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July 16th 1943 saw a Formation Flying exercise involving five 460 Squadron Lancasters from Binbrook. The 460 Squadron Operations Book described the exercise as being “ Some local flying through the day” the weather conditions were described as being” Fair to fine-some rain later”.

One of the aircraft taking part was EE138 E2. Two other known Lancasters taking part in the exercise were ED421 B2 piloted by Flight Sergeant Alex Richards and ED986 J2 Piloted by Flight Sergeant Robin McPhan.

Lancaster EE138's Bomb Aimer Bill Branelly's log book shows that EE138, piloted by Flight Sgt Geoff Oakeshott, took off at 1345hrs, this was also confirmed in Oakeshott's log book entry for the day. Which showed EE138 was airborn for 2.30 hrs.

Lancaster ED986 Bomb Aimer John Spence's log book shows that ED986 took off at 1340 hrs and their formation flying lasted 2.05 hrs, flying on the course set from Binbrook and recorded as from Base -York-Windemere-Carlisle-Catterick-Base. (This information and the photos below kindly provided by Robert Spence).

Lancaster ED421 Bomb Aimer J C Munro's log book shows that ED421, piloted by Flight Sgt Alex Richards, took off at 15:00hrs and was airborn for 1:30hrs. ED421 Wireless Operator Jim Collins log book confirms the above and adds the following remarks "2 & 3 engine flying. Landed Blyton". (Information from these log books kindly provided by Richard Munro).

During the flight the navigator on ED986, Sergeant M.J. Simpson photographed two of the accompanying 460 Squadron Lancasters. It is thought that one of the two Lancaster’s shown was EE138, which was being flown by Sergeant Geoff Oakeshott’s crew on that day.

 

 

Pilot Flight Sergeant Robin McPhan at the controls of ED986 during the formation flying exercise:

 

Bomb Aimer Sergeant John Spence in his crew position of ED986 during the formation flying exercise:

 

 

Robin McPhan and John Spence in Scotland, July 1943:

The following information is provided by Bob Spence, son of Bomb Aimer John Andrew Spence from 460 Squadron:

Squadron Leader Carl Kelaher was the “C” flight commander of 460 Sqd and my father was the Air Bomber on Sgt McPhan’s crew who was also from “C” Flight. My Fathers plane was EE132 “G²” and they had flown 12 sorties, their last being to Berlin that night of 3rd September 1943. When looking at my fathers log book I find his month’s activities have been signed off by Squadron Leader Kelaher as his flight commander.

Their Lancaster EE132 crashed on a farm and my wife and I have visited the crash site in Holland and we have contact now with the Dutch Farmer who was a boy when their plane crashed. Dutch research shows that they were shot down by a ME110 Night fighter from below with upward firing cannon. The Tail Gunner still lives in Melbourne Australia today, he received instruction to parachute out and assisted the mid upper gunner to put on his chute as he had received a small wound. The plane was flying in control but the starboard wing was well on fire and so they jumped. The last he saw of the plane was it still flying straight and level and he thought the remaining crew would bail out too. Of course this did not happen and it is thought now that in the forward section of the aircraft there were wounded crew and the pilot had tried to land the aircraft which crashed on the farm where the pilot was found away from the plane some 100 yards without a mark but dead.

We now have a great friendship with Dutch citizens who have taken great interest in our story and we communicate frequently. The farm is in the old district of Lopik which is now part of the larger Benschop district in Holland today. In the Benschop Town Hall there has been a bronze wall plaque erected to the memory of the crew with a story of the events on the night of 3-4th September 1943 and which shows Lancaster EE132 and lists the names of the 5 crew KIA and of the 2 crew who became POW’S. The plaque was unveiled in the presence of the Australian Ambassador on May 4th 2000.

Further information concerning EE132 is provided from the following website:

 

http://home.kpn.nl/olgaenron/460%20squadron.htm

"EE132 had intended to enter the Dutch airspace near Egmond aan Zee, but due to the bad weather the aircraft entered Dutch  airspace near Scheveningen and was probably attacked by a Heinkel 219 from Hauptmann Hans-Dieter Frank(1./NJG1). EE132 crashed at 23.40h near Benschop (Benedeneind) behind the farm of Zwijnenburg. "

 

 

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