Lancaster R-5543 Shot down over Spain 20th August 1942

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by spidge, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    I received a message from an interested party who provided some information on this loss where an Australian was a member of the crew and pointed out some errors in the NAA records.

    A real commonwealth crew. 2 British, 2 Canadian, 1 Australian, 1 New Zealander, 1 Southern Rhodesian.

    Any further corrections or additions - Please advise.

    I have some information about the Australian - Vivian John Watson that is buried in Bilboa British Cemetery that you were asking about on the forum.
    He was part of a Crew of 7 men that were shot down over Spain by a German JU-88 on 20.08.1942.
    The German pilots (Adolf Runge and Vincenz Giessubel) incorrectly noted in their flight record that they had shot down a Halifax - when in fact it was a Lancaster - R5543 from the RAF 61 Squadron that had been on loan to the Coastal Command, anf had left from St Eval.
    After being shot down the pilots of the Lancaster tried to make a controlled landing in a pine plantation and apparently were doing OK until the depth chargers detonated on impact.
    Six of the men died on impact and had horrific burns. One man - the Australian - Vivian John Watson survived the crash and was pulled from the plane and cared for by the local villagers. He passed away several hours later that same night. The crash apparently happened at 1755hrs.
    The Crew were originally buried in the local churchyard at Jornes, and then later after the war moved to the British Cemetery at Bilboa.
    The Crew was comprosed of 7 men - 3 British, 2 Canadian, 1 Australian, and 1 New Zealander.
    Our Grandfather - Harold Allen - Sergeant, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, 1058478 RAF (VR) 61 Squadron was one of the men on board.
    Harold Allen was just 22 years old and his wife gave birth to their only child, a daughter, 6 weeks after his death.
    No one in the family has a photo of Harold, or of his flight Crew etc. So if you ever come across this could you please let us know?
    The full Crew list is below.
    Please note that the Australian War Memorial information about Vivian Watson is incorrect - they state his date of death as 29.08.42 and incorrectly spell the pilot Harrad's name as Harrod.
    xxxxx and xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx

    I have amended the errors here in red.

    403205 Sergeant WATSON, Vivian John
    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 163/176/354 Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Lancaster
    Serial number: R 5543
    Radio call sign: QR -
    Unit: ATTD 61 SQN RAF
    Lancaster R5543 took off from RAF St Eval at 1155 hours on 29th (20th) (transcribing error? as ROH & NR is correct) August 1942 detailed
    to carry out an anti sub patrol. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it
    failed to return to base.
    Crew :
    RAF PO Harrad, J Captain (Pilot) (Harrad)
    RCAF PO Madson, J E (2nd Pilot)
    RCAF PO Wilson, T L (Temporary Navigator)
    RAF Sgt H Allen (Temporary Air Bomber/Wireless Air Gunner)
    RAAF 403205 Sgt V J Watson, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RNZAF Sgt T L Boland,(Mid Upper Gunner)
    RAF Sgt R H Linton, (Rear Gunner)
    The aircraft crashed at Cabanas, Spain.
    Commonwealth War Graves records do not record the fate of PO Harrad the Captain.
    The other six crew members are buried in the Bilbao British Cemetery, Spain. Bilbao is a
    seaport in the north of Spain,.

    This is what I have researched from this site (Google translation) :

    The plane left St. Eval (Cornwall) at 11:00 am in a patrol submarine, piloted by JH Harrad, replacing AL Searby died the day before. The German merchant Weserland (1) leaves the port of Corcubion about four in the afternoon (possibly loading wolfram (Tungsten)) and the height of the islands Sisargas is attacked by the Avro Lancaster R-5543, this aircraft was attacked by two Junkers R- 88 (one of them shot down over Langosteira) and the height of the beach SEAI (Malpica), the British turned to face the Germans, the British being reached in 2 engines, tail and fuselage, the plane in its final leg, was fire and maneuvering to dodge the Germans, in their throw down a few glasses of pines, falling in a pine forest burned (approximate time of the downing 17:55). Of the seven crew members, six were burned, but one of them eventually died in the village (VJWatson), two bombs exploded in four who had left within 15 mts. pines cut down, four engines broke off and were about 20 meters. away in different directions, the tail of the plane appeared some forty meters vertically fixed on the ground, the body of the plane was almost complete but with cracked plates and personal effects of pilots. The two unexploded bombs (Burden of depth?) Took them to explode later. All the bodies were buried in the cemetery side of the parish because they were rejected Xorn in another church, and years later moved to the British Cemetery in

    A very busy schedule it seems from the OPs below:
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]R-5543 was sent to 61 Squadron in April 1942 and participated in the following:

    Gardening, May 22/23 1942;
    Gardening, Denmark Strait May 29/30 1942;
    Essen 1 / 2 June 1942;
    Essen 2 / 3 June 1942;
    Emden 6 / 7 June 1942,
    Emden 22/23 June 1942;
    Bremen 29 / 30 June 1942;
    Bremen 2 / 3 July 1942
    Danzig 11 / 12 July 1942;
    Anti-submarine patrol from St.Eval July 17, 1942;
    Anti-submarine patrol from St.Eval July 19, 1942;
    Hamburg July 26/27 1942;
    Saarbr├╝cken July 29/30 1942;
    D├╝sseldorf August 1/2 1942;
    Atlantic Patrol August 5. 1942;
    Atlantic Patrol August 11, 1942;
    Atlantic Patrol August 12, 1942;
    Atlantic Patrol August 19, 1942;
    Atlantic Patrol August 20, 1942, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]When lost had a total of 177 hours [/FONT]

