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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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405 Squadron crest
24/25.06.1943 405 Squadron Halifax II HR816 LQ:C Sgt. P. Andrews

Operation: Wuppertal

Date: 24/25th June 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 405 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR816

Code: LQ:C

Base: RAF Gransden Lodge

Location: Kempen, near Wassenberg

Pilot: Sgt. P.C. Andrews 1316904 PoW No: 6471 Camp: Sagan and Belaria - Injured / broke both ankles

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Charles William Patterson Price R/60745 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Glyn Jones 1023994 RAFVR PoW No: 181 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus (1)

Air/Bmr: Flt.Sgt. William Kingsley R/102920 RCAF PoW No: 189 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus

W.Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. F. Bowker 1079868 RAFVR PoW No:76 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus

Mid Upp. Gnr: Sgt. Gordon C. Tisbury 1300168 RAFVR PoW No: 70 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus

Rear Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Joseph Wendelin Kucinsky R/141400 RCAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 22:46 hrs from RAF Gransden Lodge to attack Wuppertal on the Ruhr.

630 aircraft taking part in this operation, which devastated the Elberfeld region of the city. 171 industrial buildings and around 3,000 houses were destroyed, a further 53 industrial and 2,500 houses severely damaged. Deaths on the ground amounted to 1,800 people killed and 2,400 injured. The attack was made with incendiary bombs totalling some 330,000 and 815.7 tons of high explosive. Flak was heavy over the target and night fighters were also encountered.

The attack was considered to be very successful despite 34 aircraft failing to return.

Halifax HR816 was attacked and shot down by Maj. Werner Streib (2) of Stab I/NJG1 at 00:51 hrs with the intercept at 6,000 mtrs.

Sgt. Gordon C. Tisbury centre middle - Flt.Sgt. William Kingsley front right, are you able to recognise the others (courtesy Gordon Tisbury)

Gordon Tisbury was born in Twickenham and had two sisters, Pat and Molly. Worked at Warner Brothers at Teddington hoping to become a cameraman.

In his own words he recounts:

“ I tried to enlist in the R.A.F. at Chiswick, West London aged 17 on 24th June 1940. Managed to convince the recruiting sergeant that I was 18 and wanted to fly but was told that they weren’t recruiting aircrew at that time but that I could join a new section being formed, R.A.F. Ground Defence (this was to provide defensive cover for airfields against both air and ground attacks), and then I could try to re muster into aircrew. Within a week I was committed to the R.A.F. and was sent to Blackpool for my initial training. After medical tests at St. John’s Wood, London, I was sent to No. 14 Initial Training Wing at Hastings. The hotel in Hastings that we used as billets was situated on the seafront and an easy target for German fighters seeping across the channel so the whole section was transferred to Bridlington.

After three months my fellow trainees and I were transferred to Dalcross on the East Coast of Scotland. Here we got our first chance to experience air to air firing with Boulton Paul Defiant's which were flown by ex Battle of Britain Polish pilots. One of the exercises was flying along side a drogue towed by another aircraft and firing at it from different angles. In my final exams, I finished in the top ten and was given a fortnights leave. This was cut short after three days and I was posted to R.A.F. Luffenham for crew formation and initial flying training.

Left: Gordon Tisbury having a lift from his first W/Op/Air Gunner, Freddy Pears (courtesy Gordon Tisbury)

Here, I joined my first crew as air gunner and met Larry Copenhaver (Lawrence Benjamin Copenhaver, born Salem, Illinois), who was to become my pilot, Tubby Bass, bomb aimer, Jock Jones, navigator and Freddy Pears, wireless operator. Larry was an American and had trained on Havocs. From Luffenham we were posted to Topcliffe to join 424 Squadron to practise more advanced flying and cross country flights and night practice bombing runs over Norfolk My first operational flight with this crew was a mine laying exercise in Kiel harbour. Because it was our first op.we had an experienced officer alongside- “Larry” (Squadron Leader Allison who was resting after completing a tour) to advise us of the actual bombing run. After this op, we took part in many ops to Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and the Ruhr valley. In March 1943 I was sent to R.A.F. Driffield on a revision course flying over Whitley Bay and dropping chemical sea markers in old Whitley bombers while taking pot shots at the markers.

