Personnel Index - Detail
Allan Creighton being presented with his pilot's wings
The above images and article below were kindly provided by Val Finley, Historian, Luseland and Districts Museum, Saskatchewan, Canada.
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
The then Sgt Creighton had a brush with death at his OTU:
On 6 December 1942 he was rear gunner of a Wellington which took off at 00:10 hours on a navigational exercise. The aircraft crashed from 200 feet on take-off and he was the sole survivor. He reported:
"I was sitting in my turret watching the lights of the flare path disappear when, all at once, there was a terrific explosion. I must have been knocked unconscious, because I remember nothing until I found myself hanging half in and half out of the turret. The first thing I heard was out Bomb Aimer, Sergeant Arpe, calling. As soon as I disentangled myself I went to his aid. His legs were caught under part of the wreckage, which I removed and dragged him clear of the aircraft, with great difficulty as I had the use of one arm only. He explained that his legs were hurt, but at the time he did not seem in much pain. My memory from then on is kind of hazy. I attempted to get the rest of the crew out of the aircraft but could not find them. I could see the lights of the aerodrome and I left the crash with the object of bringing aid. The next thing I knew was that I was in a farmyard. I knocked and banged on the door of the farmhouse but could get no answer. Apparently there was nobody at home. I then started off across the field towards the aerodrome, and I was hollering as I went along. As I neared a hangar an airman heard me and came to my assistance and took me to the Watch Office where I reported the crash."
P/O Creighton's DFC:
The award was presented by the Canadian Governor General tohis next-of-kin on the 10th December 1947. The citation calls him a pilot, but the casualty list and training school list make clear he was an air gunner.
Pilot Officer Creighton, as pilot [sic] , has completed numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude and devotion to duty.
Note: Although letters of condolence were often standard, the following excerpt from a letter dated 22nd June 1944 from the Commanding Officer, No.49 Squadron, to his widow may explain his award in some part:
"During the time your husband has been with the squadron he has taken part in many operational sorties, and he has shown himself to be a very efficient and keen air gunner who was always willing to give the benefit of his knowledge and experience to the new gunners as they came to the squadron."