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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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625 Squadron Crest
19/20.02.1944 625 Squadron Lancaster III JA862 CF-T Sqn/Ldr. Barry Nicholas Douetil

Operation: Leipzig - Aircraft assembly factories

Date: 19/20 February 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 625 Squadron - Motto: We Avenge

Squadron Badge: Within a circular chain of seven links, a Lancaster rose; The Lancaster rose stands for the aircraft used, the seven links the number of personnel in one such aircraft

Type: Avro Lancaster III

Serial: JA862

Code: CF-T

Base: RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire

Location: Between Resse and Wiechendorf at Wedemark, Niedersachsen, Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr Barry Nicholas Douetil 66014 RAFVR Age 22 - PoW No 3594 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Gill 1675512 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (2)

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Thomas (Fred) Price 1509811 RAFVR Age 22 - PoW No. 1615 Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6 /Stalag Kopernikus - 357 died 30/4/45 (3)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. William Henry McMillan 1383001 RAFVR Age 26 - Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Basil Vincent Cude 170096 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Bernard Kenneth Sparkes 1320930 RAFVR Age 23 - Killed (6)

Air/Gnr (R): F/O. Frederick Leslie Hale 146250 RAFVR Age 39 - Killed (7)



We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our Helpdesk



INTRODUCTION


625 squadron was formed on 1 October 1943 at RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire around 'C' flight of 100 Squadron thus enabling it to become operational very quickly.

On 13 October the first Lancasters and crews arrived at RAF Kelstern and comprised 12 from 100 Squadron, 3 from 101 Squadron and 3 from 12 Squadron. Over the next ten days 12 more crews arrived from 1656, 1662, and 1667 Heavy Conversion Units (HCUs) one of which, on 20 October, was that of Fl/Lt Barry Douetil from 1656 HCU based at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

By the time the Douetil crew arrived at RAF Kelstern, 625 Squadron had already flown its first operation. 13 crews had been detailed for a raid on Hanover for the night of 18/19 October but when 4 Lancasters were not bombed up in time for take off only 9 had been able to take part in the raid, all of which successfully bombed the target and returned safely to Kelstern.

Although the Squadron's experienced crews were involved in operations on a regular basis thereafter, crews that had been posted in from HCUs were initially involved only in various training exercises i.e. fighter affiliation, cross country flying and bombing practice etc.

On 3 November Barry Douetil flew 2nd Dickey with the crew of P/O. Cyril Roy Kroemer RAAF to Dusseldorf, but it was to be another two weeks before he flew his first operation as Skipper with his own crew. On 18 November he and his crew were detailed for a target that was a veritable baptism of fire - the "Big City" - Berlin. Though the crew returned safely the same could not be said of their steed, Lancaster III ED814, whose port outer, wings and fuselage were holed by heavy flak. With Lancaster ED814 repaired there followed another trip to Berlin four nights later without mishap.

On 3 December they took part in a raid on Leipzig was to be the crew's final association with ED814.

The previous day Lancaster III JA862 was delivered to 625 Squadron from 460 Squadron based at RAF Binbrook. It was to be the aircraft flown by the Douetil crew on all future operations.

Their first operation in JA862, another trip to Berlin on 16 December, did not augur well for the crew as they were unable to maintain height due to the starboard outer engine cutting after surging for some time. Jettisoning their bombs over Germany, the crew abandoned the mission at 1850 and returned to base. It was Frankfurt four days later before another trip to the "Big City" on 23 December this time with the Station Commander, Group Captain Reginald Hawtrey Donkin in tow, flying as 2nd Dickey. Their first operation of the New Year saw them over Stettin on 5 January with Sgt Jeremiah Francis Crowley manning the mid upper turret. There followed uneventful trips to Brunswick on 14 January, Berlin on 20 and Magdeburg on 21.

On or about the end of January 1944 Barry Douetil was made Acting Squadron Leader and Flight Commander "B" Flight.

