View Full Version : Tracing WW2 aircrew

29th Nov 2003, 02:46
I'm trying to trace a friend's uncle. His name was John Leonard Powell, known as Len. He was from Rhos in South Wales.

He was a Lancaster pilot and my friend thinks it was a "special" squadron of some sort. This is based on dim memories of what her dad, Len's brother, told her years ago so it may not be accurate. What is a fact is that he was shot down over Poland in the latter part of the war and is buried in Krakov.

Does anybody know the chap I'm referring to or know of a website where I might trace at least the basics of his service record?

Pom Pax
29th Nov 2003, 09:27
Source Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/cwgcinternet/search.aspx)

Initials: J L
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Squadron Leader (Pilot)
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Unit Text: 617 Sqdn.
Age: 29
Date of Death: 16/04/1945
Service No: 103039
Awards: DFC
Additional information: Son of David Albert and Elizabeth Powell, of Rhos, Glamorgan.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Coll. grave 5. B. 1-5.

617 Squadron "The Dam Busters" (http://www.dambusters.org.uk/lutzow.htm)

EG228 was the last operational loss of 617 Squadron. We have quite a full account of the raid and subsequent events, which we are in the process of putting in some sort of order. In a nutshell this was the third operation by the squadron against the German pocket battleship Lutzow, which was moored at Swinemunde in the Kiel Canad (now Swinejousie Poland. Although immobilised through lack of fuel the warship was using its guns to shell the advancing Red Army. The first two raids were aborted due to bad weather. On the final raid heavy flak was encountered over the target from both the ship and shore batteries. EG 228 was hit on the port(or starboard ) wing - we have two conflicting accounts and crashed in Karsibor Woods. It was believed some of the crew, including Will Knight had escaped, but there were no survivors. (There are rumours that some were shot). The Poles put up part of the aircrafts tailplane as a memorial. This was refurbished and rededicated in 1998. The crew were buried near the site and in 1949 reinterred in the old Posnan Garrison Cemeterty.

This flight originated from Woodall Spa.

Rob Davis of [email protected] maintains a database of bomber command losses and is very helpful.

6th Dec 2003, 18:45
Pom Pax thank you very much, I'll pass on the details to his neice. I'm sure she will be pleased to know the what happened to her uncle as the details had been forgotten since her father died a few years ago.

6th Dec 2003, 19:25
Next thing I would do is have a look at www.gazettes-online.co.uk for the DFC citation. You've got to be cunning on the name - searching needs a few tries as it's exact matches only and some are initials, some full names - do persist! If you want there's a lot that you can do in terms of piecing together his military service. A good place to start is the National Archives (formerly the PRO - www.pro.gov.uk) and have a look at their advice online.

If you (or someone else!) is prepared to do the digging, you'll be able to gather a lot together - most of the story in fact.

Good luck!

17th Jan 2004, 00:30
PomPax I've finally seen her and she was thrilled with the information you provided and sends her profound thanks.

JDK thanks for the links, we've found out that he was promoted to sergeant in 1941 and she seems to be quite determined to try to trace more history and hopefully his logbooks.

17th Jan 2004, 02:29
Well, I'm delighted you've got so far, and thanks to the chaps who provided info, not just pointers!

Good luck with getting some more. Do you have a contact in Poland to visit the grave?

Bomber Command War Diaries / Losses (Books) might be able to help, and Tony Woods Luftwaffe Night Fighter site is also worth checking out. I don't have the URL to the latter to hand - I'll see if I can find it tomorrow.

It's great to feel you've filled a gap, isn't it?

James K

21st Jan 2004, 18:35
The Air Attache in Warsaw may have further information on the grave.

He is Group Captain Tim Williams, 'phone number is +48 22 628 1001-5 ext 4246 or e-mail [email protected].