Lancaster NG399 EM-O 207 squadron

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by TPBK, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Hello I am a new member and I am trying to find out information about the crash of Lancaster NG399. It was lost on a raid to Lutzkendorf on the night of 14th March 1945. My father was on that flight and along with most of the crew he bailed out and became a POW for the rest of the war. It appears likely that NG399 was shot down by Hauptmann Martin Becker. I am looking for information about Hauptmann Becker's claim. I have found some basic information like times and approximate locations. What I am really seeking are the details of the individual attacks on the bombers. Can anyone please supply the details of his kills for that night?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

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  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Lancaster Crash Site (already noted above)

    Watkins C - International Bomber Command Centre


    Further reading perhaps
    Martin Becker - Wikipedia
    Aerial victory claims
    Foreman, Parry and Matthews, authors of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 58 victory claims, 57 nocturnal and one daytime claim.[35] Matthews and Foreman also published Luftwaffe Aces – Biographies and Victory Claims, listing Becker with 56 claims plus one further unconfirmed claim

    Becker's crowning achievement, and a Nachtjagd record, was on 14/15 March 1945, when he claimed nine bombers of No. 5 Group RAF attacking Lützkendorf

    Aces of the Luftwaffe - Martin Becker
    came on the night of 14/15 March 1945, when he claimed nine Lancaster bombers (49-57),

    Raid on Lützkendorf 14/15 March 1945 - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  5. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    I have looked at all the Summary of Events and Record of Events for the 13 squadrons of Lancaster's involved from Bomber Group 5 so I know the target and it's location, the route, the airspeed, the heights, the aircraft paths over the target and have read the individual reports by the pilots where they are available. It read as though it was a really rough raid. For those interested in "Always prepared - The story of 207 squadron RAF" ISBN 0-85130-285-8 one of the pilots on the raid F/O Rose describes his experience in detail. He gave it the title 'Into the valley of death'.

    Thanks Itdan & TD for the thread info., I had read this and in fact this encouraged me to ask the question again on this site as some 15 years have passed. I remember Erich (one participant) was able to quote the words of Karl Johansson when he shot down RA 546. It was that detail of information I was hoping to find out in this thread. I am not sure where this quote came from. Is it in Theo Boitens' Nachjagd War Diaries Vol 2? I have also seen reference to "Zum Nachtlichen Luftkriegsgeschelen uber Mitteldeutschland" by Jorg Helbig (sorry to any German friends no umlaut on my keyboard). For those like me whose German could be better it translates to On the nightly aerial warfare over central Germany. The launches of the night hunting squadrons and flak over central Germany (the latter is a sub-title). Does that have information or did that detail come from somewhere else?

    One of the pilots in Squadron 44, the first to bomb, suggested he thought the night fighters were working in pairs one dropping flares to light up the Lancaster's whilst another attacked from below. There appears to be more kills claimed than actually happened and I have seen suggestions of credible claims from 2 other night-fighter pilots. So I am hoping for a little more detail if any one has any?

  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Flt/Sgt Kehoe, mid upper gunner returned to the UK on 8th May 1945, 5 days before his navigator, Hannaby and F/Eng Fletcher. No dates given for his pilot, Cranston; or Howse, the bomb aimer. Watkins was initially buried in Buchfart Gemeindefriedhof, presumably close to the crash site, and which is only some 20 kms south of the target, along with Bishop in a communal grave, along with an Unknown, so they must have been killed (attacking the rear gunner first was a known night fighter tactic) but as the rest of the crew survived, what else was in that grave to make the Germans at least, think there was a third dead crew member?
    Presumably he completed a Liberation Questionnaire, as may the others, giving their account of what happened to them that night. They were carrying 1 x 4,000 lb and 12 x 500 lb bombs RAF Loss Cards 12 - 16 March 1945
    Becker seems to have claimed all 8 Lancasters lost that night, his Ju88G-6 apparently having plenty of ammunition for the entire night.
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  7. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Made a quick & dirty research - und wer suchet, der findet:
    100 Group Bomber Command | Wings Over New Zealand
    (scroll down for an extract of The Nachtjagd War Diaries')
    regarding to this, NG399 apparently went down shortly after Lancaster I RF153 EA-K (Braunsbreda, 12km W Leuna)
    Beckers claim no 54 (22.15h/10km NE Jena) maybe crashed in the vincinity of Auerstedt (Yes, the historic battleground) roughly at the coordinates 51°06'56.7"N 11°34'26.1"E
  8. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Buchfart is roughly 5 - 6 km from Bad Berka, this suits Beckers claim no 49 at 21.59h
    regarding to the book extract the RAF lost initially three Lancs:
    RF153 EA-K
    NG399 EM-O
    NG177 VN-L
    For these we know of the claims from
    21.59 Hptm. Becker - 1 Lancaster near Bad Berka southeast of Erfurt NG399?
    22.04 Oblt. Daborer - 1 Lancaster southwest of Leuna
    22.10 Ofhr. Bunje - 1 Lancaster 10km west of Leuna RF153?

