12/13 July 1943

Turin

90 Bomber Command airmen were to lose their lives on this operation and 10 were destined to become prisoners of war.

I visited the Public Record Office and viewed as many other squadrons record books as possible to try and understand more about this operation and what my grandfather and his crew may have experienced on that fateful night.


Squadron Reports and Comments


7 Squadron      Base - Oakington, Cambridgeshire      8 Group PFF


4 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0


Comments

 

9 Squadron      Base - Bardney, Lincolnshire     5 Group


11 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0


Comments

After bombing target, the flight was to continue to one of bases in North Africa from where a return journey was being made later



44 Squadron      Base - Dunhome Lodge, Lincolnshire     5 Group

? aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ W/C J D Nettleton VC
+ F/O A R Ludlow
+ Sgt J E Money
+ Sgt D E A Seager
+ F/O K S Juniper
+ F/L D Cramp
+ F/L I M Wood RAAF
+ F/O F I Calcutt


Comments

"Violent thunderstorms - severe icing"

Route believed to be Dungeness - Cayeaux - Lake Annecy - Turin

"Weather was not as forecast, front was larger and of much greater depth than estimated, tops up to more than 20,000 ft with icing at 19,000 ft."

"Concentration after Bay of Biscay good"

 

49 Squadron      Base - Fiskerton, Lincolnshire     5 Group

12 aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ F/O J G Millar AFM
+ Sgt P A U Goodyear
+ F/S J W Gillin RCAF
+ F/O G Lockie
+ Sgt H G J H Read
+ Sgt D W Bettinson
+ Sgt R Burnett


Comments

"Route rather long but free from flak"
[F/L Taylor]

"Slight icing most of way over France and The Alps and electric storms frequent in South of France"
[P/O Anderson]

"Weather conditions over France difficult. Flew in cloud for two and a half hours"
[P/O Tolchard]

"No opposition on route home except French coast"
[W/O Morrison]


 

50 Squadron      Base - Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire     5 Group

12 aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ P/O E J Burnett
+ P/O T Stenhouse
+ Sgt F O'Carroll
+ P/O A J Holloway
+ Sgt J E A P Manning
+ Sgt J T Wilson
+ Sgt G Batey
+ Sgt S H Rayner

Comments

 

57 Squadron      Base - Scampton, Lincolnshire     5 Group

15 aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ F/S J Pickett RNZAF
+ Sgt C E P Still
+ Sgt G C Crew
+ Sgt W H C Doran
+ Sgt G Haywood
+ Sgt E E Goldstraw
+ Sgt J A Carpenter

Comments

1 aircraft cancelled - 1 returned early - 2 aircraft landed in North Africa [Sgt Scott & F/O Levy] - 1 missing [F/S Pickett and crew]

 

61 Squadron      Base - Syerston, Nottinghamshire     5 Group

14 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

 

83 Squadron      Base - Wyton, Huntingdonshire     8 Group PFF

14 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

This was an extremely long and arduous trip, but a pleasant change from bashing the Ruhr

P/O Mason was hit by flak and engine u/s (port outer) soon after leaving the target and trouble later with another engine off Bay of Biscay

G/Capt Graham first trip with this squadron and he was attacked by a Ju 88 on homeward route west of Brest the only sighting out of the whole attack

W/Cdr Shaw was attacked by a series of flak ships, but by skilful evasive action evaded trouble

 

97 Squadron      Base - Bourn, Cambridgeshire     8 Group PFF

14 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

[From the Summary Form 540]

This was an extremely long and arduous trip, but a pleasant change from bashing the Ruhr

P/O Mason was hit by flak and engine u/s (port outer) soon after leaving the target and trouble later with another engine off Bay of Biscay

G/Capt Graham first trip with this squadron and he was attacked by a Ju 88 on homeward route west of Brest the only sighting out of the whole attack

W/Cdr Shaw was attacked by a series of flak ships, but by skilful evasive action evaded trouble

 

100 Squadron      Base - Grimsby, Lincolnshire     1 Group

23 aircraft dispatched - Missing 2

pow F/S A G Sadler
pow Sgt J Egleston
pow Sgt M J Maloney
pow Sgt W E Broxup
pow Sgt R A A Howe
pow Sgt R R W Parker
pow Sgt A Burton RAAF

+ F/S W R Caldwell
+ Sgt G T Causer
+ Sgt F Barnes
+ F/O W E Leddiman
+ Sgt F W Holmes
+ Sgt C H Glover
+ Sgt J A Firth RCAF


