RAF 100 Squadron, Avro Lancaster III, W4998, call sign, HW-J, took off from RAF Grimsby at 23.54 pm on Sunday 25 May 1943 on its way to bomb Düsseldorf in Germany. It marked the heaviest air raid in history, up to that time. The Royal Air Force dropped on that mission 2,000 tons of bombs on the Dortmund/Düsseldorf area, surpassing the previous amount on one target by 500 tons. Over 800 RAF bombers were involved, and 700 civilians would lose their lives that night.
Lancaster W4998 was hit by flak and crashed at 02.35 am near Horst – Melderslo in the province of Limburg, north west of Venlo, The Netherlands. Just over the Nederland/Deutschland border, about 70 km on the return journey from their target. Five of the crew died and two survived and became prisoners of war:
Flight Sergeant Acel Theodore Walter Moore RNZAF (413106), pilot, age 29
Warrant Officer J S Wilkins RAF (940090), flight engineer, survived POW
Sergeant David Campbell Stone RAFVR (1451978), navigator, age 21
Flight Lieutenant S W J Coventry, RAF, bomb aimer, survived POW
Flight Sergeant James Currie Wood, RAFVR (755138), wireless operator/air gunner, age 24
Flight Sergeant Leslie Cormac Maunsell RNZAF (414318), air gunner, age 24
Sergeant Michael Keogh RAFVR (1586059), air gunner, age 19.
Wood and his fellow crew members are buried and remembered in the Jonkerbos War Cemetery and Memorial in the town of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Wood was the younger son of Charles Thornton and Flora Smith Wood, 69 George Street, Perth, and dearly be-loved husband of Jessie (Jennie) Ann Stewart, Lonsdale, Invergowrie (Longforgan). Wood’s father was a fruiterer in St John’s Street, Perth. Another son served in the Middle East, also with the RAF.
From the Perthshire Advertiser, 23 June 1943
PERTH AIRMAN REPORTED KILLED
Official information has been received that Flight Sgt. J. C. Wood, a Perth airman who was posted missing from a raid over Germany on May 26 this year, was killed.
He was the youngest son of Mr C. T. Wood, fruiterer, St. John Street, and of Mrs Wood, 69 George Street, Perth and was aged 24. His wife and infant son reside at Lonsdale, Invergowrie.
F/Sgt. Wood, who was educated at Perth Academy, entered the R.A.F. as a volunteer on his 20th birthday in May 1939. he flew as a wireless operator-air gunner before being posted as a gunnery instructor and later to radiolocation. Going back on operations, he be-came a radio officer.
His brother, H. S. Wood, has been serving as a Flying Officer in the Middle East for the past year and was, in civilian life, a bank accountant in Clydesdale Bank, Crieff.’
Perthshire Advertiser, 8 December 1943
WOOD. -Previously reported missing, now officially confirmed killed on operations over Germany during May 1943, Flight-Sergeant J. C. Wood, younger son of Mr and Mrs C. T. Wood, Perth, and dearly be-loved husband of Jennie Stewart, Lonsdale, Invergowrie.’
Coventry initially evaded capture; he was caught in Paris on 6 June 1943.
This operation was the third consecutive night of large bombing raids over Germany by the RAF. Aircrews reported fires still burning from the previous nights.
RAF 100 Squadron aircrews and ground crews had performed heroic deeds in carrying the war to Germany in the only way possible in Europe at that point in the Second World War. Between their first mission in March 1943 and the end of the war in 1945, 100 Squadron flew 3,984 individual sorties (dropping just over 18,000 tons of bombs). The squadron’s losses totalled 92 aircraft lost (an additional 21 were lost in crashes) and 593 crew killed. RAF No. 100 Squadron held second place in No. 1 Group for the number of successful missions completed, and first place for the lowest number of losses. Such attainments, including a spell of 700 sorties without loss during 1944, gave 100 Squadron the reputation of being a ‘lucky squadron’. The RAF 100 squadron motto is: Sarang tebuan jangan dijolok (Malay for – Never stir up a hornet’s nest).
Fearing a last stand, a Nazi national redoubt, the squadron took part in the last day of Lancaster operations on 25 April 1945, when it provided 16 aircraft for a devastating attack on Berchtesgaden where Adolf Hitler had his mountain retreat in the Obersalzberg, above the town in the Kehlsteinhaus (the Eagle’s Nest).
On 9 November 1939, two British Intelligence Service agents were kidnapped by the German SD (Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS (Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS)) in what became known as the Venlo Incident. The incident was used by the Nazis to link Britain to Georg Elser‘s failed assassination of Hitler at the Bürgerbräukeller the day before, and to justify their later invasion of The Netherlands, a neutral country, on 10 May 1940.
James Currie Wood, Perthshire Advertiser 2 June 1943
Lancaster MK-III W-4998 crashed here on 5/26/1943. Crossing Meldersloseweg / Vlasvenstraat Melderslo.
Nell Verlinden was 16 years old when the Lancaster came to a halt a few meters in front of the bomb shelter. Antoon Spreeuwenberg also sees the plane come to a stop a few meters ahead of him, he was smoking a cigarette.
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