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Thread: 582 Sq, F/Lt D.M. Mansell-Pleydell: Man of Mystery

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    Default 582 Sq, F/Lt D.M. Mansell-Pleydell: Man of Mystery

    My research into the mid-air incident which nearly killed my relative, Walter Edwards of 582 Squadron, Pathfinders, over Merseburg/Leuna on 14/15 January 1945 has made some progress, but thrown up another mystery.

    The story of 5 bombs from another Lancaster going through the plane, which proceeded to limp back to the UK on two port engines has now been confirmed. The Station ORB for Little Staughton records the incident thus:

    "582/P (F/O Lloyd) was hit by, presumably 5 bombs from another aircraft. The Lancaster went into a diving turn from 18000 to 10000 feet, and the Captain gave the order to bale out. At 10000 feet he managed to gain some measure of control over the aircraft, and cancelled the order to bale out. The Bomb Aimer (F/Lt D.M. Mansell-Pleydell DFC) had, however, baled out on receipt of the original order to do so. The bombs had struck the starboard mainplane, and two had passed completely through the fuselage just forward of the mid-upper turret, going out through the bomb bay. The aircraft lost height rapidly to 2000 feet and the Captain set course on 270 deg. on an I.A.S. of 110 knots. Both starboard engines were out of action and 582/P eventually landed at Manston at 0340 hours."

    The first question is , who was F/Lt D.M. Mansell-Pleydell DFC? Was he a senior officer who only flew occasionally, or was he someone brought into operate special equipment? He was not a normal member of Lloyd's crew, though he did sometimes fly with them on ops as a second Navigator II and sometimes accompanied other crews. The big mystery is why his name is not down on the crew list for that particular mission with F/O Lloyd's crew, even though he clearly was lost from that aircraft.

    The second mystery is, what happened to Mansell-Pleydell after he jumped? He is not listed as a casualty with the CWGC, nor, I am told by another forum member, is he named in the POW list. Can anyone shed any light on this Man of Mystery for me? And has any one else got more to share about the mission to Merseburg/Leuna?

    Natalie
    Last edited by Natalie; 19th February 2009 at 02:09.

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    Hi Natalie,

    Your man appears to be; 132850 Flt.Lt. David Morton Mansel-Pleydell DFC RAFVR.

    Maybe others might be able to fill the gaps ?

    Col.

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    Natalie,

    He appears in the Oct 46 RAF Air Force List, as a flight lieutenant, but is shown as 'released' in the Jan 47 List. His number is given as 132850, which may be helpful if you wish to search the London Gazette online for further details about him.

    Errol

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    Natalie,

    The following is an extract from thne Mansel-Playdell family website at:

    http://mansel-pleydell.net/?page_id=6

    The living remainder of the Mansel-Pleydell family is descended from Rev. John Colville who being the second son, joined the Church of England and in a long service to the church became Canon of Salisbury. He married Beatrice Abel-Smith in 1879 and he had issue four sons and two daughters.

    Three of the four sons died without issue, again in the Great War. The fourth son Ralph married Countess Margurite D’Ursel and he had issue three sons. (Johnny, Philip and David)

    Johnny was killed in WWII without issue, Phillip married Rosalie Bowring in 1961, he had issue one son (John) and a daughter (Rosanna)

    David married Elizabeth Luard in 1963 , he had issue four sons (Toby, Harry, Tom and Charlie) David was killed in a car accident in Belgium in 1973, several months before Charlie was born.

    Errol

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    Thank you, gentlemen, for your timely responses. Well, at least we now know the Man of Mystery made it to the ground, though it seems rough luck to survive parachuting from a plummetting Lancaster over enemy territory only to die in a car accident.

    I'm still intrigued to know what he did on the squadron, what he was doing on the plane that night (though not mentioned in the ORB), and what happened to him on the ground. I wonder if he evaded, if he is not mentioned as a POW?

    Clearly, this was only of those rare occasions when being first out of the hatch on a bale out order was not the safest thing to do. It does suggest to me that he was indeed down in the bomb aimer's position, though, and thus able to escape quickly.

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    He is identified as an Air-Bomber with 15 Squadron in the citation to his D.F.C.

    4th Supplement to the LG of 16 May 1944, published 19 May 1944.

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    Mansel-Pleydell did fly with that crew (Lloyd) on a number of occaisions: Dec.28/29; Dec.29/30; Jan.2/3 & Jan. 5/6. Clearly the Jan.14/15 ORB entry missed his name. When you look through the Little Staughton and 582 Squadron ORBs it is common to find 3 Navigators on a single crew. I think the reason is that crews on that Squadron were assigned a variety of marking duties that required adaptation by the crews by taking an extra navigator. A quick glance of the Little Staughton ORB shows 582 crews acting as Blind markers, illuminators, blind illuminators, visual centerers, supporters, primary visual markers and master bombers. I suspect that these duties were also carried out by other Pathfinder heavy squadrons and I am sure there are forum contributors that know more about these duties than I do. There are no entries on the 582 ORB that I have found where any crew members are listed as Bomb aimer, although someone had to be releasing the markers and bombs.
    Regards
    Dave Wallace
    Last edited by David Wallace; 20th February 2009 at 13:49.

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    Natalie,

    Checked the RAF List October 1945 and he is listed under Navigators. Which means he was a Navigator or Bomb Aimer !

    Mark

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    David Mansel-Pleydell's war diary is at the National Archives: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/A2A/records.aspx?cat=031-dmpl&cid=-1&Gsm=2008-06-18#-1
    He was also first listed as "missing, believed killed in action". Flight Magazine had a correction in the July 12/45 issue: http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1945/1945%20-%201363.html
    Dave Wallace
    Last edited by David Wallace; 20th February 2009 at 13:48.

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    Default Flt Lt David Mansel-Pleydell

    A recent google search threw up this thread but I have no idea how soon this message will reach you. I am David Mansel-Pleydell's eldest son and have in my possession several papers relating to his RAF service, including his own (sadly too brief) typewritten record of what happened to him that night. I would be happy to type it up and sent it to you if you are interested. Briefly, he baled out, injured his back on landing and was soon captured. As there was no trace of fellow crew or of his aircraft, he was held on suspicion of being a Special Ops and threatened with execution, but he was identified as aircrew via the Red Cross and remained a POW until being liberated a few months later.

    We have his airman's log book somewhere which may shed some light on why he was with that crew that night. There is also a letter from his uncle (who had been his guardian, his father having died when he was a small boy) to another relative in which he mentions that David was somewhat gloomy shortly before the Leuna raid because he had been assigned to a new crew which was relatively inexperienced (had only done 11 ops).

    My father died in a car accident in early 1973 when I was eight years old, and I heard nothing directly from him about his wartime experiences because he never discussed the subject. I am delighted to have found someone with a link to that period of his life and would be happy to establish a dialogue and exchange copies of any photographs, letters and other records which may be of interest. My email address is toby@mansel-pleydell.com

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