20/21.12.1943 No. 426 Squadron Lancaster II LL630 OW-D F/O. Stuart CGM
Operation: Frankfurt, Guls nr Koblenz,
Date: 20/21st December 1943
Unit: No. 426 Squadron RCAF (Thunderbirds)
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Linton on Ouse, Yorkshire
Location: Güls near Koblenz, Germany
Pilot: F/O Frederick John Stuart CGM 158306 RAF Age 27. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frank Richard Taylor 1735147 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt Roderick James Dunphy DFC J/13843 RCAF Age 20. Killed (2)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Albert John Rudman 129613 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John William Flynn 158411 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Thomas Herbert Hastings 161747 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. George Varnum Andrew J/19070 RCAF Age 20. Killed.
REASON FOR LOSS
P/O. Stuart, the oldest of his crew at 27, was piloting Lancaster II LL630 OW-D, during an operation to Frankfurt on December 20, 1943, when it was lost with all hands aboard. Intercepted at 5.400 metres above Güls near Koblenz at 20:30 hrs and shot down by Lt. Ludwig Wirtz. (3)
Stuart, a veteran of twenty-three missions, and many of his team were almost finished their operational tour. The rest of the crew were: Fl/Lt. Roderick Dunphy DFC, Navigator, twenty-one missions, F/O. Albert Rudman, RAFVR, Bomb Aimer, twenty missions, F/O. John Flynn, RAFVR, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, twenty-two missions, Sgt. Frank Taylor, RAFVR, Flight Engineer, eight missions, P/O. Thomas Hastings, RAFVR, Mid-upper Gunner, fourteen missions, and F/O. George Andrew, RCAF, Rear Gunner, twenty-two missions. The night of their deaths, they were part of a raid involving 650 Bomber Command aircraft, of which forty-one were lost.
Above left: F/O Frederick John Stuart C.G.M (courtesy Mike Harrison) Right: Fl/Lt. Dunphy DFC (courtesy Murray Peden and Dundurn Press Ltd)
When RCAF No. 426 Squadron was formed on October 15th, 1942, it was supplemented by many RAF members. Sgt. Stuart, a newly minted pilot of the Volunteer Reserve eagerly joined the Canadians at Dishforth, and began his operational flying in January of 1943 with a mixed crew of RCAF and RAFVR members. Stuart and his crew had a very close call during a raid on Essen, May 27/28th, 1943. Eight minutes after their bomb run, at 14,000 feet over Bochum, heavy flak hit their Wellington X. Shrapnel made a flying sieve of their aircraft, holes appearing in the astrodome, the top and side of the rear turret, the bomb aimer's Perspex screen, the port propeller, the bottom of the port engine, the port and starboard tail plane, and the tail. Despite the damage, Freddy got the aircraft back to Dishforth and, luckily, no one was injured.
On June 2nd, 1943, the first four Thunderbird crews were selected for conversion training to Lancaster II’s and departed for East Moor. They were captained by Fl/Lt. J.G. McNeill, P/O. W.L. Shaw, P/O. D.D. Shuttleworth and Sgt. F.J. Stuart. Stuart and Shuttleworth, with their crews, returned to Dishforth June 20th, 1943. On July 10th, 1943, Freddy was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant.
L - R F/Sgt. Andrew, F/O. Dunphy and F/O. Dodge inspect the damage sustained by their Lancaster from attack by German night fighters during a raid on Leipzig, October 20, 1943 (courtesy Murray Peden and Dundurn Press Ltd)
On October 20th, 1943, 426 Squadron was requested to supply fourteen aircraft for a raid on Leipzig. Take-off was scheduled for 17:15 hours, the round trip being about seven hours. Each Lancaster would carry one 4,000-pound bomb and 3,120 pounds of incendiaries. Stuart and the crew of Lancaster II DS686 OW-D, were halfway to Hanover from Brennen when they were repeatedly attacked by a single-engine night-fighter, a Messerschmitt 109. The enemy aircraft attacked four times hitting the tail plane and fuselage, disabling the mid-upper turret and wounding its gunner, Sgt. McGovern. Stuart flew corkscrews and diving turns while the gunners returned fire, in particular Fl/Sgt. Andrew, the rear gunner, who warned his pilot of each attack. Several minutes later a Junkers 88 appeared on the starboard quarter below and began its attempt to bring down the bomber.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
This time the enemy managed three attacks before Stuart lost them in the clouds. The Lancaster was badly damaged, only the pilot's skillful flying and the rear gunner's marksmanship and lightning reactions saved it from certain destruction. Not only was the mid-upper turret disabled, but two of the rear turret guns were also inoperable, one with a link stoppage and the other with a round jammed in the servo mechanism.
Despite these problems, Andrew had fired 2200 rounds during the seven attacks. Other damage included - a smashed pilot's windscreen, a hydraulic-system failure, many bullet holes in the top of the starboard side of the fuselage and wing, shot-up navigation and wireless equipment, the trailing aerial shot away, a failure in the boost gauge of the starboard outer engine, and bullet holes in the starboard inner fuel tank.
Despite all the damage, Stuart chose to go on with the mission and bomb the target, which was still 140 miles away. With most of his instruments destroyed, navigator F/O. Dunphy directed the aircraft to the target, and home again. For his part he received the DFC. McGovern suffered wounds in the arms, legs and chest, and was temporarily blinded in one eye, but after four months rejoined the Thunderbirds and later received a commission and the award of a DFC. The Leipzig raid involved 358 Bomber Command Lancaster’s, of which sixteen were lost.
