On 17 July 1999, I received an e-mail from Roland Geiger in Germany to tell me that a local fishing club in Germany had emptied their lake to dredge out the silt. In the mud they found parts of a Lancaster bomber. Roland Geiger was able to establish that this was some wreckage of Lancaster No. W 4331 AR-R of 460 Squadron RAAF, piloted by Sgt Ian Gordon Miller RAAF which was lost in an Operation against Pilsen/CSSR on 16/17 April 1943.

Ian Miller was married to Doris Annie Jane Miller who lived at Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. His parents were John and Ella Miller.

There were 15 bomber crews in that raid on 16 April 1943 on Pilsen. Three aircraft were lost. The one mentioned above and ones piloted by F/Sgt. D.E. White, DFM, and Sgt. J.N. Williams.

The payload for W 4331 consisted of 1 x 4,000 lbs bomb and 3 x 1,000 lbs bombs. The Battle Order reports that "This aircraft took off at the appointed time (2106 hrs) but since then nothing has been heard of the aircraft or crew".

Ian Miller and his crew were on only their 3rd operation. Their initial raid was on Frankfurt on 10/11 April 1943 (7 hrs 55 mins) and the other on Stuttgart on 14/15 April 1943 (7 hrs 15 mins).

All of the crew of W 4331 were killed and were possibly buried locally and then relocated to Durnbach War Cemetery in Germany as follows:-


In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Friday, 16th April 1943. Age 28.


Cemetery:    DURNBACH WAR CEMETERY, Bayern, Germany
Grave Reference/Panel Number:      7. C. 6.

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 427, turn left into Miesbach. The cemetery is situated approximately 500 metres on the left from the 318/472 crossroads.

Historical Information:
The site for the cemetery was chosen, shortly after hostilities had ceased, by officers of the British Army and Air Force, in conjunction with officers of the American Occupation Forces in whose zone Durnbach lay. The great majority of those buried here are airmen shot down over Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Austria, Hessen and Thuringia, brought from their scattered graves by the Army Graves Service.

The remainder are men who were killed while escaping from Prisoner of War camps in the same areas, or who died towards the end of the War on forced marches from the camps, to more remote areas. One of the graves in the cemetery contains the ashes of an unknown number of unidentified war casualties, recovered from Flossenburg.

Within the Indian section of the cemetery will be found the Durnbach Cremation Memorial, commemorating 23 Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the army of undivided India who died while prisoners of war in various places in France and Germany and who were accorded the last rites required by their religion - committal to fire.

Bill Moffatt, the Honorary Secretary of the 460 Squadron (RAAF) Association in Sydney was able to provide me with details of the bombing raid and the names of the rest of the crew of W 4331 as follows:-

Sergeant Norman Percy Richmond, (1391946), Navigator, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 21 years, son of Percy and Edith Annie Richmond, of Eastbourne, Sussex., Grave Reference/Panel Number: 7. C. 4.

Sergeant Maurice George Wilfred Capon, (1333550), Bomber AImer, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Grave Reference/ Panel Number: 7. C. 8.

Sergeant George Joseph Wilson, (1383005), Wirelss Operator/Air Gunner, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 23 years, son of Spear and Catherine Caroline Wilson, of Portadown, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland, Grave Reference/ Panel Number: 7. C. 3.

Sergeant Ronald Alfred Hall (1810453), Mid Upper Gunner, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 19 years, son of William and Rosina Hall, of Bethnal Green, London, Grave Reference/ Panel Number: 7. C. 1.

Sergeant Ronald Francis Beaumont (1601542), Rear Gunner, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Grave Reference/ Panel Number: Coll. grave 7. C. 9-11.

Sergeant Duncan Curtis (814139), Flight Engineer, 460 (R.A.A.F.) Sqdn., Royal Air Force (Aux. Air Force), aged 33 years, son of Richard James Curtis and Eliza Kilgour Curtis, of Walton-on-Thames. Surrey, Grave Reference/ Panel Number: Coll. grave 7. C. 9-11.



The following photographs were taken during the recovery of the remains of the Lancaster at Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim. They were sent to me by Martina and Uwe Benkel. 

Uwe Benkel was the mission leader for the recovery of the Lancaster remains.


w4331-01.jpg (72791 bytes) w4331-02.jpg (68642 bytes) w4331-03.jpg (34115 bytes)
w4331-04.jpg (24818 bytes) w4331-05.jpg (87370 bytes) w4331-06.jpg (51351 bytes)
w4331-07.jpg (58417 bytes) w4331-08.jpg (29327 bytes) w4331-09.jpg (28533 bytes)



Subject:     Crash of a Lancaster from 460 Sq on April 16/17, 1943
Date:              Sat, 17 Jul 1999 15:22:18 EDT
From:            Rolgeiger@aol.com

Salu Peter,

last Thursday my friend Uwe Benkel and I visited the Oggersheim, a suburb of Ludwigshafen/Germany. We had been called by a local fishing club whose pond had been dried before to get rid of the mud inside. After the water was gone they found parts of an air plane engine in the mud. So we went there to find it was the remain of a Lanc of 460 Squadron crashed on the above mentioned date.

