Flying Officer Albert Mann

115 Squadron

1916-1944

 


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albert 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. 
He and his wife Barbara were very involved with the Labour Party and eventually In the 1960's became  Mayor and Mayoress of West Hartlepool.  see William Mann's family

 

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.

 

I know mum was a beautician working in Lewis's Leicester but I think she must have joined the Bakers in London after Miss Baker took her on because Mum's mum finished up in the mentally ill hospital.  Geoff

Cecilia Baker was recorded as a witness at their wedding.  The officiating minister was Frank Baker - a relative or just a coincidence?  

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  

 

At the outbreak of World War 2, Jane & Ossie Mann had moved to Leicester, to be with their son Albert, and grandma Susannah went with them. Ossie worked until 1945 as a volunteer in the REME Workshop in Leicester, where he was in charge of  Receipts and Issues.   

Susannah died in 1941 and was buried in Leicester, but  Jane & Ossie stayed on until 1946, when the house was sold and Binty (Violet) and 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 fifties.   

 

 

 

 

 

"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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violet, Geoff and Albert

 

In his garden

 

The pilot trainee in 1940 with son Geoff

 

 

   

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. 

Albert Oswald Mann, like so many tens of thousands of this nation's precious youth answered the call to arms by enlisting on October 9th 1940 as a trainee pilot. Initially with the rank of AC2 he was promoted Sergeant Pilot in August 1941 and a year later to Flight Sergeant Pilot. Eventually commissioned in June 43 as a Pilot Officer he was promoted to Flying Officer one week before the Christmas of 1943. 

In November 1941 Albert Mann joined 115 Squadron at RAF Marham and in common with his aircrew comrades valiantly ignored the evidence of attrition rates and bravely flew operations over enemy territory in Wellington Mk 1c's and Mk III's. 

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. 

In 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 Witchford.

The annals of war abound with tales of tragedy, of lives needlessly lost and of brave men stoically doing their duty without thought of the personal danger. In the case of Albert Mann the final leaf in his book of life is truly the story of a highly disciplined and motivated young man of 28 who was determined to uphold the best traditions of the Royal Air Force and to perform his duties come what may. After completing his operational conversion Albert was allowed home on leave before rejoining 115 Squadron and it was at this point that fate dealt him a tragic hand. Towards the end of his leave, Albert discovered that he had mislaid his leave pass and realised that he was unable to remember the date on which he should return to his squadron. So, rather than arrive late he elected to return to his unit immediately. 

On arrival at 115 Squadron he found out that he had returned one day earlier than required but being a conscientious officer decided to take up his duties as soon as required. Sadly, it was this set of circumstances which led to the death of this young flyer. 

Having only recently completed his conversion course to Lancasters, Albert was expected to fly at least his first operational flight as 2nd pilot in order to gain experience prior to getting his own crew. So it was that Flying Officer Mann took off as 2nd Pilot on a 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. 

The other crewmembers were: 
Flt Lt. R.C. Andersen RAAF - Captain & 1st Pilot. 
Plt Off. L. Wilkinson - Navigator. 
Flt Sgt. P. Cameron RAAF - Bomb Aimer. 
Flt Sgt. H. Noon - Wireless Operator. 
Plt Off. W. Moulden  RAAF - Rear Gunner. 
Sgt. E. Redhead - Mid-upper Gunner. 
Sgt. W. Jones - Flight Engineer. 

Sadly I the aircraft and crew failed to return from this operation and were duly reported missing. Confirmation came later from the International Red Cross that Lancaster ND754 was shot down by flak and had crashed at 01:15 on 22nd May at Duisberg-Beckerswerth. Of the 8 crewmembers only one, Flight Sergeant Noon survived and he was taken prisoner. Flying Officer Mann is buried along with his comrades in the Reichswald Forest Military Cemetery. 

The simple tragedy of this tale is, if Albert Mann had not mislaid his leave pass he might well have returned to his squadron at a later date and would not have been 2nd pilot on that fateful flight. 

Nobody can possible conjecture on the likelihood of Albert Mann surviving the war but it is indeed a tribute to his memory that it be known that in doing his duty he paid the ultimate price so that this country might remain free. 

