From Peer Peterson
As you know, I have the responsibility to check and control all graves for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in southern Denmark. We have two large cemeteries there: one in Esbjerg and one in Aabenraa. I have found two crews belonging to 44 Squadron. Maybe some of the information can be used in our next newsletter?
Lancaster I W4277
W4277 belonged to 44 Sqn and was coded KM-S. Take off was from Waddington at 1736 on 8th January 1943 on a ‘Gardening Daffodil (The Sound)’ mission.
W4277 ‘Chris Columbus’ with crew. From left: unknown, Sgt Sydney Wright, Sgt Adrian Colonna, unknown, Flt Sgt Milton J Paige, Sgt John Lightfoot, Fg Off Andrew G Cameron.
While outbound over Jylland the Lancaster was attacked by a German night fighter from IV/NJG 3, piloted by Fw Bader, with crew members Uffz Winterhoff and Uffz Duurts. At 1940 hours the burning Lancaster crashed in Søst forrest near Aabenraa.
Inside and around the wreck was found a number of crew members who were laid to rest in four graves in Aabenraa cemetery on 16 January 1943: Navigator Fg Off Andrew G Cameron, W/Op Sgt Adrian R A Colonna, Flt Mech Eng/Air Gunner Sgt John H Lightfoot, Air Bomber Sgt Sydney Wright, Flt Eng Sgt Jonathan Hutchinson and Air Gunner Sgt Dennis B Moog.
The War Graves Commission rearranged the graves after the war. Cameron now rests in his own grave, while the others rest in a common grave. The body of the pilot, Flt Sgt Milton J Paige, was found ashore near Middelfart on the 10th of March.
The burial at Aabenraa
On 22 August 1943 a cross was erected on the crash site by a 22 year old clerk named Christian Adolphsen and a friend. A name plate on the cross read “Here died five airmen while fighting for the sake of free people on 8 January 1943.” The Germans were not particularly pleased with this and Adolphsen was awarded ten days in prison by the Danish police, thus making sure that he was not to be sentenced by a German field court.
The memorial stone at W4277’s crash site
Lancaster I W4187
Lancaster I W4187 belonged to 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron and was also coded KM-S. The aircraft took off from RAF Waddington at 1800 hours on 1st October 1942, tasked with bombing Wismar. On the outbound leg, approaching Skallingen, W4187 was coned by a 150 cm searchlight from 4/Batt M Flak A204. While trying to escape the searchlight the aircraft hit the ground and exploded at 2119 hours approximately two kilometres north of the searchlight’s position.
The crew of seven died and were laid to rest in Fovrfelt cemetery, Esbjerg, on 7th October 1942. They were placed in six graves and only after the war identified as being a crew of seven:
Pilot: Fg Off James D V S Stephens
Flt Eng: Sgt Norman E Dowden
Observer: Fg Off John E Tate
Air Bomber: Flt Sgt P Hereford
W/Op: Sgt Robert E W Williamson
Air Gunner: Flt Sgt Charles G Nugent
Rear Gunner: Flt Sgt Herbert R Rowe
Annual subscriptions were due on 1st November. Any member who may have inadvertently overlooked payment of what remains a very modest sum, please contact the Secretary as soon as possible.
The King’s Thunderbolts - An Operational Record and Roll of Honour
No 44 Squadron’s Operational History was compiled from accounts by air and ground crew who flew and worked on the Squadron during both World Wars. The annex contains many accounts of aircrew who survived bale outs and some who evaded capture while on the run in occupied territory. It recalls vividly the experiences of those unfortunate enough to spend much of the Second World War in prison camps.
The title of the book comes from the Squadron’s motto “Fulmina Regis Iusta” (The King’s Thunderbolts are Righteous). There are 255 A4 pages and it is in a laminated softback form. The recommended retail price is £24, plus postage and packing. However, the price to UK members has been discounted to £12, (a total of £15 including postage and packing for UK residents and £21 for overseas customers). To order a copy of this excellent book please send your remittance to Henry Horscroft, 9 Church Lane, Eagle, Lincoln, LN6 9DJ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make your cheque payable to No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Association.
Back Home Again
1943. The welcoming sight of Lincoln cathedral, as seen by the crew of a Lancaster bomber of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at night by the light of a flare.