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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Clifford S Hart and crew 103 Sqn]

F/O Clifford S Hart RAAF and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944/45

Failed to Return – 23/24th February 1945 – Avro Lancaster I – NF909 – Op Pforzheim

Clifford Hart and crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from Heavy Conversion Unit 11 Base around late October/early November 1944. Date not recorded. They were lost on their 19th operation. See below :-

18-Nov-44 - Wanne Eikel - Lancaster - NG276 - P/O CS Hart RAAF - Bad weather at base. Diverted

27-Nov-44 - Freiburg - Lancaster - JA857 - P/O CS Hart RAAF

29-Nov-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster - LM132 - P/O CS Hart RAAF

04-Dec-44 - Karlsruhe - Lancaster - ME649 - P/O CS Hart RAAF

22-Dec-44 - Koblenz - Lancaster - PB563 - F/O CS Hart RAAF - Bad weather at base. All aircraft diverted to Langham.

29-Dec-44 - Scholven Buer - Lancaster - PD427 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

31-Dec-44 - Osterfeld - Lancaster - NF909 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

02-Jan-45 - Nuremberg - Lancaster - LM132 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

05-Jan-45 - Hanover - Lancaster - LM132 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

07-Jan-45 - Munich - Lancaster - JA857 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

14-Jan-45 - Merseburg - Lancaster - PD287 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

16-Jan-45 - Zeitz - Lancaster - PD281 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

28-Jan-45 - Stuttgart/Zuffenhausen Lancaster - PD281 - F/O CS Hart RAAF - Combat. Attacked once by enemy aircraft but escaped with minor damage.

08-Feb-45 - Politz - Lancaster - PD427 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

13-Feb-45 - Dresden - Lancaster - NF909 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

14-Feb-45 - Chemnitz - Lancaster - NF909 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

20-Feb-45 - Dortmund - Lancaster - NF909 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

21-Feb-45 - Duisburg - Lancaster - PB563 - F/O CS Hart RAAF

23-Feb-45 - Pforzheim - Lancaster - NF909 - F/O CS Hart RAAF - FTR - Night fighter victim. Hit high tension power cable attempting to crash land in Germany.

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F/O Clifford Seymour Hart RAAF – 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Albert Seymour Hart and Jessie Hart of Curl Curl, New South Wales, Australia - Runnymede Memorial

Sgt M C Godfrey - 103 Sqn – POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

F/S K P Lord - 103 Sqn - POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

F/S K C Williams - 103 Sqn - POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

P/O Angus Albert McGrath RAAF – 23 - 103 Sqn - Son of William James McGrath and Emily May McGrath, of The Rock, New South Wales, Australia - Runnymede Memorial

Sgt W D Rich - 103 Sqn - POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

Sgt R D Jones - 103 Sqn - POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

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23-Feb-45 - Pforzheim

103 Squadron detailed 18 aircraft for this attack on Pforzheim. All aircraft took off safely in rather poor weather conditions of low cloud but reaching the English coast it cleared and remained good for the remainder of the trip. On arrival in the target area it was seen that the target indicators were well placed and all crews bombed on the Master Bomber's instructions with it is thought good results as many fires and explosions were seen. Bombing was from between 7000 ft and 9000 ft. Defences consisted of a small amount of heavy flak in barrage form but there is believed to have been quite a lot of fighter activity as several machines were seen to go down in the target area. F/L Dobson and F/O Hart are both missing from this operation. All remaining aircraft landed at base.

For this attack on Pforzheim Bomber Command detailed a total of 367 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups and a Film Unit Lancaster. This was the first and only area attack on this target. 10 Lancasters were lost and 2 more crashed in France. The marking and bombing, from only 8,000 ft, were particularly accurate and damage of a most severe nature was inflicted on Pforzheim. 1,825 tons of bombs were it dropped in 22 minutes. The post-war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that 83 per cent of the town's built-up area was destroyed, probably the greatest proportion in one raid during the war.

Bomber Command's last Victoria Cross of the war was won on this night. The Master Bomber was Captain Edwin Swales, DFC, a South African serving with No 582 Squadron. His Lancaster was twice attacked over the target by a German fighter. Captain Swales could not hear the evasion directions given by his gunners because he was broadcasting his own instructions to the Main Force. 2 engines and the rear turret of the Lancaster were put out of action. Captain Swales continued to control the bombing until the end of the raid and must take some credit for the accuracy of the attack. He set out on the return flight but encountered turbulent cloud and ordered his crew to bale out. This they all did successfully but Captain Swales had no opportunity to leave the aircraft and was killed when it crashed. He is buried at the Leopold War Cemetery at Limburg in Belgium.

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Lancaster - NF909

This machine gave very good service and was lost on its 64th operation. It was first flown operationally by the March crew in August 1944. See below :-

10-Aug-44 – Dugny - Lancaster – NF909 – Sgt DA March RCAF

Item compiled by David Fell

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