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Sgt JM Weir 576 Squadron RAF

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by simonweir, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    Research update on Lancaster PB265. I have recived 3 pieces of the wreckage and a newspaper clipping on the 1989 excavation. Further details to come. thanks to the RAF Elsham Wolds Association for this:

    "The next night Robert and his crew were detailed to take part on an operation against the German city of Stuttgart. A difficult target situated in a series of narrow valleys deep inside Germany. 576 Sq tasked 16 crews for this attack. The total Bomber Command effort was 461 Lancasters and 153 Halifaxes.
    Robert and his crew took off from Elsham Wolds at 2108 in Lancaster PB265. They headed south with the main force across the Channel to Dieppe and on to Rouen and Dreux. Approaching the turning point near Orleans Robert's aircraft was attacked by a night fighter. The Lancaster was seriously damaged and he had no option but to abandon the operation. They headed North West in an attempt to seek refuge at the Allied held Normandy Beachhead
    Nearing Carentan at 8,500 ft the Lancaster was fired on by US anti aircraft units and further damaged. The aircraft was now well ablaze. Robert gave the order to bale out and the rest of his crew left the aircraft in good order. All survived. Sgts Balfour and Gordon evaded capture. Sgts Weir, Coates, Reed and Clark all landed in Allied held territory and were safe. All returned to the UK. At least one, Sgt Coates, returned to 576 Sq.
    What happened after crew baled out is unclear. The aircraft crashed onto a road between Carquebut and Liesville, possibly attempting a wheels up landing although it does seem unlikely. Be that as it may the results were sadly fatal and Robert was killed. He is now buried at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, Calvados.
    The remains of the aircraft were bulldozed off the road into swampy ground next to the road.
    In 1989, during a road widening project, wreckage of the aircraft was found along with further human remains were discovered. The remains were buried in Robert's grave. The wreckage recovered included a number of interesting items in surprisingly good condition. These included machine guns, parachute and oxygen bottles.
    Like a good captain Robert ensured the safety of his crew but was tragically unable to save himself. "
    Have recived some photos as well, so view my photo page for Sarvis crew and Lancaster PB265.
     
  2. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    found this on a french website...

    "There is apparently no report of escape that has been prepared by Gordon.

    The device, which is the first flight operations, took off at 21h08 Wolds of ELSHAM.
    Upon returning from the mission, the aircraft was attacked by a German fighter over St Denis en Val (Loiret, France).
    The aircraft is badly damaged and the pilot, Robert J.
    Sarvis, Air Force veteran with his crew of 19 missions with 576 Squadron, gives the order to evacuate.
    Six men jump and the last to leave the device will report that Sarvas had remained on board.
    It appears that another hunter had attacked while the PB265 or, as another version, he was struck by flak American.
    They find the body of Bob Sarvas in the wreckage of his plane and was buried in American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy.

    The other crew members managed to escape: Sgt Alexander Balfour (SPG 2093), the last hiding place is the village of Villebon, remained there until its liberation by American troops August 17, 1944; other , sergeants JM Weir, J.
    Coates, E.
    Reed and TAClark, RCAF, are apparently also released by GI's.


    Robert Gordon, meanwhile, arrives we do not know how to camp Fréteval, released August 13, 1944 by U.S. troops. "​



    [​IMG]

     

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  3. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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  4. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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  5. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    PB265 was attacked by a Night Fighter near Orleans, 24/25th July 1944. The wing and two engines damaged and on fire. Looking through the Luftwaffe reports I reckon I have narrowed it down to one of these guys...


    Night: 24-25. July 1944


    R.A.F. Bomber Command: STUTTGART, DONGES & FERFAY

    JaFüe I u. II. Jagdkorps:
    24.07.44 Ofw. Willi Glitz Stab/NJG 2 4-mot. Flgz. £ BC-CC at 2.500 m. 23.56 Film C. 2027/II Anerk: Nr.43
    25.07.44 Maj. Paul Semrau Stab II./NJG 2 4-mot. Flzg. £ 04 Ost N/DD: 2.100 m. [N.W. Orléans] 00.01 Film C. 2027/II Anerk: Nr.26
    25.07.44 Maj. Paul Semrau Stab II./NJG 2 4-mot. Flzg. £ ED at 2.300 m. [Orléans] 00.11 Film C. 2027/II Anerk: Nr.22
    25.07.44 Ltn. Erich Jung 6./NJG 2 4-mot. Flzg. £ S.E. Orléans: 3.100 m. 00.12 Film C. 2027/II Anerk: Nr.77
    25.07.44 Hptm. Hubert Rauh Stab II./NJG 4 Lancaster £ DD at 2.400 m. [N.W. Orléans] 00.17 Film C. 2027/II Anerk: Nr.19

    Reading through all the sometimes conflicting reports of this event I think I can identify the correct fighter. According to Coates/Weir report from the RAF Museum, the plane was attacked at St.Lo. This must be an abbreviation for St Denis en Val, Loiret, France. This lies S/E of Orleans, which is where the attack was stated to have happened. If this is correct, then it was Ltn. Erich Jung ...
    Does anyone know what" 6/NJG 2 4-mot.Flzg" stands for???

