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  #1  
Old 19th May 2010, 06:18
thorthemighty thorthemighty is offline
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ors files?

Hi guys,


Hopefully someone can be of assistance. Does anybody have copies of the Bomber Command Operational Research Section files?
I am interested in obtaining information about lost and damaged 101 squadron aircraft from the period September 44 to Januray 45, as well as raid reports for a number of specific ops during this period (I will provide the list if anybody can help). I think the files I want to get my hands on are (a) AIR 14/3460, (b) the raid reports (Forms Y) and (c) AIR 14/3227 (Jan '45), all of which are stored at TNA in Kew, London. Any assistance greatly appreciated.


Thank you in advance,



Thor
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Old 7th June 2010, 02:25
thorthemighty thorthemighty is offline
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Re: ors files?

Just to clarify part of my request for ors files. I am trying to get hold of the ors files regarding the loss of 101 Squadron Lancaster LM472 (my great uncle was the pilot).
It was apparently recorded as a "friendly fire" incident by the ors (which I believe is in the AIR 14/3460 file I mentioned in my post) and I wish to find out WHY they came to this conclusion, as the brother of one of the other crew lost has been researching and is in contact with various people who are also researching/have researched the loss of the a/c including germans and czechs and there is compelling evidence that suggests that it WASN'T a friendly fire incident and a good candidate for the German fighter pilot possibly/probably responsible has been identified. But the question still remains as to why the ors came to the conclusions it did. What corroborated or led to such a conclusion?

As I said before any assistance greatly appreciated!!


Thanks again,


Thor
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Old 7th June 2010, 18:39
RodM RodM is offline
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Re: ors files?

Hi Thor,

according to 'Summary of Aircraft Lost or Damaged on Operations, No. 51', the ORS wrote the the following cause by hand against LM472, originally simply listed as missing - "m/g fire from Lanc". (source: The National Archives, AIR 14/3460).

My understanding of this is that the BC ORS endeavoured to establish, where possible, the cause of loss for every aircraft destroyed on operations. At the end of the war, Loss of Bomber Aircraft questionnaires were circulated to returning PoWs and the answers to these questionnaires, in combination with other evidence, was used to establish the causes of loss, which were added the the Summaries by hand.

While the actual Loss of Bomber Aircraft questionnaires, if still preserved, are most certainly classified (because they have not been released to The National Archives), a seperate questionnaire, completed by F/O Knight RAAF, the sole survivor of LM472, states "2 starboard engines and wing set on fire from another aircraft (sic). Aircraft exploded about 2 minutes later" and "1) Aircraft was set on fire by fire from another aircraft." Knight also indicates that the fire started at 17,000 feet and the explosion of the aircraft at 10,000 ft. (source: Australian War Memorial, AWM54/ 779/3/129: PoW and Internees - Examinations and Interrogations: Statements by repatriated or released Prisoners of War (RAAF) taken at No 11 PDRC, Brighton, England, 1945)

From the Casualty files of W/O Collins RAAF, a letter from the OC 101 Sqdn to 1 Group HQ states: "This aircraft was the only one missing from this attack which took place in 10/10 cloud, tops 4000 ft. Flak was described as moderate in barrage form. No crew reported seeing any aircraft in trouble but 101/K reported whilst in target area at 2238.5 hours that a parachute was seen descending some 4000 ft below them." From the Casualty File of P/O Hart RAAF, the MRES Investigation Report states: "At about 2330 hours (sic) on the 15th January (sic), several formations of aircraft were observed over GEILSDORF, flying in a westerly direction. Some minutes later a single, burning aircraft (believed to have been hit by Flak) was seen approaching the village. It crashed at 800 metres South-West of the village. Seven members of the crew were killed; the eighth, Sgt. KNIGHT, R.A.A.F., was injured and taken to the Military Hospital in PLAUEN." (sources: A705 Casualty Files, National Archives of Australia)

The crash site at Geilsdorf, would be roughly at 50 Deg 25' 20' N; 12 Deg 01' 42" E. This would suggest that the aircraft was lost on the second last leg into the target, although the statement above from the MRES Investigation Report would suggest the aircraft was on the first homeward leg out of the target (but well north of the intended track). It should be kept in mind that witness statements obtained by the MRES were sometimes taken 2-3 years after the event.

Unfortunately, no Form Z for 1 Group for the night of 16-17 January 1945 appears to have been preserved at TNA. The attached PDF contains the relevant details from the 5 Group Form Z (source: AIR 14/3227, The National Archives).

Unfortunately, nothing conclusive can be garnered from the Form Z (I've highlighted the entries for aircraft seen to be shot down). The only claim was over Brux, and it is difficult, if not impossible to know if any crew reported firing upon a Lancaster during the Brux raid because the fact may not have been transmitted in the Form Z or could've been a 1 Group aircraft, where the Form Z isn't preserved. The BC ORS plotted the sightings of aircraft seen destroyed from the 5 Group Form Z on a large map as a part of it's analysis. The two closest reports in terms of distance from the crash site of LM472 are the 22.10 report of a fighter seen shot down some considerable distance to port (which, on the outward leg by the Brux raiders could relate to an incident during the Zeitz raid further to the north) and the 22.23 report of a 4-engined a/c seen on fire off the port bow; this sighting being made some 50 km to the N.E. of where LM472 came down. It is possble that none of the sightings reported by 5 Group relate to LM472.