Checking Chorley's "Bomber Command Losses" we found it was Lanc I # W 4331 UV-R piloted by Sgt I G Miller RAAF. Target of the day was Pilsen/CSSR. As far as we know no one of the crew survived the crash.

We plan now to explore the mud to find out whether there are remains of the crew left in the mud.

>From an eye witness, an old lady living nearby, we got ten very good photos of the wrecks and its parts.

Do you have any information about the plane, the crew and the mission? Do you know how we may get a photo of the crew? And: are you interested in copies of the photos?

Roland Geiger, St. Wendel, Germany



Subject:   A Lancaster of 460th Squadron (RAF) near Ludwigshafen, Germany, #1
Date:           Sat, 14 Aug 1999 17:10:46 EDT
From:          Rolgeiger@aol.com

The plane went down on its way back home from Pilzen, CSSR, on April 17, 1943. It crashed near the recent village of Oggersheim, a suburb of Ludwigshafen, Germany. Parts of the engine were recently found in a nearby pond of a local fishing club. As only six bodies were recovered, one is presumably missing in action. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Vermißtenforschung (our group) tries to locate and recover the remains of both plane and crew member in the near future.

Attached are photos made at the crash site short after the crash - courtesy of Mrs. Lehr, Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim, and Uwe Benkel, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Roland Geiger, St. Wendel, Germany


lake01.jpg (50518 bytes) The fishing lake


lake02.jpg (53607 bytes) lake08.jpg (28180 bytes)
lake04.jpg (40317 bytes) lake05.jpg (41625 bytes)
lake06.jpg (32187 bytes) lake07.jpg (34963 bytes)
lake07a.jpg (7983 bytes) lake03.jpg (18480 bytes)
lake09.jpg (31581 bytes) lake10.jpg (165626 bytes)



Date:             Mon, 15 Nov 1999 21:31:10 -0000
From:           "David Hawthorne" <davidcharles@hawthorne15.freeserve.co.uk>

From:  David Hawthorne
Co Down
Northern Ireland

Dear Peter,

My uncle, Spiers Wilson, lost his brother Sergeant George Joseph Wilson in the incident. Do you know if there are any photographs of the crew in existence.

Regards David



Subject:   Lancaster W4331
Date:           Mon, 29 Nov 99 12:45:00 PST
From:          Diane Wilson <dwilson@atl.org.uk>

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your E-Mail received today. I have seen your web page - my friend, Louise Falcus came across it in October - it was a great help in our search to find information on my uncle. (Sgt. George Joseph Wilson)

Coincidentally, the letter from Mr Moffat (of 460 Squadron Association in Sydney, Australia) arrived this morning, after I left for work. I can't wait to get home to read it. I was unaware that my cousin (David Hawthorne) had contacted you.

I feel that our search has now come to an end.

Thank you for all your help.

Diane Wilson



64 Years later:     16 April 2007
Family members of a British bomber crew meet
at the crash site at Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim


Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Left to right: Jackie Smith, F/O Owen Newman, David Simmonds and Uwe Benkel

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

The "Backstein-Weiher“ at Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

The "Backstein-Weiher“ at Ludwigshafen-Oggersheim

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Martin Dziewa, Roland Geiger and Uwe Benkel welcome the guests

Photo:- Uwe Benkel


Photo:- Uwe Benkel


Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Left to right: Flight Officer Owen Newman, David Simmonds, Jackie Smith

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

The wreath to remember the killed crew members

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Marek Dziewa shows his welcome gift for David Simmonds

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

the „Lancaster“ on 16/17 April 1943 over Ludwigshafen (Painting by Marek Dziewa, Zweibrücken)

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

The painting is the welcome gift to David Simmonds

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

David Simmonds und Marek Dziewa

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Peter Schreiber from vinyard Schreiber from Gundheim
presents wine gifts to our guests

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

also a wine gift is presented to the mayor of Oggersheim, Herrn Albin Fleck and Jackie Smith

Photo:- Uwe Benkel



Photo:- Uwe Benkel

F/O Newman and Peter Menges also get wine gifts

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Ludwig Faust from Bad Dürkheim presented his book "Als die Vernichtungsmaschinerie lief …"

Photo:- Uwe Benkel

Uwe Benkel gives parts of the aircraft to David and Jackie Right: Marek Dziewa und Jonas Bach

Photo:- Uwe Benkel



Photo:- Uwe Benkel

… 64 years later another flying object is gliding peaceful over the pond – this time it is a grey heron




I'd like to thank Roland Geiger and Uwe Benkel for their assistance with this home page.


Can anyone help with more information?


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This page first produced 31 July 1999

This page updated 19 February 2020