Allsebrook crew killed on Dortmund-Ems canal raid commemorated in Germany


Joerg Echelmayer of the Riesenbeck Historical Society and Chris Ward standing by the plaque depicting the Allsebrook crew at the Bergeshovede quayside. [Pic: Andreas Wachtel]

This summer has seen significant additions to the memorialisation of 617 Squadron crews on the continent of Europe. One is to the crew of Flt Lt Ralph Allsebrook DSO DFC and his crew, who were killed on the disastrous attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal in September 1943. Eight crews took part in this operation, and five failed to return with a total loss of 33 lives.

Allsebrook and his crew were the first new crew to join 617 Squadron after the Dams Raid, arriving at Scampton on 20 May 1943. On the night of the Dortmund-Ems operation, four months later, they were in Lancaster EE130, and carried an extra gunner.

On 17 June a memorial to Allsebrook and his crew was erected on the quayside of the Wet Triangle at Bergeshovede in Germany, very close to the site where they crashed after bombing the Dortmund-Ems canal. The speakers included the local Bürgermeister, David Ostholthoff, representatives of the Riesenbeck Historical Society and the Ikarus Missing Research Group, researcher Josef Brink from Hoestel and researcher Chris Ward from the UK.

The crew list read Flt Lt RAP Allsebrook DSO DFC (pilot), Flt Sgt P Moore (flight engineer), Plt Off NA Botting (navigator), Flg Off JM Grant DFC (wireless operator), Flt Sgt RBS Lulham (bomb aimer), Sgt IG Jones (mid-upper gunner), Flt Sgt S Hitchen (rear gunner) plus Flt Sgt WE Walker (extra air gunner).

6 thoughts on “Allsebrook crew killed on Dortmund-Ems canal raid commemorated in Germany

  1. Melvin Chambers July 11, 2022 / 3:54 pm

    Congratulations to everyone who had a part in realising this memorial. i will visit this monument to eight brave men this summer.
    Lest we forget.

  2. Sheila Cairns July 11, 2022 / 5:03 pm

    What a lovely site.

    Is there a memorial to F/L H.S.WILSON’S crew near Ladbergen , by the Dortmund Ems Canal ? I would be happy to make a contribution if there isn’t and one is planned.



    • charlesfoster July 11, 2022 / 10:13 pm

      Dear Sheila
      I don’t know of any plans to raise a memorial to the Wilson crew, which included your brother, Flt Off T W Johnson. However, I will pass on your request to Chris Ward, as he may have more information. Best wishes — Charles Foster

  3. David Chamberlin July 11, 2022 / 8:25 pm

    Good to see this commemoration. My relation, David Maltby, was, I believe, one of the members of another crew, lost on this raid.

    David Chamberlin

    {Descendent of the Bassett family. David was the son of Ettrick Maltby, who partnered my Uncle Tony Bassett as headmasters at a prep school in Sussex.)

  4. Patricia Spafford August 25, 2022 / 12:33 am

    My dear Cousin Frederick Michael Spafford was lost on this same Raid I believe would be obliged if you could verify for me He was Bomb Aimer the last time I was able to check.Would be very much in your debt to find out the truth Perhaps it was another raid at the Dortmund emms canal. Many thanks to you.

    • charlesfoster August 25, 2022 / 8:50 am

      Dear Patricia
      Yes, you are right. Fred Spafford was on this raid, as bomb aimer in the crew piloted by George Holden, the new C/O of 617 Squadron. They were shot down near Nordhorn in Germany, and all on board were killed.
      I will write to you by email about this. Best wishes — Charles

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