Hoping to solve a mystery--RAF Coastal Command Squadrons (120, 206, 224, or 547); 619 NLS

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Matthew T. Junkin, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. My grandfather was a Navigator with the 8th Air Force’s 36th Bomb Squadron. On 2/5/45, at 0550 hours, he and his crew aboard a B-24J R4-C nicknamed The Uninvited (a/c #42-51239) took off on an operational RCM mission to a destination over the North Sea. The plane was never heard from or seen again. The Missing Air Crew Report (MACR # 12234) indicated that the crew was last seen at take off and believed lost at sea due to icing conditions.

    I was copied on an email discussion that included the authors of the book Special Op Liberators. In their book, they mentioned the loss of The Uninvited but suggested the possibility the B-24 was shot down by a German night-fighter crew who claimed a victory over unidentified aircraft, possibly from the RAF Coastal Command in the waters between Denmark and Norway. Their theory was based on the general location and the fact that some Liberators were used in the RAF Coastal Command. Their information was gathered from German records that were included in the book Nachtjagd War Diaries by Boiten and Mackenzie, and included the quoted material:

    “4-5 Feb 1945

    Bomber Command dispatched 678 sorties to various targets for the loss of only 5 aircraft. The number of Nachtjagd sorties flown in reaction to these raids is unclear, but 2 Lancs out of a force of 27 bombers mine-laying off Heligoland and in the River Elbe, returned to the UK with severe damage caused by night fighter attacks. The only Nachtjagd success appears to have been against an unidentified aircraft , possibly from RAF Coastal Command, in the waters between Denmark and Norway and one Abschuss was claimed. A morning Reich Luftlagemeldung (Air Situation Report) by OKL FueSt 1c records: ‘Against flights over the Skaggerak - 2JD: 3 aircraft Verolsgungnachtjagd, 1 certain Abschuss. Losses -personnel (killed - missing - wounded): 2-0-0. Flak Successes - Luftgau: 1 certain and 1 probable Abschuss.’”

    The author that provided the quote later suggested potential RAF Coastal Command Squadrons who may have been operating in the area and day(s) in question. They are the following: 120 Squadron, 206 Squadron, 224 Squadron, and 547 Squadron. He further went on to report the 619 NLS was also in operation during that time.

    I’m trying to determine if there were any RAF losses that could be attributed to the shoot-down claim in the Naghtjagd War Diaries. If anyone has access to records that could provide an answer to that question or could direct me to potential sources I would greatly appreciate it.
     
  2. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    During the course of 2 May 1945. 120 Squadron carried out 4 operational sorties from RAF Ballykelly, Northern Ireland. The enemy was not engaged and all 4 aircraft returned safely.
     
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  3. Thanks for the fast reply. I created some confusion on the date. My grandfather's B-24 went missing 5 February 1945. As an American, I wrote the date how I would today (2/5/45). Sorry for the confusion.
     
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    It may be a 206 Sqdn a/c
    http://www.coastalcommand206.com/206-squadron
    In April 1944 the 206 moved back to the U.K and they converted to Consolidated Liberators, this replaced the Fortress as it enabled the crews to conduct successful night sorties using radar against the German U-Boats. There were patrol duties over the Norwegian coastal areas that the unit continued for the remainder of the war.

    TD


    42-51239 | American Air Museum in Britain - from this I would assume it stayed under USAAF control, perhaps the museum has details of its last mission??
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  5. Thanks for the fast reply and the link. I looked in the "Historical Manuscript" section "XIX" and found an incident that occurred in early February 1945, but it doesn't seem an aircraft was lost. Not sure if this is a potential match, but I will have to study and compare. And, who knows if the German records were accurate.

    My information on the fate of my grandfather's B-24 (42-51239) was obtained from the Missing Air Crew Report as well as declassified records from the Air Force Histoical Research Agency, which is what I'm inclined to believe. It just became questionable when a book suggested the plane may have been shot down by a German night fighter.
     
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Have you checked USAAF records as well as RAF/UK records?? - just thinking out loud and trying to cover all bases

    TD
     
  7. Thanks for the fast reply and the link. I looked in the "Historical Manuscript" section "XIX" and found an incident that occurred in early February 1945, but it doesn't seem an aircraft was lost. Not sure if this is a potential match, but I will have to study and compare. And, who knows if the German records were accurate.

