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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172596
Last updated: 12 July 2019
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Date:29-AUG-1942
Time:02:00
Type:Silhouette image of generic LANC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro Lancaster Mk I
Owner/operator:49 Squadron Royal Air Force (49 Sqn RAF)
Registration: R5897
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Kalchreuth, 8 miles N of Nuremberg -   Germany
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:RAF Scampton (SQZ/EGXP)
Narrative:
Lancaster B.Mk.1 R5897 "EA-B" of 49 Sqn., RAF, took off from its base at RAF Scampton at 21:04 hours destined for Nuremberg. The Captain, Flight Sergeant Edward Burton, was an extremely experienced pilot having completed thirty one operations over enemy held territory totaling over one hundred and eighty hours of flying time. His crew consisted not only of airmen from the UK but also from Australia and Canada as well as an American, Sergeant John Breivis, who was serving in the RCAF. Tragically, Breivis was six days short of his twentieth birthday on the night he was killed.

The 159 aircraft sortie was comprised of 71 Lancasters, 41 Wellingtons, 34 Stirlings and 13 Halifaxes. Twenty three aircraft failed to return; a staggering loss rate of nearly 15%. The Wellingtons were particularly hard hit losing over a third of their total.Crews were ordered to make a low level attack with Pathfinders marking the targets with indicators which, reportedly, were accurately placed. However, later reconnaissance showed that the number of bombs actually dropped on Nuremberg suggested approximately fifty aircraft actually made it over the target. The city suffered relatively light damage although 137 people in Nuremberg were killed and a further four from bombs dropped on Erlangen ten miles away from the target.

After the war, Allied investigators visited the village of Kalchreuth located 8 miles to the north of Nuremberg. During an interview with Burgermeister Ulrich in 1946, they learnt that a bomber had crashed near the village and that the crew was buried in the local cemetery. Although he was not the Burgermeister at the time of the crash, he was a resident of the village and witnessed the events that night. Herr Ulrich recalled that the aircraft came down between 1 and 2 a.m. on August 29th. 1942.

On impact with the ground, he saw a large explosion which he assumed was the bomb load that had not yet been dropped. An engine, which was the largest part of the aircraft found, was discovered four kilometres away from the main crash site. Scattered amongst the wreckage was the burned remains of the gallant crew. According to the gravedigger, Herr Holzenleuchter, the burial took place with full military honours at 5 p.m. on September 1st. 1942 at the New Cemetery in Kalchreuth.

The inscription on a metal plate attached to the wooden cross read the names of the 7 crew, who were all killed:

F/S E.G. Burton Pilot
Sgt K. Newbery RAAF 2nd Pilot
Sgt G.A. Swan RAAF Navigator/Air bomber
Sgt J. Breivis RCAF Air Gunner
Flt Sgt L.J. Capton RCAF Air Gunner
Sgt E.C. Ibbotson W/Op Air Gunner
Sgt J.D. Osbaldeston Air Gunner

The investigative team at the time concluded that as Lancaster R5897 was the only aircraft known to have crashed at Kalchreuth during the war.

In 1947, exhumation of the grave at Kalchreuth revealed the presence of nine coffins containing of the remains of several other airmen. Only Newbery, Burton and Swan could be positively identified. The conclusion arrived at, was, that the unidentified remains were those of the other crew members of Lancaster R5897 and the complete crew of Wellington BJ701 of 57 Sqn. In 1948 the crew members of both aircraft were re interred at the Durnbach War Cemetery

No record can be found of a night fighter or flak bringing down an aircraft in that area so the possibility remains that the two aircraft collided in midair and what the villagers thought to be one aircraft going down was in fact two. Bomber Command records show that the attacking force was to approach Nuremberg from the south so perhaps the two aircraft had made their bombing runs and were on the north side of the city heading for home when they crashed. The large explosion witnessed by Herr Ulrich being two aircraft crashing together rather than the bomb load exploding.

Sources:

1. http://www.49squadron.co.uk/personnel_index/detail/Burton_E
2. http://aircrewremembered.com/burton-edward.html
3. http://lancaster-archive.com/lanc_unknowncrashsites.pdf
4. http://www.sonsofdamien.co.uk/Man-Lanc%20serials%20page%203.htm


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
30-Dec-2014 22:40 Dr. John Smith Added
06-Jun-2015 09:57 Cliford Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport]

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