Lancaster ME663


Aircraft code: AR-M

Date: 9/10 April 1944

Mission: Mining in Baltic off Danzig.

Crash Site: Åle, 10 miles west of Horsens.


F/Lt Peter Alan Crosby RAAF Pilot KIA
P/O Milton Harold Bender DFC RAF Fl/Eng KIA
F/Sgt Clive Billett RAAF Bomb/Aim KIA
F/Sgt Leslie Harold Chapman RAAF W/Op KIA
F/O Laurence William Robb RAF MU/Gun KIA
F/Sgt Stanley F. Hodge RAAF Rear Gun. POW
F/O Charles Edward Suffren RAAF Nav. POW

Remarks: ME663 was at 23000 feet at 03:30 hours over the east coast of Jutland when a nightfighter shot it on fire. Corkscrewing brought them to 18000 feet and F/Lt Crosby ordered the crew to bail out. Everybody had confirmed when the aircraft rolled violently, and wasn´t recovered until at 6000 feet. The bail out order was repeated but the aircraft was now diving rapidly. Both wings were on fire when the Rear Gunner F/Sgt Hodge managed to bail out. He came down at Rask Wood, 4 km east of Åle. Shortly after the aircraft blew up, one km north of Åle.

Parts of the aircraft was spread over a wide area, and so was the crew.

F/O Suffren was found was found in a plantation nearby, unconscious.

On his water bag he had written "03:40 hours attacked by nightfighter, thrown out of aircraft. Back broken. Greet my family, Ted - 05:10 hours, pain unbearable".

F/O Suffren was brought to the hospital in Horsens where doctors prepared for surgery. When the Germans arrived at the hospital they wanted to take the airman with them right away. Doctors and nurses argued aggressively against it but couldn´t stop them taking the airman to a German hospital in Aarhus. Weeks later F/O Suffren was transferred to Germany. He died at a Luftwaffe hospital near Frankfurt on 16th February 1945. He is buried at the Durnbach Cemetery south of Munich. F/Sgt Hodge was captured a few days later.

Rest of crew, 5 airman, were buried at Esbjerg Cemetery.

lund02.jpg (27513 bytes) The crew from ME663 AR-M

Back row from left to right: P/O Bender, F/Sgt Billett, F/Sgt Chapman, F/Sgt Hodge.

Kneeling from left to right: F/Lt Crosby, F/O Robb, F/O Suffren.


lund03.jpg (43882 bytes)

F/Lt Crosby and crew returning after delivering six 1000 pounders on Berlin, 26/27 November 1943. The picture was taken after landing at Binbrook at 00:53 hours. From left to right, Sgt Chapman, F/Sgt Crosby, Sgt Bender and F/Sgt B. Proud (Bomb Aimer). Proud was relieved by Sgt Billett in December 1943.

This event is described in Peter Firkin's "Strike and Return" as follows:-

"Another heavy loss during this period was sustained on the mine-laying trip to Danzig Bay on 9th April when of 12 aircraft dispatched, three very experienced crews were missing, and two others - those of Pilot Officer R.N. Wade and Flight Lieutenant A.V. Willis, D.F.C. - came back severely damaged from flak.  Flight Sergeant W.D. McKenzie's crew, doing their first op., crashed on take-off and all were killed."

"Not only did the crews have to contend with tremendous heavy flak over their "Gardening" area, but they also had to withstand numerous night-fighter attacks whilst flying over Denmark."

"The minelaying operations were all part of the plan to bottle up the Baltic Sea and stop seaborne supplies from reaching the Russian Front."



Subject:    Lancaster ME663 crew
Date:             Wed, 22 Apr 1998
From:           Bundaberg Sub Branch RSL

I have noticed that in the crew of above you have ?? on F/Sgt Hodge & F/O Suffren. Both crew were members of the RAAF. F/Sgt Stan Hodge lives in Bundaberg and is very active in the RSL. F/O Suffren Died of Wounds.

Regards Wayne McNee



Subject:    Re: ME663-survivor
Date:              Sat, 25 Apr 1998
From:            Peter Lund <>

Gidday mate - thanks for the info about F/Sgt Stan Hodge of Bundaberg.

Could be interesting hearing his story.

Have you heard about the Bomber Command Historical Society.

Regards Peter


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