24/25.03.1944 No. 166 Squadron Lancaster III ND401 AS-D F/O. 'Mac' Jack L. McGill
Date: 24/25th March 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 166 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire
Location: Treuenbrietzen, South west of Berlin, Germany.
Pilot: F/O. ‘Mac’ Jack Lawrie McGill J/24400 RCAF Age 27. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. ‘Jim’ Joseph Mowbray 1194956 RAFVR Age. ? Killed
Nav: F/O. Earl John Underhill J/23724 RCAF Age 26. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: F/O. ‘Con’ Conrad Melvin Torget J/26005 RCAF Age 22. Survived. PoW No: 4164 Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang (L1) (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Tugman 1557970 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Owen Stanley Roberts 1808483 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Frank Pates 1601152 RAFVR Age ? Killed
It is understood that German archaeologists have recently discovered (2014) the remains of the aircraft - we hope to have further information on this. Relatives are invited to submit any additional information to us.
Update March 2018: The German archaeologist who has been researching this advises us that he still does not have 100% proof that he has found the crash site. He would like it to be known that he has spent several thousand hours working on this and has not given up. As soon as he has the proof (a part from the aircraft with a serial number that would confirm it) he does plan a small memorial to the crew.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18:40 hrs from RAF Kirmington Lincolnshire to attack the heart of Germany - Berlin.
811 aircraft took part in what has become known as the "night of the strong winds" as a very strong wind took the bomber stream further south at every stage of the outbound flight.
Left: RCAF pilot: F/O. ‘Mac’ Jack Lawrie McGill
The bomber stream became very scattered in particular on the homeward bound stages where the radar controlled flak batteries were able to score many successes.
Above L-R: Flight Engineer - Sgt. ‘Jim’ Joseph Mowbray, navigator- F/O. Earl John Underhill, air bomber - F/O. ‘Con’ Conrad Melvin Torget.
Above L-R: Wireless operator - Sgt. Robert Tugman, air gunner - Sgt. Owen Stanley Robert, air gunner - Sgt. Edward Frank Pates.
A disastrous night not only for Bomber Command in general, but for 166 Squadron who also lost this night:
ME635 AS-C Piloted by P/O. Ernest Brown RAAF Killed with 5 members of his crew, 1 PoW. Also shown on this website.
ED731 AS-Q Piloted by F/O. Thomas Teasdale RCAF Killed with 5 members of his crew, 1 PoW.
ND620 AS-I Piloted by Fl/Lt. Jackson PoW with another crew member, but 5 others all killed.
A total of 72 aircraft were lost, Berlin reported that 14 Aircraft were shot down by night fighters over the target area. Bombing was very scattered with over 100 towns and villages around Berlin being bombed and very little commercial damage done in Berlin itself. Civilians were hardest hit again with 20,000 made homeless and 150 people on the ground killed. This was the last major bombing raid on Berlin of the war although it was of course attacked by many small raids using Mosquitoes.
As explained previously 72 aircraft were lost on this raid but the true horror being 220 aircrew killed and a further 133 made PoW.
This crew were either shot down by flak or by German night fighters (although no claims have been positively identified for this aircraft) It is known that they crashed in Treuenbrietzen and were reinterred after war end in the Berlin War Cemetery.
(2) Sadly Conrad Melvin Torget died on October 29th 2009, Age 88. At the time he was living in Walnut Creek, British Columbia, Canada, to honour his crew he had a personalised number plate: D-DOG 44. Born in Sydney, Australia on May 29th 1921.
Emigrated with his family via Norway and England in 1925. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Constance Torget and her family, all of British Columbia. He was raised and educated in Vancouver, B.C. and started his career there with the Columbia Paper Company.
Right: Drawing by F/O. Earl John Underhill of his friend, F/O. ‘Con’ Conrad Melvin Torget
During WWII he served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Great Britain. On March 24, 1944 his Lancaster bomber (named D Dog) was shot down on the last mass night bombing raid over Berlin. As the nose of the plane had been shot off, Con, as bomb aimer (bombardier), was blown out of the aircraft.
He was unconscious but regained consciousness as he passed through the clouds and was able to open his parachute. He was the sole survivor out of a crew of seven airmen, was captured and was a POW for 14 months.
His distinctive car license "D-Dog 44" was in memory of his six crew mates killed when their bomber was shot down.
Above: ‘Con’ Conrad Melvin Torget visiting his crew graves, shortly before he also passed away.
In 1969 he was transferred to the Bay Area to work for the Zellerbach Paper Company and lived in Walnut Creek until his passing. Con and his boxers (Pasha and then Hannah) were well known by Walnut Creek dog owners and were active in local dog activities. His interests were his friends, dogs, golf, politics and TV.
(1) F/O. Earl Underhill was also a talented artist and relatives have supplied us with various sketches of others. Shown below - recognise anyone? Top row middle and bottom row left - we know are of Ron Walker who survived the war - no further details.
(1) Underhill Island in Ontario is named after F/O. Underhill
F/O. Jack Lawrie McGill. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.3. Son of William Edward and Olive Mae McGill, of 862 Waterloo Road, London, Ontario, Canada. His grave inscription reads: ‘Our sacrifice was not in hate but rather in hope of universal peace’.
Sgt. Joseph Mowbray. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.4. Son of Mr. L. Mowbray 28 Ridley Avenue, Chester -Le-Street, County Durham. Cousin of Mrs V. Inwood of 50 Rattray Road, Brixton, London SW2. England.
F/O. Earl John Underhill. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.1. Son of Norman and Alma Underhill, of 59 Stanley Avenue, Mimico, Ontario, Canada. His grave inscription reads: ‘In loving memory of our son Earl. May you rest in peace’. Mother and Dad
Sgt. Robert Tugman. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.6. Brother of Mr J. Tugman, 66 Whitehouse Rd, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 6. England.
Sgt. Owen Stanley Roberts. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.5. Son of Harold Osborne Roberts and Lilian May Roberts (nee Batt), of 1 Birling Road, Snodland, Kent. England. His grave inscription reads: ‘ In loving memory of our dear son Owen. Forever in our hearts. Love Mum and Dad’.
Sgt. Edward Frank Pates. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 5.D.2. Son of Mrs. E.M. Pates of 16 Cambray Place, Cheltenham, Gloucester, England.
With the assistance of Emma Scott. For her Grandmother, also for Ann Tutton relative of F/O. Underhill and for all the relatives of the crew. With 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 Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’ - revised 2104 edition, the CWGC.