On 11 February the crew went back to Berlin yet again and fortunately returned unscathed.

Barry Douetil flew his 12th operation on 15 February as skipper of the rookie crew of Sgt. Derrick John Gigger although Barry took along his own navigator, Fred Price and his own rear gunner Fred Hale. It was Barry and the two Freds' 7th visit to the "Big City" in under 3 month




We are keen to identify the other airmen in the above photograph. If you are able to help please contact our HELPDESK



On 19 February 625 Squadron detailed 17 Lancasters for a raid on Leipzig - Barry Douetil and his crew were one of them.

Allocated their usual steed, Lancaster JA862 "T" for Tommy, they would be delivering a bomb load of 12000 lb made up of 1 x 4000lb and 6 x 1000lb HC (high capacity) bombs and 4 x 500 MC (medium capacity) bombs.

They were to bomb in the first of 6 waves of the main force timed to bomb the target between 0400 and 0404 from 20000 feet.

Their Lancaster was also fitted with Boozer - special equipment that was able to detect when the aircraft was being tracked by ground and fighter based enemy radar. Warning lights in the cockpit warned the pilot whenever his aircraft was being tracked.

The aborted operation of 16 December did not count, so completion of this raid on Leipzig would be Barry Douetil's 13th of his tour.

The total force despatched for this long distance bombing raid on Leipzig was 823 aircraft the number made up of 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes and 7 Mosquitoes.

Seventy-eight heavy bombers failed to return from the catastrophic raid on the industrial city of Leipzig on the night of 19/20 February 1944. Some 420 aircrew were killed and a further 131 became prisoners of war. It was at that time by far the RAF's most costly raid of World War II.


REASON FOR LOSS


The following account of the incident, his ensuing miraculous escape from almost certain death and subsequent experiences as a prisoner of war was written by Squadron Leader Barry Nicholas Douetil. It first appeared on the 625 Squadron Facebook page and is reproduced here courtesy of Richard Douetil, son of Sqn/Ldr. Douetil and submitted to Aircrew Remembered by our good friend and colleague, 625 Squadron researcher Dr. Jack Albrecht.


'It was the morning of 19 February 1944 at a Bomber Command aerodrome in Lincolnshire [RAF Kelstern]. It was cold with snow on the ground and the news had just been received that operations that night were on. This was the signal for considerable activity at dispersal points, aircrews testing their aircraft and equipment, bomb loads and fuel loads worked out, an air test if some new equipment had been installed.

After lunch, about 3 in the afternoon, briefing was held in the large blacked out Nissen hut and it was on entering one saw the map on the far wall with the red tape snaking towards the target for tonight - Leipzig. The further into Germany the red line went the more apprehensive you became. One point of interest to the Lancaster aircrews was the type of aircraft taking part. [The total force of 823 aircraft despatched on the raid was made up of 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes and 7 Mosquitoes]. Halifaxes ceiling was less than the Lancaster and Stirlings about half, which meant that the flak in particular, tended to be absorbed on the way up.

On this day the take off was late - 2000 hours and I sat in the cockpit at dispersal waiting for the off. This was one of the most trying periods, because up to 3 out of 4 ops would at this last moment be cancelled by a red verey light, which meant one had had all the mental strain of preparing for the raid without the satisfaction of completing another trip towards the quota for the tour. Tonight there was no cancellation. Taxying from the dispersal to the take off runway was always a worry, having to go up to two miles between dim blue lights with the brake pressure diminishing much faster than the engines could build it up and if the aircraft left the perimeter track with a full bomb load and fuel load it would bog down.

Take off was uneventful and we climbed, very slowly due to the heavy load, through 10/10ths snow clouds with clear skies at about 12000 feet, then set course for the Dutch coast.

