Personnel Index - Detail
The Simpkin crew in training (identities to be confirmed)
Image via Colin Cripps
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.
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.
Five members of F/O Les Simpkin's crew survived when their aircraft was brought down near the target. Sadly F/O Simpkin and rear gunner Sgt James Maton were killed and are both buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Lancaster NE128 (EA-J)
F/O L.N. Simpkin Pilot (Killed)
Sgt A. Ladkin F/E (P.o.W.)
F/S T.A. Wilson NAV (P.o.W.)
W/O R.S. Phillips RAAF W/AG (P.o.W.)
Sgt W. Watson A/G (P.o.W.)
W/O E. O'Reilly RCAF B/A (P.o.W.)
Sgt J.A.T. Maton A/G (Killed)
Crew on their 11th operation