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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Reginald F Dobson and crew 103 Sqn]

F/L Reginald F Dobson RAFVR and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944/45

Failed to Return – 23/24th February 1945 – Avro Lancaster I – RA515 – Op Pforzheim

Reginald Dobson and his crew were posted tp 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from Heavy Conversion Unit 11 Base on the 26th August 1944. They were lost very near complettion of an extended tour. See below:-

24-Sep-44 - Calais - Lancaster - NF999 - P/O RA Dobson - Hit by light flak. Landed away.

27-Sep-44 - Calais - Lancaster - LM177 - P/O RA Dobson

28-Sep-44 - Calais - Lancaster - ND381 - P/O RA Dobson – Aborted - Raid cancelled by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Instructed to jettison bombs in sea prior to landing.

05-Oct-44 - Saarbrucken - Lancaster - PB637 - F/O RA Dobson

07-Oct-44 - Emmerich - Lancaster - LM682 - F/O RA Dobson

14-Oct-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - ME698 - F/O RA Dobson

14-Oct-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - ME698 - F/O RA Dobson

09-Nov-44 - Wanne Eikel - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

11-Nov-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

16-Nov-44 - Duren - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

21-Nov-44 - Oslo Fjord - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

27-Nov-44 - Freiburg - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

06-Dec-44 - Leuna - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

12-Dec-44 - Essen - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

13-Dec-44 - Aarhus Bay - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

21-Dec-44 - Stettin Bay - Lancaster - NG391 - F/O RA Dobson - Bad weather at base. All aircraft diverted to East Fortune

24-Dec-44 -  Cologne/Nippes - Lancaster - PD236 - F/O RA Dobson - Bad weather at base. All aircraft diverted to Old Buckenham

29-Dec-44 - Scholven Buer - Lancaster - PD236 - F/O RA Dobson -

31-Dec-44 - Osterfeld - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

02-Jan-45 - Nuremberg - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

05-Jan-45 - Hanover - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

06-Jan-45 - Stettin Bay - Lancaster - LM177 - F/O RA Dobson

28-Jan-45 - Stuttgart/Zuffenhausen - Lancaster - ME449 - F/O RA Dobson

01-Feb-45 - Ludwigshafen - Lancaster - NN758 – F/L RA Dobson

02-Feb-45 - Wiesbaden - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

04-Feb-45 - Elbe Estuary - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

07-Feb-45 - Kleve - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

08-Feb-45 - Politz - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

13-Feb-45 - Dresden - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

14-Feb-45 - Kadet Channel - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

18-Feb-45 - Elbe Estuary - Lancaster - LM177 – F/L RA Dobson

23-Feb-45 - Pforzheim - Lancaster - RA515 – F/L RA Dobson – FTR - Collision with another Lancaster near target.Crashed in Germany.

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103 Squadron Curtin twins Leo and Kevin

The Curtin twins - Leo and Kevin

F/L Reginald Frederick Dobson RAFVR – Pilot - 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of Frederick Arthur and Ellen Dobson of Broadstairs, Kent - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

W/O Ernest Edwin Standing RAFVR – Pilot - 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Herbert and Margaret Standing of Littlehampton, Sussex - 103 Sqn - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Anthony Keith Parker RAFVR – Flight Engineer - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

P/O Alan Noel Fletcher RAAF - 24 – 103 Sqn - Son of Charles John and Pearl Elizabeth Fletcher of Miranda, New South Wales, Australia - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

P/O Leo Patrick Curtin RAAF ( pictured above ) - 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of Leo Micheal and Mary Irine Rose Curtin of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

P/O William John Milne Baillie RAAF -  ( picture below ) 103 Sqn – POW – Camp N/K – POW No N/K

Sgt Richard Nolan RAFVR – Air Gunner - 103 Sqn - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Derek James Reeves RAFVR – Air Gunner - 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of James Manley Reeves and Esther Margaret Reeves of Eastbourne, Sussex - Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany

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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 – RA515

This machine was lost on its 5th operation. See below :-

13-Feb-45 – Dresden - Lancaster – RA515 – F/L DA Newman RCAF

14-Feb-45 – Chemnitz - Lancaster – RA515 – F/L DA Newman RCAF

18-Feb-45 - Elbe Estuary - Lancaster – RA515 - F/O AJ Mosley RAAF

21-Feb-45 – Duisburg - Lancaster – RA515 - F/O AC Watt RCAF

23-Feb-45 – Pforzheim - Lancaster – RA515 – F/L RA Dobson – FTR - Crashed in Germany

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Leo Patrick & Kevin Joseph Curtin

Leo Patrick (known as Pat to avoid confusion with his father Leo Michael) and his twin brother Kevin Joseph were born in December 1924 in the New South Wales town of Queanbeyan. They were educated at the Queanbeyan Catholic School and moved to Canberra with the family in 1939. On leaving school they both joined the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra and worked there until joining the RAAF in December 1942 as soon as they turned 18.

