24/25 March 1944

Lancaster Mk II - LL730 KO-G

T/O Witchford 1844 - target Berlin, Germany. Shot down by a night fighter during the outwart flight was steered by F/S Williams towards Sweden. The a/c ran out of hight, and only the BA, Sgt Meikle succeeded in abondoning it seconds before it crashed at Ostseebad Rerik,12 kms WNW Kropelin, Mecklenburg, Germany.

Also lost on this mission: Lancaster Mk II - LL694 KO-N, 7 KIA
Also lost on this mission: Lancaster Mk II - DS664 A4-K, "Werewolf", 4 KIA, 3 POW
Also lost on this mission: Lancaster Mk II - DS678 KO-J, 5 KIA 2 POW

This A/c ,LL730, KO-G, was brought down by a Nightfighter who's attack set the bomb-bay/bomb-load on fire. The a/c could not maintain height and Meikle left it moments before it crashed. The fighter is not identified but the crash site is given as Ostseebad Rerik,12 kms WNW of Kropelin. Those who died were originally buried in Rurik Friedhof but were later, probably post war, moved to their present resting places in Berlin.

Source: 115 Squadron Roll of Honour by D. Bruce, W. R. Chorley, J. G. J. de Haan - info: 3 Group Bomber Command, book Chris Ward

This A/c ,LL730, KO-G, was brought down by a Nightfighter who's attack set the bomb-bay/bomb-load on fire. The a/c could not maintain height and Meikle left it moments before it crashed.
The fighter is not identified but the crash site is given as Ostseebad Rerik,12 kms WNW of Kropelin.
Those who died were originally buried in Rurik Friedhof but were later, probably post war, moved to their present resting places in Berlin.

Theo Boiten's book on the Nightfighter war diaries Vol I states that it was possibly shot down by a Ju88 flown by Obstit Helmut Lent of Stab NJG3 for his 94th victory. He went on to claim 121 aircraft before he was killed in an aircraft accident in October 1944. His claim was near Lubeck at 2200hrs.

Source: W. R. Chorley-Bomber Command Losses Vol 5, and Theo Boiten, via David Walker. 811 aircraft - 577 Lancasters, 216 Halifaxes, 18 Mosquitos - to Berlin.

This night became known in Bomber Command as 'the night of the strong winds'. A powerful wind from the north carried the bombers south at every stage of the flight. Not only was this wind not forecast accurately but it was so strong that the various methods available to warn crews of wind changes during the flight failed to detect the full strength of it. The bomber stream became very scattered, particularly on the homeward flight and radar-predicted flak batteries at many places were able to score successes. Part of the bomber force even strayed over the Ruhr defences on the return flight. It is believed that approximately 50 of the 72 aircraft lost were destroyed by flak; most of the remainder were victims of night fighters. Needless to say, the strong winds severely affected the marking with, unusually, markers being carried beyond the target and well out to the south-west of the city.

This was the last major RAF raid on Berlin during the war, although the city would be bombed many times by small forces of Mosquitos.

72 aircraft - 44 Lancasters, 28 Halifaxes - lost, 8.9 per cent of the force.

Source: nationalarchives.gov.uk - Bomber Command - Campaign Diary March 1944.

Williams Ieuan Glyndwyr Williams Ieuan Glyndwyr - Pilot

F/S - Service No 1415839

Age:

RAFVR

Son of

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.

Morris James Arthur Morris James Arthur - FE

Sgt - Service No 1851391

Age: 19

RAFVR

Son of James John and Minnie Florence Morris, of Pilwood Park, Bristol.

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.

Ward Montagu Arnold Ward Montagu Arnold - Nav

F/S - Service No 977445

Age: 24

RAFVR

Son of William H. Ward and Ellen Ward, of Leyland, Lancashire.

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.

Kearley John William Kearley John William "Jack" - WOP

Sgt - Service No 1396608

Age: 21

RAFVR

Son of Herbert John and Esther Elizabeth Kearley, of Addington, Croydon, Surrey.

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.

Meikle E Meikle Eric A. - BA

Sgt - Service No 1545691

Age: - POW No 4011 Luft 1 Barth, released 25/4/45.

RAFVR

Son of

Source: 115 Squadron Roll of Honour by D. Bruce, W. R. Chorley, J. G. J. de Haan- info RAF Commands

He was the only survivor.

He recorded the following in his diary.

Attacked by a fighter crossing the German coast en route to Berlin, fire in the Bomb bay. He released the bombs and saw them fall away, Then set course for Sweden, however the bomb bay doors would not close and the aircraft lost height.

They thought they were over the Baltic between Germany and Sweden.

Eric decided to jump rather than possibly ditch in the sea in a plane on fire with open bomb doors. Against the insistence of his crew-mates, that they could make it to Sweden, he jumped at about 900m, while descending via parachute, he viewed the aircraft explode and crash.

He landed in a field bouncing from frozen furrow to frozen furrow while trying to recover his parachute.

The next day he woke up in a field viewing a farmer with a shotgun and was taken to the house to await the authorities.

A Luftwaffe officer told him that the rest of the crew were found burnt and mangled inside the plane about 4kms from where he landed. The engineer was the only one they could identify.

Eric ended up in Stalag Luft 1, Barth released 25/4/45.

Source and photo via David Walker, thanks.

Watson Thomas Colbeck Watson Thomas Colbeck - MUG

Sgt - Service No 1594037

Age: 22

RAFVR

Son of Maud Nancy Watson, of Eastrington, Yorkshire.

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.

Howells Ronald Howells Ronald - RG

W/O - Service No 1266769

Age: 35

RAFVR

Son of

Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - collective grave 14.L.1-11.

Source: CWGC.