    Just found this on "nachtjager Jung"
    "And towards the end of the book he quotes from an interview with F/Lt John Cox piloting Lancaster PD393, UM-N2 of 626 squadron re. events occurring on the 16/17 March 1945 raid on Nuremberg. The quote is lengthy and includes the statement: “Without any warning we were attacked from underneath and set on fire in the centre section.” The aircraft was shot down in flames, Cox and two others (bomb aimer and rear gunner) surviving by bailing out. They were shot down by Oberleutnant Erich Jung and his crew of JU 88G-6 620045 4R+AN. That night Jung and crew destroyed eight Lancasters but were themselves damaged (and obliged to land) by fire from the rear turret of their final victim. Hinchcliffe notes: “Jung shot down some of them with his Schräge Musik, some with his forward-firing guns.”

     

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  6. alieneyes

    alieneyes Member

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    Simon,

    I don't think St. Lô is an abbreviation for St Denis en Val. St. Lô is the Manche département, scene of some bloody fighting in July 1944:

    http://www.history.army.mil/books/WWII/100-13/st-lo_0.htm

    while St Denis en Val is in the Loiret département. There's about 250 miles of road between them, quite a bit less as the crow flies:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial&channel=s&hl=en&source=hp&q=orleans%20france%20to%20st%20lo%20france&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

    NJG2:

    Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    and "4 mot Flzg" (four engined aircraft - often seen as "vier mot"; "vier" being the German word for "four")is nicely explained here:

    Lancaster Bomber 514 Squadron - Page 3 - World War II Forums
     
  7. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    this is the loss card report...

    Very faint first part of report “Fighter out – port wing damaged, Flight Eng (engineer) BO (baled out) over ? , A/C (aircraft) finally brought down ? over beachhead. Other crew baled out and safe, pilot missing.”

    Second more legible part.

    “Attacked by night fighter 50 miles into Germany . Inboard damaged, outboard cut, wing damaged. Believed that all of crew baled out four known to have .Sgt Balfour over Orleans . (Cpl) Sarvis safe. Gordon, Reed at different places. Weir landed at St Lo, Coates landed by chute was AG (air gunner) states that Lanc. ( Lancaster ) was hit by HF(perhaps NF, night fighter) 9miles W(est) of St Lo (?) AG while remainder of crew prepared to b-o (bale out).”
    “A/C crashed near Liebville Normandy , North West of Carentan Normandy . A/C hit on outward journey. A/C returned and attempted to reach Normandy Beachhead. Balfour baled out over Orleans and evaded, 5 more baled out beachhead and evaded or reached UK . Pilot still on board when A/C crashed and was killed. A/C crashed in US Army part of Normandy Beachhead.”
     
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  8. alieneyes

    alieneyes Member

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    That's amazing, Simon. If all that came off the loss card offered by the RAF Museum it has to be one of the most descriptive cards I've ever read.

    I would suggest that the "HF" you're seeing may actually stand for "Heavy Flak"
     
  9. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    yip, loss card and RAF report which was deciphered for me! Im now trying to find which LW pilot attacked PB265. Looks like it was North West of Orleans. that narrows it down to two guys.
    Paul Semrau or Herbert Rauh?
    (their photos are attached)
    Turns out the LW report of Erich Jung is wrong. He was nowhere near Orleans at that time.
    Also, Im not sure whether the 50km into Germany bit is accurate. Looks more likely they were attacked by the NF on the way to Orleans. The report from 3945 Magazine says that the NF was waiting to pounce over Eure-Et-Loire. Im going with this until I get the Evasion Report...
     

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  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Simon and others, I would try if at all possible to get the mission operations reports for BC command for the date specified and then find the plot course the IP and the return back home. from this we may be able to plot down LW activity at key and initial points
     
  11. alieneyes

    alieneyes Member

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    I've gotten some Lancaster loss cards from the RAF Museum lately. Most of them have the routes and turning points on them. But on one of these recent ones under "route" it states that the route is the same as another lost Lanc belonging to a different squadron. So, I've now had to request that loss card. It seems there should be an easier way.

    Once the lats and longs for PB265 are placed on a map then Erich and others can make some sense out of it and get you an answer.
     
  12. 82nd Trax

    82nd Trax Member

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    Simon
    Would it be possible for me to get a scan copy of the record from you?
    Thanks
     
  13. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    Got the Evasion Report...at last!
    Here goes...

