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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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304 Squadron Crest
08/09.05.1941 No. 304 Squadron Wellington Ic R1473 F/O. Gavin J. Lynes

Operation: Bremen

Date: 08/09th May 1941 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 304 (P) Squadron

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1473

Code: NZ-?

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: Brümsel, Messingen, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Gavin John Lynes DFC. 42066 RAF Age 24. Killed

Pilot 2: W/Cmdr. ‘Bill’ William Monteith Graham 34005 RAF Age 29. Killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. Thomas E. Wady 523499 RAFVR PoW No: 14. Camp Stalag Kopernikus

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Stanley Robert Gear DFM. 751359 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Clark Hamilton 746975 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Frank Stanley William Webb 76020 RAFVR Age 33. Killed


Ken Ogilvie is currently in the process of trying to contact all the relatives of the crew to investigate the possibility of a memorial placed at the crash site.

It is "possible" that a small piece from the crash site "maybe" made available for relatives - subject to conditions set by our contact who initially investigated the crash site. Neither is the exact location going to be revealed in order to prevent "possible" souvenir hunters. We must stress that neither the initial investigator or Aircrew Remembered are interested in profiting from these pieces, the only costs involved would be simply to cover postage and packing - or of course free to those willing to travel and collect.


REASON FOR LOSS:

This British crew were attached to 304 Polish Squadron as advisors.

Taking off from RAF Syerston at 23:08 hrs to attack mainly the shipyards but all targets within the city. 78 Whitleys with 55 Wellingtons made up the bomber force.

Results of the operation were reported as good with widespread damage within the town, but no hits on the A.G Weser (Aktien-Gesellschaft) (1) submarine yards despite the good visibility.

The aircraft has been described as having been hit by anti-aircraft fire coming down in the region of Lynne, Germany.

However, in the latest edition of the Nightfighter War Diaries it was claimed to have been shot down by Uffz. Reinhard Schmolinsky (2) of 1./NJG3 at 02:16 hrs 2 km north of Plantlünne - his first and last claim of the war.

Fl/Sgt. Thomas Wady, the observer, survived and taken PoW. (shown right)

A local from the area Mr. Joachim Eickhoff contacted us in January 2017 supplying further details:

“I know the crash site. Many years ago I fixed a wooden cross there remembering the crew of Wimpy 1473. The site is in a small hamlet called Brümsel which today is part of the village Messingen. The bomber was shot down by a German nightfighter after having been damaged by flak. The wreckage was taken away by the recovery group of the airfield Plantlünne.”

Photograph above self explanatory, but W/Cdr. Graham is shown speaking to the Queen.

Notes submitted by Ken Ogilvie: "The Bleasby village War Memorial: in the churchyard of St Marys Church, on which we added the name of William Graham, with Diocese permission I might add. The photos show some of the stages of the somewhat ancient process for doing this. We needed to match the style of the existing lettering exactly."

"Not many stone masons can do this sort of work these days. All of the letters are hand cut from lead blanks. All of the existing lettering was refurbished and repainted. We decided to add his name to the Memorial as he clearly lived in Bleasby whilst serving with the RAF, and as he was born in Malay States, and is buried in Germany at the Reichswald Cemetery, we felt that it was right that Bleasby would adopt him as one of their own here in the UK. We had completed our research of the crash and decided to do all of the above work before Alastair came to the village having read about our findings on our village website. He was clearly moved by the visit, which to us seemed to make all the work worthwhile."

(1) AG Weser finally ceased to trade on the 31st December 1984 due mainly to cancelled Tanker orders. Cargo ship Ubena for Deutsche Afrika-Linien (DAL) Hamburg was last ship built by AG Weser in 1983.

(2) Uffz. Reinhard Schmolinsky was killed two months later on Thursday the 3rd July 1941 in a non-operational crash at Einsiedel near Dresden.

Little Horkesley Church: the photo above left shows the interior of the church Easter 1940 - the wedding took place of William and Jean Graham just a few hours before it was demolished. The photo above right shows Jean Graham outside their home at Roseneath Cottage (Now named Forge Cottage).

In January 2017 we were contacted by a local researcher who explained that he had visited the crash site of the aircraft and in fact erected a small memorial to the crew some years earlier. Joachim Eickhoff also researches other losses in the area and we are proud to be in a position to assist one another.