Thus, nothing I've presented here gives any indication on why the BC ORS chose to classify the loss of LM472 as friendly fire, although I would suspect that they had some evidence to reach such a conclusion.

In terms of there being a German night fighter claim being identified, would you mind sharing the details? I have a reasonably comprehensive, although incomplete list of claims, and none of them point to LM472.

Cheers

Rod

Last edited by RodM; 25th February 2014 at 21:53.
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Old 8th June 2010, 23:28
Icare9 Icare9 is offline
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Re: ors files?

Certainly the "claim" has a resemblance to what happened with LM472.

It's the first time I've seen that type of report.
Phew! The air was busy that night! 109's. 190, Me110's Me 410, Ju88's what wasn't there!!
It also shows that many aircraft didn't fire, even when aircraft seen only 50 yards away.... Sometimes it was safer to hope they hadn't seen you rather than open fire and show everyone where you were, unless directly under attack......

Nice work, Rod, enjoyed all that info!
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Old 9th June 2010, 01:15
RodM RodM is offline
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Re: ors files?

Hi Icare9,

thanks for the reply.

The claim doesn't seem to fit with other known details about LM742: (a) claimants stated that port wing of Ju88 was on fire, whereas survivor of LM742 stated starboard engines and wing was set on fire, (b) the location (Brux) at the time of the claim would place the combat further to the north-east (by near 100 km) of the crash site of LM742, while the heading (109 deg True) would suggest that the aircraft was on the run up to target or over the target at the time of the combat.

A sighting of an aircraft exploding on the ground in the Brux area at 22.35 hrs, may have been used to confirm the claim, but this is conjecture. Some of the other sightings of losses could also relate to the attack of Zeitz. The closest known Luftwaffe loss (at least that I know of) occurred some 140 km to the N.W. of Brux.

An important point about the crash site of LM742 is that it was around 10 km north of the intended track and actually astride the turning point onto the last leg into target of the bomber force attacking Zeitz (this turning point was at 5025N; 1200E, whereas LM742 crashed at 5025N; 1201E). Parts of the two bomber streams would have been flying parallel to one another for a time. As far as I am aware, no air combat claims were submitted by aircraft of the Zeitz force. The fact that the 1 Group Form Z is not preserved with the others for this night may be a critical loss of information.

The map attached to the BC Intercept Tactics report indicates no reported combats or attacks along the tracks of the routes flown by the Brux and Zeitz bomber streams in the area where LM742 crashed.

Cheers

Rod

Addenda - upon checking the air combat report database at the National Archives website, it seems that a combat report for a 57 Sqdn (5 Group, attacked Brux) aircraft relating to 16 Jan 1945 is held. No such claim is mentioned in the 5 Group Form Z, nor is it mentioned in the BC Interception Tactics Report...the report could just be a pro forma combat report, mentioning a sighting of an enemy aircraft with no claim.

Last edited by RodM; 9th June 2010 at 01:49. Reason: added info
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Old 9th June 2010, 04:38
thorthemighty thorthemighty is offline
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Re: ors files?

Hi there Rod and Icare9,

Thanks for all the info. great help. I've had a quick look through it and there are a number of things I'll certainly follow up on!!

To add to the information about the night...here is the timeline I have been given by Ray Collins (I hope he doesn't mind me employing it here). He got at least some of the information from Radavan Helt who is from Most/Brux and has done a lot of research into the incident...including German records...up until 2007 he had written two books on the airwar over Brux and is currently researching for a third, specifically about the night of the 16th Jan 45...(note: I haven't edited it at all)

Timeline:


7.55

Lancaster LM 472, code SR-V2. With a crew of 8, left 101 Squadron base at Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire GB. They were part of 231 Lancasters & 6 Mosquitoes, from RAF Bomber Command, Nos1 & 5 Groups, on a bombing raid on a synthetic oil plant at Brux, Czechoslovakia (Seven planes from 101 Squadron, some equipped with ABC Radio jamming devices)
They were due to bomb Brux between 22.30 & 22.59, 16 January 1945

Due to return to base 02.47 hours 17 January 1945-1 Lancaster lost.

On this bombing raid, they were combined with another formation of aircraft on a bombing raid to Zeitz.-328 Lancasters from 1,.6, &.8 groups. (12 aircraft from 101 squadron included) on Synthetic oil at Braunkohle-Benzin near Leipzig-10 Lancasters lost

On the same night, there was also a bombing raid to be conducted on Magdeburg “Area Raid”- 320 Halifaxe,44 Lancasters, & 7 mosquito from 4.6.8 groups-17 Halifax lost

The Brux/Zeitz force, in the same formation, crossed into France first, followed by the Magdeburg force

The German flight controllers had serious problems as to which force to attack, the southern force-Brux/Zeitz or Northern force-Magdeburg.

