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21.11.1944 No.514 Squadron R.A.F. Lancaster I PD265 F/O France Location: Moers, Germany.
Mission: Homberg, Germany.

Date: 21
st November 1944

Unit: No. 514 Squadron R.A.F.

Type: Avro Lancaster I

Serial No. PD265

Coded: JI-G

Location: Moers, Germany.

Pilot: F/O Geoffrey C. France. R.A.F.V.R. Age ? - P.O.W.

Nav: F/O Frederick J. Eisberg. R.A.F.V.R. Age ? P.O.W. No.6876 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang.

Air/Bmr: F/O Kenneth Hubert Barker. J/29701 R.C.A.F. Age 22 – Killed.

Fl/Eng: Sgt Peter Andrew Gosnold. 1891510 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20 – Killed.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Ronald William Harding. 1705084 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? – Killed.

Air/Gnr: Sgt Leslie Peter Coles. 1894366 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? – Killed.

Air/Gnr: F/O Peter Slater. 172026 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? – Killed.

REASON FOR LOSS:


Aircraft took off from Waterbeach at 12.28hrs. Whilst approaching the target, the Rheinpreussen synthetic oil production plant at Meerbeck outside Homberg, the aircraft was hit by flak, initially in one engine. There was a fire and the aircraft became uncontrollable, crashing in the waterway surrounding the Guildhall at Moers.

The pilot, F/O France together with the navigator, F/O Eisberg, baled out and were captured. The remainder of the crew were killed. With the exception of F/O Slater who joined the crew part way through their tour, the crew had served as a unit for their entire tour. This operation would, had it been completed, been the crew’s 29th towards their tour of thirty. The crew had trained as G-H leaders, a bombing technique pioneered by 3 Group Bomber Command.

The loss of this aircraft was witnessed by a 75 Squadron Pilot Harry Yates D.F.C. and is described in his book "Luck and a Lancaster". The crash location was provided by a German historian in Moers.


Peter Gosnold's Crew enhanced 2
PD265 Crew Left to right:


Two air gunners, one of whom is known to be Sgt Coles and the other thought to be a Sgt Meredith who had left the crew in October 1944 - reasons unknown, Sgt Gosnold, F/O France, Sgt Harding, F/O Barker and F/O Eisberg (Simon Hepworth).

The brief details of the damage were supplied to the family of Sgt Gosnold by F/O Eisberg in a letter after the war. F/O France became a vicar after the war and died in Norfolk in approximately 2004. It is not known what became of F/O Eisberg.

514 Squadron lost two other aircraft on this raid:

Lancaster I NG121 JI-H Piloted by F/O Tolley - all crew survived and manage to crash land the aircraft. One crew member baled out and was taken POW.

Lancaster III LM684 JI-C Piloted by F/O Ronald Limbert D.F.C. Killed along with all 6 other crew members. Buried in the same cemetery as PD265 crew, some sharing the same collective grave.

Reichswald 062
Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (Courtesy C.W.G.C)


Burial details:

Sgt Peter Andrew Gosnold. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16

From Hornsea, Yorkshire.

F/O Kenneth Hubert Barker. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 25.G.6

From Killdeer, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sgt Ronald William Harding. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16 Son of Ernest Fred and Beatrice Harding, of Rumney, Cardiff.

Sgt Leslie Peter Coles. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.C.4 Son of Albert George and Hilda Maud Coles, of Highgate, Middlesex.

F/O Peter Slater. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 29.B.1-16

Researched by Simon Hepworth (Great nephew of Sgt. Peter Andrew Gosnold) for the Aircrew Remembrance Society and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. (11.09.2011). Added from our archived site at the British Library by Melvin Brownless, March 2014.

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