    My information on the fate of my grandfather's B-24 (42-51239) was obtained from the Missing Air Crew Report as well as declassified records from the Air Force Histoical Research Agency
    I think I have been pretty thorough in my research with potential government records here, although I don't think they really know what happened. The 36th Bomb Squadron was a secret squadron of the 8th Air Force that deployed radar counter measures for the regular bombing squadrons. They flew out ahead to various destinations, turned on their jamming equipment, and orbited until the regular bombers arrived. They provided a screen that did not allow the Germans to know route, numbers, altitude, or even if the bombers were coming. I'm pretty sure they had strict radio silence, so did not send a distress call.
     
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thats all possibly true - its outside my realms, but I would suggest that they would still have records of where they were and what they were doing irresprctive of whether they were "a secret squadron" or not.

    If its possible to tie down exactly who he was with [unit], and I assume that service records will tell you that, then there will be somewhere records for that unit - this is the fun of research is it not, using lateral thinking and all that

    TD
     
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  9. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    On 5 February 1945 no operations were carried out by 120 Squadron
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  10. snailer

    snailer Country Member

     
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    36th Bomb Squadron Home Page

    Then I can only assume the diaries of what happened will be somewhere in NARA files

    Thanks snailer, I understand that he was part of 8th Air Force, but being totally inexperienced in the workings of the USAAF and all its finer details and this member being on a UK forum site I was expecting that perhaps there was more of a UK link than just flying out of the UK. This is especially the case as certain UK squadrons were mentioned, and in fact RAF coastal command - as shown by the tags on this topic.
    In fact I am still unsure if the originl poster is searching for details of a relative who is American or British, I am slowly leaning towards American so I would suggest, or other members could have suggested that perhaps they should register with our sister site - WWII Forums - which is USA based and may be able to answer questions on this threads topic better than we can

    TD
     
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  12. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

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  13. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    TD,

    His grandfather was American. His grandfather’s plane was over the North Sea conducting Radio Counter Measures for bombers operating over Europe. His plane never returned and was believed to be lost due to icing.

    The OP has learned that a book suggests his grandfather’s plane may have been shot down by a German nightfighter but the Germans may have mis-identified it as RAF Coastal Command, it was the same make (B-24 Liberator) as some Coastal Command aircraft.

    RAF Coastal Command were also operating over the North Sea and the OP would like to know if there were any Coastal Command aircraft lost on that day that could be attributed to the German claim.

    The intimation is that if no Coastal Command aircraft were shot down then it narrows down the possibility that his grandfather’s plane was the one that they claimed. His research at the American end has resulted in a dead end and is asking if anyone has access to the records of the RAF Coastal Command squadrons that he has listed to see if they can shed any light on the matter.
     
  14. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    Mathew,

    If no-one has any of the Squadron records you can download them from the UK National Archives.

    If you search their Discovery website Discovery | The National Archives you can find the monthly entries for each squadron which will list any losses and may have some info on any nightfighters encountered or other aircraft or wreckage seen by their crews. But it can be a very hit and miss affair with regard to the amount of information listed. Unfortunately they also cost £3.50.

    You will need the monthly summary and monthly records to get the full picture,

    these are the ones for 206 Squadron



    Squadron Number: 206 Summary of Events: Y | The National Archives

    Squadron Number: 206 Records of Events: Y | The National Archives
     
  15. Thanks for the information. It appears I can cross that squadron off my list.
     
  16. I couldn't have said it better. Thanks for clarifying. My grandfather was based at Cheddington (AAF #113). I know the time he took off, the initial course, and destination coordinates out over the North Sea. Once the planes reached their destination coordinates they orbited until the main bombers arrived. On this particular day, I don't think there was a regular bomber mission and the 8 planes dispatched for the VHF screen were a spoof. The area of the German shoot-down claim seems to be a distance from where my grandfather's plane should have been. What I don't know is how far from the destination coordinates the plane got in the orbiting pattern or after they turned their equipment off and returned to base. Also, the quote from the Nachtjagd War Diaries is not specific on the date and time...only indicating "4-5 Feb 1945".

    As mentioned above, my goal is to see if I can rule out my grandfather's plane as being the victim of the German victory.
     
  17. Thank you very much for the links and information about the National Archives. I will have to explore.
     

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