Personnel Index - Detail
30/31 January, 1943; HAMBURG:
The last raid of the month was to the U-boat base and industrial city of Hamburg. Situated on the River Elbe and close to the coastline of north west Germany, this target proved ideal for the first ever use of H2S. Pathfinder Halifaxes and Stirlings used this new device to mark the target for the 148 strong attacking force. Eleven Lancasters lifted from Fiskerton around midnight into a clear, cold, starlit night, with a promise of good weather on their return.
Hamburg received a scattered attack with many of the bombs falling in the river or surrounding wetlands. Five Lancasters were lost on the raid, but all of 49's aircraft headed for home across the North Sea. About an hour out from base, the returning aircraft were informed that the cloud base over Fiskerton was down to 600 feet and that in the driving rain, visibility was 600 yards. The WAAF controller strongly advised crews to land away. Four aircraft heeded this advice and this left just one aircraft outstanding... aloft in the gloom of this miserable Sunday morning were the tired young men in F/Sgt Elliot Cole's crew.
In their flak damaged Lancaster, the crew groped around in the murky sky over Fiskerton airfield, searching desperately for a clear gap that would give them a glimpse of the flarepath, home and safety. The 23 year old Australian pilot made his approach from the north west, heading for one of the shorter runways. The Lancaster had just passed low over Hawthorn Road, close to the village of Reepham when Q-Queenie suddenly thumped into the ground after hitting a tree; the time was 07.15hrs. For those listening on the ground the crash came with a sickening jolt. Crash crews, already in their vehicles sheltering from the rain, sped off in the direction of the sound. 'Queenie' had in fact come down on the opposite side of the main Grimsby to Lincoln railway line, making access very difficult for the rescuers. Miraculously, the mid/upper gunner, Sgt E. Phillips had survived, but sadly the other six members of the crew had all perished; it was a very tragic end to a dreadful morning.
Lancaster ED428 (EA-Q)
F/S E.L. Cole, RAAF Pilot (Killed)
Sgt F.S.T.S. Pittard, F/E (Killed)
F/O F. Ridley, NAV (Killed)
Sgt J.A.G. Browne RAAF W/AG (Killed)
Sgt E. Phillips A/G (Injured)
F/S L. Grey RAAF B/A (Killed)
Sgt W.C. Wood R/G (Killed)
Click this link to read an extract from Gary Mennell's book "Slightly below the glide path"
Click this link to open (in a new window) the basic accident record
Click this link to open (in a new window) the full accident report for this loss