[The first of the 17 Lancasters of 624 Squadron took off from RAF Kelstern at 2324 hours. Barry Douetil flying Lancaster JA862 was away 7th in line at 2333 and by 2359 all 17 were airborne on the 7 hour round trip to Leipzig]

In the region over Hanover, still on course for Leipzig, we were attacked twice by a FW190; on the second attack cannon shells hit the starboard wing setting it alight. I could feel the impact of the hits through my hands on the control column and at the same time could hear the rear gunner's four guns firing back; by this time I could also hear the noise of the flames over the noise of the engines.

Following the usual drill, whilst I was still controlling the aircraft, the flight engineer undid my seat belt and clipped the chest type parachute pack onto the harness; we did not fly with parachute attached. A short while afterwards the aircraft went over onto its back and I fell onto the roof which seemed to give way and I found myself at about 20000 feet falling rapidly through the darkness.'

Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 1 - Theo Boiten.

Claim by Oblt Heinz Ferger 3/NJG3 - near Hanover: 6,200m at 02:59. Crashed 6km North of Langenhagen airfield near Resse/Wiechendorf.

Bomber Command Losses - W.E. Chorley records that JA862 was 'Shot down by a night-fighter and crashed 0243 20 February 1944 6 km N of the airfield at Langenhagen and in the vicinity of Resse-Wiechendorf.'


The bodies of Sgt. Bernard Sparkes and F/O. Frederick Hale were both found buried at Kaltenweider Moor whilst that of Sgt. John Gill was found buried at Kaltenweide. All three were later re-interred at Hanover War Cemetery.



Sqn/Ldr. Douetil's account continues:

'I was very cold and breathless, but I could hear the noise of the bomber stream and had no sensation of falling, although judging by the way some lights seemed to be revolving I must have been tumbling over and over.

On feeling for the parachute release ring I discovered the pack had disappeared - there was no parachute pack!

I assumed it had been torn off the clips when falling out of the cockpit. Somewhile later, against the light of the searchlights, I saw the small oblong shape of the parachute.

To explain, the pack on the clips sits under your chin and is held to the harness by two pieces of twine. When the parachute opens the twine breaks, allowing the now empty pack to go above one's head still attached to the harness, but clear of the chest where it would be an encumbrance and flap in the face. If all this had taken place in an area where there was no searchlights I would never have seen the unopen pack in the darkness and accepted the fact that it had been torn off.

I must have reached the terminal velocity of a falling human body of .....mph [122 mph] As soon as I saw the unopen pack I pulled it up/down/sideways towards me; felt round the pack until I found the release ring, pulled it and the parachute opened.

I landed heavily in a frozen ploughed field on the outskirts of Hanover with a dislocated left shoulder.

I ended up in Stalag Luft III to be released in April 1945 by the Red Army.

All the rest of the crew were killed except the navigator who had come out of his cubby hole and was standing alongside me in the cockpit and when the plane went onto its back must have fallen through the roof with me. I caught a brief glimpse of him in the interrogation centre, but we were unable to speak to each other and towards the end of the war when his POW camp was being evacuated before the advancing Russians, the columns were strafed by a fighter - he was hit in the thigh by a cannon shell and died in hospital.'






A RECORD OF HOW THE WAR ENDED FOR THE OCCUPANTS OF STALAG LUFT III

by Squadron Leader Barry Nicholas Douetil


'It became increasingly obvious by January 1945 that the Red Army would eventually overrun Stalag Luft III and that the Germans would evacuate us westwards ahead of the advancing Russians.

On 29 January, Sunday 0015 hours, we were paraded, counted, and marched out of the camp. Most of us had managed to construct makeshift sledges for pulling our few belongings along in the snow - everything went into their construction, cardboard boxes, coal boxes, chairs etc.

We must have presented a remarkable sight as we wound our way through the countryside. Most people had decided that overcoats were too heavy for a long march so had made capes or hoods out of blankets. Others were wearing homemade puttees, balaclavas, remains of flying kit and a very few in RAF uniforms of various types.