F/O. George Varnum Andrew (courtesy Betty Gibb - his niece)
F/O Frederick John Stuart CGM 158306 RAF
Frederick 'Freddy' John Stuart was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of Frederick and Lydia Stuart. As a lad he was active in Scouting, and later joined the Territorial Army. He worked as a solicitor's clerk, and through his best friend, Billy Churchill, met and married, Constance Howey, another solicitor's secretary. When war broke out Freddy transferred to the RAF and did his training in Canada.
Conny, who had given up her job to be near her husband while he was stationed at Linton, was lodging near York. After his death, she moved in with her parents in Newbrough and gave birth to a daughter. She remarried sometime later and her new husband proved an excellent stepfather. She had another daughter and the sisters are, to this day, the best of friends. Conny returned to the workforce when her second husband died, first as a buyer for a department store, and then back to her roots as a solicitor's secretary. She passed away in 1987.
Right: The "Stuart" Block (courtesy RCAF 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association)
(1) On 8 May 07, Air Vice Marshal J.M.M. Ponsonby, OBE, officially opened the Stuart Block, a multi-million pound, state of the art, accommodation building at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. On September 3, 2007, Stuart's daughter, Mrs. Sandra Spears, who was born a month after her father's death, and twelve other relatives, made an emotional pilgrimage to Linton. On the occasion Mrs. Spears said, 'This visit has meant everything to me. I never believed I would come along and see where he flew from. To think he is so well thought of by the RAF that they named a barrack block after him makes me so proud. I think it is fantastic.' With thanks to, RCAF 426 “Thunderbird” Squadron Association.
Portrait of F/O Frederick John Stuart CGM (courtesy RCAF 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association)
Sgt. Stuart on his wedding day to Conny
Howey, best man Billy Churchill, the bride's maids are Freddy's sisters
Ella and Jean. (courtesy RCAF 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association)
Roderick James Dunphy DFC J/13843 RCAF
'Roderick James Dunphy grew up on Home Street in Winnipeg. He attended Gordon Bell High School where, in Grade XII, he displayed a flair for mathematics, and was part of a small cadre who tackled advanced exercises suggested by Principal O.V. Jewitt, himself a mathematician of notable stature. Mr. Jewitt frequently referred to this group, with mock scorn, as “hotshots.” In fact they were his fair-haired boys, although, by way of a challenge, he regularly gave them problems which he usually implied would stump them. Apart from his interest in mathematics, Rod was also a lover of classical music, and had access at home to a generous collection of Victor “Red Label” records. In the summer of 1941, shortly after his 18th birthday, Rod enlisted in the RCAF, trained as a Navigator, and was commissioned as such upon his graduation about a year later. He volunteered for overseas service, and shortly wound up in England training in a bomber crew, one that was posted in due course to No. 426 Squadron RCAF, part of the Canadian Group in RAF Bomber Command (i.e. No. 6 Group.) Within a short time, Rod was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for outstanding performance during a raid on Leipzig in October, 1943. At this time his Squadron was equipped with Lancaster II aircraft, a type using four radial engines rather than the more common in-line power plants. Rod and the other members of his crew were shot down and killed in a raid on Frankfurt carried out the night of December 20/21, 1943. At that time, he had participated in 21 operations, two-thirds of the 30 required for his first tour endorsement and a substantial rest from operational flying. As a memorial to his service, the waters of “Dunphy Lakes,” not far from the town of Lynn Lake in Manitoba, have long borne his name.'
By Murray Peden August 1, 2010 - Specially written for the Aircrew Remembered by the aviation author of 'A Thousand Shall Fall', 'Fall of an Arrow' and many other articles, he is also a former RCAF Bomber Command pilot.
Researchers note: Murray’s second son is named Roderick after his old Gordon Bell High School friend.
(2) Dunphy Lake, Manitoba is named after Fl/Lt. Dunphy DFC.
(3) Lt. Ludwig Wirtz was killed on the 8th January 1944 when the controls of his Fw. 190 became blocked shortly after take off from Venio Airfield. He had 2 night kills to his credit and a further daytime kill.
F/O. Frederick John Stuart. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Collective Grave 10 E 9-13. Son of Frederick and Lydia Eleanor Stuart, husband of Constance Scope Stuart of Fourstones, Northumberland, England.
Sgt. Frank Richard Taylor. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 10 E 7. Son of George and Emily Taylor, of King's Norton, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.
Fl/Lt. Roderick James Dunphy. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Collective Grave 10 E 9-13. Son of Kenneth Austin Dunphy and Ella Rae Dunphy, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
F/O. Albert John Rudman. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 8 D 21. The son of Charles and Susan (née Pitt) Rudman of St. George Hanover Square, London, England. Born in the June 1916 Qtr, he was the second of six children born between 1916 and 1930.
F/O. John William Flynn. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Collective Grave 10 E 9-13. Son of John Frederick and Georgina Richardson Flynn, husband of Joyce Lilian Flynn of Manor Park, Essex, England.
P/O. Thomas Herbert Hastings. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Collective Grave 10 E 9-13. Son of Robert and Louise Hastings, husband of Edna Hastings of Ashford, Middlesex, England.
F/O. George Varnum Andrew. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany. Collective Grave 10 E 9-13. Oldest son of George and Elizabeth Harriet (née Varnum) Andrew of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Married Esther Jones at Chatham, New Brunswick, Canada on 13 September 1941.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to the following: Murray Peden and Dundurn Press Ltd, the RCAF 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association
, also to Dave Champion for further crew details - May 2019