7 Squadron Lancaster PB148 MG-C 19 August 1944

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by James Daly, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    I've had this incident on my backburner for a while, as its the only case I have found of two Portsmouth men being killed in the same crew during WW2. However, after posting on my blog about it, I have been contacted by one of the men's niece, who as well as providing me with some great photographs and documents, suggested that the family seem to think that the crew might have been shot by the Germans.

    Heres the info from lostbombers:

    Lancaster PB148
    7 Squadron
    Operation: Sterkrade
    18/19 August 1944

    Airborne 2304 18Aug44 from Oakington. all are buried in Holland at Bergen General Cemetery. F/L P.G.McCarthy DFC KIA F/S J.C.Gay KIA P/O A.B.Hargrave KIA F/S M.S.Layton-Smith KIA F/O K.S.Carr KIA P/O F.C.Allford KIA P/O B.F.Blatchford KIA F/S E.A.Batterbee KIA

    The information that the family have is that the men were shot as the Germans believed one of them to be a spy, as there were 8 men in the crew and not 7. I haven't had a chance to have a look at the ORB's at Kew yet, but I wonder if the extra man might have been a 'second dicky'.

    I thought it was interesting that there is no other information apart from when the a/c took off, and where the men are buried. Where they are buried narrows it down a bit. The family believe that the a/c crashed near Alkmaar.

    I've noticed as well that there are quite a few files in the WO 309 series at Kew relating to war crimes investigations, and quite a few in there are about airmen murdered in Holland.

    Just wondering if anyone has come across this incident before, or if anyone has any advice about researching war crimes/the murder of downed aircrews

    cheers, James
  2. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    No 2nd dickey on board according to CWGC list, but could be that this Lanc was on bomber support duties and the extra crewmember was on board as a special operator. I have done some research in the past on War Crimes and have an ever growing list, but none of these men are among them, but i am always interested when there may be one i do not know about. Would it be possible for me to contact your person for details of why they think there was a crime.
  3. James Daly

    James Daly Senior Member

    Hi Alan, I'm communicating with the family member at the moment, I will ask if they have any idea why there might have been a war crime.

    Looking at the individual records of the eight men, it looks like there were two Air Bombers onboard, which I'm sure is not usual, so it looks like one of them was the extra man. A look at the 7 Sqn ORB should confirm that, and hopefully his reason for being onboard.
  4. Ils2222

    Ils2222 New Member

    Hi James,

    My grandad was one of the men on this flight, did you manage to gain any further information? Also were there any interesting pictures from the niece of one of the other men you would be able to share?

    Many thanks
  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    The ORB for PB148 shows it was fitted with both Fish and H2S navigation aids. McCarthy had completed 48 Ops.
    Blatchford was identified as being buried at Bergen (Op Zoom?). Target was a synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade. Bomb load included 3 boxes of green LB(?) and 3 green Target Indicators.
    8 x 1,000 USA M65 GP bombs were also carried. it looks as if they were a lead component of the PFF to have an additional bomb aimer aboard.
    Leyton-Smith is shown as the Air Bomber and 8th man Carr is shown a s Vis. (visual) A/B so presumably he would have been in the bomb aimers position on the run in.
    They are all recorded as "Dead" so were able to be identified, but there is an additional remark "1 unknown dead" which might imply there was a 9th man aboard.
    The Germans must have come across 8 man crews many times before, so that's not a likely reason to assume that 8 men in RAF uniforms etc would be spies.
    Had they been aboard a SOE Halifax or Stirling, then that might be a possible explanation, but even the Germans must have had a good knowledge of the appropriate Squadron codes.
    They weren't the only bomber lost that night, other crews were taken as PoW's so what was special about PB148 if the family story is true? Was there an unexplained 9th man?
    It also supposes that the crew were able to bale out and were not killed in the wreckage.
    There is nothing to suggest a potential War Crime on the ORB.
  6. researchingreg

    researchingreg Well-Known Member

    The two Air Bombers on board is not that unusual some air bombers were navigators who had taken an air bombers (bomb aimers) course and could be designated as air bombers even though could be a navigator on the mission.

