ERIC ROSS GREENACRE, DFC
OF 460 SQUADRON RAAF
|visits since 6 September 1999|
Subj: 460 SQUADRON
From: Roger Rigby (email@example.com)
Date: 18 June 1997
I have just surfed the net and found your 460 Squadron site and a reference to an uncle who flew with 460 during WWII.
His name was Eric Ross Greenacre and he Lancaster was damaged over Southern Germany in late 1944; he survived without injury as did all his crew as far as I know.
I would be interested in finding out more details of Eric's service with 460, either from your association or via any advice you may be able to provide, as to sources.
Eric died some years ago, however when I was a young boy, aged 4/5 or so (I am now 54, so I am referring to early post-war, say 1947/48), I have very vivid memories of hearing him talk of his experiences flying Lancasters - I don't recall particular details, however I still have the resonance of places such as 'Berlin', 'Dortmund', 'Kiel', 'Turin' in my memory of those times.
I do remember him saying much later on that he flew on an early raid on Peenemunde and 1943 seems to ring a bell in this connection; I have read 'Evidence in Camera' which is about aerial interpretation during WWII and refers to Constance Babbington-Smith identifying the V1s there for the first time in 1942 or 43, so it might be possible that my memory is correct.
The account of the raid on Turin rang strong bells, as he recounted to me a story about a raid on the Fiat factories not too long before he died. No doubt there were several raids, however the account seemed very familiar, particularly the sight of the Po River in the moonlight. He also recounted that when they crossed the Alps on the way home, the wings iced up until the weight became too much and slid off suddenly, causing the aircraft to suddenly lift several hundred feet.
According to your web site, Eric was downed on 7 Oct (the family story is that it was 9 Nov, however, this may have been the date he was posted 'missing').
I don't recall that he ever told me the exact story, however my father recounted the circumstances of Eric's experience several times in my memory.
Your site notes that his target was Emerich which I cannot find on a map, however his route in either direction must have been over Southern Germany. His aircraft was severely damaged by incendiaries dropped from another Lanc above him who drifted over Eric's aircraft with the result that several incendiaries went through his wing.
He ensured that his crew were able to get out, then, having got his boots caught under the rudder pedals for some reason, he escaped the aircraft without his boots.
Eventually captured by a Bavarian farmer 'who fed me and gave me a pair of boots which I wore until I got back to London after the war', he was then handed over to the Luftwaffe police. Eventually he went to Oberusel for interrogation where he was 'treated correctly but learnt the meaning of hunger for the first time'. After that, he was moved to a Stalag, but we don't know which one. My cousin Helen has a Caterpillar broach which he received from the Caterpillar Parachute Co after the war, for his safe use of one of their parachutes.
As I recall, he received his DFC for directing the repair of damaged control systems and bringing a severely damaged plane home, and thereby saving his crew. This was somewhat earlier and there is a reference to an earlier incident where he was posted 'lost' - see the web site reference for mid-1943.
We think that he flew nearly 2 tours which makes him a pretty lucky pilot, given the attrition rate of bomber pilots in 1943/44.
When released from prison camp, he and a few others had difficulty in getting back to England, so they stole a small keg of rum and bribed truck drivers returning to the French coast for reloading, to give them a lift.
Not long before he died, he was corresponding with a fellow pilot who lived in the UK and he did some tapes in which he recounted his experiences; unfortunately I don't know any details about who his correspondent was, nor where the tapes are.
I am not sure if your association is interested in 'hearsay' stories such as mine however I have always wanted to form a clearer idea of what he did and also of the sort of environment in which he had to survive in 1942-46.
He never flew again after the war as he decided that his wife Kathleen had been through enough of uncertainty while he was away. (she also had a brother-in-law, who was lost flying Swordfish while on duty with an RN carrier - I wonder if there is reference to those flyers on the web)
Before the war Eric was an apprentice baker and when he returned he was able to do medicine under a special grant and became a country doctor in Bathurst, NSW, from 1953 to about 1988, when he died of heart disease.
If you could provide any advice for further research I would be grateful and would entirely understand if a donation to 460 Squadron Association was required.