They remained together in the same flight and trained as navigators at Bradfield Park in Sydney, Mt Gambia in South Australia and Sale in Victoria. They left Sydney by ship for England in early January 1944. On their way to England they traveled through Canada where it caused confusion with some Canadians that they were white and spoke English. There was little known about Australia or Australians in that area in those days.

When they arrived in England they were both attached to Squadron 103. It was not usual that siblings were attached to the same squadron but in this case as they were twins and both trained as navigators they were assigned to the same squadron but different flights.

They flew in Lancaster bombers and commenced their tour of flights over Germany. Kevin was in the crew of F/O PJR Cartwright RAFVR and finished his tour before Pat. He waited for his brother to finish so they could come home together. When Pat, whose tour had been delayed for some reason, had completed all but two of his allotted flights the authorities raised the number of flights in a tour by a further five trips. It was on the third of these extra trips that on 24th February 1945 Pat’s plane was involved in a collision with another plane that had been hit by anti-aircraft fire and both planes crashed. There was only one survivor of Pats crew. He managed to get out and parachuted to earth. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and served out the war in a prisoner of war camp. A few months later the authorities reduced the number of trips in a tour of duty back to the original number but it was too late for Pat by then.

During their active service both Kevin and Pat were promoted to Flying Officers. Our parents were notified that Pat was missing in late February 1945 but it was four years later before they received official notification that he was dead.

Pat is buried together with the remainder of his crew at Bad Toelz (Durnbach) British Military Cemetery (Plot VIII Row G). Several of the family have visited the grave over the years.

Kevin returned to Australia in May 1945. Although he had never completed his secondary education he studied Architecture under a repatriation scheme and became one of Sydney’s leading architects. He died of a heart attack in 1996

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P/O William John Milne Baillie RAAF

103 Squadron Baillie

P/O Baillie in his PoW statement described the circumstances of the loss of the aircraft:

We were on our bomb run at a height of 7000 ft. Collision occurred between our aircraft and another. Other aircraft come in from the starboard side passing under us. Our nose was crunched in and most of the port wing torn off; presumably main petrol fuel line was cut because all the engines stopped just after the collision. H2S scanner was missing, this I noticed when bailing out.

I wasn’t on the intercom at the time of the collision, but switched on immediately it happened, and asked the captain what happened and if we were bailing out. He told me we had collided and we were abandoning the aircraft.

Bomb Aimer and Engineer were in the nose at the time; both were either killed or too injured to move to bail out. No one bailed out prior to my leaving aircraft because they had lost their chutes (Nav and both gunners). I bailed at about 3000 ft. The aircraft was spinning and turning on its back and the incendiaries in bomb bay were burning.

The aircraft crashed about 2 miles south of the target, near where I landed because bushes I landed on were smouldering and ground was very warm. Suffered lacerations to face and forehead either in the aircraft or in the act of bailing out. I presumed that the other members of the crew went down with the aircraft. No contact was made with any of them, nor was any information received about them.

Plt.Off. Baillie reported in his War Crimes Questionnaire an attempted lynching by German civilians the day after he was captured at a place named Ettlingen, 22˝ km WNW of Pforzheim.

The next day after capture I was taken to a small village about 6 miles NW of the target (Pzorzheim [sic]) and asked for treatment of my eye and forehead and was taken to a first aid post in the main street by a soldier. After receiving treatment I was taken out into the main street again, where I was attacked by four middle aged men, I managed to knock one down and the guard warded two more off with his rifle, but the fourth one sneaked up behind me with a small milk can and swung it at me, I happened to see it coming out of the corner of my eye and attempted to dodge it, but the corner just caught me on the right side of my head, cutting an inch long wound. Eventually the guard warded all four men off and we proceeded back to my cell.

Could have been Remchingen or Königsbach-Stein

He was held in the following PoW camps: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt from 29th February until 2nd March; Stalag 13d, Nuremburg from 7th March until 4th April; Stalag 7a, Moosburg from 18th April until 29th April 1945 when he was liberated. He returned to England on the 23rd May 1945.

Item compiled by David Fell with photo and Curtin item from the family. Baillie photo etc courtesy of Australian Archives

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