    Sgt Alexander Balfour 1021030 576 squadron
    Left: Allied Beachhead 17 Aug 1944
    Arrived UK : 17 aug 1944
    DOB: 9 jan 1922
    RAF Service: 13 sept 1940
    OTU : Nil
    Conversion Unit: No 1656 Lindholme
    Pos: Flight Engineer
    Peacetime Profession: Carpenter
    Address: Kinglassie,Cardenden,Fifeshire,Scotland.

    "We took off from Elasham Wolds in a Lancaster aircraft at 21.30hrs. on 24 July 1944 on a bombing mission to Stuttgart. On the way to the target while passing over Orleans(France 1:250,000 Sheet 15 W6540) I felt bumps beneath the aircraft. The pilot gave the order to prepare to abandon the aircraft. The mid-upper gunner said that the aircraft had been hit below his turret. The pilot gave the order to abandon aircraft.
    I baled out at about 12.30hrs on 25 July 44 and landed in a field near St Denis En Val (F7120) I hid in a ditch beside a wood and wrapped my parachute around me, having first removed my flying badge,chevrons,etc. I remained in the ditch until 14.00hrs when I hid my parachute,harness and Mae West in some bushes and approached a farm which was situated about 200 yards away. I asked the farmer for help and he took me into his barn.
    The remainder of my journey was arranged for me."
     

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  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Simon

    the quote means 4-motor aircraft.

    the March 1945 quotes about E. Jungs A/C destruction is not correct. at least 4 of the B.C. bombers were not shot down as claimed. and to add at least one was shot down by Jungs radar operator with the single 13mm rear mg.

    I still make mention that you still may not have the crew assigned to shooting down the Lancaster you are inquiring about as there were losses to the Nachtjagd and their own claims/kills cannot be accounted for.

    further research the last year :

    Must also add with this edit addition that none of Jungs claims/kills have been positively ID'd for the March 45 eve operation and also the Lancaster PD 393 attacker has also not be identified as well. Maybe Jung maybe another Ju 88G-6 crew with Schrägwaffen........sorry Simon. If you could see the operations map and kill spotting on the Würzbur/Nürnberg operation you would see the confusion the kills of the LW nachtjagd in many cases are just to close to call. 21 claims are of only general location out of the total of 33 claims/kills recorded in some fashion on this evening. Also at the minimum there are another 3 kills recorded but of which BC bomber and seem to be off track on on the return flight.
     
  15. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    Went to the RAF museum at Hendon today to see a Lancaster. Wow. What a beautiful aircraft. The sheer size of the thing was awe inspiring. great to get up close to a Wellington too.
     
  16. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    I wonder if the brave farmer would still be alive?
     
  17. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    When Sgt Weir returned from France he was crewed up with Lanc ME801 Crew under F/O MacDonald. Their bomb aimer, Sgt JS Pym had been wounded on 31/08/44. This is borne out by the logbook which i have which details the next 16 flights SGT WEIR had with this crew. However the ORBs from 576 squadron seem to have missed this as PYM is listed in them all for this time! Never easy this researching lark..!
    [​IMG]
    simonweir Flight Sergeant
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Good one Simon! That's a great veteran Lanc
     
  19. simonweir

    simonweir Member

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    My father is off to Normandy today on a golf trip, so will be doing a recce of the PB265 locations and crash site. Hope to unearth some new info. Will keep all posted!
    Recent Tennessee newspaper article on Sarvis....


    Remembering Rutherford: 'Fighting '40s' member vanished
    Former Blue Raider piloted British bomber



    FIRST OF TWO PARTS
    The American pilot and British bomber mysteriously disappeared. By operation of law on July 25, 1945, the pilot was officially declared dead. But what was in the cemetery? [​IMG]ADVERTISEMENT [​IMG]
    Bob Sarvis was born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His father brought him to the United States as a child, and eventually settled in Nashville in the 1930s. As a student at Nashville's Hume-Fogg High School, Sarvis (6-foot-1 and 200 pounds) was an outstanding football lineman.