We spent the first night locked into a series of barns. It was very cold and the lucky people in the barns were those who found a cow to sleep with - they were very warm and friendly. We all learnt this first night that it was extremely unwise to sleep with your boots on, because they froze solid and contracted, a painful process.

The next night was spent in a large farmyard with better barns and plenty of straw. There was ample scrap wood in this farm and we were able to heat up some food.

The next day disaster struck -there was a thaw and the hard packed snow on the roads turned to slush, making the sledging very difficult. The next night stop was in barns unheated and unlit. Being locked in these barns with no water or sanitary arrangement made things most unpleasant.

The next day we received one fifth of a loaf of bread - the first German rations for 5 days. The Germans had broken almost every article of the Geneva Convention in their treatment of us during the last 5 days. That night one member of our "Mess" acquired a chicken which was divided among 21 of us. One chap, who got the wishbone, reckoned he had been unlucky, until he saw the person next to him had got the beak.

A thaw then set in, which grew rapidly and from then on all the belongings had to be carried on our backs as opposed to being pulled on makeshift sledges on the snow.

The next day we each received half a litre of hot liquid containing no meat or solids; the first "hot meal" the Germans had given us in the last 7 days. We entrained during the afternoon into empty cattle trucks - 50 men to each, which was sheer bloody hell. 40 people is the normal recognised limit and it was only possible for four people at a time to lie down and sleep. The rest all stood. I was in charge of my particular truck and we worked out an elaborate roster of standing and lying. We also made a substantial hole in the floor of the truck for the normal bodily functions of excretion, which with 50 people locked in a cattle truck was a problem.

On 3 February we arrived at Luckenwalde at about 1700 hours. The Germans had great trouble in counting us before marching to the camp. There were four counts taken, producing different totals each time.

The camp was a scene causing revulsion and disgust. The buildings were squalid and sordid, with great patches of damp all over the inside walls and ceilings. The doors would not shut and most of the windows were broken. Three tiered beds in set of 12, accommodating 200 men in each room with dirt half-filled palliasses. There was nowhere to cook our food, and the water was turned off.



This camp contained many nationalities including British, American, French, Russian, Yugoslav, Czechoslovakian and Norwegian officers and soldiers. We were the only RAF contingent and the Group Captain was the senior British officer in the camp.

The camp Doctor (British Army captured at Dunkirk) had a surgery consisting of a walled-off section without any heating or water and the Germans could not, or would not produce any medical supplies. Fortunately, being aircrew the contingent was very young and the general health was good.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that the war was drawing to a close and our "Defence Scheme" which had been long planned to cover the moment when the Germans fled, was put into action.

The Defence Scheme was organised in secret and designed to keep the vital services of the camp going after the Germans left. With typical RAF logic I was put in charge of communications, knowing nothing about wirelesses in particular and very little about communications. I quickly co-opted to wireless operators who, when the time came, managed the situation very well. The problem arose due to there being only about eight Squadron Leaders in the camp and one Wing Commander, all the rest being Flight Lieutenants, Flying officers and Pilot Officers, which was understandable as people being shot down represented a cross section on the operating squadron as a whole.

The first indication we had of the German withdrawal was when it became apparent that the sentry boxes were no longer manned. The Germans then paraded in full marching order and left and were never seen again, until some turned up in the Russian prison cages.

We were still completely surrounded by Germans, although they had officially evacuated the camp. The water and light had been cut off at the mains in the local town, but somebody got hold of a fire trainer and pumped up water from static pools to maintain essential services.

There was a German light artillery unit in the woods north of the camp, under a German General, and we were taken aback when an officer visited us to say that if the eight rifles stolen from his men were not immediately returned he would open fire on the camp. The rifles were quickly returned. There were no incidents in the camp, which is a great tribute to the discipline of the 25000 inhabitants of all ranks and nationalities.

