At school in West Hartlepool
Sports Day at school
Playing for Stoneygate RFC. Leicester around 1938
(fourth from left)
Albert on right
Albert, Jenny and William (Billy) around 1925
Albert seated age 11?
At Grammar School winning Junior Victor Ludorum
Albert on left
Oswald Mann was born in 1916 at Hartlepool, County Durham. He was
the son of John Oswald Mann (1881) who was a sea-going marine
engineer and lived at 6 Elm Grove, West Hartlepool. Albert's grandfather John Thomas Mann (1862)
was also a
marine engineer working in the Hartlepool shipyards. Albert had an older
brother called William Oswald Mann who was born in 1907 and
worked for British Rail at West Hartlepool.
Before enlisting in the RAF Albert had married Nuneaton born Violet Elise (Binty) Bint (1917-2004) at Christ Church, Highbury, London by licence on February 8th 1940 and the couple settled in Leicester. Binty had worked at Lewis's departmental store there which had opened in 1936 but was living at Highbury Hill, London and working as a hairdresser at the time of her marriage in 1940. During October of that same year Albert began his pilot's training.
It must have been a worrying time for Albert. Within a month of beginning pilot's training his Leicester home with Violet and baby Geoff, and that of his parents, Jane & Ossie, were in danger. (Here are some local resident's recollections of the November bombing of Leicester: Leicester Recollections
the outbreak of World War 2, Jane & Ossie Mann had moved to Leicester, to be with their son Albert, and
went with them. Ossie worked until 1945 as a volunteer in the REME Workshop in
Leicester, where he was in charge of Receipts
died in 1941 and was buried in Leicester, but Jane & Ossie
stayed on until 1946, when the house was sold and Binty
Geoffrey moved to London, where she eventually remarried. Jane & Ossie returned to West
Hartlepool, back to the house in Elm Grove, which Bill & Barbara
and the children shared briefly during the early
"Albert was the golden boy of the family: gifted, charming, ambitious and successful. On leaving West Hartlepool Grammar School, he trained as a surveyor, and became a partner in the local firm Norman Hope & Mann.
After moving to Leicester to open a branch there, which was still trading under that name seventy years later, he married Violet Elise Bint [Binty], a vivacious blonde beautician who was working in Lewis's Department Store at Leicester.
Susan Cawley (William's daughter) used to be despatched down to Leicester by train during the summer holidays, and she regarded Binty with awe as the absolute epitome of glamour. Binty and Albert had one son, Geoffrey, who was born in 1940.
In addition to being a business and social success, Albert was a fine rugby player, who played scrum half for Durham Schools, Hartlepool Rovers, Leicester Tigers and Leicestershire.
During World War 2 Albert became a Flying Officer in the RAFVR, and was killed when the bomber he was piloting was shot down over Duisburg on 22 May 1944. He is buried in Cleve Military Cemetery in Germany.
The tragedy blighted the lives of his parents, and all who knew him, and coloured family relationships permanently.
Susannah had died in 1941 and was buried in Leicester, but Jane & Ossie stayed on until 1946, when the house was sold and Binty and Geoffrey moved to London, where she eventually remarried. Then they returned to West Hartlepool, back to the house in Elm Grove, which Bill & Barbara and the children shared briefly during the early fifties." from Mann family tree
The late Flying Officer Albert Oswald Mann
No man can give more than his life in the service of his country for those that do shall enter the hall of heroes.
Completing his first tour of operations in May of 1942 after a raid on Warnemunde, Albert was detached to No. 1483 Target Towing and Gunnery Flight for rest purposes prior to conversion to Lancasters with No. 1678 Flight in March 1944.
the Spring of 1943, while Albert was busy with No. 1483 Flight, his
mates at 115 Squadron had been equipped with Lancasters and in November that year
had moved from RAF Marham to RAF
Pressed flowers from his grave
Photographs and eulogy from Albert's son Geoff. Mann
This postcard from Stalag Luft 3 above was from one of Albert's friends, Aubrey Lancaster who had been a prisoner of war in Germany since 1941. He was the navigator on a Coastal Command 235 Squadron Blenheim bomber that crashed in 1941.
