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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn N to Z] [Francis A Whitehead and crew 103 Sqn]

F/L Francis A Whitehead RAFVR and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944

Failed to Return – 27/28th January 1944 – Avro Lancaster III – JB277 – OpBerlin

Francis Whitehead and his crew was posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds around late December 1943 or early January 1944. They flew the following operations and were lost on their 4th. See below :-

14-Jan-44 – Brunswick – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

20-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

21-Jan-44 – Magdeburg – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

27-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead – FTR - Crashed in Germany.

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F/L Francis Allen Whitehead RAFVR – Pilot – 30 – 103 Sqn - Son of Ernest John and Mabel Elizabeth Whitehead of Boddington, Northamptonshire – Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Alan George Palmer RAFVR – Flight Engineer - 103 Sqn - Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany

F/O Leslie John Slatter RAFVR – Navigator - 22 – 103 Sqn - Son of Sidney Joseph and Ethel Slatter of Earlsdon, Coventry – Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany

F/S John Melburne Cassady RCAF ( pictured below ) - 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Joseph Abner and Myrtle Jane Cassady of Camrose, Alberta, Canada – Runnymede Memorial

Sgt Dennis William Albert Udall RAFVR – Air Bomber - 22 – 103 Sqn - Son of William Francis and Gertie Ellen Udall of Ilford, Essex – Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt William Speakman RAFVR - 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Thomas and Hannah Speakman of Atherton, Lancashire – Runnymede Memorial

Sgt Donald Minor RAFVR – Air Gunner - 19 – 103 Sqn - Son of Frederick Francis and Elizabeth Florence Minor of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset – Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany

103 Squadron Cassady Whitehead

F/S John Melburne Cassady RCAF

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27-Jan-44 - Berlin

103 Squadron detailed 16 aircraft for this attack on the German capital of Berlin. The target was cloud covered and the Pathfinders used the skymarking technique. Bombing was from between 19000 ft to 23000 ft. F/L Whitehead and crew failed to return. W/O Warner and crew landed at Ludford Magna. All other crews returned to base.

For this attack on Berlin Bomber Command detailed a total of 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos despatched to Berlin. The German fighters were committed to action earlier than normal, some being sent out 75 miles over the North Sea from the Dutch coast. A number of elaborate feints and diversions had some effect; Half of the German fighters were lured north by the Heligoland mining diversion and action in the main bomber stream was less intense than on recent nights. 33 Lancasters lost, 6.4 per cent of the heavy force. The target was cloud-covered again and skymarking had to be used. Bomber Command was not able to make any assessment of the raid except to state that the bombing appeared to have been spread well up and down wind.

Extensive operations were carried out in support of the Berlin raid. 80 Stirlings and Wellingtons flew to the Dutch coast and laid mines there, 21 Halifaxes did the same near Heligoland, both hoping to draw the German fighters up early. 9 aircraft flew RCM sorties and 12 Mosquitos flew Serrate patrols. 18 Mosquito-bomber aircraft dropped imitation 'fighter flares' away from the main bomber routes to and from the target. 140 aircraft were thus engaged in various operations in support of the main raid. 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

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Lancaster - JB277

This machine was lost on its 18th operation. See below :-

02-Oct-43 – Munich – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon

03-Oct-43 – Kassel – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon

04-Oct-43 – Ludwigshafen/Diversion – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S LJ Hinton RAAF – Early return -  Intercom and generator trouble.

07-Oct-43 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon

08-Oct-43 – Hanover – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S NH Frost

18-Oct-43 – Hanover – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O JD Johnston

20-Oct-43 – Leipzig – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O JD Johnston

22-Oct-43 – Kassel – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O JD Johnston

03-Nov-43 – Dusseldorf – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon

18-Nov-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon

22-Nov-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon - Landed at Kirmington in error.

23-Nov-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S EC Nicholls – Did not take off - Cancelled due to high winds which caused some aircraft to swing on take off

26-Nov-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S LJ Grigg - Diverted to Croft because of bad visibility at base

16-Dec-43 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/S M McMahon - Landed at Kirmington.

14-Jan-44 – Brunswick – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

20-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

21-Jan-44 – Magdeburg – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead

27-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB277 – F/O FA Whitehead – FTR - Crashed in Germany.

Item compiled by David Fell. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

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