIR 14/3460 from TNA, Kew, which is a Bomber Command tabular database of all aircraft damaged or lost on operations:

    14/15 Jan: Leuna/Merseburg (2), 8 Group, Lanc III, 582 P PB681 (AC) - bombs (5)

    This indicates that Lancaster III PB681 6O-P of 582 Squadron was damaged by five falling 'bombs' (which could also mean TI's or incendiaries) during the 2nd raid upon oil refineries at Leuna/Merseburg on the night of 14-15 January 1945. The amount of damage to the aircraft was categorised at 'AC', meaning that the aircraft was beyond the capabilities of the unit to repair on base (i.e. would require more specialised repair).

    Presumably the incident occurred between 23.51-23.59 hours, which was the duration of the bombing by 8 Group, according to the Bomber Command Interception Tactics Report (AIR 14/3745). This report also details that the 8 Group Mosquitos (6) and Lancasters (57, one of which did not successfully bomb the target) bombed from heights between 21,000-25,000 ft. The main force Lancasters of 1 and 6 Groups bombed between 23.52-00.12 hrs from heights of 14,000-22,000 ft. Incidentially, another Pathfinder aircraft - 35 Sqdn Lancaster III ME370 was also hit by a falling bomb and damaged Cat 'AC'.


    Beyond this information, if there is nothing mentioned in the Sqdn ORBs (and many unit ORBs are notoriously bad for failing to mention incidents), you would need to see if any award citation still exists for any of the crew members.

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 5th February 2009 at 18:12. Reason: added info

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    Default Air 14 / 3460

    Dear Natalie - please excuse this small hijacking of your thread for a moment ...

    Hi Rod

    Most interested to see your mention of the above file and its contents: "all aircraft damaged or lost on ops". Sounds worth a look when I can get up to Kew sometime.

    Can you just tell me what period does the file cover? Is it a one-off or one of a series?

    Cheers

    Ian

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    Hi Ian,

    ...1942 Dec.-1945 May.

    At least in the last months of the war, these chronological reports were bi-monthly. Also, the copies in AIR 14/3460 have been amended with corrections and updates. The reports individually detail all aircraft lost or damaged on operations.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Thank you, Rod, for your speedy and helpful reply, which has answered one of the main questions about this issue, ie, when the incident in question happened. Sounds like Manston was definitely an emergency landing for the crew that night.

    I'd love to know more details about what happened to that particular plane, and about the raid generally. Does anyone else have any further details?

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    Default Air 14/3460

    Ian. I have a copy of this file, there is about 400 odd pages.
    richard

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    Default Air 14 / 3460

    Thanks again Rod for the info. I think I must definitely take a look, even if it only starts from Dec '42. (Just saying that as my current 'project' is a detailed look at the Lubeck raid of March '42. But of course there's plenty of other later dates and losses I'd be interested in too).

    And Richard, I don't know if it's possible, if I sent you a P/M whether you could maybe scan and e-mail me a copy of a typical page so I can see what's there?

    Cheers again

    Ian

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    Default Air 14/3460

    Hello Ian. Send me a message thru 6 group web site.
    Richard

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