W/O Aubrey Lancaster Hartlepool Mail 22nd February 2010
heroic feats of a daredevil airman who took part in the real-life
version of the film The Great Escape are to be the subject of a new
man Aubrey Lancaster helped to build a tunnel that enabled 76 men escape
from the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp in Germany in 1944.
a 47-year-old father-of-two from Reading in Berkshire, hopes to include
Mr Lancaster's exploits among tales of 100 members of 235, 236, 248 and
254 Squadrons and the book, called Coastal Dawn, will be available to
buy in August.
* I am indebted to Albert's son Geoff for most of the information published here and for some on the Bint family page.
Geoff was born in 1940. He chose the RAF as a career, joining during the 1950s as a Boy Entrant, and served in the UK and overseas. He married Lynette Patrickson at Chistlehurst, Kent in 1964. Their first son David was born at Beckenham in 1966, daughter Rachael Elise at Dhekelia, Cyprus in 1968, and Keith at the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford in 1974.
His mother, Albert's wife Violet (Binty), died in June 2004.
Geoff, who now lives in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, sadly lost his wife Lynette after a long illness on the 17th of October 2010.
Commanding Officer of 115 Squadron from December 1943 to June 1944 was
Wing Commander R H Annan. He was followed by Wing Commander W G Devas
who had been a Flight Commander at 514 Squadron and was at Witchford until
November 1944 when posted to RAF Stradishall.
Group Captain Devas CBE, DFC, AFC retired in April 1968 his last
appointment was nearly three years as Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.
|Mr Albert “Bert” James, ex Flt Sgt RCAF recalls: “I was posted to 115 Sqn at Marham in December 1941. There was only one Bofors ack-ack gun but gun pits were dotted around the airfield made of sandbags these were dummies. The crews were also made of sandbags with faces painted on them; sticks (not always straight!) were mounted on wooden tripods to look like ack-ack guns”.|
Marham was in 3 Group and it was from here that 115 squadron had
been operating with Wellingtons since the outbreak of war.
By 1941 the bomber campaign against German industry,
including such targets as the Krupp steelworks at Essen, was
building up significantly and 115 squadron played its full part,
losing many Wellingtons and crews to the often ferocious
opposition from flak and fighters. The majority of crews did not
survive their first tour of 30 operations, but those that did were
then “rested” before being sent back into the fray. Most crews
sent to "rest" became instructors at O.T.U’s, but some
were sent to other bomber training units, such as 1483 Flight.
Denis Corley - Brooklands Museum
On the 12th May 1942 Marham was attacked five times by German raiders; buildings damaged included the Sergeants Mess. Marham aircraft also took part in “Gardening” operations in early 1942, the mining of enemy sea lanes.
On 30th May 1942, aircraft from Marham took part in the first “Thousand Bomber” raid. Seventeen Wellingtons of 115 Sqn, followed by 22 Stirlings of 218 Sqn took off that night. Some senior officers from 3 Group headquarters at Mildenhall accompanied the Marham crews, including Air Vice Marshall John Baldwin the AOC of 3 Group. 900 bombers reached the target, Cologne, where over 2400 tons of bombs were dropped and devastated 600 acres of the city. 39 aircraft failed to return that night.
at RAF Witchford on the Isle of Ely in Cambridgeshire from 26 November
1943 to 28 October 1945, 115 Squadron had one of the finest operational
service records in Bomber Command. It had moved from Little Snoring, RAF
Marham having already achieved an unbeatable operational
performance of 390 raids with its Wellington bombers.
Wellingtons of 196 Squadron had been posted into Witchford from No. 4 Group in July 1943 converted to Stirlings and taken into battle the following month. However, the increasing vulnerability of that type to the enemy's night defences reinforced No. 3 Group's plan to re-equip with Lancasters. In November 1943, 196 Squadron took its Stirlings to Leicester East for troop transport duties leaving Witchford for the Lancasters of 115 Squadron then operating from Little Snoring.
115 remained in residence for the rest of the hostilities, flying its last raid from the station on April 25, 1945. The squadron left in August 1945 for Graveley. A total of 99 bombers despatched on operations from Witchford were lost, 8 being Stirlings and 91 Lancasters. see 115 Squadron History
In March 1944 Albert was sent on a Lancaster bomber conversion course to 1678 Heavy Conversion Unit.
May 1943, the Hercules engined Mark II Lancaster had made its first
appearance. Earlier trials had been conducted by 61 squadron, but 115
squadron, now at East Wretham, was chosen to introduce this version into
full scale service. 1678 Heavy Conversion Flight was duly formed at the
same station in May to convert 3 Group crews on to that type.