Comments

Squadron's longest operational flight of 1970 miles

"Icing troubles caused engine failures landed on 3 engines"
[W/O C.E. White]


Individual Crew Details

100 Squadron - Lancaster III EE183 HW-P

Pilot F/S A G Sadler
Nav Sgt M J Maloney
W/O Sgt R A A Howe
B/A Sgt W E Broxup
F/E Sgt J Egleston
M/U Sgt R R W Parker
R/G Sgt A Burton RAAF




[L to R]              Bob Parker, Mike Maloney, Tony Sadler, Reg Howe
                                  J Egleston, Alec Burton, Ted Broxup

F/S Sadler and crew were shot down over Brest in North West France. On the return trip they had experienced a very severe electrical storm over the Alps which had caused all instruments to go haywire. They had came down to 1,000 ft. over what they thought was home but was in fact France. The aircraft came under heavy fire and two engines were destroyed and the third was on fire. F/S Sadler gave the order to bale out but the rear gunner, Sgt Burton RAAF was trapped in his turret. They decision was made to crash-land and they came down on a German Fighter Base near Brest. All the crew survived and became prisoners of war. F/S Sadler was sent to Stalag Luft III, Sgt Burton and Sgt Egleston was sent to Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe and the rest were sent to Stalag Kopernikus.

Many thanks to Mike Sadler for this information.

Below is Bob Parker's letter

 

Letter to the Sadler family from Bob Parker - Mid Upper Gunner - Many thanks to Bob for allowing me to publish this

"At Gainsborough we did our training on Lancasters and shortly after we were posted to 100 Squadron at Waltham near Grimsby in Lincolnshire. As a member of a bomber crew we were very close, as were all crews. We went most places together and were almost like a family. I found Tony to be a quiet, calm person and easy to get along with. I understand that you have your fathers log book and so you will know that while we were at 100 Squadron we completed five operations and were shot down on the sixth. I believe that at that time six operations was the average. Some aircrew were very fortunate and completed a tour, some did not return from their first operation. As you can see, it was a lottery as to who survived and who did not. On two of our earlier operations we were hit but not seriously. As to our last raid which took place on the 12-13 July 1943 I will try to recount events.

We were briefed to fly down towards the south of France and then to turn towards Italy flying just south of Switzerland and to return again westwards through the south of France and out to sea in the north Atlantic where we were to turn northward on DR compass and to land in Cornwall near to the Lizard. We were also ordered to drop down to 1000 feet as we left the French coast. We were routed as I described in order that we would avoid the fighter belt thus minimizing attack from them. The evening of the 12 July was warm and clear and as we flew on our first leg the weather remained very good. This part of the flight was uneventful as were the early stages of the second leg. When we reached the Alps we ran into a very heavy storm with a great deal of cloud and lightening. As the visibility was so bad, Tony considered losing altitude, but the Alps below he decided that it was too much of a risk. Due to the poor conditions we had a very close encounter with Mt. Blanc, narrowly missing the mountain. Having passed over the Alps the weather cleared and the visibility was excellent.

The Italian flak was very ineffective and caused no problems and we made our bombing run in to the target, released our bombs and turned away for home. The railway marshalling yards were the prime target to disrupt the rail traffic, which was transporting troops and arms to the south where our troops were landing in Sicily. We returned over the Alps and into France and continued on into the north Atlantic where we turned on DR compass onto our last leg, heading as we thought towards the coast of Cornwall. Unfortunately, due to the severe storms that we had passed through our instruments had been effected and instead of heading home as we thought, we were in fact flying towards the French coast. There were a number of aircraft effected by the violent storms that night. When we arrived at the coast Tony asked the bomb aimer for a visual fix, but at a maximum height of 1000 feet it is very difficult when there are no outstanding land features to be seen and one cannot see a sufficient amount of the coastline to compare.

We flew on for approx 5 minutes, when a heavy machine gun opened fire briefly from astern and the tracer passed between the tail plane and the wing on the port side. We did not know at the time, but we were flying towards the port of Brest which was one of the most heavily defended. For a minute or two things were quiet while we were looking for the airfield. Suddenly guns began firing upon us from all directions, machine guns, cannon and light flak, far too many to count. First one engine caught fire and it was feathered and went out. Then the front gun turret was hit and oil from the hydraulics covered the pilots screen. The plane was being hit all over and the tip of the starboard wing was hit and approx 2 feet from the tip was bent up almost at right angles. The rear gunner called that he had been hit and could not move.