At about 0100 hours on Sunday morning April 21, a German aircraft strafed the camp. Fortunately, the effect was not very serious. The pilot flew up the main street of the camp and most of his shells fell in that street. It was amusing to see the people baling out of the top bunks and landing on the people who were baling out of the bottom tier at the same time. Later that night the Mayor of Luckenwalde visited the camp, wanting to hand the town over to us. He was refused.

Early next morning a light Russian armoured car drove into the camp at high speed. A small and very dirty Russian emerged and was immediately surrounded by delirious prisoners who felt at last they were on their way home. This was becoming increasingly urgent as by now conditions were very poor. The camp was riddled with lice, fleas, bedbugs. Lice were easy to control as you just squashed them with a piece of moist soap then cut them in half with a razor blade. A problem arose when you caught a flea on your body in bed at night - it is virtually impossible to squash a flea between finger and thumb, and if you dropped them over the edge of your bunk it was considered bad form by the chap in the bottom bunk. I just used to swallow mine.




By this time there was continuous firing in the woods all round us and we felt very vulnerable. At about 10 o'clock a party of several Russian tanks and armoured cars drove in. With this party of armoured cars and tanks was a large carrier filled with Tommy Gunners., including an attractive nineteen year old girl, armed to the teeth. An idiotic Frenchman went up to the girl and presented her with a posy of wild flowers. It was rather like someone presenting a crocodile with a lace handkerchief. Whilst this was going on the Russians were occupying the town of Luckenwalde and passing through in great numbers.

All the Russian prisoners in the camp (approximately 9000), were now released and were given rifles and told to go and shoot Germans.

We were frequently visited by Russian officers including a film unit who took films of various groups of prisoners and filmed the funeral of eight Russians who had been found starved to death in a barrack in the camp. The Russians told us there were still four German divisions in the area - two tank and two infantry but since the tank division had no tanks and the infantry division no boots, they were only employing one Russian division to mop them up.

A health problem now arose due to the number of corpses lying around, and the warmer weather. There were dead Germans, dead Russians, dead civilians, horses, cows, etc. The Russian Commander gave the Mayor of Luckenwalde 24 hours to get rid of the bodies or he would be shot. This proved a most effective way of getting things done, as well before 24 hours was up there wasn't a body to be seen. What, in fact, the Germans had done, was to pull up the paving stones of the pavements, scoop out just sufficient soil to take a body and put the paving stone back on top. One quickly learnt to walk in the road as the pavements tended to squelch.

It was at this stage that certain selected parties went out foraging for food. For example, a horse fed a great number of people and amongst the POWs there were some ex butchers, mostly Australian. On one of these foraging parties I came across a German soldier propped up against a tree with a severely wounded knee. I went off to get medical help and eventually persuaded a Russian officer, a woman, to come and see the casualty. She took one look at his knee then drew her pistol and shot him in the back of the head. His teeth came out like a spray of melon pips. I was impressed by the efficiency of this cure for a badly wounded knee.

It was about this stage that it began to look as if the Russians would be hanging on to the RAF PoWs and ship them back via Odessa if at all. It transpired, after the war, that we were being held as bargaining power to get the Russians held by the Allies released back to Russia, where most of them were shot. I and a Belgian pilot, decided not to risk the Odessa trip and took off for the American lines across the Elbe. The Americans were sending jeeps into the Russian Zone and picking up any spare wandering PoWs they could find. We were lucky and were picked up very quickly and were soon across the Elbe and with the American army. We were flown to Brussels and then to Hildesheim and then to Wing in Oxfordshire. At every stopping point we had DDT powder puffed into our hair, under the arms and down the front of trousers, with instructions not to wash. It was useless each time saying we had already been treated with DDT, as orders were that we were to be dealt with at each staging point, regardless of these previous applications.