(newphew via maternal side)
Subject: ERIC GREENACRE
Date: 7 Jun 1998
From: Roger Rigby <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A fair while a go you were good enough to put up my letter about my uncle, Eric Greenacre. Since then, my research has born fruit and thanks mainly to a military history researcher in the UK (Dave Morris email: email@example.com) I now have copies of several interesting documents: His Liberation Report which he would have filed on his return to Binbrook after he was released from Stalag Luft III, copies of many pages of the Station Log for 460 with references to some of the raids on which Eric flew (he flew 1 tour plus 4 raids before coming down over Emmerich), the official recommendation for his DFC, a copy of the Gazettal of his DFC, a DOD list of prisoners of war and an aerial shot of Stalag Luft III. I now have a lot of other collateral material from various books and, not least from your excellent site which is one of the best sites of its kind I have found on the 'net.
As can easily be the case with family folklore, my original letter which you posted is fairly inaccurate as to fact and I would be appreciative if you could withdraw it from your site as it is misleading. I am doing a short summary of my findings and will send this to you as a replacement if you wish.
Subject: ERIC GREENACRE
Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 21:20:45 +0000
From: rigr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for fast reply. Yes, it is a good idea to leave the original and then show the revised and correct version of the story. I will send this shortly.
As it happens, I was doing some work on the info today and noticed that your site shows an aircraft reg. no. which I had not previously listed in my documents. I have established that Eric flew PB407, Dv193, PB175, PB469, which were all Mk III Lancasters.
Your record of the Turin raid shows DV173, which I haven't seen before on any records. He was flying DV193 at least until October 1943. Can you throw any light on the source of the Turin Raid info concerning the source of the aircraft reg. nos.quoted? (I don't doubt the source but I would like to be sure that DV173 is correct and that it was not DV193. Both these aircraft were part of a short production run of 132 aircraft from Metropolitan Vickers, 10.42 to 11.43)
I would be appreciative of your advice on the above.
Subject: ERIC GREENACRE
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 22:10:25 +0000
From: rigr <email@example.com>
I have forgotten whether or not I had sent you an update on my uncle. If not, herewith the CORRECT story:
Thanks for posting my recent email. As promised, this email is to correct earlier facts which were contained in my email of June last year.
The process of discovery was a valuable lesson in collecting oral history and also the need to question family histories. The documents sourced by David Morris (see last letter) served to put right a number of myths which had built up in our side of the family and also to lead to an interesting search for collateral material which helped to paint a picture of those times.
The real circumstances of my uncle Ft Lt Eric Greenacres experiences were as follows: His last sortie was a daylight raid to Emmerich in western Germany which was an important rail/road junction, made important at the time by Montgomerys advance against the German 15th Army and now called the Battle of Arnhem.
This raid involved 31 aircraft which departed from Binbrook at 1100+ and arrived over the target at 1600+. Eric Greenacre was the pilot of PB407 (Lancaster MkIII) and his crew were: P/O G.Cairnes, K.E.Harris, C.K.Agg, R.C.Coveny, H.W.Marchant, J.McKean, all being Australians except Cairnes and Marchant.
His aircraft had bombed from about 11,000 feet at 1422 hrs when the aircraft was hit in the starboard wing by bombs from another aircraft above. All the crew got out and Eric jumped at an altitude of 2,000ft which suggests he stayed with the aircraft in order to ensure that the crew could bale out. He parachuted into the Reichwald Forest about 10 miles SSE of the German town of Cleves (Kleves).
He evaded capture between the afternoon of 7 October until 2100 hrs on 11 October 1944, when he was captured by members of the Wehrmacht about 5 miles E of Nijmegen. The interesting thing about this period is that he found his way through an area which would have been densely occupied by elements of the German Army who were bitterly resisting Montgomerys efforts to advance to the Reichwald Forest and the Rhine. It would have been an extremely dangerous place to be at that time for someone in RAAF flying kit.
