Additional Information: L F Tyrell's Lancaster was lost during the Dessau raid of 7-8th March 1945, while bombing the railways supplying the Junkers jet engines and testing base. 526 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups raided Dessau. Of these, 18 Lancasters were lost.Lancaster I PD268 SR-O of 101 Squadron took off 1708 hrs from Ludford Magna. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt. Mahr RCAF was responsible for the specialist equipment, Sgt. Canning came from Dublin. Both air gunners were in their 30s, Sgt. Matthews being 32 while Sgt. Preston was 39, well over the average age of operational aircrew. In contrast Sgt. Mahr RCAF was was only nineteen. S/L. Gibbon had served since the late 1920s early 30s. Although it is not specifically mentioned it is possible the crew had been tasked for ABC duties, this being the Squadrons commitment until May 1945.S/L. M V. Gibbon AFC, W/O. I H. Bond, F/O. R T. Cawthorp, Sgt. W. Canning, Sgt. L F. Tyrrell, Sgt. R W. Mahr RCAF, Sgt. A F. Matthews, Sgt. C E. Preston were all lost. The fate of the Lancaster is unknown.A system code named "Airborne Cigar" or ABC for short, was devised to jam the VHF frequencies used by the German controllers. The equipment consisted of a panoramic receiver and three transmitters, which enabled the frequency being used by the fighter controller to be identified and then jammed. An 8th crew member, the Special Operator, who was a German-speaker, operated the equipment and listened in for the controller's transmissions. When he was sure that he was listening to the master controller, he jammed that frequency and if the Germans changed frequency he had to find the new frequency and jam that within seconds. If this crew was indeed tasked for ABC duties, Sgt. Rudolph W. Mahr RCAF would probably have been the German speaker.The Special Operators or SOs of 101 Squadron included many German-speaking Jewish refugees, as well as Commonwealth Jewish RAF personnel. They therefore ran an additional risk if shot down and captured.
This is the 101 Sdn log of the Dessau Raid, copyright National Archives.Click here for a larger image
Part of the Runnymede Memorial.Click here for a larger image
We are grateful to members of WW2 Talk for this information.