20.15
LM472 was over Luxemburg, and German Controllers ordered Fighters to attack in this area. They missed the bombing formation

20.35
LM472 crossed the Rhine near Koblenz

20.50
Controllers sent fighters to the Koblenz area. Again they missed the bombers, who had now turned easterly towards Frankfort area.

21.00
Elements of NJG 1 came into contact with the Brux/Zeitz force,

21.15
A Lancaster bomber, NN 712 -12 Squadron, with Zeitz group, was shot down at Budingen by Hptm. D. Schmidt (7./NJG 1 )

21.55
Over North Bavaria, the Brux group split to the Southeast towards the Vogtland area and the Zeitz group Northeast to their target

21.56
Fw Heinrich Lahmann (from 9./NJG 1) claimed he “got” a Halifax, Zeitz group, (but unconfirmed) and had to break off (on fire) because of gunfire from another Lancaster

22.00
Two Canadian Bombers (PB 402-405 Squadron and KB 850-434 Squadron) from Zeitz group collided and exploded ,over Pfaffenhausen-There was no flak fire in this area.

Night Fighter, Obstlt. Walter Borchers was based between the aerodromes of Erfurt and Altenburg, although the German fighters were ordered to attack the Zeitz raiders , because of his fuel requirements was not with the main fighters and after refuelling, took of to the West, which would put him in the vicinity of the Southern (Brux) bombers
He was credited with three Lancaster “hits’ for that night.

At 22.30 he was credited with two Lancasters (Zeitz group returning home) near (Sangerhausen/Nordhausen) in rapid succession

The third Lancaster (and first) is thought to be LM 472 (hit at 22.04)

Reports state that he had not made contact with the bombers prior to 22.00 hours.

It was also reported that a night fighter- Tame Boar Zahme Sau- flew with the Brux stream for about 12 minutes before attacking LM 472, causing it to catch on fire.

A polish worker, K. Borowski, observed combat in the air from Schwand, saw the plane on fire, flying very low over Schwand, then change direction to the south east in the direction of Hahnenpohl.

22.04
A Lancaster Bomber (LM 472) flew low over the village of Geilsdorf (on fire) and the pilot’s intention seemed to be to land in a snow covered field. However, the plane hit some High Tension wires, crashed 30 meters from the road between Ruderitz and Geilsdorf and exploded

22.09
There was a large whitish explosion (seen by crew of another aircraft- 5026N, 1200E and ground eye-witnesses)
Another plane from 619 Squadron also reported an explosion between Hof & Plauen

The survivor of the crash (Jack Knight) said that the plane was hit by gunfire from below and fire spread over one wing setting the fuel tanks on fire. This should have given the crew only approx 3 minutes before the plane would explode. The plane flew for at least 5 minuets after the first “hit” and subsequent fire.
Because of his statement (in his casualty report) that his plane was hit by another “aircraft”, some statements were made that LM 472 was hit by “friendly fire”. A ground witness (a Polish man, stated that he say “combat overhead”, would seem to put an end to the “friendly fire” theory.

The plane would have been hit at approx. 17,000 feet, and exploded at 10,000 feet –this possibly meant that the plane was hit first at the higher altitude; the pilot dived to try to evade the fighter, but was hit again at 10,000 feet and exploded.

The pilot, Des McGonigle gave the order to abandon the aircraft, but dived down, trying to evade the fighter, suffered the second attack, and kept loosing altitude because of the attack and the aircraft being on fire, until the plane was very low.

This would also explain why the crew did not bale out. On impact, burning parts were scattered around the field, but most of the bombs were still unexploded in the bomb-bay.

The first on the scene of the crash was K Borowski (The Pole) and he found the survivor Jack Knight warming his hands by the burning plane.



any thoughts guys?


Thor

Last edited by thorthemighty; 9th June 2010 at 17:41. Reason: amend and additional information
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Old 9th June 2010, 05:53
RodM RodM is offline
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Smile Re: ors files?

Hi Thor,

thanks for the comprehensive reply. I do have some questions:

1. Re: Knight, may I ask where the statement that they were 'hit from below' originates from? In the two questionnaires that Knight completed in the UK upon repatriation, he states: "2 starboard engines and wing set on fire from another aircraft. Aircraft exploded about 2 minutes later - blown out of aircraft - captured several hours later." and "(1) Aircraft was set on fire by fire from another aircraft. (2) Captain ordered put on parachutes crew acknowledged. (3) WOP was burnt but walked O.K. no one baled out. (5) No one left the aircraft captain gave abandon aircraft and it exploded immediately. (b) Fire started 17,000' Explosion above 10,000' (7) Captain was still flying the aircraft under difficulty - fire was spread over wing (star'b) and cabin next Nav and Wop positions."