He returned to 115 Squadron at RAF Witchford for air-crew duties in May of that year.
The crew he tragically joined as Second Pilot on Lancaster ND754, had an Australian skipper and the bomb-aimer and rear gunner were also Aussies.
Duisburg was a major logistical centre in the Ruhr Area and location of chemical, steel and iron industries. It was a primary target of Allied bombers. Not only the industrial areas but also residential areas were attacked by Allied bombs.
At this time, most of Bomber Command's raids were being aimed at targets in France around the area chosen for the D-Day Invasion but the Duisburg raid was a typically dangerous attack on industry in Germany. A total of 510 Lancasters and 22 Pathfinder Mosquitoes took part and 29 of the Lancasters failed to return that night. Denis Corley - Brooklands Museum
Flying Officer Albert Mann had already successfully completed one hazardous tour of thirty missions in Wellington bombers when he was posted to No. 1483 (Target Towing and Gunnery) Flight which had been relocated to RAF Marham on the 13th of July, 1942. No 1483 (Bomber) Gunnery Training Flight arrived with Wellingtons Ic & III and Defiant I & II aircraft. The purpose of this flight was to train bomb aimers and air gunners who came directly from training schools without going to OTUs . The bomb aimers in particular did exercises using “Gee”. Aircraft used by 1483 flight between October ’42 and February ’43 included Wellingtons X3202, Z1169 and BJ654; Oxfords EB739 & EB788; and a Lysander (R2620). The flight returned to Newmarket Heath on 29th June 1943.
Flight in May 1942 was equipped with 8 Wellingtons in which the air
gunners were taken up to fire at targets towed by a fleet of 12
Lysanders. In June some Oxfords were added to enable air bombers to
practice their skills against ground targets.
Although formed at Newmarket in November 1941, that airfield was a fair way south of the Norfolk coast where the target towing took place, so most of the target tug aircraft were initially outbased at Langham. In 1942, however, Stirlings reequipped 218 squadron at Marham, which was then a grass airfield and liable to get churned up in wet weather by these big new heavy bombers. So, when the new satellite at Downham Market, which had concrete runways, became available in July 1942, 218 transferred there, leaving room at Marham for 1483 Flight (see p.150 of "Action Stations"). Soon afterwards the Wellingtons of 115 squadron moved to Mildenhall and Marham became one of the first Mosquito bases, transferring from 3 Group to 2 Group in the process (but still housing 1483 Flight on a "lodger" unit basis). Just under twelve months later, as preparations for the Invasion began, 2 Group was relocated en bloc to airfields closer to Normandy and Marham was transferred to 8 Group - Pathfinder Force. Since room was no longer available for the Wellingtons and target tugs, 1483 Flight then had to move back to Newmarket. Denis Corley Brooklands Museum
I have a few more bits of information about 1483 Flight. Firstly, I now understand that crews and aircraft from the Flight took part in at least 5 operations:-
30/31 May 1942 Cologne (First Thousand Bomber Raid)
3 Wellingtons and captains as follows:- R3232 (P/O Masters); X9754 (Flt.Lt Barratt) and Z1080 (Flt. Lt. Ercolani)
1/2 June 1942 Essen (Second Thousand Bomber Raid).
1 Wellington and crew:- Z1080 (Flt.Lt.Ercolani)
25/26 June 1942 Bremen (Third Thousand Bomber Raid)
2 Wellingtons and crews:- Z1080 (Flt.Lt Ercolani) and R3232 (Flt.Sgt.Birch)
28.7.42 Hamburg and 31.7.42 Dusseldorf - Details of crews and aircraft to be researched. Denis
Dusseldorf 27th November 1941
Cologne 5th April 1942
Essen April 10/11th 1942
Above are the logs of three of the raids F/O Albert Mann flew on as part of F/Sgt Anderson's crew.
In November 1941 Albert Mann joined 115 Squadron at RAF Marham. The logs show he mainly flew as 2nd pilot with F/Sgt Anderson's crew completing his first tour of operations in May of 1942 after a raid on Warnemunde.
Albert was detached to No. 1483 Target Towing and Gunnery Flight until 1944. From there he completed a conversion course to Lancasters with No. 1678 Flight in March 1944.
He returned to 115 Squadron on May 20th 1944, and as was the custom, he was expected to fly his first operational flight on Lancasters as 2nd pilot in order to gain experience prior to getting his own crew. He took off as 2nd Pilot on Lancaster Mk III, serial No ND754, squadron markings KO-F at 22:52 hrs on the night of 21st May 1944 for a raid on Duisberg. It was his last flight.