    When my relation Geoffrey King 115277 flying a Halifax with 102 Sqn, crashed on a misssion to Stuttgart on 22 Nov 1942
    and he and all his crew were killed they were designated as follows:
    Sgt. J Nicholson 1333607 Air Bomber
    F/O T H Follett Bomb Aimer
    Sgt H .T. Cheetham 615248 Flight Engineer
    Sgt H. Clarkson 1022463 WOP/AG
    Sgt D Johnson 1334012 AG
    Sgt F R Thompson 1198362 AG

    Not a navigator among them - However it seems that F/O Follett was the navigator

  7. Ils2222

    Ils2222 New Member

    This may sound stupid but would you say then that they would have been identified and that the grave in Holland would actually have his body in it? We always thought they must have got shot down and were assumed dead...
  8. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    James, sorry, I thought you already knew the burial information!
    My apologies, that's what I get for coming in late!
    The crew do have individual graves (rather than a "collective" grave when it's difficult to know who is who from amongst the wreckage).
    That may be some consolation and I'd have to assume that they buried the correct crew members remains in each.

    GAY, JOHN CHARLES Flight Sergeant 1436052 19/08/1944 22 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 13. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    ALLFORD, FREDERICK CHARLES Pilot Officer 178946 19/08/1944 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 15. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    LAYTON-SMITH, MICHAEL STUART Pilot Officer 183715 19/08/1944 22 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 10. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    CARR, KENNETH STANWAY Flying Officer 145812 19/08/1944 23 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 12. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    BLATCHFORD, BASIL FARREL Pilot Officer 178645 19/08/1944 30 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 17. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    HARGRAVE, ALAN BRIGHT Pilot Officer 178830 19/08/1944 24 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 14. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    BATTERBEE, ERNEST ARTHUR Flight Sergeant 1873692 19/08/1944 21 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 16. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY
    McCARTHY, PATRICK GEORGE Flight Lieutenant 173522 19/08/1944 21 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve United Kingdom Plot 2. Row A. Grave 11. BERGEN GENERAL CEMETERY

    There may be some Dutch or German CWGC equivalent records providing precise crash and burial details, but those may have been lost during the overwhelming of the German Army. It's often the case that there were Dutch eyewitnesses who have passed that knowledge on locally. All the Loss Card shows is that they knew the crew were dead and not PoW's and that one had been identified and buried at Bergen.

    You might want to try contacting the mayor at Bergen to see if anyone has more knowledge for you.

    In short, yes, there are individual graves and I'd have to believe that the remains are there...

    (Also a correction: It wasn't the ORB, but the RAF Loss Card from which my information came)
  9. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    To confirm Kevins post about the individual graves I will post photographs of the headstones at Bergen General Cemetery (Bergen is a village in the province of Noord-Holland, not to be confused with Bergen op Zoom which is a city in Noord-Brabant). These eight men are buried alongside an airmen which died 22 June 1944 and two unknown airmen (one of them from New Zealand) who were killed on 6 September 1944. So no signs here for an ninth crew member, which might be buried as unknown.

    Unfortunatelly, the Bergen area is not one of my specialised areas. But if James and Ian would like to find out more, I can put an appeal together for the newsletter of the Dutch Air War Study Group, which has quite a few members living in that area.
  10. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    The headstones at Bergen General Cemetery (photo's from Sanguinicus):
















  11. Ils2222

    Ils2222 New Member

    Hello Pieter,

    Thank you for the information and pictures, if you wouldn't mind putting something in the newsletter that would be fantastic, anything more I could find out would be very gratefully received.

  12. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    I will see what I can do for you Ian. The latest newsletter was published last week, so it might take a few weeks..
  13. Wendy Lloyd

    Wendy Lloyd New Member

    Hello, new to this site. Found it as researching a family member. He was on this flight and we always believed that he died in the crash, so quite stunned to read this information.
    Would love to know more if anyone can provide it and we have never seen a photo of him, so if there were any I would love to see them
    Alternatively if you can put me in touch with the other relative I would be very grateful.
    Thank you for all the information so far.
  14. Wendy Lloyd

    Wendy Lloyd New Member

    I should add that we visited the grave last year so we’re finally able to discover the names of the other crewmen, also have photos of all the graves if interested.
  15. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Er, if you want a photo, might be helpful to have his Name.... :)
    After so long, it might not be possible to find a photo with him in it, the family is usually the best source of photos and clearly no longer in yours.
    Always possible that there may be photos of Lancaster crews that haven't been identified, but unless you know what he looked liked from before he joined the RAF, that avenue may be closed too.

Share This Page