The Cost

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No.623 Squadron had during its brief existence a total 35 operational crews. Considering the limited time the squadron was operational and taking into account the rather low sortie rate this seems a rather high number of crew.

Using the information collected over the past years it is possible to use the squadron as a guide to the survival rate of those crews who served with and were subsequently posted off No.623 Squadron. Obviously this information is specifically related to No.3 Group, but I have included crews who operated with No.38 Group.

The table below records each of the individual crews and their subsequent fate.

 

Crew / Posted

Fate

1

Squadron Leader Austin DFC – O.T.U

Completed Tour.

2

Flight Lieutenant Overton DFC – 218 Squadron

Completed Tour

3

Flying Officer Humphreys RNZAF – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

4

Pilot Officer Jenkins – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

5

Sergeant Nesbitt – O.T.U

Completed Tour

6

Pilot Officer Shaw RNZAF – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

7

Pilot Officer Wallace RAAF  – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

8

Flight Sergeant Whitting  RAAF – 514 Squadron

F.T.R

9

Flight Sergeant Tanner RAAF – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

10

Flying Officer Wiseman – 218 Squadron

F.T.R

11

Flight Sergeant Fogaty – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

12

Sergeant Ralph – 90 Squadron

Completed Tour

13

Flying Officer Bennett RAAF – 218 Squadron

F.T.R

14

Flight Sergeant Hookway RAAF – No.7 Squadron

F.T.R

15

Flight Sergeant Love RNZAF – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

16

Flight Lieutenant Smith DFM

Completed Tour

17

Pilot Officer Muir RCAF – 623 Squadron

F.T.R

18

Pilot Officer Hornby – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

19

Sergeant McCann RCAF – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

20

Sergeant MacGillvrey RCAF- No.7 PFF Squadron

F.T.R

21

Flying Officer Petch RCAF 623 Squadron

F.T.R

22

Sergeant Carr RCAF –  623  Squadron

F.T.R

23

Flight Sergeant Elliot RAAF – 218 Squadron

F.T.R

24

Sergeant Bishop -115 Squadron

Killed training flight

25

Sergeant Morris – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

26

Sergeant Roger- 115 Squadron

F.T.R

27

Sergeant Ralph – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

28

Sergeant Treasure RNZAF – 115 Squadron

Completed Tour

29

Sergeant Veech RAAF- 623 Squadron

F.T.R

30

Sergeant Williams – 218 Squadron

F.T.R

31

Sergeant Gibson RAAF – 115 Squadron

Completed Tour

32

Sergeant Chandler – 115 Squadron

F.T.R

33

Flight Sergeant Bowering RAAF- 199 Squadron

Completed Tour

34

Flying Officer Freeman – 149 Squadron

F.T.R

35

Flight Sergeant Darbyshire -199-190 Squadrons

Taken Off Operations

 

Twenty five of the thirty five crews  were killed on operations, 71% of the crews were lost.  Eight crews completed their tours, or 23%.  One crew was killed on a training flight while one crew were taken off operations.

THE COST

Chart1

71% of all the crews who served with No.623 Squadron Failed to Return.

 Of the ten crews that joined No.115 Squadron, seven were killed on operations, two completed tours and one crew was killed while training.

No.115 Squadron Crews

Chart2

For the crews who were posted to No.115 Squadron at RAF Witchford the odds of survival were slim, they would suffer a 70% casualty rate.

On disbandment of the squadron what was the survival rate when comparing those crews who were posted onto Avro Lancaster squadrons in comparison to those who continued to operate the Short Stirling.

SHORT STIRLING

Chart3

For the crews who continued to operate the Short Stirling their chances of completing an operational tour was dramatically increased in comparison to those crews selected to operate the Avro Lancaster.

AVRO LANCASTER

Chart4

The stark reality of the winter campaign against Berlin. The odds of surviving an operational tour between December 1943 and June 1944. The figures speak for themselves.

The above clearly illustrates the dangers of operations over Germany between January – April 1944 for those who flew the Lancaster. The winter campaign of 1943 / 1944 was perhaps the bloodiest period in Bomber Command history. The crews of No.3 Group equipped with the Lancaster Mk.II and later Mk.I & Mk.III suffered grievously as did the other groups during this period. Only five crews completed their tours on disbandment of No.623 Squadron, two on No.115 Squadron and one on No.90, 218 and 199 Squadrons.  There are of course obvious reasons for the better survival rates when operating the Short Stirling. The Stirling equipped squadrons did not operate over Germany from November 1943 onwards, apart from a small number of  RCM operations flown by No.199 & No.214 Squadrons. From January 1944 mining and attacks on V1 “No-Ball” Sites and French transportation hubs was the norm, the crews were obviously still exposed to the dangers of operational flying but in comparison to their Lancaster equipped brethren the dangers were minimal.  For those crews who converted to the Lancaster their chances of survival was slim. A staggering 77% Failed To Return by June 1944. 

These young men, the very best of their generation had fought a deadly battle over the night skies of Germany, the courage and determination of these young men matched their fathers before them who had endured the horrors of the Somme, Ypes and Gallippoli.  WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THEIR BRAVERY AND SACRIFICE

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