550 Squadron Photos

BQ-O / LM273

F/O Grundy and Crew

LM273 was one of two 550 Sqdn Lancasters lost on the Pforzheim operation on 23/24 February 1945. Crewed on this operation as follows:

F/Sgt Figg, F/O Grundy, WO2 McLauchlan and Sgt King were confined in Hospital due injuries until Liberation.
Sgt King, on repatriation, was admitted to RAF Hospital Wroughton where he received treatment for a badly broken ankle.
WO2 Sowter was killed as he left the stricken Lancaster. He is buried, together with both Air Gunners, in Durnbach War Cemetery.

Click image Left-to-right:
F/O Grundy, F/Sgt Sowter, Sgt McLauchlan
Sgt E.W.King, Sgt Figg, Sgt Mackenzie, Sgt Jarvis

Picture courtesy of Jim Cameron
Click image F/Sgt Sowter
Picture courtesy of Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
Click image F/Sgt Sowter, Durnbach Cemetery
Picture courtesy of Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa

The entry on the 550 Squadron Roll of Honour is available here.

Other information about the flight and the target available here.

Investigations into the Loss of LM273

Information concerning the loss of the aircraft from Canadian archives has been received on the web-site. This gives the area where the aircraft was downed and the location of the initial graves of the three dead air-men before their bodies were finally laid to rest in Durnbach Cemetery. The report shows that the aircraft went down in EUTINGEN IM GÄU (Schwarzwald) near Horb am Neckar and that Sgt MacKenzie and Sgt Jarvis were initially buried in EUTINGEN cemetery and P/O Sowter in BILDECHINGEN cemetery.

Combined with night-fighter records from the German archives the conclusion is that LM273 was shot down on the homeward route over the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) by Oberfähnrich (Obfhr) Helmut Bunje 4./NJG 6. LM273 was one of three Bombers which he downed during that night. Peter Spoden, Bunje's commander in 1945, also had claims for that night but the available evidence rules him out, leaving Bunje as the pilot most likely to have claimed LM273 that night.

It is likely that LM273 was his last claim which he made at 20.30 hrs combat time in the Freudenstadt area. This 550 Squadron aircraft was also the last one downed by a night-fighter during this night.

[Helmut Bunje is credited with 12 victories against Bomber Command aircraft in the latter stages of the war. Post-war he went on to become a successful architect in Hamburg. Current information is that he died 8th July 2000.]

The crash site is recorded as the village of EUTINGEN, where the Bürgermeister reported a four engined aircraft crashing in flames at about 9 o'clock on the evening of 23/02/1945 in a field 2km south of the village. One body was discovered in the wreakage, one 100m away and a third near the village of BILDECHINGEN. He also reported the capture of one crew member at MUEHLEN, two in EUTINGEN and one captured wounded in GUETTELFINGEN. The two bodies near the aircraft were buried in one grave in EUTINGEN by French and Belgium PoWs. A visit to the scene of the crash by the investigation team revealed three Merlin engines remained in the field.

Many thanks to Jörg Helbig for granting permission to publish the results of his researches on this aircraft.

DocumentComment
- Letter to the father of Roy Sowter confirming the loss of his son
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
- Detailed report from Bürgermeisters in EUTINGEN and BILDECHINGEN
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- Investigation report
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- Report recording original burial locations
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- Gemeinde Bildechingen, Bürgermeister, 7 January 1946. Record of Roy Sowter burial in Friedhof Bildechingen.
The document records "parachute crash" as cause of death.
The pilot F/O Grundy (in one of the other documents) records that Roy Sowter was ready to leave right behind him, but insisted he leave first, and that the plane hit the ground in a slow shallow dive so that the Navigator did have time to bale out. So perhaps there was a parachute failure.
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
- F/O Grundy (P) debriefing report, page 1
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- F/O Grundy (P) debriefing report, page 2
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
- Sgt King (F/Eng) debriefing report, page 1
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- Sgt King (F/Eng) debriefing report, page 2
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
- F/Sgt Figg (W/Op) debriefing report, page 1
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- F/Sgt Figg (W/Op) debriefing report, page 2
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
- W/O McLauchlan (B/A) debriefing report, page 1
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
- W/O McLauchlan (B/A) debriefing report, page 2
Image kindly made available by Jörg Helbig: source File RG 24 Volume 28701 P/O Sowter RCAF, LAC/Ottawa
DocumentComment
NiFi report NiFi report for the night of 23/24 Feb 1945 (in German)
Document kindly made available by Jörg Helbig

Recent Received Information

new02/08/2013

The following documents have recently been received from the Bürgermeisteramt, Eutingen im Gäu. Many thanks to the staff there for making them available.

DocumentComment
NiFi report Report, 10.09.1951 (in German)
Information on the crash of an aircraft 1945
NiFi report Report, 27.09.1951 (in German)
Information on the crash of an aircraft on 23.2.1945
NiFi report Grabmeldung (in German)
Grave report (two unknown airmen)
NiFi report Report, 4.6.1945 (in German)
Information on the crash of an aircraft on 23.2.1945 in Eutingen
NiFi report Bezirkssuchbescheinigung, 2 May 1946 (in German)
District search certificate