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Thread: Looking for Information F/S Kenneth Abbs

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    Default Looking for Information F/S Kenneth Abbs

    I am assisting a fellow in gathering some information as follows:

    My great uncle is Flight Sergeant (promoted to WO at the end of the war) Kenneth Abbs. He was a flight engineer. He flew his first tour with 427 Squadron RAF (Lion) in Halifaxes from RAF Leeming. His second tour was with 405 (Pathfinder) Squadron RCAF (Eagle) in Lancasters from RAF Gransden Lodge.

    His 44th mission was the Opel works at Rüsselsheim, in August 1944 (unsure of the date, his Squadron flew 2 missions there in August). On the return journey (i think) his plane was shot up and the pilot gave the order to bail out.

    They were taken PoW and sent to Stalag Luft 7 (Bankau, Germany - now Bakow, Poland). On January 17th they were marched to (i think) Stalag IIIa near Berlin. They arrived on Febuary 5th, and had marched 240km. They were 'liberated' by the Russians, though kept in camp until the Americans arrived.

    Unfortunately I dont know the names of the rest of the crew, but I think one or two were found by civillians and shot. The pilot ended up taking the plane home, and sent them a postcard from England.
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    Hi Leslie,

    On Ross' POW lists this man shows up with the service number 959080 and is at Bankau.

    I looked him up in Oliver Clutton-Brock's "Footprints on the Sands of Time - RAF Bomber Command Prisoners of War in Germany 1939-1945" but he is not mentioned.

    6 Group did have a raid on the Opel works at Russelsheim on 25/26 August 1944:

    http://www.rcaf.com/6group/Aug44/Aug25~2644.html

    The story of the march from Bankau is told in John Nichol's book "The Last Escape" which I cannot recommend enough.

    Stalag IIIA was at Luckenwalde, some 30 miles SE of Berlin. I am glad to see the word "liberated" in quotes as the Russians played all sorts of games with the men in this camp. After the Soviets arrived on 22 April, 1945, the POWs were not allowed to leave. The senior Allied officer was Norwegian General Otto Ruge who was taken from the camp and flown to Moscow. His subsequent report to SHAEF is rather interesting. Some of his own men were not returned to Norway until six month after the war ended. An arrival of a convoy of US trucks and ambulances to take out the wounded on 5 and 6 May, 1945 was shot at and the wire around the camp torn down by Soviet tanks just two weeks previously was re-erected and armed guards placed around it. Since 1992, I have spoken to many men in the camp when all this happened and the general consensus remains that the only thing that changed once the German guards left and the Soviets arrived were the uniforms on their guards. Literally thousands of US, UK, Commonwealth and various other air force and army POWs left via foot and made their way to US lines then some 40 miles distant.

    The balance of the camp, that is those who didn't ignore the *stay put* order issued by the Senior British Officer, W/C Dick Collard, were not returned to US and UK control until 22 May, 1945. Interestingly, not one man who voted with his feet was court-martialed.

    If the person you are inquiring here for is interested I have copies of all IIIA newsletters and daily intelligence summaries as written by the POWs themselves from 22 April onwards. This collection includes most of what I have written above but in tremendous detail.

    On an unrelated note, I have ordered your fathers book and am looking forward to reading it. The annual 101 Squadron reunion takes place in Lincoln and Ludford Magna the weekend of 4-6 September and I will be letting folks there know about the book.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Last edited by alieneyes; 15th August 2009 at 06:32.

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    Thanks for that Dave. Was there any mention of the names of the rest of the crew by chance?
    As I have said before, the forum members here are a great wealth of information and I thank all of you.
    Leslie

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    Leslie,

    The two squadrons listed here were both part of 6 Group. I could find nothing with the circumstances listed here (crew bails, pilot flies home).

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Thanks for the information Dave. And thank you for ordering Dad's story. Robin Riley had extended an invite to 101 reunion however, sadly I don't think I will be able to be there. Dad is also wanting me to attend his all weather fighter squadron reunion in September here in Victoria, B.C. Unfortunately, he is no longer able to fly due to his health. Please let me know what you think of the book. It was more or less told in Dad's words as that was how he wanted it and who am I to argue with the Colonel.
    You do know that with Robin's massive effort and extraordinary computer skills, we are working on the 101 website. Now that the book is done I can get back to entering the 101 Data.
    Once again thanks for your help and your support for the book.

    Kind regards
    Leslie

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    Quote Originally Posted by alieneyes View Post
    The two squadrons listed here were both part of 6 Group. I could find nothing with the circumstances listed here (crew bails, pilot flies home).
    Not quite. 405 Squadron had been transferred to 8 Group before the proposed loss described by Leslie.

    A

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    I didn't want to muddy the waters on this thread (incase it was a wild goose chase) but I have started another thread with a hunch

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?p=33761#post33761

    A

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    Leslie posted this on my behalf, so many thanks to you all for your replies.

    I should point out that my great uncle is still alive, and although i don't see him very often when I do I try to get more information from him, only I don't like to push him too far. I don't think he likes talking about it all that much.

    Dave, thanks for the information about the book which documents the march from Bankau, I shall definitely try to pick that up. Also your comments about the Russians 'liberation' of Stalag IIIa certainly match other sources I have read. My great uncle told me that they knew there Russians were close, and there were two older German soldiers (in his eyes, a German home guard equivalent) ready to surrender to the Russians as they arrived, but were shot dead before they had an opportunity. Everything else I have read on the subject has taken much the same tone.

    Also I would be very interested in the documents you have relating to Stalag IIIa, I can PM you my email address if you'd like.

    I know my great uncle was captured in August, and the Russelsheim raid of 25/26th August seems to be the best documented, but I also found a raid on 13/14th Ausust but I have yet to discover what groups/squadron took part in this raid.

    297 aircraft - 191 Lancasters, 96 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos - to Rüsselsheim. 13 Lancasters and 7 Halifaxes lost, 6.7 per cent of the force. The target for this raid was the Opel motor factory and normal Pathfinder marking methods were used. The motor factory was only slightly damaged; the local report states that the tyre and dispatch departments and the powerhouse were hit but most of the bombs fell in open countryside south of the target.
    http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/aug44.html


    Thanks again for the input on this thread,
    Chris

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    My mistake, Amrit. Thanks for pointing it out and for your hunch on Nairn.

    Chris, I have all these documents as a pdf file so if PM me your email address I'll be happy to send it off.

    If you could ask your great uncle for just the tiniest detail ie. anyone else's name in the crew it might help get to the bottom of this mystery.

    Lest we think it was just the Russians who were all bad I have a Stalag IIIA case of a Canadian and a British POW who attempted to escape IIIA on 14 April 1945 only to be shot in the back by the Germans. Their bodies were buried in the cemetery at Luckenwalde, only to be lost post war when the cemetery flooded. When asked by other POWs why they had even bothered to shoot these men given the war was lost, one old German soldier began crying and said had he not shot he would have been shot.

    Dave

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    Chris,

    I received your PM and have now emailed you the pdf file.

    Regards,

    Dave

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