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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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61 Squadron Crest
31/01.09.1943 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster III JB132 Sq/Ldr. Dennis C. Wellburn

Operation: Berlin

Date: 31/01st September 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB132

Code: QR-M

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: Between Southwell and Bleasby, Nottinghamshire.

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Dennis Crosby Wellburn DFC. 40965 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Obs: F/O. Roy Leslie Clarke AUS/408968 RAAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Knox Watson 1369957 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Sgt. John Reid Forrest 658923 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. Richard Edward Davies 67648 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Blackett 1092940 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Trevor Francis Joyce 107718 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Paterson 639330 RAF Age 25. Killed


Crew listed on the wonderful Bleasby Aircrew Memorial


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire at 20:08 hrs. to attack the heart of Germany - Berlin.

622 aircraft took part made up from 331 Lancasters, 176 Halifaxes, 106 Stirlings and 9 Mosquitoes. Due to the use for the first time of fighter flares dropped by German aircraft to mark the route of the bombers, the German night-fighters made many attacks on the bomb run. This resulted in huge losses to the Allies with 47 aircraft lost - 10 Lancasters, 17 Stirlings and 20 Halifaxes.


The crew (courtesy Ken Ogilvie)


The raid was hampered by cloud and the very heavy defences around the German capital and the raid was considered as not very successful - 85 homes were destroyed, and only 1 industrial building was damaged. 66 civilians were killed and 2 German soldiers with another 109 injured - nearly 3,000 people were made homeless which resulted in Goebels ordering the evacuation of Berlin of all children and adults not engaged in war work to country areas.

The loss of allied crews on this raid amounted to: 237 Aircrew killed, 102 made Prisoners of War with 3 others evading capture.

Lancaster III JB182 (courtesy Ken Ogilvie)

No. 25 Bombing Leader Course:- Rear: Sgt. Mercer, Fl/Sgt. Simmons, Sgt. Taylor, P/O. Woodward, P/O. Smith, Sgt. Grandy, P/O. Barrett, Sgt. Tindall. Front: P/O. Fisher, P/O. Nicholl, F/O. Wakefield, P/O. Servos, P/O. Davies, P/O. Rees and P/O. Grove. (courtesy Valerie Davies Arends)

Note:- does anyone recognise others in this photograph, perhaps a page of remembrance could be added to them if you have additional information?

Lancaster III JB132 QR-M had completed its bombing and on route to home. At around 03:30 hrs on the final leg of their journey they collided with a Lancaster I R5698 UG-P from 1654 Heavy Conversion Unit between Southwell and Bleasby, Nottinghamshire. All the crew lost their lives.

The pilot of R5698, 30 year old P/O. Joseph W.M. Macdonald from Radnorshire, Wales, along with his crew of 6 were also killed when their aircraft crashed at Southwell.

Above as described and his 'flask' for the long cold trips (courtesy Jon Hughes)


Above as described - sent in by relatives of the Air Gunner - September 2018 - also shown below in a group training photograph. (Note: - signatures on the rear of this photo shown at the foot of the page, in the hope that others may recognise some of them)

Left: The crew list on the propeller section of the Bleasby Aircrews Memorial as shown at the top of the page.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Dennis Crosby Wellburn DFC. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 313. Son of Stephen C. Wellburn and Jane Wellburn, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Never In The Field Of Human Conflict Was So Much Owed By So Many To So Few".

F/O. Roy Leslie Clarke. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 313A. Son of Alfred James Clarke and Rebecca Ann Clarke, of Hastings, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "An Australian Hero Loved And Remembered By His Loved Ones".

Sgt. John Knox Watson. East Calder Churchyard. Sec E. Northern Ext. Grave 67. Son of George and Catherine Watson, of Mid Calder, West Lothian, Scotland.

Sgt. John Reid Forrest. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 311. Son of John and Margaret Forrest, of Glasgow, Scotland. Husband of Mary Forrest. Grave inscription reads: "In Loving Memory Of Jack From Son, Parents And Sister".

Fl/Lt. Richard Edward Davies. Streatham Park Cemetery. Square 26. Grave 36708. Son of Richard and Margaret Alice Davies; husband of Elizabeth May Davies, of West Wickham, Kent, England.

Sgt. Jack Blackett. Durham (St. Giles) Churchyard. Grave 760. Son of Robert William and Mary Blackett of Durham, England. Grave inscription reads: “He Answered The Call.”

F/O. Trevor Francis Joyce. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 312. Son of Percy Francis and Amy Mabel Grace Joyce, of Ruislip, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Shall Gather The Lambs With His Arm, And Carry Them In His Bosom Isa. 40. 11"

Sgt. Alan Paterson. Montrose (Sleepyhillock) Cemetery. Sec. 6. Class A. Grave 113. Son of John Wright Paterson and Martha Guthrie Paterson, of Glendevon, Perthshire, Scotland. Husband of Margaret Smart Paterson, of Montrose, Scotland. Private grave inscription.


Further details of location sent by Ken Ogilvie:



Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ken Ogilvie, Valerie Davies Arends, Sheila Hughes, also to Malcolm Barrass at Raf Web. Thanks also to John Wilson for the update to the callsign. Also to relatives of Alan Paterson and the hundreds of unnamed people who have made the Bleasby Aircrews Memorial take place in 2018. Other sources as quoted.


Signatures on rear of group photo:

RS - 17.07.2018

KTY - Memorial and other details added 19.09.2018

KTY - Crew photo added 24.10.2019

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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A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

Michael J. Belfast, Northern Ireland:

This has to be the most beautiful memorial that I have ever seen. i also understand that the ceremony was very well attended. Well done to Bleasby village and the dozens of people that made this happen.

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