Failed to Return
DV309 was shot down on the outskirts of Westerlo, Belguim, one of three 550 Sqdn Lancasters lost on the Duisburg operation on 21/22 May 1944. The crew, all killed on this operation, were:
- P/O G W Hinde (P)
- Sgt T L J Whittick F/Eng)
- Sgt D Hughes (Nav)
- F/Sgt C C Sharland (B/A)
- Sgt D R M Davies (W/Op)
- Sgt E C Beacham (MU/AG)
- Sgt W A J Young (R/AG)
The entry on the 550 Squadron Roll of Honour is available here.
Other information about the flight and the target from the squadron record available here.
See also the P/O G W Hinde web-page.
F/Sgt G W Hinde
Sgt T L J Whittick
Sgt D Hughes
Sgt C C Sharland
Sgt R M Davies
Sgt E C Beacham
Sgt W A J Young
Information about the Loss of DV309
DV309 was one of three 550 Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation. See also the squadron records for: LL851 and LM319. DV309 was airborne at 22:35 21 May 1944 from North Killingholme, and shot down by a night-fighter, crashing in the vicinity of Oosterwijk (Antwerpen), 3 km NW of Tongerlo. The aircraft crashed at 01:51 on the outskirts of Westerlo and all the crew members were killed.
German records show they were shot down by the German night fighter ace, Oberstleutnant Heinz Wolfgang Schnauffer who finished the war with 121 victories, all bombers. The bodies of the navigator and wireless operator were never found - an indication that something catastrophic occurred. At more or less the same time, another Lancaster, from 626 Squadron, also crashed very close to Westerlo. The Germans quickly cordoned off both sites and removed wreckage and bodies. It was not firmly established which crash belonged to which aircraft until in 1997 a piece of wreckage was found bearing the number of the 626 Squadron aircraft. This established that the 550 aircraft crashed at Schobbroek and the 626 Squadron aircraft at Herselt.
The five recovered 550 crew-men were buried at Antwerpen-Deure 23 May 1944, later being re-interred in the Schoonselhof Cemetery. The bodies of Sgt Hughes and Sgt Davies were not recovered and thus are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Type Lancaster Serial Number DV309 Squadron 550 X1D BQ-S Operation Duisburg Date 1 21st May 1944 Date 2 22nd May 1944 "Serial Range DV155 - DV407 This aircraft was one of 200 lancasters ordered from metro-Vick in 1941 and built as 91 Mk.1s with Merlin 22 engines and 109 Mk.111s with merlin 28 engines from may43 to Nov43. DV309 was a Mk.1 and was delivered to 166 Sqdn 12Oct43, joining 550 Sqdn 10Feb44. Took part in the following key Operations: With No.166 Sqdn Hannover 18/19Oct43. With No.550 Sqdn as BQ-S, Berlin 15/16Feb44; Schweinfurt 24/25Feb44; Stuttgart 15/16Mar44; Berlin 24/25Mar44; Nuremburg 30/31Mar44; Schwienfurt 26/27Apr44; Mailly-le-Camp 3/4May44; Duisburg 21/22May44-Lost. When lost this aircraft had a total of 215 hours. DV309 was one of three 550 Sqdn lancasters lost on this operation. See: LL851; LM319. Airborne 2235 21May44 from North Killingholme. Shot down by a night-fighter, crashing in the vicinity of Oosterwijk (Antwerpen), 3 km NW of Tongerlo. All were buried at Antwerpen-Deure 23May44, although five are have been re-interred in the Schoonselhof Cemetery. Sgt Hughes and Sgt Davies are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. F/S G.W.Hinde KIA Sgt T.L.J.Whittick KIA Sgt D.Hughes KIA Sgt C.C Sharland KIA Sgt D.R.M.Davies KIA Sgt W.A.J.Young KIA Sgt E.C.Beacham KIA"
550 Squadron Commemorations in Westerlo, Belgium
Over the years there have been many visits by the Association to Westerlo following the unveiling of the Memorial Stone in 1998. See the Westerlo Commemorations web-page.