Artefact of the Month
AVRO LANCASTER B1 ME619 (SR-U)
From October 1943, No 101 (Special Duties) Squadron operated specially modified Lancaster bombers equipped with ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC) – three 50 watt transmitters that could jam the narrow frequency bands used by German night fighter controllers.
No 101 Squadron’s Lancasters, based at Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, flew more operations than any other squadron and suffered above average number of losses. Its Lancasters were fitted with three 7 foot long aerials, one centrally located beneath the nose and two on the upper fuselage offset to port. They carried an additional crew member, a German speaking Special Duties Operator, who listened for the radio instructions to the German night fighters and then jammed their frequencies with VHF transmitters. ABC Lancasters were spread throughout the bomber stream and carried a reduced bomb load when maximum fuel load required due to the weight of the special equipment. In theory, eight of the No 101 Squadron Lancasters could cover all the twenty four different frequencies available for use by the German night fighter controllers. By the war’s end, No 101 Squadron had flown 2,477 sorties from Ludford Magna but lost 113 Lancasters.
The model of ME619 (SR-U) was built as a tribute to Sergeant T J Burleigh and three other crew members of this aircraft who lost their lives in the early hours of 23 April 1944.
No 101 Squadron Lancaster SR-U took off from Ludford Magna at 2240 hours on 22 April 1944, joining a Bomber Command raid on Dusseldorf but was hit by flak at 20,000 feet and crashed between Krefeld and the river Rhine at Lank-Latum. The pilot, Pilot Officer McDowell, Sergeant Hall (Mid Upper Gunner), Sergeant Ault (Rear Gunner) and the Special Duties Operator, Sergeant Burleigh were killed. They are buried in the Rhineburg War Cemetery. The other four members of the crew survived and became Prisoners-of War.
THE MODEL OF LANCASTER B1 ME619 (SR-U) IS DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S MERSTON HALL