Once captured, he was eventually taken to the interrogation centre at Dulag Luft, Frankfurt and the dates and locations of his time in Germany were as follows: DL Frankfurt, 17 Oct-24 Oct, Dulag Luft, 28 Oct-4 Nov, Stalag Luft III, Sagan, 7 Nov-27 Jan 45, Luchenwalde, 2 Feb-21 Apr. Liberation was by the Russians at Luchenwalde on 21 April 1945. There are other facts that I have not been able to check yet, including another family story that, once released by the Russians he and others found a bakery and commenced the baking of bread for other prisoners, his expertise coming from his years as an apprentice baker before the war.
All the above information is derived from official documents and a comparison with my original email shows clearly how family fact can be considerably distorted. I should hasten to add, that Erics own family and descendants are most definitely not included in this observation!
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 02:17:30 -0800
We made contact a couple of years ago concerning an uncle Sqn Ldr Eric Greenacre who flew with 460 Squadron from July 43 to Oct 44. I have found a fair bit of information (my email on your website is very inaccurate!).
I am now specifically looking for info on the transfer of RAAF/RAF POWs from Stalag Luft 3 to Luckenwalde in Feb 1945. There is information on transfers to other camps, but I have yet to find anything on this particular episode.
Any help from out there would be appreciated.
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Sun, 02 Apr 2000 03:57:29 -0700
Sorry I haven't replied sooner.
I don't have a lot of new information on Stalag Luft III, however here goes:
I have a copy of my uncle's Liberation report, which he made on his return to Binbrook (home of 460 Sqn) from captivity. The dates of the departure of his group of British prisoners from SLIII are:
Departed SLIII, Sagan - 27 Jan 1945. Arrived Luckenwalde 2 Feb, liberated by the Russians 21 April 1945.
This period of 6 days was spent in traveling from SLIII to Luckenwalde and from what I can read, was essentially carried out so that the German guards could get away from the advancing Russians (although there was an other theory that Allied officers were going to be consolidated in one place and held to ransom - anything was possible in those times). This is the bit of history that I am finding difficult to source. I have heard that there is a large manuscript in the Public Records Office that records SLIII and the aftermath.
I have come across a very good description relating to a move from SLIII called 'March from Sagan', by Lt Lawson Cawley, USAAF. I can't find my bookmark, however if you did a search by title and author, you will find it. The end of this particular move from SLIII ended at SL13 (Nurnburg) and not Luckenwalde, so it might be that British and US pows were separated. The account by Lt Cawley is pretty harrowing and it would be interesting to know if the conditions applied to the Luckenwalde march. Your email has added to my knowledge and the dates are confirmed by my uncle's Liberation Report.
I haven't given up on finding information on the Luckenwalde march, however I am not getting far - your reply was the first in about 12 months or more, so thanks!
2. Stalag Luft III.
Apart from the obvious sources about SLIII ('The Great Escape' etc), there are quite a few other sources, 'Flack & Barbed Wire' by Gordon Stooke (Aust Military History Publ) is excellent and gives a real flavour of those days. This book also has photos of the Luckenwalde camp and it might be worthwhile to track down Gordon Stooke and see if he has any unpublished information.
If you can track down Rob Davis' Bomber site, there is an excellent bibliography at the end of the 'Great Escape' article that covers SLIII and related topics.
If I make any further progress on these two topics, I will pas it on to you.
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 01:56:35 -0700
Re: Eric Greenacre.
I had a look at your website and saw that you have already updated the email messages with my later findings. I can't add to this much, unless someone comes good with an account of the SLIII to Luckenwalde march.
I am also tracing the history of the Lancs** that Eric flew during his time with 460. This is fairly easy and I have already learnt that DV193 survived the war and was used as a training fuselage later on. I also have a copy of a letter from his engineer, George Cairns who went on to higher rank in the RAF and worked on the Harrier project in a senior capacity in the early 80s. Are you interested in this letter? If so, I would have to get permission from his immediate family to allow reproduction.
**I have seen the definitive book of every Lanc ever built, in a library in Wellington, NZ. Do you know if it is available in Australia or alternatively the title, author, publisher, so I can order in from UK?
Thanks & kindest regards
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 02:56:44 -0700
Thanks for your reply. I have seen this book mentioned but have not read it. The killing of the recaptured pows is very well documented and many of those responsible were rounded up after the war and tried at the Nuremberg Trials in 1947/8. Several were executed, some imprisoned and a few let off due to lack of evidence. There is a transcript on the web of a part of the trials concerning this event, but I cannot find my bookmark - a search would soon reveal it.
