Brocklesby Park Memorial
On 3rd March 1945, aircraft returning to RAF Spilsby after a raid on Ladbergen, Germany, were ordered to divert elsewhere due to reports of enemy intruder aircraft in the area. Fg Off Ryan steered his Lancaster north but had the misfortune to be shot down by a Ju88 aircraft over Brocklesby Park, southwest of Grimsby. All of the crew died in the crash.
A commemorative plaque was attached to the remains of a Californian Redwood, which the aircraft had severed when it abruptly came to rest. Australian relatives of Fg Off J J Ryan marked the 75th anniversary of this tragic loss with a memorial service at the crash site on 4th March 2020. Two committee members of our Association attended the ceremony, as did Lord Yarborough, the owner of Brocklesby Park, and relatives of five of the other crew members.
Phil Davies spoke on behalf of the Association and the text of his introduction is reproduced below.
“Lord Yarborough, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We are gathered here today to commemorate the lives, bravery and camaraderie of the seven 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron aircrew who flew Lancaster ME442, which crashed here 75 years ago today, in the early hours of the 4th March 1945.
At 18:42 on the evening of the 3rd March 1945 - the 2,000th night of the Second World War - their Mk 3 Avro Lancaster, coded KM-V, took off from RAF Spilsby, under the command of Flying Officer Jack Ryan of the Royal Australian Air Force, along with his six Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve crew. They joined a raid consisting of 212 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitoes of 5 Group, to attack the Ladbergen aqueducts, part of the Dortmund – Ems canal. The raid was successful, over 100 metres of canal bank was destroyed and both aqueducts were in ruins, putting the canal completely out of action for the rest of the war.
As they returned to their Lincolnshire air base, Flying Officer Ryan’s aircraft was intercepted by a Junkers 88C night fighter. This was the first night of the Luftwaffe’s Operation GISELA, a new tactic by the Germans, whereby instead of attacking our bombers on their outward run, they targeted them as they returned home. Approximately 200 German night fighters prowled the night skies over England, lying in wait for the returning bombers, attacking either as they landed or were circling in readiness to land.
Sadly, Flying Officer Ryan’s aircraft was shot down by the night fighter and crashed in flames at approximately 1AM in the morning on the 4th March 1945, tragically killing all seven crew members as it came to rest against this tree.”