Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM376), Germany, 31 March 1944

Date: 30-31 March 1944
Target: Nuremberg
Total Force: Dispatched – 795, Attacking – 608
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking –2; No. 463 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,148
Total Aircraft Lost: 95
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 -2

On 30th-31st March during the last heavy raid of the winter, Bomber Command suffered its worst single reverse of the whole war. Ninety-five aircraft failed to return, another eleven were damaged beyond repair while the target at Nuremberg was only slightly damaged. All four Australian squadrons were again included in the force. From the outset everything went badly. Conditions over the North Sea made it impossible to arrange any large-scale diversion there as had proved so successful for the earlier Frankfurt-on-Main raids. Some fifty Halifaxes were sent mine-laying in Heligoland Bight but were ignored by the German controllers who concentrated night fighters in groups at Bonn and Frankfurt-on-Main where they easily intercepted the bomber stream. The difficulty of predicting changeable March winds again led to serious errors in navigation so that the bombers soon spread over a broad belt to the north of the true track. Moreover the high cloud which was expected to give adequate concealment along the route dispersed altogether over Belgium and left the aircraft exposed in the light of a half-moon and silhouetted against lower clouds. A running battle was fought over a distance of nearly 250 miles from Aachen eastwards and then southwards, with more and more fighters joining in as the enemy correctly divined the probable target. At least twenty Australian aircraft were intercepted, but although most of them escaped by skilful flying or spirited return fire, Australian losses included the very experienced Utz, a flight commander of No. 460, who was killed. Comparatively the Halifaxes suffered most heavily, losing thirty out of the total of ninety three dispatched, and so No . 466 was fortunate that all its aircraft returned safely. Thirty burning aircraft were counted between Aachen and Nuremberg by Flight Lieutenant Smith of No. 467 and it is probable that at least fifty bombers were shot down before reaching the target. Another 187 failed to attack at all.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 660, 661-2

Lancaster LM376 took off from RAF Waddington at 2148 hours on the night of 30/31st March 1944 to bomb Nurnberg, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (900 kg) bomb, 84 x 30 lb (14 kg), 900 x 4 lb (2 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft when outbound to the target area was shot down by an ME110 at Creppe (Belgium), 4 kms south south west of Spa. Two crew members became Prisoners of War and the other five members evaded capture and were returned safely to the UK.

The crew Members of LM376 were:

Flight Sergeant Colin Argyle Campbell (426306) (Air Gunner) Evaded Capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 December 1944
Sergeant C P Curl (1628364) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) Evaded Capture
Pilot Officer Geoffrey Johnson (414801) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Evaded Capture Discharged from the RAAF: 6 September 1945
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Walter Manson (408375) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 12 December 1945
Flight Lieutenant Arthur Bruce Simpson DFC (408881) (Pilot) Evaded Capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 February 1946
Pilot Officer Raymond Carson Watts DFC (401842) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 October 1945
Pilot Officer R A Weeden (159888) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) Evaded Capture

In a statement Flight Lieutenant Simpson reported: “The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter south of Aachen when approaching target at 20,000 feet. The aircraft suffered extensive damage and was set on fire. I attempted to extinguish the flames but was unsuccessful. Aircraft was still under control. I instructed crew to abandon and all crew acknowledged. I waited until all the crew had left and then abandoned at 12,000 feet.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND738 (Flight Sergeant Charles Haley Hargreaves (421596) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND361(Squadron Leader Eric Arthur Gibson Utz DFC & Bar (403438) (Pilot) on 31 March 1944.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND750 (Pilot Officer Peter Robert Anderson (28817) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster DV240 (Pilot Officer Ronald Ernest Llewelyn (410423) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/7/459

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