Please note that Knight stated that the aircraft exploded above 10,000 feet, not at 10,000 feet, as I misquoted in my previous post. It appears that LM742 was only hit once before exploding in mid-air. Knight simply had the fortune to be blown out of the aircraft with his parachute on. It would seem from Knight's statements that the crew did not bale out because the aircraft exploded before they could do so, not because the aircraft was too low. The fact that a witness saw a 'combat overhead' does not disprove or prove the possibility of friendly fire. I would assume that the witness saw air-to-air tracer and simply intrepreted that as 'combat'. The question obviously is, who fired? Knight's statement that they were hit by 'another aircraft' would not form the basis for the BC ORS assessment, they had to have some other evidence, otherwise they would have assessed the cause of loss as 'fighter'.

2. With regards to Borchers (who you'll be aware died before the end of the war), do you know if the claims details come from an authentic, documented source, or has someone 'filled in the gaps'. The only publically available details available on his claims come from the Kriegstagebuch of III./NJG5, and that simply states that he made three claims without any other details. The same entry in the Kriegstagebuch also states that Hptm. Werner Hopf claimed three and Oblt. Hans-Heinrich Breitfeld two, again without providing details. I only mention this to distinguish from what is based on available evidence and what is less reliable supposition.

While it is more than likely that LM742 was shot down by a night fighter, the BC ORS assessment provides a contrary view. Without knowing upon what evidence they based their assessment, then no judgement can be made as to its validity. Sadly, it may be that the preserved body of documentation will not provide the answer. As already mentioned, some Form Zs are missing and most of the Bomber Command non-Mosquito combat reports for 1945 are also missing. From the Interception Tactics Report it is clear that no returning RAF crew specifically witnessed the demise of an aircraft to a night fighter in the area that LM742 crashed.

Cheers

Rod

Oh, I forgot to mention that a German Luftgau crash report exists for LM742, it's number is KE 10143 - it is mentioned in the MRES Investigation Report. It would state the German assessment on the cause of loss. Sadly, this document is most probably still held by the British MoD and remains classified.
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Old 9th June 2010, 18:38
thorthemighty thorthemighty is offline
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Re: ors files?

Hi Rod,


I'm going to have to check back through some things and make some inquiries regarding your specific questions. However here are some things that are pertinent and an argument presented by some German researchers.

Supplied by Radavan Helt to Ray Collins (see amendment above)

A crew of a 50th Sqn a/c recorded after the Brux raid;

“At 2152 hours a fighter aircraft was sighted, port quarter down, at approx, 5000N, 1110E, and at 2204 hours an aircraft was sighted going down at approx. 5020N, 1200E” between German Towns of Hof & Plauen
(Source: Michael Heaton's (Navigator) Log Book, 50 Squadron)


The crew on Lancaster “S”, SW 254 of 619 Squadron reported after Brux raid as well- “ a large whitish explosion seen at 5026N, 1220E at 2209 hours”
(Source: Report by McMorran’s Crew, 619 Squadron)


It is however safe to say that some of the timeline is "supposition", "deduction" - or "filling in the gaps" as you put it, although based around the known information - the consulted German files being held by Winfried Bock a historian near Munich (At this moment I cannot confirm what the files are precisely). So here is the case presented by Prof. Jorg Helbig, Dr.Rudolf Laser and Winfried Bock, note that elements of part {a} of this argument differ in some details to the most up to date timeline that Ray Collins has...regarding information contained within eyewitness reports...

again this is sans editing...


{a} for most of the claims no locations exist and also a many have no combat times so

a 100% confirmations could not be done with the available data.

All those claims what we have were just preliminary confirmed, with no official confirmation

take place during this stage of the War, the “Kommission” give is work up during January 45.
This is the basic info.
Most of the claims and shoot downs by Fighter regarding the Magdeburg raiders those were heavily engaged followed on by the Zeitz raiders (most BC Losses were on the homeward route).

But we’re facing an early claim/Loss for the Brux op. during this operation.
Dr. Theo Boiten has written in his book NACHTJAGD War Diaries Vol. 2 page 231 ff about the Fighter elements during this Airraid.

A few important extracts and facts ..

LM 472 and the Bruxformation (bombed between 22.3o and 22.59 hrs local time) came in across France and make east, first Zeitz and Brux planes are in the same formation and at same time another bomberstream make landfall and set course for Magdeburg.

The Fightercontrollers now facing a serious problem which of those formation would be engaged the southern one or the northern one…

The times goes by and nothing reasonably taking places.

LM 472 war around 20.15 hrs over Luxemburg same time the controllers give the order Fighter should go to this area, around 20.35 hrs LM 472 crossed the Rhine near Koblenz

2o.5o hrs controllers sending the Fighter urgently to Koblenz area, again too late, formation long gone in easterly direction (Frankfurt area).

Elements of the NJG 1 came in contact with the Zeitz/Brux raiders around 21.oo hrs NE of Frankfurt, and one lonely combat was fought with the result

Lancaster NN 712 12.Sqn was s/d by Hptm.D Schmidt 7./NJG 1 21.15 hrs and cr. at Büdingen (one of the confirmed actions during this op.)

a few more Fighters of the NJG 1 and NJG 5 were into the stream but no combat were seen or claims were made until the Schweinfurt area Northbavaria.