As Tony could not see through his windscreen he asked me to look for a suitable place to bring the plane down. It was too low to bail out at 1000 feet or less and bearing in mind that the rear gunner could not move he had no alternative.
Fortunately, I saw an airfield slightly to starboard and I talked him on to it, when he could see it by flying with his head partly out of the side window. While this was going on a third engine caught fire but this was left running to give sufficient power and to help control the plane. I forgot to mention that if one was flying over a restricted area in England, one should lower the undercarriage to indicate that one was friendly, Tony had lowered the wheels which subsequently probably saved our lives. While Tony was making his approach we were continuously fired upon and tracers could be seen passing through the fuselage, and continued to do so as we were trundling over the grass runway and until just before we came to a halt. We had landed on a German fighter airfield. We were welcomed by a number of Luftwaffe personnel and escorted off the field to what we believed was their pilots mess.

Tony was wounded in the ankle I believe it was fractured and bleeding badly, I helped him to their mess as he could not walk on it. The engineer was badly wounded in both legs and was stretchered off. The bomb aimer was wounded in the leg. The navigator received a leg wound. The wireless operator had a head wound. The rear gunner had wounds to his back and burns to his face and hands and was stretchered off. I was extremely fortunate in that I escaped scot free, as even the mascot we carried lost its nose. If it had not been for a lot of luck, an extremely good aircraft and a great deal of skill from Tony, I am sure that few if any of us would have survived. I seem to remember that approx 200 planes took part in the raid and some 13 were shot down, a few in the area of Brest.

The following day I was taken under armed guard by two NCO's by rail into Germany to an interrogation camp. The bomb aimer, navigator and wireless operator arrived a day or two later. The four of us were later transported by rail to a POW camp Lithuania, Stalag Luft VI. Tony arrived some few weeks later but the remaining two were sent to another POW camp. A short time later Tony's commission came through and he was transported to the officer's camp at Sagan, the camp from where the great escape took place and the 50 officers were shot."



Individual Crew Details

100 Squadron - Lancaster III ED561 HW-F

Pilot F/S W R Caldwell
Nav Sgt G T Causer
W/O Sgt F Barnes
B/A F/O W E Leddiman
F/E Sgt F W Holmes
M/U Sgt C H Glover
R/G Sgt J A Firth RAAF




 


William 'Bill' Caldwell - Back Row, Centre

 

The following information was sent to me by Emma Lester, her great uncle was William 'Bill' Caldwell.

Bill Caldwell and crew took off from Grimsby at 10:18pm and joined 294 other Lancasters taking off from various bases in England.

Approximately 2 hours later - presumably en route to the target - the crew were flying over the Champagne-Ardenne region of France near Romilly-sur-Seine which is about 100 miles east of Paris when they found themselves under heavy attack from flak.

Their Lancaster took a direct hit and crashed near the town of St Oulph tragically killing all on board.



101 Squadron      Base - Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire     1 Group

19 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

"plenty of static and icing en route"

 

103 Squadron      Base - Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire     1 Group

19 aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ F/S H R Graham RCAF
+ Sgt L Cervi
+ Sgt B W Walls
+ P/O E H Hawkins
+ Sgt G E Trowsdale
+ Sgt N G Tippin
+ Sgt R McG Watts RAAF


Comments

Return part of journey was done in daylight in enemy waters

 

106 Squadron      Base - Syerston, Nottinghamshire     5 Group

? aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ P/O C Hayley
+ Sgt E Horton
+ F/O M O Hovinen RCAF
+ Sgt H W Millar
+ Sgt K G Rathbone
+ Sgt R W Ball
+ Sgt H C Hambling


Comments

[From the Summary Form 540]

"Thirteen aircraft were detailed for an attack on TURIN - a rather adventurous attack in view of the short period of darkness. Weather was at times very bad, the crews having to fight their way through thick cloud and violent storms. One crew, unable to cross the Alps, jettisoned their bombs, but eleven others carried out an attack although not all could claim success. Several photographs were taken. One aircraft (captain, P/O Hayley) sent a message "We are being attacked by fighters" but nothing further was heard and the aircraft did not return.