Before we left Hildesheim, which was a staging post for released allied aircrew, we experienced a typical UK reaction to those who had fought to defend their country. At Hildesheim we were split into various nationalities, British, Australian, Canadian, South African, Rhodesian, American, French, Poles, Belgians and so on. Each nationality had a Committee of Welcome with masses of chocolate, pipe tobacco, cigarettes, biscuits etc.., which we were craving for. All the British received was a small white cloth bag with two shoe brushes, a tin of shoe polish and a Bakelite razor with two blades - nothing else. All was not lost - every national contingent pooled their welcome gifts, which even included oranges, which had not been seen for 6 years, and it was distributed equally, so the British received some chocolate, cigarettes etc., but no thanks to their grateful Government.

From Hildesheim we flew to Oxfordshire, 30 at a time in Dakotas. In arriving at Wing Aerodrome I pulled rank and insisted I was the first out of the aircraft onto English soil. When the door was opened there was a large contingent of welcoming WVS with "Char and Wads". One of the old Biddies took one look at me and said "Poor boy, he must have had a terrible time, his hair has gone quite white". Correct - it was coated in DDT.

Wing was a luxurious pre-war airfield with excellent accommodation and we were housed in most comfortable surroundings. By this time most of us were feeling distinctly off-colour. I personally had eaten a whole 1 lb tin of oleomarge at one sitting and was regretting it.

Lying on my bed I was approached by an orderly with the message - Group Captain's compliments and we were not to use the Officers Mess. At that moment we had no intention of getting off our beds, but this gratuitous message was too much and I led a delegation of 40 officers to storm the Officers Mess. The Group Captain fled in his car and wasn't seen again until we had moved on. On arriving at the Officers Mess we hit a major snag - none of us had any money. The WAAFs, of all ranks, clubbed together and produced a pool of money which was more than adequate for as much to drink as we were able to take. Considering their poor rate of pay I regard this as an exceptional gesture, which was enormously appreciated. Also at this stage we had no contact with our next of kin, who were unaware that we were in the country, let alone alive. A WAAF was allocated to each one of us, with instructions to get the phone number of whoever it was to be contacted and phone through with the good news - a marvellous gesture.'



Fl/Sgt. Frederick Thomas (Fred) Price

Having also been captured, navigator Fred Price was first taken to the interrogation centre at Dulag Luft and afterwards incarcerated at Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug in East Prussia (now Šilutė, a city in the south of Klaipėda County, Lithuania).

On 19 July 1944 with the Red Army approaching orders were given for the prisoners to be moved to other camps further west most of them to Stalag ‘Kopernikus’ at Thorn (now known as Toruń) in Poland.

In early April 1945 Sergeant Pilot James 'Dixie' Deans RAF, the camp leader of 357, was informed by the Commandant Oberst Hermann Ostmann that 12,000 British POW were being evacuated from the camp in the face of the Allied advance. The men marched from the camp in columns of 2,000 one of which arrived at Gresse, east of the Elbe 14 km NE of Lauenburg, Germany on 19 April where they were issued with Red Cross parcels.

Believing them to be German troops the column was attacked by RAF Typhoons firing machine guns and rockets. The devastating fire left at least 30 men dead and many more wounded. One of those gravely wounded was Fred Price who succumbed to his wounds 11 days later and was buried at Boizenburg Cemetery some 5 miles south of Gresse. On 24 September 1948 he was re-interred at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.

Aircrew Remembered's Archive Report of the loss of Lancaster ND571 of 100 Squadron on the Leipzig raid includes an interesting passage on the forced march at war's end and some remarkable photographs. http://aircrewremembered.com/sidebotham-george-roy...


625 Squadron Summary of Events


19 February 1944 Operations. 17 aircraft were detailed for Operations, the target being Leipzig. Of the 17 aircraft which took off 13 attacked the target - but owing to engine failure one bombed the last resort (Texel). It was with deep regret that the Flight Commander of "B" Flight (F/L Barry Nicholas Douetil) and his crew failed to return from this mission. This Flight Commander was held in high esteem by all members of his Flight, and was responsible to a large degree in the efficient way in which the crews carried out their various missions. Of the two other missing crews P/O. James Desmond Aspin DFM had recently been commissioned and was incidentally the first aircrew member to receive a decoration since the formation of this Squadron. The other missing crew had only recently arrived at this Unit. A normal bomb load was carried and from Raid reports it is gathered that the attack seemed to be successful.


