Remembering Today 2/10/43 Sergeant:Charles Storer Nelson,1627274,51 Sqdn. Royal Air Force VR

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by CL1, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. CL1

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

    Service Number 1627274

    Died 02/10/1943

    51 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Can't find anything on this man - can we find out if he was UK born or from elsewhere??

  3. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Got nothing I'm afraid, except a vaguely interesting WW1 red herring - there was a Charles Storer Nelson b.1893 who served in the Middlesex Regt and MGC; however, he seems not to have had a son of the same name. I wondered about a family connection there (unusual middle name) but couldn't find one.

  4. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Details of the above loss.....

    2-3 October 1943

    51 Squadron
    Halifax II LW287 MH-C
    Op. Gardening (Frisian Islands)

    Took off from Snaith at 1757 hours. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. F/O. Conner RCAF was an American from Cleveland Ohio.


    Sgt. J E. Nixon RAAF +
    Sgt. G F. Austin +
    F/O. J G. Conner RCAF +
    Sgt. D. Maclean +
    Sgt. E C. Kent +
    Sgt. A F. Simpson +
    Sgt. C S. Nelson +

    Source - RAF Bomber Command Losses Vol.4 - W R. Chorley
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  5. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Shot down while passing over the harbour at Rønne (on the island of Bornholm, Denmark) about midnight; hit by flak, the a/c flew out to sea, where an explosion was seen, according to Apparently detailed to mine around Sassnitz (which I think is on the Baltic side of Denmark), but fog had made navigation difficult.

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  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Sgt C S Nelson was the Rear Gunner of Halifax II LW287 out of Pollington (RAF Snaith) which FTR on the night of 2/3 October 1943 from a mining operation.

    RAFVR designation indicates joined the service from 3 September 1939.

    Cannot identify the Gardening mining area for the minelaying operation but a common target for the squadron was "Nectarines"...the Frisian Islands.. 8 aircraft dispatched,one lost and one returned badly shot up by a night fighter which after inspection proved to be a write off

    The skipper was Sgt J E Nixon RAAF.....the crew are remembered by plaque in the Pollington former RAF Snaith Memorial Garden'

    Sgt J E Nixon RAAF
    Sgt G F Austin
    Sgt J G Conner RCAF....... a US citizen who joined the RCAF
    Sgt D MacLean
    Sgt E C Kent
    Sgt A F Simpson
    Sgt C S Nelson

    [Compiled while others were posting]
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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Makes me think he was Scottish as I cannot find anything in England & Wales databases

  8. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Not sure about Sgt Nelson being Scottish, but Sgt James Gibson Conner was. His wife was the American. Born Edinburgh 1911.
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  9. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Still no further on with the life of Sgt Nelson, but a development in the story of his last operation has arisen courtesy of a member of RAFCommands forum, Finn Buch. He says that LW287 seems to have been shot down at the entrance to the Kiel Fjord rather than off Bornholm.

    I'll quote his post and include the link here to a report (in German) on the wreck found by divers:

    'The details mentioned about a crash of LW287 in the sea near Rønne, Bornholm (Baltic Sea) is not confirmed. Can see it is a transcription from an old Danish magazine.

    For few years ago the wreck of a Halifax II was found near the Bülker Lighthouse, the entrance to the Kiel Fjord in Germany. The German divers Friedrich Howe and Rolf Lorenz found human remains. A stamped number on a frame, identified with 99% the aircraft to be LW287 by the British. Not 100%, so therefore it is not official. The British Embassy in Germany was informed.

    According a German report, a British aircraft (believed to be a Lancaster) was hit and shot down by flak on 2nd October 1943 - time 23:39 in the air over the Kiel Fjord in the direction Bülker Lighthouse.

    Another Source:
    Am 02.10.1943, um 23.39 Uhr, meldet die deutsche Flak den Abschuss eines Lancaster-Bombers in Höhe des Bülker Leuchtturms, mit Absturz in die Förde. (Quelle: Landesarchiv Schleswig).'

    FYI, the thread I started on RAFCommands can be found here. Cheers, Pat.
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  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    LW287's operation was to lay mines in the Frisian Islands,in fact from one unofficial squadron record,the target area was the Dutch Frisian Islands,ie the Western Frisian Islands.

    If the Halifax is thought to have been downed further east than this,ie at Kiel or at Bornholm,the aircraft must have been well off course and a navigation error which was not uncommon.Gee equipped aircraft should have given a good navigational aid to the Frisians.

    The Frisian Islands were well known for having a string of Flak ships and as others at locations on the Channel coast accounted for quite a number of Allied aircraft.It is most likely that LW 287 was another victim of these Flak ships.

    No 51 Squadron lost only LW287 that night and looking at the official conclusion of lost without trace would suggest that the seven surviving crews could not help when debriefed, on the fate of the aircraft.
  11. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    As you say Harry, you'd think Gee would have been effective to the Western Frisians; perhaps the set was u/s or had been jammed. I don't know how mine-laying was actually carried out - did the aircraft fly in a formation or independently of each other? Will have to go back to Google! Either way, it's clear from what you say nobody else saw the end of the Nixon crew and LW287.