"Encountered icing and lightning on return journey, otherwise trip without incident "
[P/O V L Cole]

"Pilot's and Navigator's A.S.I. froze up and aircraft unable to climb above cloud. Attempted to reach target by going round high cu. nim. cloud but three attempts were abortive. All instruments u/s through icing and although climbing was left as late as possible aircraft would not climb sufficiently to get safely through the Alps. Misson abandoned, bombs jettisoned"
[F/L A H Crowe]

"Hit by heavy flak at La Rochelle, flew on only three engines"
[P/O W Perry]

"Encountered electrical storm on return journey with very heavy cloud, navigation was difficult and the aircraft became off track. Came out over Paris where the aircraft was greeted with heavy flak."
[F/S F Brown]

Many thanks to Chris James whose father, Sgt R A James DFC flew 23 sorties as a flight engineer in 106 Squadron.

 

156 Squadron      Base - Warboys, Huntingdonshire     8 Group PFF

21 aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ P/O J J Hewerdine RAAF
+ Sgt T E Dickens
+ Sgt L W Dallimore
+ Sgt J A Walker
+ Sgt J F W Cullum
+ Sgt H H G Sicklemore
+ Sgt J Archibald


Comments

"A/C was hit by H/F over NANTES at 0429 hrs and was damaged in the nose"
[F/O J C Prichard]

"Over the sea at pos. 4710N 0440W light and heavy flak was fired through cloud at our A/C"
[F/O A M Lutz]

 

207 Squadron      Base - Langar, Nottinghamshire     5 Group

? aircraft dispatched - Missing 1

+ P/O H Badge
+ Sgt R Wood
+ F/L A C Jepps
+ Sgt A C Wright
+ Sgt E Higgins
+ F/S R O C Brett RAAF
+ Sgt J A Spence

Comments

Unfortunately the ORB copy at the Public Record Office is very indistinct

This aircraft was believed to have strayed into Swiss airspace and was shot down by flak crashing on Mount Gramount

 

460 Squadron      Base - Binbrook, Lincolnshire     1 Group

22 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

"On landing the pilot stated 'A good attack but the weather with some icing and thunderstorms made it rather a sticky trip'"
[F/S G.J. Oakeshott]

"Arduous flying conditions"

"There was much icing en route. When 20 miles N.E. of Limoges at 0335 hrs while in cloud icing was quite severe. Port outer engine started to spark and then caught fire - it had to be cut after fire had been extinguished. The rest of the journey was made on three engines but height was maintained at 10,000 ft."
[F/O F.N. Robinson]


 

467 Squadron      Base - Bottesford, Leicestershire     5 Group

? aircraft dispatched - Missing 3

+ F/O G D Mitchell RAAF
+ Sgt B K H Evans
+ P/O H R St. George RAAF
+ F/O W H Morgan
+ F/S J M Maher RAAF
+ F/S H B Bolger RAAF
+ F/S A D Terry RAAF

+ F/L R W A Gibbs
+ Sgt E A Roper
+ F/O S G Norris
+ F/O J E Pearce
+ Sgt D J Banks
+ P/O S O C Tate
+ Sgt D A Chisholm


+ P/O C A Chapman RAAF
+ Sgt J Greenwood
+ Sgt A E Michaels
+ Sgt N C Smith
+ Sgt P Donlevy
+ F/S W Bruce
+ Sgt W S Buchanan


Comments

[From the Summary Form 540]

We're not superstitious but this was a dark and dismal 13th for the Squadron, for we lost 3 valuable crews namely F/L GIBBS, F/O MITCHELL and F/SGT CHAPMAN. F/SGT CHAPMAN arrived back from the target O.K. but turning in to land the tail appeared to break off and the aircraft crashed a short distance from the 'drome. All members of the crew were killed instantly and none of the Squadron personnel who were at the scene of the disaster could do anything. F/L GIBBS and F/O MITCHELL are missing from the raid, and the Squadron feels very much the loss of 3 such fine types of crews. F/L GIBBS was acting as a Flight Commander at the time.

"After just crossing FRENCH coast were hit by accurate predicted flak causing 18 holes outside stdb engine and bomb doors. From there weather very bad and had to fly in cloud to ALPS where there were electric storms"
[F/S G F Tillotson]

"On return journey noticed a Lancaster firing Verey signals : he was low on the water and appeared to be in difficulties. We called him up on R/T and he requested that we should stay with him until he reached ENGLAND as he was short of petrol and might have to ditch , but he managed to make a safe landing on the first 'drome"
[P/O J Good]


 

619 Squadron      Base - Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire     5 Group

11 aircraft dispatched - Missing 0

Comments

[From the Summary Form 540]

A Ju 88 was shot down (claim confirmed) by a/c "E" - Pilot F/L S E J Jones - Mid Upper Gunner Sgt G Cook - Rear Gunner P/O P Cartwright DFM