The next “accident/incident” we do not know what is really was involved two Canadian a/c again from the Zeitz force.

Eyewitness stating around 22.oo hrs (time unconfirmed) two planes colliding
over Pfaffhausen and exploding in the air…neither Flakfire was seen nor was seen a Nightfighterattack…Lancaster PB 402 /405.Sqn and Lancaster KB 850 /434.Sqn .

Coincident the luckless Fw.Heinrich Lahmann 9./NJG 1 claimed and got one
“Halifax” 21.56 hrs combat time it is absolutely unclear which plane he “engaged” he became heavy return fire from an other Lancaster and broke up the engagement one engine on fire his odyssey ended in Thuringia he was seen on fire heading prob. to Erfurt ? but came no further than this and he baled out, his crew was killed and his plane crashing…he self was KIA at 21.2.45 too and so he became his claim posthum no corresponding loss found.

He was NEAR LM 472 but I think he made no attack on the aircraft because
The formation split into two Zeitz make to the northeast and Brux go southeast to the Vogtland region.
Splitting was made I think 21.55 hrs over Northbavaria.

NOW LM 472 must came into the Focus.

The time given in your report around 22.04 up to 22.09 hrs (seen also from another aircrew)

Seems the right time for the combat

And here we have a GAP in the Fighterrecords! No corresponding claim with a time between ’04-’09 is visible!
The last is Lahmann 21.56 hrs to early and he broke away on fire maybe he tangling with The Canadian planes at Pfaffhausen but not with LM 472.

22.o3 and 22.o5 two claimes were made confirmed as Magdeburg raiders Hannover area..has nothing to do with us.
The next visible claim is at 22.lo hrs Lt. Joachim Sommerau III./NJG 1 (his first claim ever) a “Halifax” could not be indentified maybe one of those Magdeburg raiders too, I have a confirmed report 22.lo Halifax NA 603 578.Sqn (Magdeburg raid)cr. exact at this time near Schoppenstedt far away from Geilsdorf. I think he was in combat with the NA 603.

The next claim with a combat time came at 22.11 hrs from the same pilot made the claim 22.o3 hrs another BC Loss Magdeburg raid nr. Hannover.and the pilot from 22.o5 hrs claimed again 22.14 hrs all this has taken place in the Hannover area.
And then we have 6 maybe 7 claims made in the Magdeburg area nobody argued this again those fit not in with a BC Loss nr. Plauen.

So what else have we here of OTHER Claims?

We have Oblt.Peter Ehrhardt 2./NJG 5 claimed one Lancaster my source Hr.Bock give me the info this claim is very unsure poss. also turned down, but in a few records it could be found.

Ehrhardt came from the first Group Nightfighterunit five based here in Thuringia Prob. take off at Erfurt. I think he attacked one of those planes came down in this area (Thuringia) there we could count three.

And we have THREE Lancaster (confirmed by the OKL) shot down by the Kommodore of the Nightfighterunit 5 Obstlt.Walter Borchers he was based here switching around between the aerodromes of Erfurt, Altenburg
because Mosquitos are there every night and so you must hiding your presence day by day.

he took off and made his way to the west, the order give out, go into the stream at the Frankfurt area, we do not know if he came to this point, but he was on the southern formation of bombers up until 22.o2 hrs ! exact at this time the bombing of Zeitz has begun and the controllers give the new order all available Fighters with enough fuel has made for the Zeitz area

Borchers was one of those and he made his way to this point, again he was a little late go into combat with no results came from and hunt on found the tail of the homegoing bombers near Sangerhausen/ Nordhausen and shoot 22.3o hrs

two Lancasters in rapid succession down, than he turned away and landed nearby at Erfurt (fuel tanks must now been empty too).

So we could accounting for two of his three Lancasters.

BUT which identity has Claim three ? poss. the first one? Was it LM 472 ? I think so.

See the timeframe 22.o2 hrs, all were ordered to Zeitz, the attack on LM 472 was placed around 22.o4 hrs so it is possible and very likely, that he made this before he broke away and made for Zeitz..I think so.

He must hunt them down for a time, could not made an attack, because he was too late first he run westwards, than turned around, try to catch the stream again all this taking time, and he made no contact before 22.00 hrs and he must have seen the existence of the force see those two blewing up aircrafts at Pfaffhausen, so he flew on … when he found the Bombers, he was ordered to go to Zeitz.

…I read the Report of J.Knight..he stating fire was seen and spread over one wing, for me clearly a sign of an attack with oblique firing guns (unseen) from below in one of the wings between the engines, set the fuel tanks on fire, than you have a maximal chance for 3 minutes to go out before the fire reaching the tanks and the plane exploding.