    Well, the infamous pilot issue of overclaiming ;-)

    for the sake of completeness: [​IMG]
    Source: User rodm from

    21.53h Bad Berka
    21.95h Weimar – Naumburg (unreadable)
    22.03h WSW Leuna – Merseburg
    22.05h WSW Merseburg
    22.06h Naumburg MDS or MOS
    22.15h Jena
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  9. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Excellent information Kevin & Itdan I feel I am getting somewhere.
    Kevin, is it possible to share the source for the graves in Buckfart and the source for the date my Dad returned to the UK? My Dad didn't talk much about it except to say he had no idea where he was and didn't know which camp he went to. In his log book it states POW to 29th April and he knows he was liberated by Americans. He was marched away from the advancing Russians. Curiously Stalag VII-A was liberated at Moosburg on that date. From 207 squadron there is no entry for camp for any of the survivors.

    Back to my question. The first bombs dropped at 21:49 and the final run should have been at 22:10 but was 22:12 because that Lancaster had engine trouble. So, question did NG399 crash before or after bombing? The rest of 207 although there are only 3 ROE's because the returning aircraft were diverted to Downham Market and there are no other details. The three records existing state bombing times of 22:01, 22:03 & 22:04, so it seems likely that NG399 would also bomb around or just after 22:00.

    I have seen information from the pilot Jack Cranston that they had not bombed. Hence I believe they must have gone down before 22:00 on the way in. Interesting Itdan about RF153, apparently Jorg Helbig was aware that Lancaster parts were found just where you said. RF153 was in 49 Squadron and they all bombed between 22:01 and 22:07. But the target is a long way north of the Buckfart cemetery.

    I thought Becker's first claim was 22:53 at Bad Berka (or 20km SE Erfurt but Bad Berka isn't 20k's away from Erfurt)? This was identified as Beckers' 48th kill at 2500m (8,200 feet the 3 recorded heights for 207 squadron were 8,250, 8,300, 9,000 feet) this had a code (NC5) and then his 49th kill at 21:59 close to Apolda with code (MD7). Both of these are close to Buchfart where the graves were. I have no idea what the significance of the codes are.

    I also know from Jack Cranstons' account exactly how they were attacked hence if I can get any detail from Beckers log entries into how it shot down both Lancaster's I (hopefully) can determine if it was Bad Berka or Apolda. If anyone has details just like Erich had back in the naughties then that just may convince me where NG399 went down.

    BW and thanks again for your continuing interest and help. By the way no Mosquito's were lost 10 out & 10 back from 627 squadron it's in the Record of Events (ROE) TNA Air 27 series database'

  10. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    T - the info is in the link in my post (Lancaster Bombers website, then RAF Loss Cards, scroll through the years and months to March 14 1945. Graves information is on CWGC website and use the "Concentration" tab.
    No PoW info for Kehoe, possibly too chaotic in Germany for proper records, or they were never sent to central filing and likely burnt. For him to be back in the UK the day after Germany surrendered indicates he was liberated some days before that to be processed and flown back.
    Chorley records 2 Mosquito losses; a 85 Sqdn NF30 MV541 shot down by US AA fire (Grimstone killed, Dobie survived) and 157 Sqdn Mk XIX MM650, both Miller and Crisford initially buried Romberg.
  11. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

  12. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Wow this is fantastic info. thanks very much Itdan and Kevin. (Delay in replying due to Grandad duties)

    Thanks Kevin, I didn't know about those two Mosquito squadrons.
    Itdan you have excelled! Also, I really like your final comment :).

    What I took from the extract was there were only three claims on the way in at NC5 which I take to be close to Bad Berka @ 21:53 where the Lancaster jettisons the bombs prior to crashing. Then MD7 (is that Apolda) @21:59 when parachutes are seen and then Lancaster breaks up and there is debris widely spread. The final one is at MD5 @22:03 when the Lancaster explodes. I don't know the size of these grid co-ords is each box a 10km square and so is MD5 close to Apolda?

    Jack Cranston's account is (and I paraphrase) "There were 3 attacks, no damage from the first, the second blew a hole in the fuselage at the H2S blister. On the third attack the fuel tanks were hit and they set on fire. Order given to bale out and all the crew responded they were balling. We still had a full bomb load on board and there was a terrific explosion when the plane crashed."

