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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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No 426 Squadron
27/28.01.1944 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron RCAF Lancaster II DS775 OW:W Flt Lt. Arthur T. Martens

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 27th/28th January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: DS775

Code: OW:W

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: 2km East of Kade, 8km ESE of Genthin and S of the Elbe-Havel-Kanel

Pilot: Flt Lt. Arthur Tempest Martens 121946 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. William Leslie Pritchard 1582517 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: WO2. Edward (Ed) James Houston R125556 RCAF Age 26. PoW No 1062 * (1)

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Frederick (Fred) James (Jackie) Trevithick 1586566 RAFVR Age? PoW No 911 ** (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Johnson Belton 1038227 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Brooks R189617 RCAF Age 35. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Ralph (Chris) Sherwin Chesters 647351 RAF Age 25. Killed

* Stalag Luft 6, Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania). Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug on 28th May 1944. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).

** Stalag Luft 6, Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania). Stalag 357, Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. Moved in September 1944 to Stalag 11b, Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, Germany.

REASON FOR LOSS:

Part of a large force of some 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitoes. Lancaster DS775 took off at 18:03 hrs from RAF Linton-on-Ouse for a bombing operation on Berlin.

Either DS775 or 576 Sqn Lancaster ME593 was claimed by two German night-fighters:

Ofw. Heinrich Säwert, his 7th Abschuss, from 4./NJG5, no location given, at 20:35 hrs;
Lt. Robert Wolf: his 7th Abschuss, from 3./NJG5, no location given, at 20:35 hrs
(Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)

The aircraft crashed roughly 2km East of Kade, 8km SES of Genthin and South of the Elbe-Havel-Kanel. Three further aircraft from the Squadron were lost on this operation. Lancaster DS686, Lancaster LL688 and Lancaster LL721.

The following is an extract of a report by Flt Lt. I.R. MacIntyre, Berlin Detachment No.4 MREU dated 15th September 1947.

During an exhumation trip in the Russian Zone of Germany as RAF Witnessing Officer with Capt J H M Lowenstein Team Commander and Capt Sherstnieff Russian Conducting Officer, I visited Kade to exhume and attempt to identify the British airmen buried there.

The following information regarding an aircraft which crashed in the vicinity of Kade was gathered from Herr Beesing, the Burgomeister of Kade. At about 2015 on 27th January 1944 a four engined aircraft approached the village of Kade from the West and crashed 1km East of the village on the edge of the wood. One bomb dropped from the aircraft before it crashed. The wreckage did not burn, but was scattered over a fairly large area. The entire remains of the aircraft were removed by the Wehrmacht to an unknown destination 3 months after the crash.Two members of the crew baled out, one was wounded and taken prisoner of War. The bodies of five dead were found by the Police who removed all papers and documents. Two days after the crash these casualties were buried in Kade village cemetery in coffins. The graves were situated by the northern wall of the cemetery and were found to be well tended. Each was marked with a separate cross inscribed with their names.

In an interview with the IRC WO2 Houston recalled that Sgt. Pritchard’s parachute failed to open.

Extensive diversions had been put in place for this operation. Over 140 aircraft were sent to the Dutch coast, Heligoland area, and further aircraft were involved in various other operations to try and draw attention away from the main bombing stream. These actions had some effect with the attack on the main bomber stream being less intense than on recent nights. Bombing was spread over a wide area including some small towns outside the city limits. Large numbers people were made homeless and a large number of industrial premises were hit, with several war industries seriously damaged

The Squadron had arrived at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in June 1943 from RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire

Map showing the crash area of Lancaster DS775

WO2. Edward James Houston. WO2 Edward James Houston missing in Berlin raid. 1943 Edward in his flying suit at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (all courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

(1) WO2. Edward James Houston. Born on the 15th September 1918 in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario and educated at Arnprior High School and Arnprior District High School. Ed enlisted in the RCAF on the 26th August 1941 and completed part of his training at Rivers, Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia bound for the UK in May 1943. Ed was awarded his commission in 1944 which was back dated to December 1943. Edward James Houston died on the 27th May 2003


1942 Training at Regina, Canada. Ed Houston back row 2nd left. 1942 Bomber Crew Graduation. (courtesy of Bill Houston see credits)

. Ed Houston middle of front row (courtesy of Bill Houston see credits)

(courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

Above: Air Crew Graduation May 1943. Back row L to R:

1. Louis Noel Lyndon Kerr R135114. Late of 76 Squadron KIA 22nd/23rd September 1943. Lancaster V EB253. Operation Hanover.
2. Name ? R119129. Lived at 192 Woodmount Ave, Toronto, Ontario. Are you able to identify this young man?
3. ? G. MacKinnon R12248. Are you able to identify this young man?
4. Edward James Houston R125556. Of 426 Squadron PoW No 1062 Camp Stalag Luft 4, Stalag Luft 6 27/28 January 1944.
5. Leonard Bruce Russell R147158. Late of 431 Squadron KiA 22nd/23rd October 1943. Halifax LK639 SE:E. Operation Kessel.
6. Charles Grant Leatherdale J19076. Late of 156 Squadron KiA 30th/31st March 1944. Lancaster ND476 GT:V. Operation Nurnberg.
7. Kenneth Douglas Wellwood R107055. Late of 106 (RAF) Squadron KiA 4th September 1943. Lancaster ED385 ZN:?. Operation Berlin.
8. Murray Clayton Craik R110957. Late of 467 (RAAF) Squadron KiA 23rd September 1943. Lancaster EE135 PO:Y. Operation Mannheim.
9. Michael Costello R123094. Late of 75 (RAF) Squadron KiA 15th August 1943. Stirling EE891 AA:Q. Operation Gardening.
10. Lloyd Martin Stormer R112684. Late of 90 Squadron KiA 24th August 1943. Stirling EH937 WP:S. Operation Berlin

Front row L to R:

1. Martin Bailey R119568. Late of 75 (RAF) Squadron KiA 28th August 1943. Stirling EE955 AA:D. Operation Nurnberg.
2. Irvine Sydney Rothstein R123638. Late of 75 (RNZAF) Squadron KiA 6th August 1943. Stirling BK614 JN:H. Operation Gardening.
3. Herbert Kenneth Scott R121944. Of 207 Squadron PoW No 27650 Camp 4b 31st August 1943.
4. Donald Herbert Kelly R113903. Late of 24 Operational Training Unit (OTU) killed while training 2nd June 1943. Whitley Z6639. Operation Training.
5. "Gerry" E. Wilson R150588 from Edmonton, Alberta. Are you able to identify this young man?
6. Nelson Albert Noble R119448. Late of 9 (RAF) Squadron KiA 22nd September 1943. Lancaster R5700 WS:N. Operation Hanover.
7. ?
8. Gordon Ivan Williams J119950. Late of 97 (RAF) Squadron KIA 31st January 1944. Lancaster JB659 OF:J. Operation Berlin.
9, "Hal" Tole J94224. Late of 433 Squadron KiA 18th April 1944. Halifax LV971 BM:N. Operation Noisy-le-Sec.

Left: June 1943. RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Left to right: Gerry Wilson, Louie Kerr, Patty McCarthy, Grant Leatherdale, Len Russell, Ed Houston, ? This photograph was taken on the 2nd June 1943 after attending Flt Sgt. Donald Herbert Kelly's funeral. Right: 1943 December RAF Linton-on-Ouse Ed Houston with Jim Burrows (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits)

Above: 1943 Crew mates. Chris Chesters, Fred Trevithick, Alf Benton and sitting Arthur T Martens. (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits)

Above: 1945 May: Just after our return to Canada. Ed Houston, Larry McCosham and ? (courtesy Bill Houston. See credits)

8th May 1945. Ottawa Citizen by A. C. Cummings. (courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits) "Life Outside Prison Camp Is Like Fantastic Dream. Reports Plt.Off. Ed. Houston, Former Arnprior Athlete.

Pilot Officer Ed Houston, of Arnprior, Ont., was among a recent draft of released prisoners of war who were flown back to Britain. A navigator in the RCAF, he was shot down in January 1944, after a raid on Berlin, and was recently released by British 11th Armoured Division tanks.

A keen sports fan, he covered sports events in Timmins, Ont., for "Jackie" Koffman, Ottawa Citizen Sport's editor. Ed helped organize softball, touch rugby, basketball and such games as well as soccer leagues in different camps to which he was sent after the bomber in which he was a navigator was lost on a raid. Here he writes his impressions of life outside the barbed wire, for Citizen readers.

Bournemouth, England, May 8th - Hello, Ottawa! Speaking for the several Ottawa and district boys here, I may say that it still seems like a fantastic dream! As I write here in the beautiful surroundings of this pretty south coast town it appears that everything the poet wrote in "Oh to be in England now that April's here" was a vast understatement. Naturally every Canadian ex-POW can scarcely wait till the days we set eyes on Utopia, in the form of Canadian soil, once more. Back there in our Capital city it would be difficult to realize the terrific contrast between our present life and the existence of just over a week ago. Here our treatment has been the epitome of excellence. It seems, in fact, as though the dietitians and chefs must be angels dispatched from heaven for our benefit. But then, all the boys say "The RCAF is always on the ball"

No Molly Coddling. Up at the front, the impression this writer formed were of the magnificent organization and spirit of the British Army together with the thoroughness and efficiency with which they carry out their allotted tasks. It did one's heart good to see our Nazi "protectors" dealt with in this manner. You may rest assured that there are no molly-coddling tactics being used this time. Among Ottawa boys here with me are WO Welland Phipps of Western Avenue, WO Eldon Skuce of Britannia, WO Perrin "Colonel" Magwood, of Cornwalle one of the oldtimers among Canadian POW's. WO Sam Campbell, Renfrew, and WO Larry McCosham, who accompanied your correspondent when we departed from our marching column. All the boys have had most interesting experiences. Phipps was liberated in a woods in the Celle area, after being in the midst of a battle for a few hours.

