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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Paul F Chesterton and crew 103 Sqn 166 Sqn]

W/O Paul F Chesterton DFC RAFVR and crew – 103 Squadron / 166 Squadron - 1943

The Chesterton crew were formed at 30 OTU, RAF Hixon training on Vickers Wellingtons in November 1942. Flight Engineer and Mid Upper Gunner were added at 1656 HCU when they graduated from 30 OTU Unit at the end of March 1943.

Whilst at 30 OTU they flew one Nickel leaflet dropping sortie as follows :-

04-March-1943 – Nickel – Wellington – U/K - Chesterton – Landed at Wyton

The crew were transferred to 1656 HCU at RAF Lindholme late March early April to convert to 4 engined bombers where flew the Handley Page Halifax and later Avro Lancaster aircraft.

The crew were then posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds late April early May 1943.

At this stage the crew was as follows :-

Sgt Paul Fulton Chesterton RAFVR - Pilot

Sgt Harold Ackroyd RAFVR - Flight Engineer

Sgt K Cave RAFVR – Air Bomber

Sgt Edward Milling RAFVR - Navigator

Sgt Jack Bullock RAFVR – Wireless operator.

Sgt Alan H Robson RAFVR – Air Gunner

Sgt Claude R Jackson RAFVR – Air Gunner.

The Chesterton crew was posted to 166 Squadron at nearby RAF Kirmington on the 21 September 1943 along with the Hammond, Davidson, Bunten, Knott and Catlin crews from 103 Squadron

According to the 103 Squadron and 166 Squadron operational log books the Chesterton crew flew unchanged throughout their tour through the summer of 1943. This included the Battle of the Ruhr, the Battle of Hamburg and the Peenemunde Raid and all involved long trips to heavily defended targets, one being in Italy the rest Germany.

Interestingly the Chesterton crew were allocated their own aircraft right from the start of their tour unlike most new crews who were allotted whatever was available until they had completed a few ops. ED751 had already completed 10 ops, 9 of which were with the excellent Charlie Blumenauer and Bill Steel crews. ED751 was lost on the 5/6 September 1943 Mannheim with Bob Cant and crew. ED751 was hit by flak and losing fuel at an alarming rate the crew baled out over France. Amazingly all 7 survived and 6 successfully evaded captured

103 Squadron Blumenaur and Steel

L – Blumenaur. R – Steel.

103 Squadron Robert Cant

Bob Cant

Chesterton crew also flew ED904 twice which was a reliable machine with a good record which was flown by a number of 103 Squadron pilots but mostly Bill Steel again. This machine was transferred to 166 Squadron and was lost on the 28/29 September 1943 Bochum with W/O B B Davidson and crew who were another excellent experienced 103 crew transferred to 166 Squadron at the same time

103 Ops

12-May-43 - Duisburg - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

13-May-43 - Bochum  - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

23-May-43 - Dortmund - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

11-Jun-43 - Dusseldorf - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

12-Jun-43 - Bochum - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton – Early return - Starboard inner engine overheated.

14-Jun-43 - Oberhausen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton - Hit by heavy flak on bombing run.

21-Jun-43 - Krefeld - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

22-Jun-43 - Mulheim - Point of Aim - Lancaster – ED904 – Sgt PE Chesterton - Approached by fighters on 2 occasions, these were lost though.

24-Jun-43 - Wuppertal - Point of Aim - Lancaster – ED904 – Sgt PE Chesterton

25-Jun-43 - Gelsenkirchen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – Sgt PE Chesterton

28-Jun-43 - Cologne - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton – Did not take off – Aircraft unserviceable

08-Jul-43 - Cologne - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

09-Jul-43 - Gelsenkirchen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

12-Jul-43 - Turin - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

24-Jul-43 – Hamburg - Operation Gomorrah - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

27-Jul-43 – Hamburg - Operation Gomorrah - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

29-Jul-43 – Hamburg - Operation Gomorrah - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton – Early return – Port outer engine, rear turret and Gee unserviceable

30-Jul-43 - Remscheid - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

02-Aug-43 – Hamburg - Operation Gomorrah - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton - Bombed Bremerhaven

17-Aug-43 – Peenemunde - V weapons research centre - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

22-Aug-43 - Leverkusen - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

23-Aug-43 - Berlin - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

27-Aug-43 - Nuremberg - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

29-Aug-43 - Munchengladbach - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

31-Aug-43 - Berlin - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton

03-Sep-43 - Berlin - Point of Aim - Lancaster - ED751 – W/O PE Chesterton - Combat. Attacked by 3 single engined enemy aircraft over the target. Gunners replied. No damage or claims.

