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Thread: Lanc PB129 26th Sept 1944

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    Default Lanc PB129 26th Sept 1944

    Hi there

    Can anyone help me with trying to establish what actually happened to this Lancaster? I have conflicting information about the departure time, but it left Gransden Lodge heading for Cap Gris Nez, and apparently crashed in Allied territory.

    How can I find out exactly why it crashed? And can I identify the crash site?

    Thanks for your assistance
    Deborah

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    Hi Deborah
    My source is W R Chorley, Bomber Command Losses Vol 5 and apart from a t/o time of 1200-midday, it has no further info on the cause or crash site of the loss. He does point out that there were 3 survivors from the 8 on board:-
    F/Lt W J Anderson DFM, RCAF who was injured and hospitalised
    F/Lt A J Wilcock,DFC, RCAF and
    F/O I L Lauskner, DFC,RCAF. The rest of the crew were buried in Calais Canadian War Cemetery although F/O C E Laishley is not shown as RCAF in an otherwise all Canadian crew. It might be worthwhile consulting the Canadian authorities or looking at their Veterans Website to see if any of the crew names are on record and if it gives any indication of the cause of the loss. There may also be a 405 Sqn website or Veterans Association.There is,or was, a UK Association for the Sqn at the address :-
    405 Squadron RCAF Association (UK) Lorna W Hayes, 13 Woodland Way, Petts Wood, Kent BR5 1NB:
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 21st June 2009 at 18:45.

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    Hi Dick
    Thank you for your reply. Would you say your source of t/off time is the most reliable record, as the 156.squadron.com website states 2304hrs. I have been told a night flight could be likely for such a raid but like you have found, there are two times stated. What is your view on this?

    My grandfather was the navigator on this flight (W Goddard) and he too was British, but perished aboard. I am intruiged why only three would escape. One of the three survivors wrote to my grandmother to say he watched the plane hit the ground, but can we only surmise it was a too quick a descent?

    I am so grateful to you - I have been groping around on other websites for information for months!
    Many thanks
    Deborah

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    hello,

    I have the crash site in Hardinghem, which is in this area, just inland from the Cap.

    I've visited the Calais Canadian War Cemetery and can supply you pictures of the graves if you wish. As the other airmen from the crew buried in the cemetery are all R.C.A.F., it's possible to get access to their file (the "Genealogy package") from the Public Library in Canada. I've not done it so far for this crew, but it should at least confirm the crash site location.

    Probably others on the board have already done so.

    It's interesting to have you starting a thread on the subject, as the CWGC entry for your grandfather gives no age and no family detail. Hence we didn't know he was married and with heirs.

    Joss

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    Hi Deborah
    It rather looks as if this might have been a daylight raid in support of Ground forces. Chorley gives the target as "strong points", suggesting Army Support. The target would not have been easy to identify and some light would have been useful so either t/o time could have worked,with one clearly daytime and the other ,perhaps, designed to have the a/c over the target at first light on a Summer's day when the nights were shorter.Either way it is probable that the Ground Forces used signal flares to indicate the area to be bombed.Being Army support the attack could well have been delivered from a lower level then was usual for Bomber Command and this would reduce the time available to abandon the a/c. It may be significant that the 3 who survived were well placed in the a/c to reach the escape exits. Lauskner was the tail gunner who, if he was wearing his parachute, could simply rotate the turret 90 degrees and roll out backwards, Willcock was the Bomb Aimer and would be close to the forward escape hatch. Anderson may have also been close to the forward hatch but not in an operational position. Anderson is described as a Sqn veteran but the a/c was captained by a Wing Commander and had 8 on board instead of the normal 7. It could be that the W/C had taken Anderson's seat for the op and was the extra man in order to fulfil his own obligations to complete a certain number of ops each month. What disabled the a/c is not stated but it sounds like an attempt was made to get the crew to bale out and only 3 made it
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thank you so much for that - I will indeed contact them. Thanks for your kind offer of photos - I do already have some and will be going to France myself for a visit in August, hence trying to find out the crash site.

    Wilfred was born in 1909, was indeed married to Ethel with two children born prior to him joining up, and my father was the third child born some 8 months after his fathers death.

    I would like to find out what happened to the plane, as by all accounts, the pilot W/C Palmer was a bit of a hotshot and had briefly been the 405 Squadron Leader, so I can't imagine it had been inexperience that brought them down. Is it likely to be enemy fire?

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    The raid on Cap Gris Nez appears to have been a daylight one and was aimed at knocking out the heavy guns (14 inchers!!) in the large bunkers as a prelude to the main attack by the Canadian ground forces. It would appear from the writings about the Canadian units involved that the smoke screens that they had been using, and the poor weather, that the only a small percentage of the bombers managed to hit the target.

    A

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    Thank you so much for all your replies, I am so grateful you have all taken the time to help me.

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    Hi, Deborah. The RCAF usually are very helpful and may well have details gathered after the war had ended gathered by the Missing Research and Enquiries Units (MREU). They would be charged with investigating crash sites to ascertain what had become of the crew (all nationalities) and try to establish what had caused the crash, who survived and who did not. They usually ensured that any graves were recorded and exhumations for reburial in CWGC cemeteries. Crashes in Occupied Territory such as France would generally have some local populace involvement so more dignified than was some times the case in Germany itself where bomber crew were sometimes treated badly and remains hurriedly buried.
    As stated, the attack appears to have been in support of ground forces to neutralise the heavy artillery emplacements which would have posed a considerable threat to any seaborne invasion. In daylight, and at lower altitude, it is probable that the intense flak defences hit them and low to the ground had little time to parachute out.
    They gave their lives to save many others, if that is some some consolation.
    I'm sure there are many (more expert than me) who can give you more precise details.
    It may also be worth contacting a local French newspaper for any archive material and also the Town Mayor who may be able to provide details of crash events, place of first burial etc.

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    Default Lanc PB129, 26th September 1944

    I do not know where I copied the following, which I have added to the Wilcox award data base.

    Lancaster PB129, A/405, was detailed to bomb Cap Gris Nez on the morning of 26 September 1944. Took off at 1200 hours. Crew consisted of J15818 W/C C.W. Palmer, DFC (Captain), 145387 F/L W. Goddard (navigator), J85391 F/L A.J. Wilcock, DFC (navigator, survived with facial burns and broken ribs), 158131 F/O C.E. Laishley (WOP/Air), J85493 P/O F.J.A Frey (mid-upper gunner), J16959 F/O I. Lauckner, DFC (rear gunner, survived, returned to England on 28 September by landing craft), C17844 F/L H.J. Anderson, DFM (flight engineer, survived with broken ankle) and J18009 F/O W.G. Peacock (bomb aimer). En route to target aircraft received a direct hit. Fire burst out in port inner engine followed by observation that fuel was gobe. At about 1,500 feet the aircraft was seen to go into a dive which became acute at about 1,000 feet. On orders of the captain, three crew managed to bale out. Approximately four minutes later the aircraft was bombed by a Main Force aircraft, despite warnings from the Long Stop Master (Master Bomber). Crashed and exploded on ground.

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