This crew flew on BLACK THURSDAY in Lancaster JB482 OF-S, S-Sugar. Unable to land due to the fog, the crew abandoned the aircraft and parachuted to safety. The aircraft was destroyed.
All of the crew were killed a fortnight later, on 1st January 1944, when their aircraft was hit by flak near Aachen. They are buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.
Pilot: F/O Robert Leo Mooney
Flight Engineer: Sgt Felix Bernard Grey
Navigator: Sgt George Albert Johnson
Bomb Aimer: F/S Jack Worsdale
W/Op: Sgt Norman Davidson Cameron
Mid-Upper Gunner: F/S Godfrey Woolf
Rear Gunner: F/S George Edward Smith
97 Squadron’s ORB gives 12.35 as the time when Pilot Officer Robert Leo Mooney and his crew abandoned S-Sugar “owing to weather conditions making landing too dangerous”. The crew was at first reported as missing, lost at sea. Eventually, however, they all turned up safely and it was accepted that the aircraft, flying on George, the automatic pilot, had followed the correct heading out to the North Sea where its petrol finally ran out and it crashed into the waves. The accident card specifically records the reason for the abandonment of S-Sugar as being lack of petrol.
The second aircraft to be ditched that night was Y-York, its captain’s name was Smith. This crew survived the war.
The names of all the men in these two crews were sent by F/L Hind, the Adjutant, to the Caterpillar Club, so called because the lives of the men had been saved by a parachute made of silk.
THE LOSS OF THE MOONEY CREW
97 Squadron ORB
1.1.44 20 aircraft Lancaster IIIs are detailed to attack Berlin. Two aircraft were withdrawn owing to engine troubles. The remaining 18 aircraft set out to attack the primary target. Weather was 10/10th cloud at 12,000′, vis good. Defences moderate H/F to slight – S/Ls ineffective. Slight fighter activity and many scare crow flares. No results of bombing were seen and some scattered markers were reported. It appears that no good continuous concentration was achieved. One aircraft and crew – Captain F/O Mooney DFM is missing, no news being received since leaving base.
Extract from Bomber Command Losses – 1/2.1.44
Lancaster III JA960 OF – E. Op Berlin. T/O 0051 Bourn. Homebound hit by flak near Aachen and crashed 0507, local time. Funerals were held at Aachen on 8 January, since when their remains have been interred in Rheinberg War Cemetery. F/S Mooney had served with 106 Squadron, details of his award being published on 23 December 1941. Those for F/S Johnson and F/S Worsdale were gazetted on 8 May 1945.
F/O R.L.Mooney DFM(+), Sgt F.B.Grey(+), F/S G.A.Johnson DFM(+), F/S J.Worsdale DFM(+), F/S N.D.Cameron(+), F/S G.Woolf RAAF(+), F/S G.E.Smith(+)