Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
Flight Sergeant
Service Number
Crew Position
PoW Date
Lancaster ED416
PoW Camp(s)
PoW Number


5/6 September, 1943; MANNHEIM:

Twelve Lancasters from Fiskerton took part in this double attack by 605 bombers on Mannheim/Ludwigshaven, which caused severe damage to both targets.
Thirty-four of the raiders were brought down on a night when fighters were very active... it was a fighter that raked the underneath of J-Johnny flown by F/Sgt Kirton (ED416) and crew of 49 Squadron, shortly after 'bombs away'. The gunners, Don Burdett and Nick Batty, who together had successfully fought and downed an ME 110 two nights previously, had little chance this night. Don Burdett did manage to shout a warning but terminal damage was sustained in the first attack... the bomb bay was ablaze and the port wing was burning furiously. Bomb aimer 'Pop' Mathison was having trouble opening the nose hatch so Sgt Wilby the flight engineer went down to help. Wireless operator Jim Davies informed his skipper that he was ready to bale out and went to the rear door. 'Bunny' Perry, navigator, was standing beside the pilot when the aircraft suddenly lurched and he was thrown to the floor... the next thing he remembered was floating down by parachute.
Next day, 'Bunny' Perry was re-united with his skipper in a German hospital where F/Sgt Kirton was being treated for a knee wound... the pilot remembered preparing to leave his seat when the aircraft exploded and he too found himself parachuting down. An unopened parachute, belonging to Jim Davies the Wop/Ag, was shown to F/Sgt Kirton whilst in hospital. It is assumed that this unfortunate crew member struck the tail plane on exit, which either killed him outright or rendered him unconscious and therefore unable to pull the 'D' ring. F/Sgt Kirton went to Stalag 357 and F/O Perry to Luft 3. The four remaining crew members were all reported killed but the cause is not clear... the pilot was under the impression that his crew had baled out over the target. There is some speculation that after parachuting into a populated area they may have been summarily executed by civilians. German records have not yet revealed if the bodies were found in the aircraft wreckage.
The wreckage of J-Johnny fell in Rheinhau Forest, just south of Mannheim. All the squadron's remaining aircraft returned safely.

Lancaster ED416 (EA-J)
F/S B.Kirton Pilot (P.o.W.)
Sgt F. Wilby F/E (Killed)
F/O B. Perry Nav (P.o.W.)
Sgt J.O. Davies W/AG (Killed)
Sgt W.J. Batty A/G (Killed)
P/O W.T. Mathison B/A (Killed)
Sgt D. Burdett A/G (Killed)

Crew on their 14th operation