Coincidentally the pilot of the 115 Squadron aircraft Albert died on was also named Andersen the same as his old skipper (but spelled the Scandinavian way).
From 115 Squadron's April 1942 daily log - the Wellington's crew on Albert's first tour with 115 Squadron.
On the night of 21 - 22 May 1944, 510 Lancaster Bombers and 22 Mosquito aircraft of 1,3,5 and 8 Groups carried out the first large raid on Duisburg in Germany. This was the first time for a year Duisburg had been the target. When the aircraft reached Duisburg they found it covered by cloud. However, using accurate Oboe sky-marking 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped. The raid destroyed 350 buildings, seriously damaged another 665 and there were 124 casualties. A lot of the damage was in the southern part of the city.
A total 29 Lancaster Bombers were lost, equating to 5.5% of the force.
On 14th October 1944, the tonnage was doubled to 2,018 tons when Halifax, Lancaster, and Mosquito bombers appeared over Duisburg as part of Operation Hurricane. This daylight raid was followed by a night attack; over 24 hours about 9,000 tons of HE and incendiaries had been dropped on Duisburg. Numerous similar attacks followed until the end of 1944.
Lancaster ND754 was delivered to 115 Sqdn March 1944. With 115 Sqdn it took part in the Key Raid against Duisberg 21/22 May 1944. When lost this aircraft had a total of 74 hours.
Airborne 2252 21 May 44 from Witchford. Crashed at Duisburg- Beeckerwerth.
Over the next two days, those killed were buried in the Nordfriedhof at Dusseldorf.
They have been subsequently re- interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
F/L R.C.Andersen RAAF KIA, F/O A.O. Mann KIA, Sgt H.T.Jones KIA, P/O L.E.Wilkinson KIA, F/S P.T.Cameron RAAF KIA, F/S H.C.Noon PoW, P/O W.R.H.Moulden RAAF KIA, Sgt N.E.Redhead KIA, F/S H.C. Noon was interned in Camp L7, PoW No.42. 1945 Report
Target Duisburg from Dave King
The skipper of ND754 was 414876 Flt Lt Robert Charles Andersen of the RAAF. Born in 1916 he was the son of Charles and Beatrice Andersen from the North Queensland town of Merinda.
The bomb-aimer was 408419 Flt Sgt Peter Talmage Cameron of the RAAF. He was born in 1921, the son of farmer Peter Cameron and his wife Beatrice Cameron of Wivenhoe, Emu Bay, Tasmania. Flt Sgt Cameron was living and working as a clerk in Burnie when he enlisted in the RAAF.
The rear-gunner was 423163 Pilot Officer William Robert Harold Moulden also of the RAAF. Born in 1919, he was the son of police constable William Moulden and his wife Hilda Moulden of North Sydney and husband of Joan Brodie Moulden. In 1943 he and his wife were living with his parents at Blues Point Road, Milsons Point, North Sydney. Before joining the RAAF he was employed as a music teacher. On the 2nd November, 1935 Constable William Moulden, wearing borrowed Australian Navy diving equipment, recovered the body of a drowned male from Wolli Creek, Earlwood. This prompted the formation of a diving unit within the NSW Police force.
The air-gunner was 531268 Sgt Nathaniel Ernest Redhead. Born in 1917 he was the son of Nathaniel Martin Redhead and Jane Redhead of Durham.
The flight engineer was 1397321 Sgt Halwood Thomas Jones. Born in 1908, he was the son of William and Rhoda Jones and husband to Phyllis Jones of Alperton, Wembley, Middlesex.
The navigator was 175313 Pilot Officer Laurence Edward Wilkinson. He was born in 1916, the son of Percy and Susan Wilkinson of Croydon in Surrey.
Wireless operator Flight Sergeant H.C Noon was the only crew member who survived. He was taken prisoner and transported to Stalag Luft L7. The letter "L" indicates a "Stalag Luft" p.o.w. camp run by the Luftwaffe for Allied aircrew prisoners. L7 was at Bankan, near Kreulberg in Upper Silesia.
When I looked up Upper Silesia in a modern Atlas, I had trouble finding it. On making further enquiries, I find that this is an area which has changed hands many times in history and since the war it has become the south western part of Poland.
