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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Frank Fealy 103 Sqn]

Sgt Frank Fealy RAFVR - 103 Squadron - RAF Elsham Wolds - 1944 - Air gunner.

Failed to Return - 30/31st March 1944 - F/O James G Johnston RAFVR and crew - Avro Lancaster III - JB736 - Op Nuremburg.

103 Squadron - Fealy

Frank was born in Leeds on the 25 November 1924 and educated at Middleton, Leeds. He later attended the Leeds College of Art and worked as a cinema projectionist at the Rex Cinema, Beeston Leeds now sadly demolished . He then worked for Wireless Instruments, Leeds and enlisted in the RAF in 1942 which would have been about his 18th birthday. Enlisted RAF 1942.

Frank did his basic recruit training at Bridlington on the east Yorkshire coast and was then posted to Air Gunnery School at RAF Morpeth and then RAF Medmenham  for a photographic interpretation course.

He was then transferred to Heavy Conversion Unit and crewed up with Northern Irishman Guy Johnston.

103 Squadron Johnston crew

The crew was then posted to 550 Sqdn at North Killingholme and shortly afterwards to 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds in Feb 1944.

F/O J. Guy Johnston and crew completed two operations and were shot down on their third. This was the infamous Nuremburg raid which cost the RAF nearly 100 aircraft and crews.

Operations

15-Mar-44 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston – Early return - Bomb aimers forward hatch lost

18-Mar-44 – Frankfurt – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston - Engine fire 30 mins before target. Jettisoned 4000lb Cookie and bombed with incendiaries. Landed at Manston

30-Mar-44 – Nuremberg – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston – FTR - Flak victim. Crashed at Bilkeim, Germany.

 Frank was the only survivor and spent the rest of the war as a POW.

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F/O James Guy Johnston RAFVR – Pilot – 28 – 103 Sqn - Son of William and Mary Guy Johnston, of Eglinton, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland – Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt William James Gwynne RAFVR – Flight Engineer – 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of William James Gwynne and Annie Gwynne, of Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland –  Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

F/O Joseph J Jean Andre Ducharme RCAF ( pictured below ) – Navigator – 25 - 103 Sqn - Son of Elias Ducharme and of Evelyn Ducharme (nee Deegan), of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada - Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

F/O John Christopher Patrick Doyle RAFVR – Navigator – 29 - 103 Sqn - Son of Patrick Doyle, and of Polly Doyle (nee Byrne) - Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Gordon Thomson RAFVR - Wireless Operator / Air Gunner -22 – 103 Sqn - Son of Sarah Thomson; nephew of E. I. Hargreaves, of Kendal, Westmorland - Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany - Son of Edward Phillip and Eileen Margaret Boyle, of North Curl Curl, New South Wales, Australia - Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Frank Fealey RAFVR – Air Gunner - 103 Sqn – POW - Camp L6/357 - POW no 3442.

F/S Brian Philip Boyle RAFVR – Air Gunner – 19 – 103 Sqn - Son of Edward Phillip and Eileen Margaret Boyle, of North Curl Curl, New South Wales, Australia. - Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany

103 Squadron Ducharme Joseph Jean Andre Johnston

F/O Joseph J Jean Andre Ducharme RCAF

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Johnson’s aircraft, Lancaster JB736, was amongst the first shot down that night. They were a shot down by predicted flak. Frank barely escaped with his life and was badly burnt but managed to get out through a hole in the floor of the fuselage where the H2S radar scanner had been blown away by the flak burst.

On return to UK he was promoted to Warrant Officer and was demobbed shortly after to resume a civilian life and career.

Post war career.

Frank considered a career in teaching but with war grant bought a Morris 8 and started in business as Electrical and Hardware Factor. Due to lack of petrol had to give up the business and went to work as salesman for Smarts Furniture, Leeds.

When they cut down on staff due to post war economic climate, joined sales force of Stead & Simpsons shoe store. His owning a car and parking it outside the shop and his sales techniques annoyed his manager who dismissed him. His technique had been to have the client try on a pair of shoes half a size too small. Then he brought out a more expensive pair which the customer was pleased with !

