Personnel Index - Detail
21/22 June, 1944; WESSELING:
There was nothing unusual about Wednesday 21 June, 1944; the weather, as with previous days remained dull and the slight northerly wind kept temperatures a little chilly. For aircrew the morning passed slowly, whilst activity on the airfield indicated that ops were on the menu for that evening. There had been no operations for the past five days so just after lunch a small crowd had gathered as an airman pinned up the Battle Order; twenty aircraft were detailed with the main briefing at 20.00hrs. For those crews listed, the usual pre-operational routine began, then later, after a noisy meal in the Sgts' Mess and with coffee flasks filled, crews walked or were ferried over to the main site for specialist briefings and then the main briefing. The tape on the wall map showed a route ending just below the Ruhr... Germany for a change.
A force of over 130 Lancasters from 5 Group was to attack the synthetic-oil plant at Wesseling, 15 miles south of Cologne - marking would be by 5 Group Mosquitoes using the 'Newhaven' method. One by one, the various specialists gave their talks, with W/Cmdr Malcolm Crocker concluding the briefing by stating that he too would be operating, and would be taking along Mr Stevenson, a War Correspondent from the BBC. Also flying this night would be both of 49's two Squadron Leaders.
At 03.32hrs, combat exhausted 49 Squadron crews began landing back at Fiskerton. Their opening remarks gave the first hints of the disaster that had befallen the aircrew of 5 Group. Meanwhile, outside the intensity of the operations block... in another world... dawn was just breaking over the Lincolnshire Wolds, heralding the start of a fine new day. A corporal removed the blackouts from the windows, letting shafts of bright sunlight penetrate the stuffy smoke filled room... the sun's rays played upon the operations board, where, written in large chalk white capital letters... against the names of SIX aircraft captains were those three impassive words... ‘MISSING WITHOUT TRACE’.
The Station Commander, having just returned from his long vigil at the Watch Office, scanned the ops board in silence, still numbed by the realisation that in just one very short evening, 49 Squadron had lost 42 good men, including its Commanding Officer, and a Squadron Leader. Twenty seven year-old W/Cdr Malcolm Crocker, DFC and bar, along with his second tour crew had all perished over Germany and are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery; along-side them lies their intrepid passenger, Mr Kent Stevenson of the BBC.
Lancaster LL900 (EA-T)
W/C M. Crocker DFC&Bar Pilot (Killed)
F/L A.E.A. Matthews DFC F/E (Killed)
P/O L.B. Benson DFM NAV (Killed)
F/O J.R. Worthington DFC W/OP (Killed)
P/O A.D. Creighton RCAF A/G (Killed)
F/O K. Dutton B/A (Killed)
P/O D.H. Carr DFM A/G (Killed)
MR K. Stevenson BBC (Killed)
Crew on their 8th operation with 49 Sqdn