    Bilbao British Cemetery.JPG

    In Memory of
    Pilot Officer JOHN HENRY HARRAD

    112752, 61 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    who died age 20
    on 20 August 1942
    Son of William Veysie Harrad and May Harrad. of Prestwich, Lancashire.
    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of
    Pilot Officer JOHN EMMETT MADSON

    J/8950, 61 (R.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Canadian Air Force
    who died age 20
    on 20 August 1942

    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of

    J/8129, 61 (R.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Canadian Air Force
    who died age 22
    on 20 August 1942

    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of
    Sergeant HAROLD ALLEN

    1058478, 61 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    who died age 22
    on 20 August 1942
    Son of Albert and Florrence Allen, of Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire; husband of Phyllis Allen.
    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of

    403205, 61 (R.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Australian Air Force
    who died age 29
    on 20 August 1942
    Son of Frederick William and Lilian May Watson, of Caroda, New South Wales, Australia.
    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of

    41566, 61 (R.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal New Zealand Air Force
    who died age 26
    on 20 August 1942
    Son of Thomas James Boland and Elizabeth Earl Boland, of Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
    Remembered with honour

    In Memory of

    777683, 61 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    who died age 22
    on 20 August 1942
    Son of Philip and Muriel Frances Linton, of Beatrice, Southern Rhodesia.
    Remembered with honour

    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  2. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    Like our Wellington X9976 crew we will have to call them a Rainbow Crew!
  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee New Member

    Good Morning,

    Do you have any further information reference Lancaster R-5543 of 61 Squadron. I am led to believe that the JU88 that engaged them was also lost, having been shot down by that Lancaster.

    I am very interested as Pilot Officer John Harrad was a friend of my dad's family. He has memories of him staying with them prior to his relocation to St Eval. Any information you could give would be extremely helpful. I think my father has a photo of the aircraft and its crew in his own archives as he has been researching for some time.

    Many Thanks

    Justin Lee
  4. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    In Memory of
    Pilot Officer JOHN EMMETT MADSON

    J/8950, 61 (R.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Canadian Air Force
    who died age 20
    on 20 August 1942

    Remembered with honour

    P/O John Madson was the son of Mads Emmett and Edna Mabel Madson of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
    Born Edmonton, Alberta 11 December 1915. Enlisted 16 January 1941.



    Attached Files:

    CL1 and canuck like this.
  5. kkjohns

    kkjohns Junior Member

    Justin do you have a copy of the photo of the aircraft & its crew? We are still desperately searching for a photo of Harold Allen.
  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    hello kkjohns
    Justin has not been on the forum since Oct 2016

  7. Eduvelo

    Eduvelo New Member

    Hi, my name is Eduardo and i belong from the village where the plane was shot down, my grandmother saw the combat and she always remember me, she dies 5 years ago, but the last week speaking with a 86 yo women of the village she remember me the history, if somebody want to know our perspective of the incident os saw photos were the plane impact or something please let me know.
    Owen, Tricky Dicky and CL1 like this.
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Hello Eduvelo
    It would be very interesting if you can post the information here

    Thank you
  9. Eduvelo

    Eduvelo New Member

    I saw the teorical information of the attack, i will tell how my grandma saw its the same story as the other woman told me;
    By the start of the afternoon she hear engine sounds and shoots, the avro flow low trying to avoid the stuka shoot the bottom part of the plane and responding with fire, hitting in the engine of one of this stukas (which land in a beach 50 km away), the other still firing the avro, when the avro pass over "A pontedona" it was extremely low, broken the treetops of the pines trying to seaching a place to land, but after this trees was little hill were the plane crashes, the stuka fly in circles over the crashed plane and she hear a loud explosion, she thinks the stuka open fire over the plane but aren't not sure, after that she and all the neighbours run to see the plane, all of the crew was died an burned inside the plane, only one can go out the plane extremely injured over the field and died 20 mins later.
    Still you can see marks in the ground of the impact.
    Sorry for my english, im not english speaker and its hard to my descrive well the situation.
    If somebody have any questions, let me know.
  10. Eduvelo

    Eduvelo New Member

    People of the village have parts of the plane, pieces of the engine, navigation planes, that kind of things.
  11. 1diverse

    1diverse New Member

    This is amazing,
    My Uncle,Vivian John Watson, is the Australian remembered here.
    My information is that they were all buried in the Catholic Church graveyard, regardless of their religion as a mark of respect. Also my Grandfather and Grandmother, my Uncle's Father and Mother received a letter from the priest of that church, (who had been in touch with the RAF very shortly after the aircrew were all killed), and let them know where there son was and the circumstances that led to the situation.
    I, unfortunately never met my Uncle, as I was born almost 15 years later, to my Father who was 10 years younger than his elder brother 'Viv'.
    I grew up on the property where my Uncles and my Father were living and working before two of brothers went to war.
    I am unsure if there are any photos of the crew that may have survived.
    I was given his 2nd name, John.
    Harry Ree likes this.

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