With help of future brother-in-law Sidney Chambers Frank joined John Kings Engineers as stores clerk and later rose to become Sales Manager. He had a long and successful career at King’s until his retirement.

Acknowledgements Many thanks to members of the Fealy family for the background info and top photo.

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30-Mar-44 - Nuremberg

103 Squadron detailed 16 aircraft for this attack on the German city of Nuremberg. Crews reported weather en route was clear but over the target there was 10/10ths cloud. Sky marking was used and most crews bombed on it. Bombing was between 21000 ft and 23000 ft. Flak was reported as moderate and searchlights were active but did not penetrate the cloud. Night fighters were very active and numerous reports of combats were received. P/O Birchall had a combat but successfully evaded. Crews differ in their opinion of the concentration of the raid but it seems to be held by the majority that the raid was not the success that was hoped for. F/L Allwood abandoned his mission owing to the rear gunner's oxygen supply failing together with the rear turret. P/O Mitchell landed at landed at Hunsdon. P/Os Johnston and Tate are missing from this operation. The rest landed at base.

For this attack on Nuremberg Bomber Command detailed a total of 795 aircraft were dispatched - 572 Lancasters, 214 Halifaxes and 9 Mosquitos.

This would normally have been the moon stand-down period for the Main Force, but a raid to the distant target of Nuremberg was planned on the basis of an early forecast that there would be protective high cloud on the outward route, when the moon would be up, but that the target area would be clear for ground-marked bombing. A Meteorological Flight Mosquito carried out a reconnaissance and reported that the protective cloud was unlikely to be present and that there could be cloud over the target, but the raid was not cancelled.

The German controller ignored all the diversions and assembled his fighters at 2 radio beacons which happened to be astride the route to Nuremberg. The first fighters appeared just before the bombers reached the Belgian border and a fierce battle in the moonlight lasted for the next hour. 82 bombers were lost on the outward route and near the target. The action was much reduced on the return flight, when most of the German fighters had to land, but 95 bombers were lost in all - 64 Lancasters and 31 Halifaxes, 11.9 per cent of the force dispatched. It was the biggest Bomber Command loss of the war.

Most of the returning crews reported that they had bombed Nuremberg but subsequent research showed that approximately 120 aircraft had bombed Schweinfurt, 50 miles north-west of Nuremberg. This mistake was a result of badly forecast winds causing navigational difficulties. 2 Pathfinder aircraft dropped markers at Schweinfurt. Much of the bombing in the Schweinfurt area fell outside the town and only 2 people were killed in that area. The main raid at Nuremberg was a failure. The city was covered by thick cloud and a fierce cross-wind which developed on the final approach to the target caused many of the Pathfinder aircraft to mark too far to the east. A 10-mile-long creepback also developed into the countryside north of Nuremberg. Both Pathfinders and Main Force aircraft were under heavy fighter attack throughout the raid. Little damage was caused in Nuremberg.

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Lancaster – JB736

This machine was lost on its 11th operation. See below

27-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost

30-Jan-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost

15-Feb-44 – Berlin – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost

19-Feb-44 – Leipzig – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost  - Early return - Oxygen failure. Bombed Leeuwarden

20-Feb-44 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost

24-Feb-44 – Schweinfurt – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost

25-Feb-44 – Augsburg – Lancaster – JB736 – W/O NH Frost – Early return - Oxygen failure to rear turret

15-Mar-44 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston – Early return - Bomb aimers forward hatch lost

18-Mar-44 – Frankfurt – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston - Engine fire 30 mins before target. Jettisoned 4000lber and bombed with incendiaries. Landed at Manston

26-Mar-44 – Essen – Lancaster – JB736 – P/O JW Birchall - Combat with night fighter. Evaded

30-Mar-44 – Nuremberg – Lancaster – JB736 – F/O JG Johnston – FTR - Flak victim. Crashed at Bilkeim, Germany.

Compiled by David Fell with photos and background info from the Fealey family. Ducharme photo CVWM.

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