Accident Avro Lancaster Mk III JA960,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 203779
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Date:Sunday 2 January 1944
Type:Silhouette image of generic LANC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Avro Lancaster Mk III
Owner/operator:97 (The Straits Settlements) Sqn RAF
Registration: JA960
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Neu-Moresnet, Kelmis, Liège -   Belgium
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire
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.

This night 20 Lancaster IIIs of 97 Sqn RAF were detailed to attack Berlin. The ORB recorded the following:
"Two aircraft were withdrawn owing to engine troubles. The remaining 18 aircraft set out to attack the primary target. Weather was 10/10th cloud at 12,000 feet, visibility good. Defences moderate H/F to slight - S/Ls ineffective. Slight fighter activity and many scare crow flares. No results of bombing were seen and some scattered markers were reported. It appears that no good continuous concentration was achieved. One aircraft and crew - Captain F/O Mooney DFM is missing, no news being received since leaving base. Another aircraft, F/Lt Owen and crew landed at Tangmere with a burts tyre and damage by enemy action. The rear gunner has been admitted to hospital suffering from a shell wound in the lower right leg. The remainder of crews returned to base."

The missing aircraft of 97 Sqn was the Lancaster III JA960 OF-E that took off from RAF Bourn at 0051 hours. Homeboud, the Lancaster was hit by Flak in Aachen area, and crashed without survivor at 0507 hrs (local time) into a hill near Neu-Moresnet, then in Germany, now a part of the commune of La Calamine, in Belgium (to which it belonged before 1940).

Pilot : Flying Officer Robert Leo Mooney DFM RAFVR 120499 [Killed] (NCO:742608 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 12 May, 1942)
Flight Engineer : Sergeant Felix Bernard Grey RAFVR 1119682 [Killed]
Navigator : Pilot Officer George Albert Johnson DFM RAFVR 170252 [Killed] (NCO:946831 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 22 February, 1944)
Bomb Aimer : Flight Sergeant Jack Worsdale DFM RAFVR 1111874 [Killed]
Wireless Operator : Flight Sergeant Norman Davidson Cameron RAFVR 107716 [Killed]
Mid-Upper Gunner : Flight Sergeant Godfrey Woolf RAAF Aus/421345 [Killed]
Rear Gunner : Flight Sergeant George Edward Smith RAF 616653 [Killed]

All the crew were buried on 8 January at Aachen. Since then they were reburied in the Rheinberg War Cemetery. Flt Sgt Mooney had served with 106 Sqn, details of his award being published on 23 December 1941. Those for Flt Sgts Johnson and Worsdale were Gazetted on 8 May 1945.

A memorial for this crew has been erected at the crossing of the Moresneterstrasse and Boschhausenerstrasse in Neu-Moresnet.

"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
Rob Davis Bomber Command Losses Database

Revision history:

04-Jan-2018 00:24 Laurent Rizzotti Added
10-Nov-2018 22:38 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Operator]
12-Dec-2019 08:58 TigerTimon Updated [Location]
26-Jun-2022 02:45 Ron Averes Updated [Location]
22-Dec-2023 13:46 Rob Davis Updated [Source, Narrative]

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