    I'm interested in the two conflicting locations for the loss of LW287: as no other 51 Sqdn aircraft was lost, were there other Halifax (or other 4-engined) squadrons employed on Gardening or other operations that night? I can't actually find a source for the Danish location other than the original article, I should say.

    Cheers, Pat.

    Edit: I see 239 Lancasters (plus 2 B-17s) from Nos 1,5 and 8 Groups bombed Munich that night.
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  12. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The procedure for laying mines was done in a precise manner in the target area as selected by the RN....dropping positions and release intervals were detailed to the crew via Group did mean that from the precise dropping procedure, aircraft were at high risk of being under fire from Flak ships and from shore batteries.

    The technique adopted was that from a visual fixed point on land, fly a steady straight,time and distance course with an airspeed of 180 mph at a height of about 1000 to 1500 feet.Later this height was increased to 5000 feet presumably to reduce the heavily weighted risk of being a victim of flak.Then mines such as Acoustic,Magnetic and Delay types were then released on this course, at say 3 sec intervals as specified for the target area,probably based on naval intelligence.The usual Halifax mine load consisted of two mines and pilots were expected to return home with mines which had not been dropped.

    The airspeed was important and a maximum speed of 200 mph was specified to ensure when the mine was released,it did not break away from its parachute due to the initial shock loading on the parachute gear as it entered the aircraft's slipstream.The steady straight course required for some time after mine dropping was to ensure that the Germans were not able to pin point the dropping of the mines by radar as an aircraft changed course to pull away from the target area after dropping the mine.

    For the land visual fixed point,High Water and Low Water times were provided to ensure that the shoreline could be identified as the tides changed.For general navigation with Gee, a fix was taken every 6 minutes.When the visual fixed point could not be ascertained,it was expected that mine release would be accomplished by Gee Fix.(The Frisian Islands were well within the range of Gee)

    Contrast that with Coastal Command's two stage procedure for anti shipping operations using torpedoes conducted in daylight.

    Beaufighter torpedo carrying "Torbeaus" would be kept out of range of Flak ships while Beaufighters "Flakbeaus" came in to attack Flak ships with rockets.Strikes against shipping by torpedoes were then carried out by "Torbeaus" called up at the appropriate time after Flag ship effectiveness had been overcome.

    Bomber Command mining techniques from No 51 Squadron informal operational notes.
  13. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Obviously mine laying required testing the navigators skills, and flying fairly low at night over water called for precise pilot and flight engineers skills.
    Bomber Command considered mine laying as a "training" task for rookie crews and each Gardening operation counted only as a half Op towards the magic 30 Ops for a tour......
    To my mind it seems equally as onerous, especially for new crews, as it seems to have required the aircraft to obtain sight of land, so exposing themselves to the many flak ships close to shore.
    Not that any Op was "easy" but this carried a whole different set of dangers to a "normal" raid at higher altitudes.
    Really did sort the men from the boys.....
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  14. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Blimey, had no idea! A complex and risky business. Thanks very much for the illumination Harry (and KevinBattle). I knew OTU crews would often fly Gardening op or two (or indeed a 'full' operation), but it does seem to have been a dangerous undertaking. I've read about the flak ships in accounts of medium bombers on anti-shipping operations, etc, and they seem fearsome. As to low-level flying, it was certainly a killer amongst SD crews in the Balkans, and I doubt if it was any fun at all at night for a sprog crew over the North Sea coast of occupied Europe; incidentally, this appears to have been the Nixon crew's first operation with 51 Sqdn. Very sad.

    Cheers, Pat.
  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I was wondering about the op record of Sgt Nixon.

    In the Battle Order for the raid on Krefeld on the night of 21/22 June 1943 when No 51 Squadron put up 19 crews there is no entry of Sgt Nixon or any of his crew and I thought from that evidence that Sgt Nixon and his crew had not been on the squadron for long.

    In fact such was the losses that new crews came and went....... they passed through the squadron as ships in night and left no hallmark behind them.
  16. Pdurant

    Pdurant Member

    Charles storer Nelson was my Uncle, he was my fathers older brother, he was from Chichester Sussex u.k
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  17. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Welcome to the Forum, and thanks for the information. It's good to find out something about your uncle - as you can see, we tried but to no avail although we did manage to flesh out the sad circumstances of his death.

    Cheers, Pat

    PS I'm also from Sussex (Brighton, as it happens).
  18. Pdurant

    Pdurant Member

    Hi Pat, I am in Australia, I never knew hm only have pictures and heard stories as a child, his younger sister died last year in England she was 94. My father died in 2003 at age 73 in Australia. I am 67 now
  19. Pdurant

    Pdurant Member


    Charles Storer Nelson
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2019
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  20. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Good to have a picture of him, it's far too easy to think of these young men as just facts and figures, sometimes. It's sentimental really, I suppose, but I find it particularly poignant that so many aircrew didn't make it past their first squadron operation. RIP Sgt Nelson, and his crew.

    Cheers, Pat
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