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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn N to Z] [Robert R J Tate and crew 103 Sqn]

Robert R J Tate RAFVR and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944

Failed to Return – 30/31st March 1944 – Avro Lancaster I – ME721 – Op Nuremberg.

Robert Tate and his crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from Heavy Conversion Unit late February / early March 1944. They were lost on their second operation. See below :-

18-Mar-44 – Frankfurt – Lancaster – ME671 – F/S RRJ Tate

30-Mar-44 – Nuremberg – Lancaster – ME721 – P/O RRJ Tate – FTR - Night fighter victim. Crashed at Morles north east of Fulda, Germany.


P/O Robert Richard Jack Tate RAFVR – Pilot – 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of Robert W. and Ada C. Tate of Loughton, Essex – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Ronald James MacDonald RAFVR – Flight Engineer - 103 Sqn - Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

F/S Allan Conway Belyea RCAF ( pictured below )  – Navigator - 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of Daniel Allan Belyea, and of Gladys E. Belyea of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Patrick Joseph Lynch RAF – Air Gunner - 103 Sqn - Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt William Vernon Ford RAFVR – Wireless Operator / Air Gunner - 22 – 103 Sqn - Son of Herbert William and Daisy Lavinia Ford of Banbury, Oxfordshire – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt Edwin McCully RAFVR – Air Bomber - 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of Edwin and Margaret McCully of Darlington, Co. Durham – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

Sgt John Norgrove RAFVR – Air Gunner - 28 – 103 Sqn - Son of George Norgrove, and of Grace Olive Norgrove, of Handsworth, Birmingham – Hanover War Cemetery, Germany

103 Squadron Belyea Tate

F/S Allan Conway Belyea RCAF

103 Squadron Belyea Tate newspaper cutting


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.


Lancaster – ME721

This machine was lost on its first operation.

30-Mar-44 – Nuremberg – Lancaster – ME721 – P/O RRJ Tate – FTR - Night fighter victim. Crashed at Morles north east of Fulda, Germany.

Item compiled by David Fell


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