I have also found that the two place names I obtained were not spelt correctly - Camp L7 was at Bankau (not Bankan), near Kreuzberg (not Kreulberg). Since 1945, when Upper Silesia was transferred to Poland, these two towns have been known by Polish names - Bankow and Kluczbork respectively. Bankow is situated at 50.46.00N 17.16.60E. Denis
"Dad's aircraft was not directly shot down. A plane above it was shot down and took it out by collision during its uncontrolled descent. He was the only survivor from both crews, landing in a river, the Rhine I think, and was rescued from drowning - I don't know who by - civilians or army etc." Mike Noon, son of Horace Noon.
The service photo of him indicates that he was promoted from Flight Sergeant to Warrant Officer. T.B
Dad's feelings of guilt
To Mike Noon from his sister January 2012.. She was responding to his query about their father's agitation a few weeks before he died.
think it might be appropriate to add this statement in to Dad's bit on
the web page but it's your memory, your decision. My reasons for
wanting to include it are
seems to me that for the families of those that died it may represent
a form of rather poignant closure that Dad remembered it all at the
end and felt guilty. The cynical may suggest that he was covering
himself in case there is an after life, I don't think dad would change
for this reason: I think it more likely to be uncontrollable
resurfacing of, perhaps, the most tragic and traumatic experience of
his long life."
Horace & Olive Noon
The area where ND754 crashed and the nearby River Rhine where Horace was saved from drowning.
Interrogation Report by F/Sgt Horace Noon after his return to the UK from the German POW camp. (Supplied by Geoff Mann)
Horace Charles Noon was born in Walsall, Staffs, the son of Charles and Emma Noon in June 1914. He was in the printing trade and married Olive Jeanette Payne in 1938 at Walsall. They had two children. He joined the RAF in December 1941. Horace was 79 when he died at Walsall in 1994.
Mike Noon has now passed us the prisoner of war diary of 115 Squadron navigator Sgt Alfred John Trumble. He was part of the crew of Lancaster LL944 KO-Z on a raid on Siegen piloted by Canadian F/O D B Robertson who was shot down by a night-fighter on the 16th of December 1944 and crashed at Uckerath, 19km east of Bonn. Alfred was one of three survivors from the seven man crew. see his diary
The downed aircraft that came into contact with ND754 - LL960 from 100 Squadron
LL960 was one of two 100 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation. (See ME677).
Airborne 2244 21st May 1944 from Grimsby. Hit by Flak and exploded in mid- air, scattering debris over an area identified as Repelen-Baerl- Binscheim, all sizeable communities west of the Rhine and NNW of Duisburg. The majority of the crew were buried in the Nordfriedhof at Dusseldorf. They have been subsequently re-interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Lost Bombers
F/L E.L. Eames Pilot, Sgt R.W. Pryce Flight Engineer, WO2 D.S. Kirkwood RCAF Navigator, F/O J. Spector RCAF Bomb Aimer, Sgt A.J. Alcott Wireless Op., Sgt F. Parish Air Gunner, Sgt C. Bird Tail Gunner.
The pilot, 27 year old F/Lt Edwin Laurence Eames was an American citizen serving in the RAF and came from the Brooklyn district of New York. Son of Egbert Thomas Eames and of Marguerite Eames (nee Mortashead); husband of Estera Edita Eames (nee Blankiet), of Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.A. His parents were married in Croydon, Surrey, UK and he was born there.
The only survivor from both aircraft, F/Sgt Horace Noon, landed in the Rhine.
From the details in the report regarding the crash locations of both aircraft and crew members, I would say almost certainly that these aircraft were on their bombing run when LL960 was hit, although two of her crew left the aircraft before it crashed, one of them D S Kirkwood coming down close to ND745, and the other A J Alcott washed ashore further down river, there is no evidence to say if they baled out of the aircraft, and may well have been thrown out when the aircraft exploded, without their parachutes, and as the debris were scattered over a wide area, the flak hit may well have set of the bomb load. David King
The crash sites of ND754 and LL960 from David King
LIST OF OPERATIONS FLOWN BY FLYING OFFICER MANN DURING HIS FIRST TOUR WITH 115 SQUADRON
The list shows date of operation, aircraft reg. number and target.