Normally you jettisoned not the bombs because you’re in the process to abandon the plane. It’s a waste of time and make no sense (LM 472 crashed with all bombs on bord!) try to put the fire out when you dive down make just sense when the fire is not too severe in this case I don’t know…F/O Mc Gonigle give immediately the order to abandon the a/c, so the fire in the wing raging too much to bear, JK stating but no one left the aircraft…why? .. and than exploded at 10.000 ft …attacked 17.000 exploded 10.000 …curious…

what was going after he said to the crew prepare to abandon the a/c and the following explosion… he dived 7000 ft down after he said this, the reason for this I think the fighter came back and made a second run, he has seen the aircraft on fire, but go not down, so he decided made another attack on him. Mc Gonigle see this and try to evade this second attack dived down but with no to avail, he was seen on fire very low (? again we know not for sure the height..) come in and then exploded .

I think the fighter has got him again at 10.000 ft and in this altitude the plane exploded (Borowski has seen and heard those combat from his point at Schwand - we have spoken with him many times).

What the eyewitness has seen were just the parts of the Lancaster see the wide area in which those pieces were found, when you made a force landing this would be not scattered so far away albeit when the bombs exploding but in this case it is confirmed no bombs blew up Neither in the air nor on the ground.

This would be good fit in with the timeframe of an 5 Minute gap before the Explosion was seen in the air at 22.o9 hrs (22.o4 first attack).

Mc Gonigle try not to make a force-landing at Geilsdorf, the order he give was abandon the a/c as JK has stated in his Report. But he must take evasive actions again than the Fighter came back and so he dived down,

But now he could not settle down the plane a second time and the fire has reached now the fueltanks and this was the end, usually you have 3 minutes and LM 472 struggled on for 5 minutes this was 2 minutes too long.

I think Borchers was also one of those two fighter seen by aircrews 22.22 hrs over Zeitz! He tangled there again with the bombers.. and than made its way to the region of Thuringia added two more on. The other one over Zeitz was poss. Peter Ehrhardt, no other Pilot known there.

{b} But in the minds of the people know this incident the "friendly fire accident" is still preferential. There is no belief in the Fightercase.

But let me affirm you, there was a combat. And here came a few facts against the gunner accident.

Why should a gunner shot at an other plane when NO Nightfighter was (seen)in the formation?

They flew straight ahead to Brux no combat took place until this fatal 22.04 hrs.

And how could a gunner set just one wing on fire ??! he would have shot into (or also) the fuselage but not into the wing-(proof this attack came unseen from below, with oblique guns, the Fighter was homing on with NAXOS Device-it take a little time- then slip under the aircraft and give one burst into the wings and the tanks- and turn away and wait what happened..) This was seen by the Pole.

But nothing else took place, the plane flew on, but now albeit on fire.. than he decide to came back and hereby maybe was SEEN by one of the crewmember, not from Jack Knight, and the Pilot try now to evade the inevitable second attack (seen by the villagers as "Circling around") during this time he must came very low and he had also not the time to jettsioned the load! when you opened the bombbay they were too much drag and the possibility that the Fighter struck you in this moment are very high, and than I think either the fire was reaching the fueltanks or the second attack was fatal and let LM 472 blew up.

both is conceivable.

When this were just one "friendly fire accident" then the Crew have take the chutes and jump out one by one but here just Jack Knight came out by the follow on explosion of the plane. why?

The gunner must have been aware of his mistake and silence his guns.. here
we have mere a running battle and this taking NEARLY 5 Minutes!!

I dont understand ? A Gunner held his fire 5 minutes onto a plane, until its exploding? Seems to me very implausible.

Okay the ORS has given the Cause of Loss as this, BUT WERE THEY there at Geilsdorf 16.1.45 a few minutes after 22.oo hrs?? I think not. all what they have was a report not more. A classical case of a "misunderstanding".
We let us not confusing with this matter.



....so those are some thoughts from the German side I think....any additional comments...what do you think?...and there is confirmation of a fighter in the bomber stream....


Do you know what information is held in AIR 14/3412 "Operational Research Section: final reports on operations, night raids, Nos. 621-914, 1944 June-1945 May" and AIR 14/2689 "Operational Research Section reports 1944 Nov.-1945 Feb"? Do or could these contain information about the loss of LM472 and the designation as a "friendly fire" incident. I rang kew to see if they could give me any more information about the content of these files but they couldn't over the phone.




Thor!!


PS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RodM View Post
upon checking the air combat report database at the National Archives website, it seems that a combat report for a 57 Sqdn (5 Group, attacked Brux) aircraft relating to 16 Jan 1945 is held. No such claim is mentioned in the 5 Group Form Z, nor is it mentioned in the BC Interception Tactics Report...the report could just be a pro forma combat report, mentioning a sighting of an enemy aircraft with no claim.
The raid report, see here http://www.na237.net/raid_report.html states that an (unsubstantiated) claim was made by a bomber on the way to Brux...perhaps this relates to the combat report you have identified. I don't believe that any German a/c were reported to have been shot down in the vicinity.

Last edited by thorthemighty; 9th June 2010 at 22:49. Reason: additional question
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  #9  
Old 10th June 2010, 00:20
RodM RodM is offline
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Smile Re: ors files?

