Accident Avro Lancaster Mk III ND384,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 203788
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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:156 Sqn RAF
Registration: ND384
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:along the Rue de Bray, Estinnes, Hainaut -   Belgium
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:
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 III ND384 GT-D of 156 Sqn RAF took off at 0023 hrs on 2 January 1944 from Warboys to take part into the Berlin raid. It was shot down on the return journey. British records show this aircraft crashed at Grandreu, Belgium. But Luftwaffe reports says this Lancaster was shot down at Estines au Val, Belgium. It was shot down by a German nightfighter flown by Hptm. Ludwing Meister and Uffz. Hannes Forke of 1./NJG 4 at 0515 hrs at Estinnes-au-Val along the road going to Bray. It was the 24th victory of Hptm Meister (and the second of his four this night). The crew were all killed and are all buried at Chievres Communal Cemetery in Belgium.

Pilot : Pilot Officer Gerald Peter Robert Bond RAFVR 149966 [Killed] (NCO:1314000 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 21 September, 1943)
Flight Engineer : Pilot Officer Charles Edward Blanchette RAFVR 158670 [Killed] (NCO:1247854 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 16 November, 1943)
Navigator : Pilot Officer Allan Morassi RAFVR 161088 [Killed] (NCO:1337364 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 14 December, 1943)
Bomb Aimer : Flying Officer Alan Richard Bolsover RAFVR 132852 [Killed] (NCO:1051495 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 05 January, 1943)
Wireless Operator : Flight Sergeant George Barry RAFVR 1010397 [Killed]
Rear Gunner : Flight Sergeant Ronald Underwood RAFVR 1432425 [Killed]
Air Gunner : Flying Officer Victor Waterhouse DFC RAFVR 149100 [Killed] (NCO:944159 Commission Gazetted : Tuesday 07 September, 1943)

Gerald Bond was born on 18th December 1921. The only son of Gerald Robert and Florence Bond of 74 Seabourne Road, Bournemouth, Hampshire he was educated at Boscombe Junior School before taking a job with Messrs. Fox and Sons Estate Agents, Holdenhurst Road in Bournemouth. His parents were seperated and because his father was in the Merchant Navy, he was raised by his grandmother, Alice (Bournemouth). A keen amateur athlete and member of the Boy’s Brigade, he volunteered for aircrew duties with the RAF in 1941, but unfortunately lacked the necessary mathematics qualifications and was advised to take evening classes at the local college for another six months. After much hard work on his part, he was finally accepted for pilot training in late 1941. After Elementary and Advanced Flying training in Canada and the United States, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant (Service Number 1314000), before joining an Operational Training Unit (OTU). Following a spell at a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), he joined 101 Squadron at RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor in May 1943 and commenced his operational tour flying on Lancaster I’s with a trip to Dortmund on the 23rd of that month. On the 15th of June 1943, 101 Sqn moved to a new airfield at RAF Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire.

On the 5th of July Flt Sgt (Acting Warrant Officer) Bond was granted a commission as a Pilot Officer on probation in the RAFVR (Service Number 149966). With his crew, he completed 17 operational sorties (including two trips to Italy) with 101 Squadron before being posted to 156 (Pathfinder) Squadron at RAF Warboys, Huntingdonshire on the 14th of October 1943. After a short training period with the Navigation Training Unit (NTU) at RAF Upwood, the Bond crew commenced operations against Hanover on the 18th of October as a ‘backer up’. A sortie to Leipzig followed two days later when they bombed the city from 14,500 ft with 1 x 4000 lb High Capacity bomb, 5 x 500 lb Medium Capacity bombs and 2 x 500 lb delayed action General Purpose bombs.

After two weeks of relative inactivity they were back in action with a successful raid on the marshalling yards at Modane in France on the 10th of November. Following this relatively ‘easy’ target, the crew proceeded to take part in what is now commonly known as the ‘Battle of Berlin’. Along with hundreds of other PFF and Main Force aircraft they attacked the ‘Big City’ on the 22nd (764 aircraft despatched and 26 lost), 23rd (383 aircraft despatched and 20 lost) and 26th of November (450 aircraft despatched, 28 lost to enemy action and 14 crashed in England). Their fourth consecutive Berlin raid took place on the 16th of December when the crew took Lancaster JB 307 on the long haul to the capital. It was however their final mission of 1943 that proved to be the most eventful yet. Taking off from Warboys at 1728 hours on the 20th of December, they bombed the city of Frankfurt, but were badly shot up on the journey home. The citation recommending Bond for the immediate award of the DFC explains what happened:

"1. On the night of 20th/21st December 1943, Pilot Officer Bond was detailed as captain of Lancaster JB 307 to act as visual marker in an attack on Frankfurt.
2. After successfully bombing the target and passing through its defences, his aircraft was attacked at 1936 hours by a F.W. 190, but by skilful evasive action and accurate fire from the rear turret, this enemy fighter was evaded.
3. At 2002 hours his Lancaster was then attacked by a Ju.88, which carried out a series of four attacks with cannon and machine gun fire. Damage caused to his aircraft was extensive, the mid-upper gunner {Plt Off C. H. Moon (NZ412348) RNZAF} was seriously wounded, the port inner petrol tank holed and the starboard outer engine caught fire, putting the mid-upper turret and navigational aids out of action. The starboard tyre was punctured, the tail wheel completely buckled and the fuselage and appendage extensively damaged. Although two guns in the rear turret became unserviceable, and the mid-upper turret crippled, Pilot Officer Bond executed the correct evasive action and the Ju.88 was successfully shaken off.
4. At 2012 hours Pilot Officer Bond’s aircraft was again attacked by an unidentified enemy night fighter which was skilfully evaded, only one attack being allowed to develop.
5. By this time, owing to the large amount of evasive action which the aircraft had to undertake, his aircraft crossed the enemy coast over Rotterdam, being immediately subjected to heavy predicted flak. The appropriate evasive action was taken and only slight damage was sustained by the aircraft.
6. On arrival at base after a hazardous flight in which the aircraft had been difficult to control, Pilot Officer Bond landed safely his badly damaged aircraft at 22.25 hours.
7. It is considered that Pilot Officer Bond’s airmanship and skill as a pilot were of the highest order. His superb efficiency as an operational captain of aircraft, in carrying out the correct actions in every one of the most difficult situations in which he found himself, were most certainly instrumental in bringing his aircraft and crew safely back to base.
8. I can strongly recommend this officer, who has always shown the utmost devotion to duty, for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross."

Pilot Officer Moon was rushed to the RAF Hospital at Ely and survived the gunshot wound to his back and chest. He was subsequently awarded an immediate DFC for remaining at his post, without complaint, throughout the ordeal. The rear gunner 1432425 Flt Sgt R. Underwood was awarded an immediate DFM.

The A.M Form 78 - Aircraft Movement Card - confirms that JB307 was placed Cat AC Repairable on site, i.e. at Warboys on 21.12.43 after FB (Flying Battle Damage). It returned to 156 Sqn on the 29th of January 1944 only to be lost on a raid to Friedrichshafen on the 27th of April 1944.

Neither Flt Sgt Underwood nor Gerald Bond lived to receive their awards.

"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
Google Maps
Rob Davis Bomber Command Losses Database

Revision history:

04-Jan-2018 09:29 Laurent Rizzotti Added
12-Dec-2019 09:08 TigerTimon Updated [Location, Source]
01-Jan-2024 08:13 Rob Davis Updated [Source, Narrative]

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