First three photos from Canadian Bomber Command in Nanton, Alberta; bottom row, name on Memorial Wall in Memorial Gardens, Sault Ste. Marie, ON.; headstone from War Graves Commission; air force photo.
On March 30/31, 1944 Roy Thibedeau got into his turett as the rear gunner aboard a Lancaster leaving Skellingthorpe, England for Nuremberg, Germany. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Skellingthorpe
The crew was on its 13th sortie and superstitious thoughts must have been in their mind.
For Roy and two others of the seven man crew, it was their last mission as their aircraft was shot down by a German nightfighter crashing near the village of Mauschendorf, Germany. (map link on this page)
What happened that night will be documented here.
Onsite investigation is being conducted by Toni Schmidt, a retired German engineer who lives near the crash site. The two found each other on the internet discovering that each was researching the same event.
It's hoped plans can be put in place to produce and unveil a memorial plaque at the crash site in the fall of 2019, with a representative of each family member in attendance.
Now 2019, we've recently passed the 75th anniversary of that night on what's been called the biggest single air mission of World War II, when Roy and two of his crew mates entered eternity. My uncle, Rear Gunner Sergeant Roy Frederick Thibedeau along with Mid Upper Gunner Sergeant Donald Leslie Sehlin of Millet, Alberta, and Navigator Sergeant Dennis Alfred (Chas) Chaston of Coventry, England made the ultimate sacrifice. Their four other crew mates were able to parachute and ultimately became prisoners of war. Remembering them and all the others who served.
A post on the Canadian Bomber Command Facebook honoured their sacrifice.
Map showing crash location and related points of interest:
The above photo is from Back To Normandy website and is identified as,
"Avro Lancaster III (EE174 VN-A) on a mission to Nurnberg, Germany on 1944-03-01"
Another source indicates it may not be.
Regardless, it shows a Lancaster on its way to or from a mission with a dedicated flight crew.
The night fighter that attacked P/O Thibedeau’s aircraft EE174 VN-A. Here’s an excerpt taken from the losses database of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC): “Aircraft took off from Skellingthorpe at 2207 hrs detailed to attack targets in Nurnberg. The aircraft was shot down by a night fighter which came upon the Lancaster during its outbound journey. Aircraft claimed as probably shot down by Uffz Bruno Rupp of 4./NJG3 North of Bamburg at 0108 hrs”.
With thanks to IBBC Dave Gilbert, Losses Archivist IBBC remembers Roy Thibedeau
The IBCC Losses Archivist drew attention to the word ‘probably’ meaning sometimes the correct serial number of a downed aircraft was not noted.
In this instance, Rupp records this as his second claim of that night and his eighth to that date. The IBCC adds that he was 24 years of age and was flying a Schrage Musik equipped Ju 88. He survived the war having achieved 16 kills.
The other night fighter pilot in some sources reported as the one shooting down Lancaster EE174 VN-A, was Martin Drewes. IBBC reports, “… he made three claims on that night - LM376 or LM425 at 00:05, then W5006 at 00:50 and finally ND390 at 01:20, the latter being his 20th kill. He is not associated with EE174. ND390 and EE174 were both shot down north of Bamberg.” IBBC concludes that is probably where the confusion has arisen in the past.
Nuremberg: The Blackest Night in RAF History, 30/31 March 1944 – Martin Bowman (this book contains details of that night; turn to page 68 to see the crew listed)
The crew of EE174 'A' Able Lancaster 50 Squadron
Pilot Flight Sergeant Garth Alex ‘Jimmy’ Waugh New Zealand
Navigator Sergeant Dennis Alfred (Chas) Chaston Coventry
Flight Engineer Sergeant George Prince New Malden, Surrey
Bomber Aimer Sergeant Denis C. ‘Jerry’ Lynch Buckinghamshire
Wireless Operator Sergeant R.J. ‘Jack’ Dunn Cornwall, Eng.
Mid Upper Gunner Sergeant Donald Leslie Sehlin Millet, Alberta
Rear Gunner Sergeant Roy Frederick Thibedeau Sault, Echo Bay/Sault Ste. Marie, ON, born in Manitoba
The three who made the ultimate sacrifice that night were Chaston, Shelin and Thibedeau. Other crew members survived and were taken prisoner.
Have connected to Aircrew Remembered website, a rich source of infomation and very helpful when contacted. Here's how they describe their site:
The mission of this site is to record the stories of people connected with aviation, from wartime experiences - where young men and women were presented with extraordinary circumstances - to those in peacetime. We're interested in recording what we can of the lives of ordinary people doing ordinary things just as much as those of heroes doing unimaginable deeds.
If this is your first visit to our site: Welcome!
Another site full of information related to this research
Roy's name is on this Manitoba plaque Powerview-Pine Falls War Memorial
The International Bomber Command (IBCC) offcially opened April 2018 at Canwick Hall, Lincoln, England.
Roy, and his fellow Bomber Command comarade and brother-in-law, Earl Bock's names appear there.
Veterean James Flowers was a rear gunner in 50 Squadron and was interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
I inquired of the IBCC, could they ask Mr.Flowers if he recalled Roy Thibedeau, given they were in the same squadron and had the same crew position. His reply, "When I was on 50 Sqdn in 1945 there was many NZ's a few Aussies however I do not remember any Canadians."
Still, fascinating to have opportunity to ask someone who may have brushed shoulders with Roy.
(Appreciation to Sue Taylor, PA to the Chief Executive, International Bomber Command Centre, for her efforts in responding to my information requests.)
This note from Toni and these photos:
I found out, that we have an interesting, government originated, map for Bavaria in the internet.
In this map you can switch to different modes. Normal topographic, satelite, historic and relief view. And this last one is very interesting because it shows the landscape without vegetation. It shows the earth like a moon map. You can see each irregularity on the ground inside the woods. On the farmland everything is destroyed or flattened by the farmers, but in the forrests the earth remains as it was disturbed by human beings.
You can switch by one click from one version to another. So I looked also for Mauschendorf and found, that there are a lot of craters besides the main craters that I knew up to now.
I was there today to verify my finds and found easy three big craters north of the map, each about 7 to 10 meters in diameter and about 2 meters depth. Two of these are perfect round bomb craters, the third one lookes mor oblong.
I had lots of signals of my detector but I digged out only a few large aluminum metal sheets and one 0.303 Browning shell, explodet at the crash. "
(map here) Crater;pieces of aircraft; crash report; aerial of location; nightfighter aircraft of the type involved in this battle; church grave yard, site of original burial before interment in military cemetery. (credit to German citizen, Toni Schmidt who has been kind enough to do and share crash site research and photography)
Pilot Officer ROY FREDERICK THIBEDEAU
died on March 31, 1944
Service Number: J/90043
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 50 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
DURNBACH WAR CEMETERY
[CLICK HERE FOR CEMETERY]
Grave Reference: 6. H. 21.
Canadian Virtual Memorial
Location: Durnbach is a village 16 kilometres east of Bad Tolz, a town 48 kilometres south of Munich. Durnbach War Cemetery is 3 kilometres north of the village Gmund am Tegernsee. Using the A8 from Munich, turn off at the junction Holzkirchen, taking the 318 road in the direction of Gmund am Tegernsee. At the crossroads with the 472, turn left in the direction of Miesbach. The cemetery is situated approximately 500 metres on the left from the 318/472 crossroads.
Lancaster details Avro Lancaster: The Night Raider