Failed to Return
F/O H Dodds and Crew
F/O H Dodds and crew and crew were posted to 550 Sqdn No. LFS on 13.8.44:
- F/O H Dodds (P)
- Sgt A R Brown (F/Eng)
- F/Sgt R J Moran RAAF (Nav)
- F/O L O Browning (B/A)
- F/Sgt Brotherhood (W/Op)
- Sgt A Laidlaw (MU/AG)
- Sgt H V Lewis (R/AG)
The ORB lists Sgt J W Brown (2210108) posted to 550 Sqdn from No. 1 L.F.S. w.e.f. 13.08.44 with the Dodds crew as the Flight Engineer. A number of the operations undertaken by the crew also list J W Brown. But P/O A R Brown (182555) is the airman killed on 14 October 1944 (below). Letters from Arthur Reginald Brown, and showing both services number, confirm they are one and the same and that the initials "J W" seem likely to have been an error in the ORB. The service number change is normal when moving from non-commissioned to commissioned officer.
There is also come confusion (in the ORB) over the Lewis and Laidlaw service numbers and their MU/AG vs. R/AG positions, but they appear to settle on Laidlaw being the MU/AG and not the R/AG as some other sources claim.
On occasion other airmen flying with the crew included:
- F/Sgt Horlor (W/Op) (on 3 out of 11 ops)
Lancaster PD319/BQ-G was flown by F/O Dodds and crew when it when it was lost on the 14/15 October 1944 taking part in Operation Hurricane against Duisburg. This was one of two 550 Lancasters lost that night, the other being Lancaster NG133 flown by the F/O Abrams crew (see Duisburg/NG133).
The crew on that last flight was not the full regular Dodds crew, as shown below:
- F/O H Dodds (P) KIA
- P/O A R Brown (F/Eng) KIA
- F/O D J K White (Nav) KIA
- F/O H Black (B/A) KIA
- F/Sgt C W Beckingham (W/Op) KIA
- Sgt A Laidlaw (MU/AG) KIA
- Sgt H V Lewis (R/AG) KIA
F/O Black (A/B) and F/O White were both F/O Tapsell crew regulars and F/Sgt Beckingham (W/Op) was another crew-man who was not in the original crew that transferred in to 550 Sqdn with F/O Dodds. But F/Sgt Beckingham was a regular and was only replaced by F/S Horlor on 3 of the crew's 11 operations.
On that fateful night the following is known (information from Norval Black (son of F/O Black (B/A)): "The story I got from my mother is that on 14 October, Moran, the navigator, was sick and Ken White was drafted in to replace him, and as navs and bomb aimers worked closely, and as they were best pals, my father went with him. The sickness story is almost certainly true, for the Squadron records have Moran being posted out on 14 October to No.3 Base NE (non-effective), which I have come across before, and was probably a hospital facility."
The aircraft crashed in the August-Thyssen-Strasse in Wehofen, NE outskirts of Duisburg.
Other information about the flight and the target available here.
The entry on the 550 Squadron Roll of Honour here.
P/O Arthur Reginald Brown (F/Eng)
Photos of Sgt (later Pilot Officer) Brown kindly made available by Stephen Roke.
|Sgt Arthur Reginald Brown
Photo annotated on the rear "Reg"
|Sgt Brown and another airman (unknown)|
As noted earlier the ORB lists Sgt J W Brown (2210108) posted to 550 Sqdn from No. 1 L.F.S. w.e.f. 13.08.44 with the Dodds crew. But P/O A R Brown (182555) is the airman killed on 14 Oct 1944. Letters from Arthur Reginald Brown, and showing both services number, confirm they are one and the same and that the initials "J W" seem likely to have been an error in the ORB. Also shown below is his service record showing, among other things, his transfer date to North Killingholme (which agress with that for "J W Brown" in the ORB) and the dates of his commission.
Sgt Albert Laidlaw (MU/AG)
Sgt Albert Laidlaw flew as a gunner with 550 Squadron. Sgt Laidlaw, along with the rest of the crew, was killed on 14 October 1944 when PD319 was shot down.
|Sgt Albert Laidlaw
Picture courtesy of Evelyn Miller
Picture courtesy of Evelyn Miller
|D-Flight signatures (rear of photo)
Picture courtesy of Evelyn Miller
The pictures labelled "D Flight" are a little bit of a puzzle. The picture showing the signatures is clearly labeled October 1943 D Flight". Indeed one or two signatures are individually dated at what looks like 21/10/1943.