I for one will never forget the debt we owe to this brave aviator and to the thousands of his fellows who flew at night over a Europe darkened by an evil beyond understanding and who, without thought for their personal safety brought the war to the enemy. 

 

 

 

 

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

The 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 book.

Hartlepool 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.
As well as inspiring the 1963 Steve McQueen epic The Great Escape, the RAF navigator also cheated death twice when his Blenheim bomber aircraft was shot down during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and weeks later after crash-landing in Germany which led to him becoming a prisoner of war.
Mr Lancaster, of Seaton Carew, who served with No 235 Squadron, died aged 82 in July 1998. But military author Andy Bird hopes to feature his remarkable tale in a book on early Coastal Command operations by Blenheim aircraft and is appealing for people who knew Mr Lancaster to help provide memories and photographs. 

Andy, 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.
Fred Walker, 64, who is married to Mr Lancaster's daughter Wendy, 63, and lives in Seaton Carew, said: "Aubrey was a sergeant and the Great Escape involved officers, but he did help wire the tunnel's lighting.
"He was an electrician in the camp's theatre, which inmates helped to build, and had to take bits of electric cabling to the tunnel."
He added: "He was a navigator. He tried to be a pilot but wasn't allowed because he was colour-blind."
Because of his ranking, Mr Lancaster didn't get chosen to escape through the tunnel, but he did play a key role in its construction.
Although 76 people got away, most of them were recaptured and 50 were shot dead by the Gestapo.
Mr Lancaster was at the camp from 1941 until he was liberated by allied forces in January 1945.
He featured in the Mail in 1963 when he was invited to the town's Odeon cinema to watch a screening of The Great Escape.
The great-grandfather told the Mail at the time: "I will never forget the escape. We worked on it for months."
He added: "Conditions weren't that bad. There was a little brutality, but generally we got on alright with the German guards."
Andy, who works as a graphic designer for Waitrose, said he also wants to include details of Mr Lancaster's crash during the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940.
He was forced to land his Blenheim in the English Channel while still firing at a German aircraft.
Andy said he wants to give recognition to courageous pilots of Blenheims who he feels were overshadowed by those who flew the more famous Spitfires and Hurricanes.
He added: "The future of the country and arguably that of the free world depended also on their skill, morale and sacrifice.
"Remarkably little has been chronicled of these men and their aircraft."

 


 

* 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.

 

 

 

115 Squadron

The 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.

When 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”.
R.A.F. 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.

Based 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.
At Witchford it flew 261 bombing and 27 mine laying raids consisting of 4678 Lancaster sorties. This was the second highest number of sorties in Bomber Command, dropping the second greatest number of bombs, approximately 23,000 tons.
The squadron lost 110 aircraft (2.4 percent) in these raids and suffered the most losses in the whole of Bomber Command. It was the only squadron to lose more than 200 aircraft in the war. An additional 22 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

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. 

In 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.

 

1483 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.   In order to maximise the numbers for the Thousand Bomber raids, 1483 contributed 3 aircraft and crews for the second raid on Essen on 1st June 1942 and later also took part on a raid on Dusseldorf.  Its normal duties however consisted of flying over the ranges on The Wash where gunners fired paint tipped bullets at canvas drogues or flew “CCG” exercises using cine camera guns to photograph aircraft flying as their targets. A number of Defiant target tugs complemented the Lysanders in September 1942. 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

see   Aircrew Remembrance Society

 

 

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.

 

"I 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  such guilt memories of "why was I spared" is a common reaction with people who escape a tragic event when others don't, often it results in a negative life change, e.g. severe depression, sometimes it's more positive - get up and go. I don't think its common for them to be successfully suppressed until many years later as with Dad.

It 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.

 

P/O ARTHUR JOHN ALCOTT.(Wireless Operator), 176042. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Aged 28. Son of John and Emily Alcott. Husband of Carol Alcott of Clapton, London. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Grave Ref: 7. E. 15.

