weather was perfect considering it was January, clear skies
and little wind, the position report of the downed plane was
so accurate that the Lancaster was sighted on cue without a
the aircraft had settled lower in the water and was almost
submerged causing the crew to climb up from their position
on the wing to the fuselage, which was still above the water.
was dropped quite near to the downed crew, and were seen
by the Warwick crew to be making their way towards it, some
of them finding it very difficult no doubt due to the extreme
coldness, and the heaviness of their flying suits getting
soaked in the water.
from a Vickers Warwick.
By now it was starting to get dark, but the rescue crew saw
one of the Lancaster crew get into the life-boat, suddenly
a Focke-Wulf fw 190 was seen approaching the crash scene and
fearing an attack by it, the Warwick being no match for this
fighter had to re-treat hurriedly at wave top height back to
a Coastal Command aircraft with a Leigh Light (searchlight)
on board searched the rescue area right up to the Norwegian
coast for the life-boat, but no sign of this sturdy craft
was found, and no radio signals were picked up at all, the
life-boat carried an array of flares to summon help when
in distress but none were seen to be used.
Warwick GR Mk V flown on anti-submarine
and air rescue missions - with Dinghy on board.
|Next day the calm sunny weather continued, so a comprehensive
search by three Warwick rescue aircraft with fighter escort throughout
the hours of daylight again produced nothing, causing them to think
that the German rescue service had picked up the crew and taken
the lifeboat in tow.
But it did not prove to be the case, sadly nothing more of Ian
crew was heard of until two months later, when on March 13th, 1945 the
body of the wireless operator, Pilot Officer Ray Ellwood, D.F.M
was found in
the sea by a fisherman off the Island of Slyngen…. 300 miles to the
north of the area in the arctic circle.
His body was buried in the town of Nessna, but as maintenance
of the grave proved impossible there, the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission had it moved to Trondheim, Norway, where
it was buried in the British Sector.
The bodies of the remaining six-crew members including my
pal Bill, were sadly never found.
R. Ellwood, who was buried in Norway, received his D.F.M
when on operation’s with
44 Squadron on a day light raid to Ausburg, Germany.