When lost JA862 had flown a total of 381.43 hours. It was one of three 625 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation; the others being, ME588 skippered by P/O. J.D. Aspin and LM384 skippered by Fl/Sgt. C.E. Pearson. (http://aircrewremembered.com/pearson-charles-ernest.html) The Archive Report for LM384 also includes a detailed account of the raid on Leipzig.

625 Squadron RAF Bomber Command was operational from 18 October 1943 to May 26 May 1945, during which time it carried out 209 operations made up of about 3,500 individual sorties. 74 aircraft were lost and 389 members of the aircrew lost their lives. The Squadron operated Avro Lancaster heavy bombers — Marks I and III. From 18 October 1943 to 4 April 1945 the Squadron operated from RAF Kelstern and from 5 April 1945 to October 1945 from RAF Scampton. 625 Squadron was officially disbanded in October 1945.

(Details courtesy of Jack Albrecht/Nic Lewis - The History of 625 Squadron Losses http://www.jalbrecht.ca/625_squadron/)



BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW


(1) Sqn/Ldr. Barry Nicholas Douetil was born on 19 November 1921 at Chertsey, Surrey the son of Philip Victor Douetil and Dorothy Violet Douetil nee Grinling. He had two siblings: Paula Douetil (1923-2002) and Dane Peter Douetil (1927-2014)

On 26 April 1941 1168045 Leading Aircraftman Barry Nicholas Douetil was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (London Gazette 6 June 1941). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) on 26 April 1942 (London Gazette 19 May 1942) and on 26 April 1943 he was further promoted to Flight Lieutenant (war subs).

Commission resigned.

Flt. Lt. B. N. DOUETIL (66014) retaining the rank of Sqn. Ldr. 21st Oct. 1945. (London Gazette 20 November 1945)

He was appointed to commission as a Flying Officer in the General Duties Branch of the RAFVR (Reconstituted section) on 10 December 1948 (London Gazette 15 February 1949)

In 1946 he married Margaret Moody at Crewe Cheshire. They went on to have three sons: Philip N Douetil born 1948 and Paul J. C. Douetil born 1950 and Richard Barry Douetil.

Barry Douetil sailed from Southampton for Bombay India on 25 July 1946 on the Strathmore: his occupation is recorded as 'Assistant'

Barry and Margaret Douetil returned on 17 April 1947 arriving in Liverpool from Calcutta on board Empire Kumash travelling first class. Barry was now listed as a clerk and they gave their address as 15 Grosvenor Road, Birkdale, Lancashire

Margaret Douetil died in 1966 (her death was registered at Surrey Mid-Eastern)

In 1969 Barry Douetil married Pamela M. Furhagen at Kensington

Barry Nicholas Douetil died on 1 April 1993 aged 71 and of 43 Campden Hill Court Campden Hill Road London W8 (death registered at Kensington and Chelsea, London)


(2) Sgt. John Gill was born c 1923 the son of Thomas Gill (a General Engineers Turner) and Margaret Gill nee Boyd of Levenshulme, Manchester. He had five sibling brothers: Benjamin Gill born 1914, Thomas Gill born 1915, William Gill born 1918, Stanley Gill born 1923 and Clifford Gill born and died 1928.

In 1939 the family lived at 36 Hyde Street, Manchester.


(3) W.O. Frederick Thomas Price was born on 25 September 1921 at Margate, Kent the son of George Percy Price (a Director of a Publishing Company) and Florence Ethel Price nee Harman

He had two siblings: Hilda Adelaide Price born 1920 and Joan Margaret Price born 1929.