After flying about ten ops. With Larry Copenhaver and the rest of the crew, we were split up which was a massive blow to us all as we had formed a very close bond. The navigator, Jock Jones and I, were posted to 432 Squadron and after flying three ops. with them were then posted on to 405 Squadron while Larry was transferred to the USAAF on the 10th January 1944. My nickname in the R.A.F. was “Duke”.

On the night of 24th June 1943 we were on our fourth operation in five nights when we found ourselves off course and were picked up by enemy radar, being out of the main group. We realised that we were on our own as the warning bleeps coming from our alarm system told us that another aircraft was within a thousand yards, and as the bleeps got louder realised that we were about to get attacked. After a moment of sheer numbing terror as the German fighter closed in and opened fire, Kucinsky, our tail gunner shouted to the pilot to turn starboard. These words were his last and and almost immediately we were hit by a burst of gunfire which killed Sgt's Kucinsky and Price and left the tail unit and both starboard engines on fire. My intercom and oxygen connections, sited above my head were blown away. I tried to make contact with the rest of the crew, as instructed but in the darkness and with the aircraft lurching, by the time I reached the forward cabin, the rest of the crew had baled out.

Left: Maj. Werner Streib Stab I/NJG1 (archives)

I made my way back to the fuselage to find my parachute that was stored next to the mid upper turret. I managed to get my parachute on, find the escape hatch and jump. Owing to the trauma and lack of oxygen, I blacked out as soon as I left the aircraft. When I came round, I was on the ground in a field of potatoes with a sprained ankle. A group of children arrived on the scene and ran off after seeing me, only to return with a German police officer who drew his revolver. Stories were rife at the time throughout the R.A.F. about airmen being lynched by German civilians and I felt very worried. I told the German that I was un-armed and as I couldn’t stand, the German said something to the children who ran off, returning with a man pushing a wheelbarrow in which I was put and wheeled to the local village and a police cell.

In 1945, after leaving our Camp where we had been prisoners of war, I became part of the gruelling Long March. On the way our column was mistaken for German soldiers and strafed by R.A.F. Typhoons. My friend from the camp, a Rhodesian, nicknamed “Tikky” had his right leg blown off and I believe he later died.”

Gordon Tisbury went on to become a farmer for nearly twenty years before retiring.

(1) Sgt. Glyn Jones was from Troon, Scotland

(2) This was the 56th Abschuss for Maj. Werner Streib who went on to make a total of 65 abscüsse before the end of the war. After which he worked in the grocery business before joining the Bundeswehr on 16th March 1956. For three years he commanded the pilot school A in Landsberg am Lech, equipped with the T-6 Texan and responsible for training pilots in the Luftwaffe. Brigadegeneral Streib's military career ended with his retirement on 31st March 1966. His last position was Inspector of Flying Forces. He died on 15th June 1986 and is buried in Munich, Germany.

Burial details:

Understood that both crew members were originally buried at Mönchengladbach, later exhumed and reburied at Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Sgt. Charles William Patterson Price. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Grave 5D.23. Born on 2nd July 1908 in Malvern, Worcestershire, England. Son of Rufus, who predeceased him, and Susan Margaret (née Miles) Price and husband to Rose Madeleine (née Dupuis) Price of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

He and his family emigrated to Canada during 1927 and settled in the Alliance area, Alberta where they farmed. His father, Rufus Charles died in 1933. Charles married Rose in Edmonton, Alberta in 1939. Rose died during 1998 and his mother in 1969.

Flt.Sgt. Joseph Wendelin Kucinsky. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 5D.23. From Wilkes Barr, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Joseph and his father, who was Austrian, changed their surname from Koshinski to Kucinsky.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks to Gordon Tisbury for his account and photographs. A very special man who says that the real “hero’s” were the civilian population who had to live through the war. For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Thanks to Mr Rhe Proberts for the Next of Kin details for Sgt. Price.

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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