Personnel Index - Detail
22/23 April, 1944; BRUNSWICK:
For the first time, 5 Group took its low-level marking method to a heavily defended German target. The Mosquitoes placed their markers accurately but a combination of poor visibility and faulty communications between the bomber controllers saved the city from severe damage. Eighteen Lancasters took off from Fiskerton for Brunswick; P/O Simpson and crew being the last away at 23.20hrs. Post-operation reports showed that only a few German fighters contested the 265 strong bomber force, but three crews from the squadron were intercepted. At 01.23hrs, still on course for the target, the Rowley crew’s aircraft was suddenly hit by very accurate cannon fire from an unseen German night-fighter. P/O Rowley put ND533 into a violent corkscrew and managed to evade their attacker, but fire had broken out in the centre of the fuselage and the aircraft soon filled with smoke; both gun turrets had been put out of action in the initial attack. With great determination, the flight engineer, Sgt Hatchett, was able to subdue the flames. A quick assessment of the damage soon established that Sgt Partington, the rear gunner, had tragically been killed at his station. With a defenceless and badly crippled aircraft, the pilot had no alternative but to return to base. They landed back at Fiskerton just before 04.00hrs, where on a very sombre dispersal point, the body of the rear gunner was gently removed; Ralph Partington is buried in his home town of Royton in Lancashire.