Failed to Return
F/Sgt C G Foster and Crew
F/Sgt Foster and crew were posted to 550 Sqdn on squadron start-up from 100 Sqdn "C" Flight:
- F/Sgt C G Foster RNZAF (P) [KIA]
- Sgt J McGhie (F/Eng) [KIA]
- F/Sgt J C Garratt (Nav) [KIA]
- Sgt R Johnson (B/A) [KIA]
- Sgt E W Wash (W/Op) [KIA]
- Sgt W Barratt (MU/AG) [KIA]
- Sgt R G Johns (R/AG) [KIA]
The picture below shows F/Sgt Foster and crew.
This photo has been available from various sources for some time, but this copy kindly made available by Norman Reid (nephew of Sgt John (Jock) McGhie (F/Eng))
|And what is special about this copy is that on the rear all the crew have signed the photo, and there is a note from John McGhie to his parents.
Many thanks to Norman Reid for making this available
Lancaster ND425/BQ-C was shot down on the night of 30/31 March 1944 by a night-fighter on the raid to Nuremburg. The plane exploded over Unterspiesheim, 11 km SSE of Schweinfurt. ND425 was one of two 550 Squadron Lancasters lost that night. The crew on this operation was as above. All of the crew were killed and are buried in Durnbach War Cemetery.
Other information about the flight and the target available here.
The entry on the 550 Squadron Roll of Honour here.
Sgt John McGhie
Sgt John McGhie was the F/Eng on ND425 and you can read more about him here.
Sgt Wilfred Barratt
Sgt Wilfred Barratt flew as the mid-upper gunner on ND425 and you can read more about him here.
F/Sgt Robert Johnson
F/Sgt Robert Johnson was the bomb aimer on ND425 and you can read more about him here.
F/Sgt Johnson's son has provided the following information about operations undertaken by this aircrew.
The plane was delivered in January 1944 and is known to have taken part in the following raids. Serial Sqn Call Target Raid Date Aborted Comments ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Brunswick 14/15 January 1944 Yes Aborted - unspecified reason ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Berlin 27/28 January 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Berlin 30/31 January 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Berlin 15/16 February 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Leipzig 19/20 February 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Schweinfurt 24/25 February 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Stuttgart 15/16 March 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Berlin 24/25 March 1944 No ND425 550 Sqn BQ-C Nuremberg 30/31 March 1944 No The crew were on their 17th raid and I have deduced that they may have taken part in the following raids from RAF Waltham before relocating to North Killingholme. However, this is not confirmed. Serial Sqn Call Target Raid Date Aborted Comments N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 26/27 November 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 2/3 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Leipzig 3/4 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 16/17 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Frankfurt 20/21 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 23/24 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 29/30 December 1943 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 1/2 January 1944 No N/K 550 Sqn N/K Berlin 2/3 January 1944 No As aborted raids were not counted in their totals, this would make 17 raids. The aircraft used at Waltham is unknown but they were obviously allocated ND425 when it first became available.
Since that initial list (above) was originally compiled the full list of the crew operations is now available online. See the full list of operations and search the page for "C G Foster. There should be 17 hits. The bulk of the crew operations were carried out in ND425, but the crew also flew a small number of raids in ED536 and LM321.
On a number of operations there was a stand-in F/Eng in place of Sgt McGhie the regular F/Eng McGhie, and likewise for the rear-gunner Sgt Johns, as well as a couple of flights with a second pilot on his "second dicky" flight.
Final Fate of the Aircraft
F/Sgt Johnson's son has provided the following information.
There are a number of different versions of how the aircraft was lost. The quote (first sentences above) from the "official" book of RAF losses (can't remember the title) but Martin Middlemas in his book "The Nuremburg Raid" claims something different. He states that the aircraft was coned and shot down by flak and that the night fighters arrived late in the area. Another source (Norbert Vollman) claims that one aircraft in the area was hit by flak and then by a night fighter before crashing. Relatives have also been given an eye witness account of the plane crashing. This is a translation of a report by Mr. Elmar Seufert, former second mayor of the community of Kolitzheim made in July 1995. This has been altered slightly to correct English and words. The original words are in brackets. "On midnight the anti-aircraft-sirens were sounding (hooting) at Unterspiesheim. Our family went to the dugout in the garden which was dug by our father against the bomb-splinters. At about 1.30 hours a bomber coming from the south and burning like a torch was coming (drowning) very low above the village flying in NNW direction. It looked (I was strucked) as if the bomber intended (attended) to make an emergency landing. Shortly after passing the village the plane crashed with (under) a big explosion into the little wood, which is situated about one and a half kilometre away from the village. The next day the police and a lot of people out of the village were visiting the crash place. Two airmen were indeed dead, but looking externally safe, with the exception of little wounds and black and blue marks. The other airmen were partly deformed and partly burned. Beneath the dead they have salvaged a lot of ammunition. All seven killed airmen were buried by the community of the Unterspiesheim at the local cemetery on a common grave on the west wall. At the crash scene in the wood the trees were splintered and partly burned on an area as big as a soccer field. I can remember that in 1946 a British military commission came to Unterspiesheim to exhume the corpses. They were reburied at Durnbach War Cemetery. " The crash site, apparently, indicates that the plane probably did not break up at normal altitude but probably just before it hit the ground and this would appear to be confirmed by the eyewitness report above. The site still shows one large crater (the body?) and 4 small craters (engines?) but they are not in line. The engines may have come off with impact with the trees.
Crash Site Visit
Eve Dolphin, the daughter of Sgt R.G. Johns, was born after her father failed to return from his final mission. Eve made a journey to Germany to visit the crash-site and returned with items from the aircraft received from two men who, as young boys, found the crash-site in the woods the morning after the crash. These items are now in the 550 Museum in North Killingholme. This was recorded in Association Newsletter Issue 47 (October 2010).