1943-12-17 Sergeant - Survived
Lancaster Mk.II DS832 QOK
432 (B) Sqn (RCAF)
Target: Berlin Germany
Lancaster Mk.II DS832
Bombing Berlin Germany 1943-December-16 to 1943-December-17
483 Lancasters and I0 Mosquitoes on the main raid and 5 further Mosquitoes dropped decoy fighter flares south of Berlin.
The bomber route again led directly to Berlin across Holland and Northern Germany and there wore no major diversions, The German controllers plotted the the course of the bombers with great accuracy; many German fighters were met T the coast of Holland and further fighters were guided on to the bomber stream throughout the approach to the target. More fighters were waiting at the target and there were many combats. The bombers shook off the opposition on the return flight by taking a northerly route over Denmark. 25 Lancasters, 5.2 per cent of the Lancaster force, were lost. Many further aircraft were lost on returning to England (see later paragraph).
Berlin was cloud-covered but the Pathfinder sky-marking was reasonably accurate and much of the bombing fell in the city. The local report says that the raid hit no identifiable aiming point but the central and eastern districts were hit more than other areas. Little industrial damage was caused; most of the bombing hit housing and railways. Conflicting figures on the number of dead are given; the overall tot may be 720, of which 279 were foreign workers - 186 women, 65 men and 28 youths 70 of these foreigners - all from the East - were killed when the train in which they were travelling was bombed at the Halensee Station. In the city centre, the National Theatre and the building housing Germany's military and political archives were both destroyed. The damage to the Berlin railway system and to rolling stock, and the large numbers of people still leaving the city, were having a cumulative effect upon the transportation of supplies to the Russian Front; 1000 wagon-loads of war material were held up for 6 days. The sustained bombing had now made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable.
On their return to England, many of the bombers encountered very low cloud at their bases. The squadrons of 1, 6 and 8 Groups were particularly badly affected. Lancasters (and a Stirling from the minelaying operation) either crashed or were abandoned when their crews parachuted. The group with heaviest losses was 1 Group with 13 aircraft lost; the squadron with heaviest losses was 97 Squadron, 8 Group with 7 aircraft lost. There is a little confusion in Bomber Command records over aircrew casualties but it is probable that 148 men were killed in the crashes, 39 were injured and 6 presumed lost in the sea.
source: The Bomber Command War Diaries, Martin Middlebrook and Chris EverittLancaster BII aircraft DS 832 QO-K returning from an operation to Berlin, Germany encountered poor weather conditions and heavy fog over England. The aircraft was directed north to RAF Leeming but, unable to locate Leeming and out of fuel, the aircraft was abandoned by the crew over Castleton, England. The Lancaster crashed in a peat bog north of Danby, Yorkshire
F/O HB Hatfield (RCAF), F/L JA Allen (RCAF), F/O JL Higgs (RCAF), F/O GJ Smith (RCAF), P/O GM McGregor (RCAF), Sgt AC Phillips (RAF), Sgt WH Poole (RAF) and Sgt RA Hutchinson (RAFVR) all survived the crash with various injuries. F/O Hatfield with a broken leg and Sgt Poole with serious injuries suffered exiting the bomber. The other crew members with minor or no injuries
There were two 432 Squadron Lancaster II aircraft lost on this operation. Please see Turner, HA for information on Lancaster DS 831 QO-N
Black Night for Bomber Command, The Tragedy of 16 December 1943 by Richard Knott
Sgt Hutchinson would be killed in action 1944-01-14 on 432 Squadron Lancaster II aircraft DS 850 QO-M on an operation to Brunswick, Germany
Others on the Aircraft1943-12-17 RCAF Flight Lieutenant John Allardyce Allen Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RCAF Flying Officer Hubert Baker Hatfield Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RCAF Joseph Layton Higgs Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RCAF Pilot Officer Alexander Morvan McGregor Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RAF Alfred Clarence Phillips Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RAF William Henry Poole Survived 2023-01-27
1943-12-17 RCAF Flight Lieutenant George John Smith DFC, CG w/palm (Belgium) Survived 2023-01-27