24/25.02.1944 115 Squadron Lancaster II LL701 KO:F Flt.Lt. James C. Hornby
Operation: Schweinfurt, Germany (Ball bearing factories)
Date: 24/25th February 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 115 Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Witchford, Ely, Cambridgeshire.
Location: No details currently available
Pilot: Flt.Lt. James Clement Hornby 150016 RAFVR Age 32. Missing.
Flt.Eng: Sgt. ‘Arty’ Arthur Frederick Challinor 1623295 RAFVR Age 20. Missing.
Nav: Flt.Sgt. ‘Cyril’ Leonard Charles Casper 1392257 RAFVR Age 22. Missing.
Air Bmr: Fg.Off. John Buller Colthurst 143762 RAFVR Age 33. Missing.
W Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Morley 1531492 RAFVR Age 22. Missing.
Air Gnr: Sgt. Gordon Lewis Ward R191520 RCAF Age 19. Missing.
Air Gnr: Sgt. Francis Leonard Kennedy R194148 RCAF Age 19. Missing.
Chris Thomson has created a Facebook Group page for the relatives of the lost crew of LL701 and have already connected with 3 families.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Witchford at 18:50hrs to join a massive attacking force of 734 aircraft made up from 460 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes and 11 Mosquitoes to attack the German main production area of ball bearings.
Above left: Flt.Sgt. ‘Cyril’ Leonard Charles Casper, Right: Sgt. Gordon Lewis Ward (see credits)
Sgt Morley (Courtesy Chris Sandham-Bailey)
Plt.Off. Kennedy left as a recruit and right Sgt. Kennedy as a qualified Air Gunner. (both images from his Service Record (Courtesy Christoper Thompson)
The plan was to split the force into two halves separated with a 2 hour interval. This did work with 22 aircraft being lost on the first raid but half that number on the second and the majority of losses on the second wave were caused by flak.
362 People were killed on the ground from this raid and one from the previous night by American bombers.
LL701 was official posted as lost without a trace. However, an entry in the German night fighter logs for the night of the 24th/25th February 1944 has come to light and records a 115 Sqn Lancaster serial LL701 as being lost in the North sea, cause unknown.
The latest publication of the Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1, by Theo Boiten has no information about the loss of LL701.
Two aircraft from 115 Squadron were lost on this operation, the other:
Lancaster LL644 KO:N flown by 22 year old, Fg.Off. Ronald Frank Nice 138588 RAFVR from Hornchurch, Essex, England - killed along with all other 6 crew members.
A 4-Mot was claimed by Lt. Hans Raum, his 5th victory, from 9./NJG3 nr. Würzburg: 6500m at 01:32. The aircraft was either LL644 or 463 Sqn Lancaster LM444. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
None - all commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Flt.Lt. James Clement Hornby. Panel 202. Born on the 2nd March 1912 in Carlisle, Cumberland. Son of William and Helen (née Foster) Hornby of Port Lewaigue, Isle of Man. Husband of Mary Elizabeth Hornby of West Byfleet, Surrey, England.
Sgt. Arthur Frederick Challinor. Panel 226. Born 1st Qtr 1924, West Derby, Lancashire. Son of Frederick James and Ivy (née Hawley) Challinor of Liverpool, England. Known as Arty by family and friends.
Flt.Sgt. Leonard Charles Casper. Panel 216. Born January 1922 in Camberwell, Surrey. Son of Cyril Leonard and Beatrice Maud (née McCathy) Casper of Peckham, London, England. Known as Cyril by family and friends.
Fg.Off. John Buller Colthurst. Panel 205. Born in October 1910, Long Ashton, Somerset. Son of Arthur Beadon and Mary Teresa (née Paul) Colthurst of Hampshire, England.
John’s father, Capt. Arthur Beadon Colhurst of the 14th Bn. Gloucester Regiment died in Arras, France on 25th October 1916. His brother Cdr. Anthony Paul Colthurst, DSO, MiD, was lost at sea whist serving aboard HMS Avenger on the 15th November 1942.
Sgt. Kenneth Morley. Panel 234. Born on the 17th April 1921 in Yorkshire. Son of John Turner and Maud (née Salt) Morley of Leeds, England. Husband to Brenda Irene Betty (née Wilkinson) Morley.
Flt.Sgt. Gordon Lewis Ward. Panel 255. Born 5th March 1924 in London, Middlesex, Ontario. Son of Lewis Garfield and Ellen Jane (née Mepham) Ward of London, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Ward joined up in September 1942 and gained his Wireless/Air Gunners brevet at Mont Joli, Quebec before being posted overseas in June 1943.
Plt.Off. Francis Leonard Kennedy. Panel 251. Born on the 30th July 1924 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of Duncan and Catherine (née Macdonell) Kennedy of Apple Hill, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Kennedy was posthumously promoted to Plt.Off. as of 23rd February 1944 with a Service No. of J92027
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Special thanks to Leonard, Arthur, Eileen, William and Patricia Chaplin, the family of Sergeant Casper for information and photograph. Also to the Canadian Veterans Roll of honour for the photo of Sergeant Ward. Thanks to Christoper Thompson, for the photograph of his Great Uncle, Sgt. Kennedy and for the German Night Fighter logs (Dec 2019). Other updates Aircrew Remembered (Feb 2020). Thanks to Christopher Thomson and Chris Sandham-Bailey, Great nephew and Grandson respectively of Sgt. Morley for his photograph (Feb 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Feb 2021)