In 1939 the family lived at 9 Calgary Place Leeds

Fred Price was an Office Clerk prior to joining the air force

In 1943 he married Margaret Ellis at Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire.


(4) Sgt. William Henry McMillan was born c 1917 the son of Mr. and Mrs. William McMillan, of Kingsbury, Middlesex.

In 1942 he married Marjorie Dora McMillan nee Munday, at Paddington, London and of Kensal Rise, Middlesex.


(5) P/O. Basil Vincent Cude was born in 1921 at Elham Kent the son of Amy M. Cude (nee Rainsbury) (born 16 July 1886 she died a widow at Chiswick on 2 February 1941 age 54 and was also a widow in 1939).

Basil Cude had three siblings: Edna D Cude born 1918, Audrey G Cude born 1920 and John H. Cude born 1922

1388125 Sergeant Basil Vincent Cude was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 22 December 1943 (London Gazette 22 February 1944)


(6) Sgt. Bernard Kenneth Sparkes was born in 1921 at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire the son of Arthur George Sparkes and Edith Sparkes nee Lambert. He had a sister, Edith Sparkes born 1919. The family lived at 'Chalet du Bois', The Grove, Biggin Hill,

In 1943 Bernard Sparkes married Audrey D Collins at Bromley Kent

He is commemorated on the Biggin Hill War Memorial originally known as the Cudham War Memorial on Biggin Hill Green, Kent.


(7) F/O. Frederick Leslie Hale was born on 23 August 1904 in Goodmayes, Ilford, Essex the son Frederick Charles Hale (a Manufacturers Agent - Lace and in 1939 a Grocer's Shop owner) and Evelyn Sarah Hale nee Sims.

He had two siblings: Henry Oliver Hale born 1908 and Eric John Hale born 1910

In 1911 the family lived at 48 Hazledene Road Ilford Essex

In 1932 Fredrick Leslie Hale married Dorothy Kathleen ? at Hackney, London and in 1939 he and his wife

lived at 159 Ardgowan Road Lewisham - he was a Sub Postmaster, Domestic Hardware and Paint shop-keeper and part time London Ambulance Service volunteer.

On 11 June 1943 Leading Aircraftman Frederick Leslie Hale was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) (London Gazette 27 July 1943). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer on probation (war subs) on 19 December 1943 (London Gazette 24 December 1943)



BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS



(2) Sgt. John Gill was originally buried at Koltenweide [Kaltenweide] re-interred on 23 May 1951 at Hanover War Cemetery - Grave ref: 10.B.2

His epitaph reads:

Rest in Peace


(3) W.O. Frederick Thomas Price was originally buried at Boizenburg Cemetery Germany and re-interred on 24 September 1948 at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery - Grave ref: 11.N.12

His epitaph reads:

Dearly loved husband

Of Margaret.

Always remembered


(4) Sgt. William Henry McMillan was buried at Hanover War Cemetery - Grave ref: 1. D. 16.

His epitaph reads:

In memory of

My very dear husband Billy.

Loved and greatly missed

By us all


(5) P/O. Basil Vincent Cude was buried at Hanover War Cemetery - Grave ref: 10. B. 1.


(6) Sgt. Bernard Kenneth Sparkes was originally buried at 'Isolated Spot Kaltenweider Moor Sht N4 MR 304346' and was re-interred on 21 September 1948 at Hanover War Cemetery - Grave ref: 16. C. 17.

His epitaph reads

Good Jesu, help,

Sweet Jesu, aid his soul

To Thee so dear.

Requiescant in pace


(7) F/O. Frederick Leslie Hale was originally buried at 'Isolated Spot Kaltenweider Moor Sht N4 MR 625482' and re-interred on 28 July 1948 at Hanover War Cemetery - Grave ref: 15. K. 12.

His epitaph reads:

At the going down

Of the sun

And in the morning

We will remember him



Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - March 2020

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 08.03.2020

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', 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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At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
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