Burial details:

Grave photographs kindly taken by Mitch Buiting for Aircrew Remembered - January 2017.

Initially buried in the town of Lingen in a communal grave Row 1, grave 30, but exhumed on the 05th August 1947 and reburied as described below.

F/O. Gavin John Lynes DFC. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 14. G. 9-13. Following extensive research by Ken Ogilvie the following information has since been uncovered: Born on the 6th September 1917 in Nottingham, the son of the Rev John and Muriel Lynes.

DFC Citation gazetted 01st October 1940:

“One night in August 1940, this officer took part in a raid on the transformer station at Kelsterbach. Whilst passing over the Dutch Coast, the inter-communications gear of his aircraft became unserviceable. He decided to continue however and passed over his target at 7,000 ft, the actual area being obscured by cloud. As he was unable to pin-point the objective, he decided to descend below the clouds. He made several attempts to approach the objective, but had to carry out such violent evasive action on account of the intense anti-aircraft fire that he was unable to make a satisfactory run. Eventually however he managed to pass directly over the objective at 2,000 ft and he then released the bombs himself. He dived down to 100 ft at high speed to avoid being hit and whilst escaping from the target, the flash of bombs could be seen as they burst on the buildings and the reflection of the flames was visible on the clouds as the aircraft left the area. By his persistent determination and his outstanding skill as a pilot, P/O. Lynes was able to destroy the primary objective in the face of heavy opposition. Since the 20th April 1940, he has taken part in 32 major bombing operations over Norway Holland, Belgium France, Germany and Italy.”

W/Cmdr. ‘Bill’ William Monteith Graham. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 14. G. 9-13. Further information: Son of Henry Gordon Graham and Annie Graham of Perak, Malay States, Malaysia, husband of Jean Catherine Graham (née Gourlay), of 37 Lexden Road, Little Horkesley, Colchester, Essex, England. Father of Alastair G.M. Graham - Born on the 25th May 1941. W/Cdr. Graham was born on the 04th July 1911 - his mother sadly dying shortly after the birth of Puerperal fever (bacterial infection following childbirth) William and his elder sister Nancy were therefore brought to England and were raised by an Aunt and Uncle in Woodchester, Gloucestershire. His father Gordon stayed working in Malay States, was imprisoned by the Japanese after the occupation, and he died in a prison camp in 1945. Wiiliam enrolled with the RAF on 6th Janauary, 1933. After completing flying training 6th January, 1934, he was posted to 27 Squadron in what is now Pakistan, flying Wapiti Biplane bombers. (27 Squadron was in fact on Operations against dissident tribesmen in Waziristan, formerly North West Frontier). He was promoted to Flying Officer in August, 1935, Flight Lieutenant in August, 1937, and Squadron Leader in August, 1939. He was promoted to Acting Wing Commander in November, 1940, when he was appointed British Liaison Officer to the new 304 (Polish) Squadron at RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire. The Squadron moved to Syerston on 2nd December, 1940. Wiiliam married Jean Gourlay on 25th September, 1940. The church, a 12th Century former priory, in which they were married, was completely destroyed by a single German bomb dropped at random on the very evening of the wedding.

Fl/Sgt. Stanley Robert Gear DFM. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 14. G. 9-13. Son of George Cook Gear and Dodsa Phipps Gear, of Reading, Berkshire, England.

Sgt. William Clark Hamilton. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 14. G. 9-13. Son of Thomas Buchanan Hamilton and Margaret Hamilton, of Bearsden, Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

F/O. Frank Stanley William Webb. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 14. G. 9-13. Son of Stanley Mills Webb and Clara Webb, husband of Gwendoline E. Webb, of Reigate, Surrey, England.

With thanks to Alistair Graham (son of W/Cdr. Graham) and also to Ken Ogilvie for gaining permission to use the photographs and supplying additional information - which he continues to do! Also thanks to Joachim Eickhoff for supplying further details in January 2017. Also to our great friend Mitch Buiting for visiting the cemetery for us in January 2017 and taking the wonderful photographs. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

KTY 16.03.2016 Updated 22.03.2017

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 22 March 2017, 00:39