The reason for the puzzle: on the 550 Squadron history page (http://www.550squadronassociation.org.uk/original-site-archive/index.htm) is noted that the squadron was formed out of 100 Sqdn "C Flight" in November 1943 and originally started with two flights, growing later to three (Flights A, B and C).
The 100 Squadron webpage (http://www.100squadronassociation.org.uk/history5.html) essentially confirms these details although noting:
"In October of 1943, 100 Squadron produced an 'offspring' when 'C' Flight was formed into 550 Squadron to be based at North Killingholme. 550 Squadron was to inherit EE139 HW-R ROGER the 'Phantom of the Ruhr', which went on to complete over 100 missions."
So perhaps the picture is of 100 Sqdn "C Flight" expanding rapidly immediately prior to 550 Squadron formation and they were simply adopting the next available letter, and that within a month things had moved on to 550 Squadron proper. Where the photograph was taken is unclear, but the white flashes on the caps indicate "aircrew in training" and so the photographs may well have been taken in Canada.
To see a list of the last few operations the F/O Dodds crew, including Sgt Laidlaw, took part in click here (document courtesy of Peter Miller).
Sgt Harold Lewis (R/AG)
|Sgt Harold "Lou" Lewis (1924 - 1944)
The photo hangs on a wall of the church of Farmborough, Somerset where he lived.
Picture kindly provided by Theo Vervoort (received via Stephen Roke)
PD319 Returned to North Killingholme
At the Remembrance Sunday services in November 2012 a fragment of PD319 finally returned to North Killingholme, after 68 years. Norval Black, son of F/O Henry Black (B/A), presented a fragment of the aircraft, found in Germany, for display in the Squadron Museum in North Killingholme.
Research Reported from Germany
Information from two sources has been received in relation to the loss of PD319.
In the course of research for the book Bomber Command Operation Hurricane (see below) Marc Hall recovered fragments of the aircraft including the panel of PD319 returned to the son of Henry Black as reported above.
Jörg Helbig reports: "PD319 received a direct hit from flak and crashed at Duisburg (08.48 hrs (local) in the August-Thyssen Strasse at Wehofen, Duisburg) and the crew were laid to rest at the Jewish Cemetery of Holten next to those whose died from Lancaster LL909 (12 Squadron). The graves were exhumed by the Americans and the bodies transported to Holland. LL909 was shot down at the same time 8.48 hrs (also by flak) and crashed at the Mattlerbusch in the Wehofer Strasse."
For the location see: http://maps.google.de/maps?hl=de&tab=wl (search: August-Thyssen Strasse Wehofen)
Thanks to Marc Hall and Jörg Helbig for information provided.
Stichting Adoptiegraven CWGC Venray War Cemetery
A scheme known as the "Stichting Adoptiegraven CWGC Venray War Cemetery" allows local families to adopt the grave of a WWII combatent and provide it with special attention in addition to the CWGC care normally given. This is a means of "giving these fighters a face" as well as helping younger generations, who did not experience the effects of the war, to understand better the sacrifices made in the liberation of Europe.
The are seventeen 550 Sqdn aircrew buried at Venray including F/O Henry Black.
Thanks to Norval Black for sending in the information and photos and to the Gommans family to taking a 550 Sqdn airman to their hearts.
|The grave of F/O Henry Black held in remembrance by the Gommans family|
|CWGC Venray War Cemetery at Christmas|
|The Gommans family who have adopted the grave of Henry Black|
Venray Cemetery Visit April 2023
In April 2023 Stephen and Janet Roke visited Venray to meet local volunteers who have adopted the graves of individual service men and to lay a wreath for P/O Reg Brown. Attached below is a detailed account of his visit.
|Venray Cemetery Visit, April 2023|
|Stephen and Janet Roke at the grave of P/O A R (Arthur Reginald) "Reg" Brown|
At the time of the visit the cemetery was undergoing some rework (as detailed in the above document) so it was not quite looking tip-top; but I'm sure following that planned re-work it will finally be looking in the top condition that the CWGC always maintains:
Among the volunteers who have adopted the graves of men from the F/O Dodds crew are:
The remaining crew members have been adopted as follows:
- Sander Dijkink looks after the grave of F/O Henry Dodds (Pilot)
- Jose and Chrit van de Enckevort look after the grave of F/Sgt Clarence Walter Beckingham RAAF (Wireless Operator)
- Scot Mathieson looks after the grave of F/O Douglas John Kenneth White (Navigator)
Bomber Command Operation Hurricane
A book was published in May 2013 on Operation Hurricane. The crews that failed to come home were one of the key items addressed in the book. See: Bomber Command Operation Hurricane.