Hi Thor,

thanks again for your comprehensive reply.

Here are some initial comments/thoughts:

1. With the Forms Z prepared by the Groups, the Group HQ collated the details of the losses going down as provided by the squadrons and I believe that in some cases they 'averaged' out the positions as provided in the individual squadron Forms Y, before re-transmitting the data in the Form Z. The BC HQ, and specifically the BC ORS, upon reciept of the Forms Z from the Groups, plotted all the sightings of aircraft going down and then had to assess the general area and cause of loss in relation to the known number of missing aircraft. This was a hap-hazard affair. Even at this stage of the war, about the most reliable aspect of the reports from the bomber crews was the time logged. Reported positions were much less reliable because they solely reflected where a crew thought they were, which could differ considerably from where they actually were (the difference between reported and actual positions could be substantial, especially on nights when winds scattered the bomber streams). The result was that when the BC ORS plotted the sightings, the plots created an effect like the spread of shot gun pellets on the map, and the ORS had to basically assess and guess where individual losses occurred. When there was a tight and distinct group of sightings at the same time, this wasn't a problem, but when the sightings were geographically scattered is became a problem.

With the individual log entries that you mention, while the reported times should be solid, there is no guarantee that the positions are entirely accurate. Again, this is where the information in the missing 1 Group Form Z would be beneficial because then all the sightings could be plotted in the same manner as done by the BC ORS, with the added benefit of actually knowing the crash locations.

Because original data is missing, the only ORS information to go on is the end assessment made by the BC ORS and published in the Interception Tactics report. Here are the assessed crash locations for the Zeitz stream as determined by the BC ORS after reviewing the Forms Z: "Zeitz: Fighters 6 (near Schweinfurt, Coburg and Weimar outward and Paderborn, Hengelo and Zwolle homeward); flak 2 (1 at Frankfurt, 1 at target); unknown 1." (note - no determination was made for LM742)

As you'll be aware, a total of 10 aircraft were lost from the Zeitz raid and 1 from the Brux raid. Now, to look at these losses in relation to the ORS assessment, in combination with the data from the surviving Forms Z:

12 Sqdn NN712 - shot down by a fighter according to post-war BC ORS assessment. Sightings indicate that an aircraft was shot down in the general area at 2113-2115 hrs, reported variously as a single-engined a/c and a 4-engined shot down after air-to-air tracer seen. I would presume that some of the 1 Group sightings thought the cause was Flak because this appears to be the Frankfurt Flak loss as mentioned above.

405 Sqdn PB402 & 434 Sqdn KB850 - both crashed in close proximity and the BC ORS was unable to make a post-war assessment of the cause of loss. Sightings were made in the area of aircraft crashing between 2121-2145 hrs, with one of these stating that air-to-air tracer was seen. Although it is generally held that the two aircraft collided (according to local witnesses), no collision was reported by crews of 5, 6, or 6 Groups. Instead the ORS assessed a loss to a fighter near Schweinfurt in the Interception Tactics Report.

The ORS assessed another loss to a fighter near Coburg in the Interception Tactics but none of the Zeitz force crashed in the area. LM742, however, did. Times of sighting in surviving Forms Z that could relate to this are between 2155-2206 hrs, none of which give a cause of loss, so it has to be assumed that the sightings of an aircraft shot down by a fighter in this area were made by 1 Group.

153 Sqdn NG335 - it is probably pertinent to now introduce the red herring! NG335 was lost without trace, so could have conceivably crashed anywhere, and could account for any one of a number of the unidentified sightings collated by the ORS - the Flak loss at Frankfurt, the fighter loss at Coburg, the fighter loss at Weimar or the Flak loss at Zeitz (this Flak loss was an aircraft reported as coned and shot down by Flak at 2206-2118, but most-likely relates to NE130 below)

582 Sqdn NE130 - this aircraft was hit by Flak while coned in S/Ls over the target at 2208 hrs (and is most likely the aircraft reported as shot down over the target) and then it was attacked and further damaged by a night fighter at 2216 hrs (reported position NW of Erfurt). The aircraft limped back behind Allied lines and was abandoned over France.

576 Sqdn PD309 - sustained Flak damage over target (port outer engine) after port inner engine had already become unserviceble for unknown reasons. Abandoned over Belgium.

100 Sqdn PA189 and 300 Sqdn PD257 - both crashed to the north of Erfurt, and the ORS could make no post-war assessment on the cause of loss. Sightings were made in the area of aircraft seen going down between 2220-2245. one of which was after air-to-air tracer was seen. The Interception Tactics report doesn't mention any specific losses in the area, although either of these two aircraft or NE130 could have been reported as the loss to a fighter near Weimar.

166 Sqdn ME296 and 12 Sqdn LM213 crashed near Bad Iburg and Ohne repectively, both brought down by night fighters. A Luftgau crash report for KM213 gives the time as 2230. These are the two fighter losses mentioned in the Interception Tactics report as being at "Hengelo and Zwolle", while surviving Form Z data plots the losses as occurring between 2235-2300.