06-Sep-43 - Munich - Point of Aim - Lancaster – ED904 – W/O PE Chesterton

166 Ops

22-Sept-43- Hannover - Point of Aim - Lancaster - JA704 – W/O PE Chesterton

23-Sept-43 - Mannheim - Point of Aim - Lancaster - JA704 – W/O PE Chesterton

27-Sept-43 - Hannover - Point of Aim - Lancaster - JA704 – W/O PE Chesterton – FTR – Night fighter victim. Crashed Mahlerten, Nordstemmen, Niedersachsen, Germany

F/L H McGhie, the 166 Squadron Signals Leader flew with the Chesterton crew on this operation for reasons unknown.

….......

Claimed by Hptm Werner Hoffmann Stab I./NJG 5 based at Stendal airfield, Bf 110 G-4. JA704 while aircraft was coned by searchlights.

….......

W/O Paul F Chesterton DFC RAFVR – Pilot – 166 Sqn – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Harold Ackroyd RAFVR - Flight Engineer – 166 Sqn – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt K Cave RAFVR – Air Bomber – 166 Sqn – POW – Camps L6/357 – POW no 632

Sgt Edward Milling DFM RAFVR : Navigator – 166 Sqn – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Jack Bullock RAFVR – Wireless operator – 166 Sqn – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Allen H Robson RAFVR – Air Gunner – POW – Camps L6/357 – POW no 43117

Sgt Claude R Jackson RAFVR – Air Gunner – 27 - 166 Sqn – Son of Leslie and Jessica Jackson; husband of Evelyn Jackson of Handsworth, Birmingham - Hanover War Cemetery, Germany.

F/L Henry McGhie RAFVR – Signals Leader – 166 Sqn - Hanover War Cemetery, Germany.

….......

W/O P F Chesterton was awarded a DFC whilst with 103 Squadron gazetted 15 October 1943

Sgt E Milling was awarded a DFM whilst with 103 Squadron gazetted 10 April 1945

….......

166 Squadron Summary – 27/28 September 1943

The Squadron was detailed to provide 16 aircraft to attack Hanover. 16 aircraft took off successfully of which 12 attacked the primary and reported a successful attack with much enemy opposition from night fighters. 2 aircraft failed to return and 2 returned early one of which crashed attempting to land at Caistor. Weather conditions en route and over the target area were good but conditions at base deteriorated badly on return cloud being from 900 ft upwards accompanied by heavy rain and strong squally wind. All aircraft however landed at base with the exception of the one mentioned above.

Note :- The 166 Sqn aircraft that crashed near base was that of :-

28 September 1943 - 166 Sqn - Lancaster III - ED875- Ops Hanover ヨ Boone - Took off 27th Sept from Kirmington for Hanover. Returned early and crashed on Caen Hill north of Caistor - 7 killed.

Incidentally from 103 Squadron also lost on this night was the experienced and very highly rated Jake Kennard and his excellent crew. A very sad loss for 103

27-Sep-43 - Hanover - Lancaster - DV221 - S/L JH Kennard - FTR - Crashed at Mahlerten, Germany.

…..…..

1 Group Summary - 27/28 September 1943

108 Lancasters and 15 Wellingtons of this Group took off on another attempt to destroy Hannover. The weather was good over the target and there is every reason to suppose that the previous “flop” has been avenged. The P.F.F. technique was excellently carried out and reports indicate its accuracy as a large built up area was clearly seen. Large fires soon got a good hold and smoke was reported to be above 10,000 ft. There was considerable fighter activity over and in the vicinity of the target. 9 combats developed, all of which proved inconclusive.

5 of our aircraft failed to return, and nothing was heard from them after take off

1 aircraft crashed near Base and all the crew were killed, This was thought probably due to intruder activity which was very troublesome at the time. 6 Lancasters and 3 Wellingtons returned early for various reasons. The following Squadrons took part in this operation :-

460 Sqn – 19 aircraft, 101 Sqn - 17 aircraft, 300 Sqn - 15 aircraft, 12 Sqn - 20 aircraft, 103 Sqn - 17 aircraft, 100 Sqn - 19 aircraft, 166 Sqn - 16 aircraft.

Took off – 123 aircraft.

Primary - 107 aircraft,

Abortive - 9 aircraft

Missing - 5

Crashed near Base - 1

….......

27/28 September 1943

Hannover - 678 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons. 5 B-17s also took part. 38 Bomber Command aircraft - 17 Halifaxes, 10 Lancasters, 10 Stirlings, 1 Wellington - lost, 5.6 per cent of the force, and 1 B-17 also lost. The use by the Pathfinders of faulty forecast winds again saved the centre of Hannover. The bombing was very concentrated but fell on an area  north of the city centre among several local villages, recent newly built industrial areas and also the  local Vahrenwalderheide airfield which received some damage.

21 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Brunswick which was successful in drawing off some night fighters. 218 people were killed in Brunswick - 51 Germans and 167 foreigners. 1 Lancaster lost.

9 Mosquitos on another diversion to Emden, 5 Mosquitos on Oboe tests to Aachen (3 were successful), 19 aircraft minelaying in the Kattegat and the Frisian Islands, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

Compiled by Dvaid Fell with photos from my archive

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