Appreciates Red Cross: I would like to say how much we owe to our Canadian Red Cross as part of the International Red Cross. Without their aid, none of us would be here. Also, Mrs Asselin, as president of the POW Relatives Association, deserves unlimited credit for her untiring efforts on our behalf. The cigarettes which numerous organisations sent were of immense value to us too. Unfortunately one of the bad impressions I have pained in a short stay here is that people have more or less concluded that the war is over. It is difficult to subdue such a feeling bit it is a fatal one. Most of our boys are still in German hands and they need a maximum effort from everyone to get this struggle over with as quickly as possible. People in Canada may well be proud of the showing of her sons in German prison camps. Canadian organizations functioned very smoothly and efficiently. New prisoners were supplied with immediate necessities by them. In all spheres of camp administration, Red Cross work etc. Canadians were always well to the fore. As a group they got along together and had very little discord - a magnificent achievement under such strained circumstances. the percentage of Canadians who have escaped from our columns is a high one, too.

Sometime in May our Group should arrive in Ottawa - for some of the boys, after four years absence. Every one of us has learnt to appreciate our native land and customs to a much greater extent than previously. Most of us have learned at least one good lesson - never take anything for granted!

(courtesy of Bill Houston. See credits)

(2) Flt Sgt. Frederick James (Jackie) Trevithick. He was promoted to Warrant Officer whilst as a PoW. Before the war in 1931 Fred Trevithick was working as an Assistant Preventive Officer with the Customs and Excise Department in Plymouth. In March 1944 the Customs Journal reported: "That many in the Waterguard Department will be both sorry and glad to learn that Mr. F. J. Trevithick , ex APO, Plymouth, has been reported a prisoner of war in Germany" Jackie worked in many location - Plymouth, Cardiff, Southampton and abroad. Frederick James Trevithick was still working as a Preventive Officer in 1965. Are you able to provide any further details?

Left: Plymouth Notes. The Customs Journal June 1944. Right: The Plymouth Notes. The Customs Journal June 1945

Burial details:

All the crew were first buried in Kade, Germany and reburied in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, 10th September 1947

Flt Lt. Martens, Sgt. Pritchard, Sgt. Belton, Sgt. Brooks

Sgt. Chesters. (headstone photographs courtesy Uwe Jenrich) All are buried in Berlin 1939 - 1945 War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

Flt Lt. Arthur Tempest Martens. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 4. Son of Arthur Herman and Helen Camilla Martens of Bishopgate, London. Born on the 27 December 1914 in Toronto.

Arthur completed part of his education 1928 - 1933 at Upper Canada College, Toronto. His parents presented a pair of Grinling Gibbons carved limewood architectural decorations to the school in memory of their son. A tablet is to be inscribed as follows: "These Grinling Gibbons carvings, circa 1685, from the mansion within Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, were given as a memorial by the parents of Flt Lt Arthur Tempest Martens, RAF, killed over Berlin on the night of January 27-28, 1944"

Enlisted in the RAF in 1939. Arthur completed part of his training in 1942 at No 32 Service Flying Training School, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and at No 10 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RAF Abingdon, training in Armstrong Whitworth Whitley aircraft. Promoted to Plt Off 27th November 1941 and then on the 1st October 1942 Arthur was promoted to Fg Off. and to Flt Lt. on the 27th November 1943

The Three Grinling Gibbons carved limewood architectural carvings presented to Upper Canada College, Toronto by the Martens family. (courtesy of Upper Canada College) Ft Lt. Arthur Tempest Martens (courtesy Bill Houston)

Sgt. William Leslie Pritchard. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 2. Son of George and Amy M. Pritchard of Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

William's brother Cyril also lost his life while serving in the RAF on the 19th April 1942. Both boys are remembered in the book of Remembrance in St Peter Church, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Above: The Daily Mail Wednesday 12th April 1944, Sgt. Alfred J Belton missing (courtesy British Newspaper Archive)

Above: The Belton family headstone. Goole Cemetery, East Riding, Yorkshire

Sgt. Alfred Johnson Belton. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 3. Son of Johnson and Grace Belton of Hook. Goole, Yorkshire. At the time of his death Alfred's address was Manor Farm, 91 High Street, Hook, Goole, Yorkshire

Plt Off. Alfred Brooks. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 1. Born on the 15th October 1912 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of John Andrew and Gertrude (née Currie) Brooks. Husband of Olive Grace (née Watson) Brooks of Outrement, Quebec, Canada.

Commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. (J19860) with effect 18th January 1944

Sgt. Ralph Sherwin Chesters. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany. Grave Ref: 9. C. 5. Son of Ralph and Charlotte Chesters. No further information.

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew

With special thanks to: William (Bill) Houston son of WO2 Edward James Houston for all the information and pictures of his father and crew. Uwe Jenrich for all the headstone photographs. John S Brehaut - Canadian Virtual War Memorial for updating Flt Lt. Martens details. Thanks to John Jones for the information from the No. 4 MREU report (Nov 2019). Additional NoK details for Plt Off. Brooks added and German night-fighter claim by Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2021).

RS 12.11.2021 - Update to NoK Details for Plt Off Brooks and Night fighter claims

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
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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