2. With reference to the raid report given in your link, the Brux claim was by a 630 Sqdn Lancaster at 2234 hrs near Brux. No claims were acknowledged by any of the Zeitz raiders. The 57 Sqdn combat report may be an initial claim or or may be no more than a sighting report of an enemy aircraft, I don't know.

3. Regarding Walter Borchers:

"And we have THREE Lancaster (confirmed by the OKL) shot down by the Kommodore of the Nightfighterunit 5 Obstlt.Walter Borchers he was based here switching around between the aerodromes of Erfurt, Altenburg
because Mosquitos are there every night and so you must hiding your presence day by day.

he took off and made his way to the west, the order give out, go into the stream at the Frankfurt area, we do not know if he came to this point, but he was on the southern formation of bombers up until 22.o2 hrs ! exact at this time the bombing of Zeitz has begun and the controllers give the new order all available Fighters with enough fuel has made for the Zeitz area

Borchers was one of those and he made his way to this point, again he was a little late go into combat with no results came from and hunt on found the tail of the homegoing bombers near Sangerhausen/ Nordhausen and shoot 22.3o hrs

two Lancasters in rapid succession down, than he turned away and landed nearby at Erfurt (fuel tanks must now been empty too).

So we could accounting for two of his three Lancasters.

BUT which identity has Claim three ? poss. the first one? Was it LM 472 ? I think so.

See the timeframe 22.o2 hrs, all were ordered to Zeitz, the attack on LM 472 was placed around 22.o4 hrs so it is possible and very likely, that he made this before he broke away and made for Zeitz..I think so.

He must hunt them down for a time, could not made an attack, because he was too late first he run westwards, than turned around, try to catch the stream again all this taking time, and he made no contact before 22.00 hrs and he must have seen the existence of the force see those two blewing up aircrafts at Pfaffhausen, so he flew on … when he found the Bombers, he was ordered to go to Zeitz."

This seems to be based on a lot of supposition, and it would be interesting to know if he really took off from Alenburg/Erfurt. His claims are specifically mentioned in the KTB of III./NJG5, so is there a possibility that he operated from Lübeck or Lüneburg on this night? Note that no accounting of the attack and damage to NE130 or the loss of NG335 is made in the statement above.

There are two main issues in trying to assess Nachtjagd claims on this night - (a) the total number of Nachtjagd claims made is not known, thus it is unclear if there are claims that were made for which no detail has been found, (b) at least half of the known claims are not supported by information on time or location of the claim.

IMHO, this situation means that exact details on many of the events of this night may never be known, and nothing should be assumed beyond what can be supported by surviving evidence.

For LM742 the evidence supports where it crashed and that it was hit by fire from another aircraft. If the still-classified Luftgau report ever gets released then a documented crash time will become available along with the German assessment on the cause of loss, which must be weighed against the British assessment of a cause of friendly fire. In both cases, it may not be possible to determine how the respective parties reached their conclusions. Sadly, with so much Nachtjagd claims data missing, I don't believe that we'll ever know who shot down LM742, if it was indeed shot down by a night fighter, unless new documentary evidence comes to light. In addition if a Loss of Bomber Aircraft questionnaire was completed by Knight and becomes declassifed, then this too may shed light on what happened. The statements he made to the RAAF were too vague (note that in those statements, he doesn't mention unseen fire or an unseen aircraft). It is not out of the realm of possibility that Knight reported the fire to have come from another Lancaster...
cheers

Rod

PS -

Dr. Theo Boiten has written in his book NACHTJAGD War Diaries Vol. 2 page 231 ff about the Fighter elements during this Airraid.

Actually, it was myself who researched and wrote that section of the book...
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Old 10th June 2010, 00:50
Icare9 Icare9 is offline
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Re: ors files?

I'm way out of my depth here as this has obviously been the subject of exhaustive and in depth research by both German and British experts.

I came in because of my involvement with HR732 Halifax loss during the Leipzig operation Dec 44 which has some similarities.

Can it be confirmed whether night fighters DIDN'T use tracer in order not to give away their position? If that is correct, then the only source of air to air tracer as seen by other aircraft must be from another bomber.

Do you know for sure whether LM472 came down as large pieces of wreckage (indicating some heavy damage) or as pieces widely scattered (indicating a mid air explosion)?

Some reports say it exploded at 10,000 feet, others that it was flying at low altitude (and not just flaming wreckage falling). If the fuel tanks had exploded, most likely the wing(s) would have failed or at least large segments lost, but the fuselage may have stayed fairly intact together with its bomb load. It would seem that some of the crew could have had time to bale out, especially if the order to "Abandon aircraft" had been given. For them to have stayed with the plane (except for Knight who seems to have been blown or thrown clear) from 17,000 to 10,000 feet seems unusual unless the plane was out of control or that they were violently trying to avoid a fighter attack.

That's all I can say, based on hopefully some logical assessment of the case. I'll have to leave it to the experts to see if any answers are available, but so long after the event it may be that the actual details will not be discovered.

Whatever, they were brave men doing their duty for their Country.
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