As to the movement of pows from camp to camp, there is a very interesting page at:
Another good site re SLII is http://free.polbox.pl/l/luftstal/luft3gb.htm
I will look out for the book.
Thanks & regards
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 03:13:43 -0700
Thanks for the info on the book - I will now lash out and buy one!
DV193 was a Lanc Mk III (not IIII as shown) and was with 460Sqn when my uncle flew it on perhaps a dozen raids, including Kassel on 22.10.43, when the aircraft was badly damaged, but was flown back to Binbrook and landed without mishap. The two gunners were injured and my uncle got an immediate DFC out of the events of this trip.
I can also tell you that this Lanc was built at Trafford Park by Metropolitan Vickers on a 132 aircraft contract that ran between Sept 42 - Nov 43. The aircraft was repaired and obviously moved to 103Sqn, but I don't know what the other abbreviations are about, however there must be a key somewhere.
There is a demon in the details of these things!!
Thanks again & regards
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 03:25:46 -0700
Yes, thanks I found this not so long ago. It look as if I need to buy the book!
I am constantly amazed at what sort of info can be found on the 'net. This whole affair started when I did a very casual search on the 'net for family name, that in turn led me to Peter Dunn's 460 Sqn site!! That was 2 years ago and the process is still going on.
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2000 03:31:47 -0700
I replied too quickly - you have a copy of the Operations Record Book? Is this an available document?
I have about 10 aircraft I would like to check sometime, but if the Op Book is obtainable, this would be better still.
Yes, I have heard that the 'definitive record' has a few problems, there is something on a website somewhere about this.
Many thanks & regards
Subject: 460 Sqn
Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2000 02:50:19 -0700
Thanks. I didn't realise until after I sent the email that you are with AWM!
I have gone through my uncle's log book and listed the Lancs that he flew on raids - there were several others that he flew for training, testing, etc. but I have not listed these. With the aid of the list on the 460 website you referred to, I have found that 7 of the 9 Lancs he flew were destroyed by enemy action or related misadventure while flying with other crews. There is one Lanc that I need to research further as I cannot reconcile the prefix with 460 Lancs. The last Lanc is DV193, which survived the war to be used as an instructional fuselage. This aircraft was obviously the crew's favourite as they took it on about 15 sorties to return safely each time.
All my uncles Lancs were Mk IIIs, except for DB613 which is shown as a MkIV in his log book. I don't know what distinguished a IV and my research has shown that 460 flew Mk Is and IIIs, so this particular aircraft is an odd one. If your expertise and interests extend to aircraft types, I would be interested in your opinion.
Thanks for your help with the Op Record Book, I will look up the reference next time I am in Canberra. I do have a few photocopies of some of the Op Book pages which I received from a British military history researcher, who located them in the Public Records Office, Kew.
Subject: Cherry Carter's crew
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 04:30:03 -0700
Pilot of "G" for George on 21 operations
Noticed the crew in the recent email update. There was a P/O Coveny in the crew of my uncle Eric Greenacre's last sortie over Emmerich on 7.10.44. In the 460 Operations Record book he is shown as:
A412914 F/O Coveny F.C.
and from Eric's log book address his home address was:
93 Tarcutta St Wagga Wagga NSW
I wonder if anything more is known about him - he is the only one of Eric's crew I have ever seen in a photograph.
Can anyone help Roger with info on F/O F.C. Coveny?
Subject: Stalag Luft III
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 04:31:46 -0700
Thanks for your recent info on SLIII, most interesting. Yes, I have a copy of 'Barbed Wire & Footlights' and it is a good read.
In my perpetual search for info on the move from SLIII to Luckenwalde I found an excellent site recently, see:
The pages 20 - 38 closely parallel what I believe would have been my uncle's experiences between SLIII and Luckenwalde. If you haven't seen this site, I recommend as it is a very good read.
© Peter Dunn 2004
This page first produced 26 June 1997
This page last updated 09 August 2004