    The closest match to me is the third kill at 22:03.

    Is it possible for parachutes to carry towards Bad Berka for the two deceased crew Sgt. Cyril Watkins & F/Sgt Henry Bishop to be buried at Buchfart? Presumably, crashing from around 9,000' and exploding would leave a pretty big hole in the ground without much left of the Lancaster.

    Thanks again


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  13. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

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  14. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Got some info from a friend of mine:
    51°06'51.0"N 11°34'42.6"E (approx. 2km NNW Auerstedt)
    Lancaster Auerstedt.jpg
    Lancaster crashed "burning like a torch" into the ground and was shredded by a huge explosion, no human remains found
    the eyewitness was 81 y.o. and had no clear memory of the exact month (unfortunately he deceased last year)

    RR Merlin fragment found at Braunsbedra in 2016
    Regarding to Matthias Koch it´s most probably from Lancaster RF153 EA-K
    It´s on display at Airpark Merseburg
  15. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    From the three concentration reports on the graves of Watkins & Bishop on CWGC, the third unidentified body is only marked as part of their collective grave on the first report. In the later two it is shown as a separate burial.

    From the Headstone records for Bishop it seems it now has a headstone saying its for an unknown RAF Airman who died 23rd January 1945. I'm not sure what the comment "RR/4" means at the bottom of the entry.

    Attached Files:

  16. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Perhaps that's a question the CWGC can answer?
    If we assume it's the 22:03 interception, then if the Lancaster still had bombs on board, there would be some difficulty in identifying remains in any wreckage. I'd have to guess that the rear turret was found with the gunner still inside, making his identification easier than the W/Op. My guess in his case that his parachute didn't open in time.
    As regards the third !burial" could they have been carrying a member of their groundcrew? If it had been a crew member from one of the other Lancs shot down in a short time frame, it would be strange for the Germans to inter him in a communal grave unless he had been in the wreckage. But almost 75 years on, hard to be sure
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  17. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Thanks for grave info. travers1940

    Itdan, what can I say, you bring nuggets of gold everytime my friend. An eyewitness is very good. I followed your lat & long co-ords. and found a hint of something close by, not quiet as far out from Auerstedt but in that proximiity and, of a significant size. Intriguing. Also Bad Sulza is en route, fits in with the Jagergradnetzkarte and the timings fit in with Hauptmann B.

    There is also an eyewitness account for the first Becker kill near Buchfart. Apparantly relatives of the rear gunner visited Buchfart in 1991 and the local Vicar showed the temporary grave site and they met a young farmer who was too young to remember. However the young lad said his Dad talks about the crash (his Dad was 10yr old when it happened). When the father arrived he took them directly to a wooded area and there, scattered around were peices of a bomber lying in the trees. Green & brown upper and black camoflage on the under surfaces. But, was it NG399? This would have to be the 21:53 kill. Jack Cranston did not say they jettisoned their bombs as described by Karl J, could the bomb aimer do it before he jumped without the pilot knowing? Could the attack have triggered a bomb release? If the bombs were dropped would the pilot have described the crash as he did .... unless the 4,000lb was still onboard? The family certainly thought its was their relatives aircraft. I suppose to be certain they would have had to have found an item with a serial number which was traceable (if those records still exist).


  18. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    Thanks Kevin,

    The pilot hasn't said anything other than 7 crew. In a recorded interview in 2015 he talked about after the crash and how he evaded capture for 7 days. Once finally captured he was taken to a "processing centre" where he met the navigator. But as Terry Hannaby had already been processed they didn't stay together. Jack C said he didn't meet anyone else from the crew. The two that died could have bailed out but been killed resisting capture or as you say a parachute malfunction? The only info. about the attack is the 3 passes, the H2S being blown off and then the fuel tanks being hit followed by the order to bail which all the crew said they were doing before removing their intercoms.

    If it's the 22:03 then it has to have been a big hole around the Naumburg area maybe north of the town?


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  19. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    was engaged in research for missing pilots for nearly 12 years hence I´m somewhat experienced and also still know certain sources. So these are no nuggets but plain and simple shared knowledge; otherwise such skills become quite useless ;-)
    For anyone else interested in this quite interesting detective work:
    Gradnetzkarte LEUNA.png
  20. TPBK

    TPBK Member

    I have had a re-think.
    Bad Sulza is 26k's NE and Naumburg is 40+k's NE of Buchfart that's too far away for these bodies . The only crash site which makes sense is the local one at 21:53 kill even though Jack C and Karl J's descriptions don't tally I cant see how the 21:59 and the 22:03 kills could work with the location of the bodies.


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