Accident Avro Lancaster Mk I DV344,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 203774
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Date:Sunday 2 January 1944
Time:03:30 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic LANC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Avro Lancaster Mk I
Owner/operator:61 Sqn RAF
Registration: DV344
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Wiesenhagen, Trebbin, Brandenburg -   Germany
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
During the night of 1-2 January 1944, RAF Bomber Command despatched 421 Lancasters to Berlin. The take-off was planned for mid-evening but it was delayed due to doubts about the weather and it only began around midnight. The delay also caused a change to the route, planned as a wide northerly approach over Denmark and the Baltic. The bombers were now ordered to fly the much used direct route accross Holland.

The German controller was not deceived by a Mosquito ‘spoof’ raid on Hamburg, and German fighters were directed on to the bomber stream at an early stage and were particularly active en-route to Berlin. Sixteen bombers are believed to have been lost along that flight, including 8 of the 81 despatched Pathfinders. But then few losses were suffered over Berlin, only two bombers being shot down by fighters there, and the local Flak was probably restricted to the height at which it could fire and only shot down two bombers over Berlin. 29 Lancasters crashed in Europe or were lost without traces, and two more crashed on return in England. Aboard these 31 bombers 183 crew were killed, 33 captured and one evaded.

The target area was covered in cloud and the accuracy of the sky-marking soon deteriorated. The Berlin report says that there was scattered bombing, mainly in the southern parts of the city. A large number of bombs fell in the Grunewald, an extensive wooded area in the south-west of Berlin. Only 21 houses and 1 industrial building were destroyed, with 79 people being killed, including 25 in a panic rush at the entrance of a public air shelter in the Neukölln district. A high-explosive bomb hit a lock on an important canal and stopped shipping at that area for several days.

Minor Bomber Command operations this night included Mosquito raids to Hamburg (15 aircraft), to Witten (11), to Duisburg (7), to Bristillerie (4) and to Cologne (1), 6 RCM sorties, and 14 OTU sorties, all without loss.

German night fighters claimed 27 victories this night, including six by Major Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (number 65 to 70) of Stab NJG 2. Known German losses are seven crew killed, four wounded and 6 aircraft lost: 3 Bf 110, 2 Ju 88 and 1 Bf 109, the latter and one Bf 110 falling to German Flak.

The Lancaster I DV344 QR-V of 61 Sqn RAF departed Skellingthorpe at 0001hrs for an operation to Berlin but did not return. It crashed during the night near Wiesenhagen with the loss of all crew members, due to heavy Flak.

Crew (all killed):
Flg Off Ronald Cunningham RAFVR (pilot)
Sgt Arthur Gleadle RAFVR (flight engineer, from Hobson, Co.Durham, 21)
Flg Off John Storey RAFVR (navigator, from Alnwick, Northumberland, 22)
Sgt Mervyn Stephen Williams RAFVR (bomb aimer, from Pengam, Monmouthshire, 22)
Sgt Robert Barbour RAFVR (wireless operator/air gunner, from Halfway, Lanarkshire, 21)
Sgt Edward Lunniss RAFVR (air gunner, from Little Gransden, Cambs., 21)
Flt Sgt William Butler RAAF (air gunner, from Coogee, N.S.W., 20)

Sergeant Mervyn Stephen Williams was born on the 9th April 1921, the son of John Abraham and Jesiah Anne Williams and brother of Daniel, Sophia, Matthew, Mary, Tommy, John, Idris ,Albert and Gwyneth of Pengam, Monmouthshire. He came from a mining family and his father was a mining colliery official. He was a shy young man that was cherished by his family.

On 4 January Sgt Lunniss was laid to rest at Wiesenhagen and Sergeants Gleadle and Barbour were buried the following day at Kliestow. The crew were later to be reinterred and buried with their fellow crew in the Berlin war cemetery.


Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1944 part one
"The Bomber Command War Diaries", by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, ISBN 1-85780-033-8
"The Berlin Raids. RAF Bomber Command Winter 1943-1944", by Martin Middlebrook. ISBN 0-304-35347-7
"Royal Air Force Bomber Command losses, vol 5. Aircraft and Crews Losses 1944", by W R Chorley, ISBN 0-904597-91-1
"Lufwaffe Night Fighter Combat Claims 1939-1945", by John Foreman, Johannes Matthews and Simon Parry. ISBN 0-9538061-4-6
"Deutsche Nachtjagd Personalverluste in Ausbildung und Einsatz - fliegendes Personal -", by Michael Balss
"Deutsche Nachtjagd Materialverluste in Ausbildung und Einsatz", by Michael Balss. ISBN 3-925480-3-6

History of this aircraft

Other occurrences involving this aircraft
3 January 1943 W4769 61 Sqn RAF 7 Zuiderdijkweg road, Wieringerwerf, Noord-Holland w/o
6 January 1945 PA165 61 Sqn RAF 6 Houffalize, Luxembourg w/o
7 March 1945 ME474 61 Sqn RAF 7 North Sea mis

Revision history:

03-Jan-2018 22:34 Laurent Rizzotti Added
27-Nov-2019 19:45 TigerTimon Updated [Time, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Source]
27-Nov-2019 19:45 TigerTimon Updated [Narrative]

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