Arthur had been amongst the seven man crew on Lancaster bomber LL960 HW-D, when it took off from R.A.F. Grimsby, Lincolnshire, at 2244 hours on the night of 21 May 1944. The aircraft was being flown on the mission by 27 year old Flight Lieutenant (Pilot), Edwin Lawrence Eames, R.A.F (V.R.), of Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.A. They were amongst 510 Lancasters and 22 Mosquitos of Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 8 Groups of R.A.F. Bomber Command that were carrying out the first large raid on the city of Duisburg, Germany for a year.

By the time that the bomber force arrived over Duisburg, the target area was covered by cloud, but the Oboe skymarking used by the Mosquito Pathfinder aircraft was accurate, and much damage was caused in the southern areas of the city. During the raid on Duisburg 29 Lancasters were lost.

Arthur's aircraft had been delivered to 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force on 17 May 1944, and it was lost whilst taking part on its first operation. It had completed a total of 21 flying hours. LL960 HW-D was one of two 100 Squadron, Royal Air Force Lancasters that were lost during the raid on Duisburg. Arthur's Lancaster was hit by enemy flak and exploded in midair, scattering debris over an area identified as Repelen-Baerl-Binscheim, all sizeable communities to the west of the river Rhine and to the north-north-west of the city of Duisburg.

All seven crew were killed when the Lancaster exploded, and the majority were buried in the Nordfriedhof at Düsseldorf. They have been subsequently re-interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, which was created after the Second World War when burials were brought in from all over western Germany and is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the country. Flight Lieutenant (Pilot), Edwin Lawrence Eames, R.A.F (V.R.), was an American citizen serving in the Royal Air Force. It was noted whilst carrying out the researches that on some of the data accessed, Arthur is shown as being a Sergeant (Wireless Operator) at the time of his death, whilst on other records he is recorded as being a Pilot Officer (Wireless Operator), which also matches his Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemoration details. Purely supposition on the part of the transcriber of these brief commemorations, and of course should be viewed as such, but in view of the differences that have been recorded appertaining to Arthur's rank, the confusion might have arose resultant of him having been commissioned only a short time prior to his death.

A commemorative plaque at the former R.A.F. Grimsby site says: - "R.A.F. Grimsby (Waltham) 1941-1945. To fight for our freedom and to end the Nazi tyranny, young people from all over the world came to this airfield to serve and to fly the Wellingtons and Lancasters of 142 and 100 Squadrons. Over 1000 brave young men came through this entrance never to return. Many more were shot down and captured. We will remember them and salute all who served here."

 

 

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


All aircraft were Wellingtons (Mk 1c or Mk III)     

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

 

Hello 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Memories of RAF Witchford  by Barry & Sue Aldridge  
Welcome to RAF Witchford under Bomber Command during WWII: from its beginnings in 1943 to the terrible statistics of lives and planes lost by 115, 195 and 196 Squadrons whilst on raids over enemy territory.
There are lucky escapes - Nicholas Alkemade who baled out of a stricken bomber without a parachute and survived.
There is tragedy when, just about to land safely back home, Lancasters are shot down by a marauding Messerschmidt ME 410 in the Intruder Incident.
Decades later, their twisted wreckage is excavated and becomes part of a lifetime project to rediscover the people who served - and the families that remember them to this day.
This is an incredible collection of personal stories, memories and photographs from 1943 onwards. It gives a real insight into life on a wartime airfield and you get to know many of the young airmen and women who lived and worked there.

Barry Aldridge, who with his wife Sue looks after the the RAF Witchford Museum, was moved to learn more about the brave men and women stationed at RAF Witchford and RAF Mepal when he got involved with organising the War Years exhibition in Ely Museum. His passion led to the excavation of the Lancaster bomber at Coveney. And so started a journey of research, amazing discoveries and new friendships around the world. Sadly, Barry became too unwell to complete the book, but his wife, Sue took over the flame to complete his absorbing account of local history.         

To purchase a copy, please contact Sue Aldridge via email at: Suealdridge3@gmail.co   £16.00     post £6.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Back to Eaton Bint Family

 

 Albert Mann family tree

 

 

tom.bint2@gmail.com