    Anticipating a career as a coach and teacher, Sarvis enrolled at the State Teachers College in Murfreesboro (now MTSU) in 1937, and earned his numerals at tackle for the Blue Raider freshmen. As a member of the famous "Fighting '40s" team in his senior year, Sarvis was described by STC coach "Wink" Midgett as "an outstanding tackle for three years on both offense and defense ... a 60-minute man." Teammates remembered him as "big, strong, untiring and a good fellow."
    The 1940 team is remembered not only for its play on the field, which included a dramatic homecoming win over its Cookeville rival, but also for the sacrifices of World War II. "I don't believe any school in the country gave more to the war effort than MTSU," wrote author and professor Joe Nunnelly in a 1980 history. "Every player on that 1940 team entered the service and played a significant role in the war." Sarvis and five of his teammates paid the ultimate price.
    While studying and playing football in Murfreesboro, Sarvis met and married Juanita Hindman, daughter of Jess and Jennie Hindman. Jess Hindman was a conductor for the NC&StL Railroad. After their marriage, Bob and Juanita lived in her parents' Murfreesboro home at 1112 N. Maple.
    Being a Canadian citizen, Sarvis volunteered for service with the Royal Canadian Air Force and received his flight training in Canada. Based in England in 1943, he flew with Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber crews. When America formally entered the war and began preparations for D-Day, Sarvis was transferred to the United States Army Air Force. Because of his experience with the British bombers, Sarvis was assigned back to the RAF as a flight officer commanding a six-man Lancaster bombing crew (two Canadians and four Brits).
    The Lancaster was "the last and undoubtedly the most famous wartime strategic bomber of the RAF," according to the Rand-McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. The plane was powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and armed with 10 machine guns mounted in the nose, tail and "dorsal" positions. Over 7,300 Lancaster bombers were built (the last version powered by Packard engines from the United States). Many were lost in the devastating night bombing runs over German territory following D-Day.
    Sarvis' first combat experience with his British/Canadian crew came on D-Day (June 6, 1944). On Monday, July 24, 1944, after many weeks of flying raids in support of ground troops pushing across occupied France, Sarvis' crew was part of a 450-plane night-bombing raid targeting Stuttgart, Germany. Before reaching the target, Sarvis' plane was attacked by German fighter planes and took substantial damage.
    Sarvis at first thought the plane was going down. Although over enemy territory, he ordered his crew to bail out. The flight mechanic was out before Sarvis regained control of the plane and withdrew the order. Skillfully piloting the damaged aircraft at low speed and altitude, Sarvis hoped to at least get back over friendly Allied territory before parachuting the rest of his crew or attempting a crash landing.
    But as the injured plane came in over Allied air defense positions, the American gunners opened fire. The plane was hit by "friendly fire" and was going down. Sarvis again ordered his crew to jump and the remaining five all got out. Sarvis stayed with the plane.
    Allied forces knew that a plane had been shot down and crashed near the French town of Carquebut, but when search crews reached the expected crash site, they found nothing.
    Meanwhile, the flight mechanic was picked up by the French Resistance and secretly returned to Allied territory. Three of the crew were injured in their fall, but were quickly found by Allied forces and hospitalized. Two landed without injury and were rescued by Allied recovery crews. An official RAF report dated Dec. 1, 1944, stated that "all members of this crew with the exception of the Captain, Flt/O R. J. Sarvis, are now safe and back in England."
    While her husband was serving in Europe, Juanita Hindman Sarvis was involved in the homeland war effort as a civilian employee at the new Smyrna Air Field. In August 1944 she received official notice that her husband was missing in action. At special Armistice Day ceremonies (Nov. 11, 1944), Mrs. Sarvis received her husband's Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster. The official citation noted 12 successful "aerial bombardment missions against the enemy."
    A letter written by Sarvis' navigator to Juanita Sarvis soon after the plane crash gave this account: " ... when we were hit ... the aircraft was very badly damaged, and immediately went into a dive. While Bob was trying to regain control ... he gave the order to abandon the aircraft. (After one crewman jumped) ... Bob was able to pull the plane out of the dive, and had it on an even keel ... we altered course for the Allied lines in Normandy, hoping to get near ... before bailing out."
    "By skill and sheer strength, Bob was able to keep us up until we reached Allied territory ... (He) told us to jump ... the aircraft was hit a second time by an anti-aircraft shell, and went into a dive.
    "Bob was much more than skipper to the rest of us ... he was a captain in the finest sense of the word ... when we were flying together, we were able to show him in deed what his inspiration meant to us ... the rest of us have only average abilities, but in response to Bob's leadership, we were able to achieve better-than-average performance as a crew.
    "This was recognized by (others) in the squadron, and by our commanders ... For all of us, the realization that we owe our lives to Bob's courage and endurance is final vindication of our faith in our skipper."
    On July 25, 1945, by operation of law and "based on information received," Robert J. Sarvis was officially declared dead by the U. S. War Department. The military personnel file was closed-missing in action and presumed dead.
    But an "unrelated" investigation by the military, unknown to the Sarvis family or former crewmates, involving the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and a remote French cemetery, would soon reopen the file. NEXT WEEK: The Rest of the Story!
     
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  20. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Hi Simon, nice to have you back here, Mr Pierre will be delighted to read this too. The July 25th date is the officially one year delay to legally declare a MIA into KIA and call the wife a widow with legal benefits .
     

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