|21 Nov 41||LX 9733||Dusseldorf||
|23 Nov 41||JX 9875||Dunkirk|
|26 Nov 41||JX 9875||Emden|
|7 Dec 41||JX 9875||Brest/Boulogne - but actually attacked Dunkirk.|
|11 Dec 41||JX 9875||Brest|
|21 Jan 42||JX 9875||Soasterberg|
|8 Mar 42||LX 3464||Essen|
|10 Mar 42||HX 3635||Essen|
|25 Mar 42||LX 3464||Essen|
|26 Mar 42||LX 3464||Essen|
|28 Mar 42||ZX 3344||Lubeck|
|2 Apr 42||LX 3464||Poissy|
|5 Apr 42||JX 3540||Cologne|
|6 Apr 42||JX 3540||Essen|
|8 Apr 42||DX 3412||Hamburg|
|10 Apr 42||DX 3412||Essen|
|12 Apr 42||DX 3412||Essen|
|14 Apr 42||XX 3488||Dortmund|
|17 Apr 42||AX 3644||Hamburg|
|29 Apr 42||HX 3721||Gennevilliers and Ostend|
|2 May 42||LX 3464||Not stated, suspect probably a mine-laying mission.|
|4 May 42||LX 3464||Stuttgart|
|6 May 42||LX 3464||Stuttgart/Nantes|
|8 May 42||LX 3464||Warnemunde|
September 2010 Here attached Tom, Is the answer to my final request to Denis Corley the researcher. These are the names of the
crew members on Albert's first tour with 115 Sqn...... I guess this just about wraps everything up now as I have as
much history of his RAF career as I can expect to get.... However having said that I did have at one point a list
of his postings promotions and training camps etc on a A4 sheet of paper which during the course of time I have
lost somewhere, If I can get the researcher to find that in his files at Kew that will be the iceing on the cake.... Geoff
I am just back from Kew, where I have had a thorough look at the Operations Record Books for 115 squadron in 1941 and 1942.
I appeared to hit a problem to begin with, since the diary clearly states that there were no operations flown on 21st November 1941, but it turns out that there was an attack on Dusseldorf on 27th November and that Sgt. Mann (no initials are given at all) was one of the crews taking part in it, so it looks like a typo has crept in here. Assuming that that is the case, his first operation would have been the one on 23rd November.
On that occasion the crew was made up as follows:-
Captain Sgt. Anderson
2nd Pilot Sgt. Mann
Navigator Sgt. Admans
W/T Op. Sgt. Aleandri
Front gunner Sgt. Florence
Rear Gunner Sgt. Burgess
For the next two operations, on 26th and 27th November, the crew was the same except that Sgt. Blackman replaced Sgt Burgess.
Following this, on the ops on 7th and 11th December, the crew was the same as on 23rd Nov., but Sgt. Burgess then replaced Sgt Blackman for the rest of the tour.
The only other crew change took place for the 5 ops between 14th April and 4th May 1942, during which time Sgt. Hodgson took the place of Sgt Aleandri as W/T Op. Sgt Aleandri returned for the last two ops on 6th and 8th May 1942.
Hope this helps,
Best wishes, Denis Corley
Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1923 – 1987) was a tail gunner for a Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bomber during World War II who survived a fall of 18,000 feet (5500 m) without a parachute after his plane was shot down over Germany.
On March 24, 1944, 21 year old Alkemade was a member of 115 Squadron RAF and his Lancaster II "S for Sugar" was flying to the east of Schmallenberg, Germany on its return from a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, when it was attacked by a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 night-fighter, caught fire and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was destroyed by the fire, Alkemade opted to jump from the aircraft without one, preferring his death to be quick, rather than being burnt to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5500 m) to the ground below. His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames and the pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the seven man crew did not survive and are buried in Hanover War Cemetery.
He was subsequently captured and interviewed by the Gestapo who were initially suspicious of his claim to have fallen without a parachute until the wreckage of the aircraft was examined. He was then a celebrated POW before being repatriated in May 1945. (Reportedly the orderly Germans were so impressed that Alkemade had bailed out without a parachute and lived that they gave him a certificate testifying to the fact.)
He worked in the chemical industry after the war and died on June 22, 1987
Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 1939-1945 by Tony Georgiadis
See the film of a flight in a Lancaster from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
Please note - The majority of this research is due to the diligence of Geoff Mann. In addition, his correspondence with the ever helpful Denis Corley of the Brooklands Museum has helped us to understand the history of 115 Squadron in World War 2 and the training units of that era.
Our sincere thanks also to Dave King of the Aircrew Remembrance Society for his useful crash site research and maps.
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