Regiment : 101 Squadron Royal Air Force
Service number : 1508403
Conflict : WW2
Date of death : 27th November 1943 aged 22
Buried : Sage War Cemetery, Germany, Grave 11. B. 8.
Relatives : Son of James and Amelia Rowand; husband of Ruth K. Rowand, of Redditch, Worcestershire
Memorial : Redditch War Memorial
William Rowand was a crew member on Lancaster Mark III Serial No DV268 that took off from RAF Ludford Magna at 17.18 on 26th November 1943 on a bombing mission to Berlin. It is not known what caused the aircraft to crash. Only one crew member, Sergeant J.C. Jossa, survived the crash and he was taken a prisoner of war.
The following information is courtesy and copyright of John Jossa, son of Sergeant John Jossa, the sole survivor of the crash:
My father was Sgt. John Jossa the only survivor of the flight.
This is my recollection of what he told me :
The aircraft took off from Ludford Magna (home of 101 squadron) in Lincolnshire, the target was Berlin.
The aircraft Lancaster DV268 was one of three lost by 101 squadron that night. Dad was the only survivor from all three!
They reached Berlin and bombed the target successfully.
Leaving Berlin a German fighter got on their tail. They crossed Germany taking avoiding action (corkscrewing) trying to shake off the fighter. During this the tail gunner, Sgt Lovesay was killed, eventually they thought they had managed to lose the fighter.
Paul Zanchi the pilot, had a discussion with dad, the navigator, on what course to take, this has been described as an argument in other areas but Dad never described it as such, but as a brief discussion (although clearly a discussion taking place between two very young men in a very stressful and frightening situation).
In the course of taking avoiding action they had lost a lot of height (Dad’s guess was that they were low maybe as low as 1000 feet), and were miles off course.
They could see where the stream was passing through the flak areas of Cologne and Essen, Dad advised Paul to head for towards the flak areas to rejoin the stream. Out on their own they were a sitting duck and would be probably not have enough fuel to get back, Berlin was at extreme range.
Paul, not unnaturally, was loath to turn over flak areas but decided to turn towards the stream.
Dad said that almost immediately and enormous thump hit the aircraft from below, Paul was killed immediately and the aircraft went straight down. Dads last memory was of looking to see if the bomb aimer was alright. He has no idea what he could do if he was not, Dad was convinced that he and the rest of the crew would be dead in seconds.
The next Dad knew was waking up seeing white wing shapes above him. He thought he was in heaven seeing angels, then he heard the angels speaking German, he remembered feeling strangely disappointed.
It was 3 weeks after the crash and he was in a German hospital, staffed by Catholic nuns whose headdress had large “wings sticking out” which looked like angels wings when your vision is a bit blurred. Then the pain started.
Dad had thought they had been hit by flak because it was such a thump, but the Germans said he had been shot down by a night fighter. On reflection it was probably by a me110 using “jazz music”. It had in all probability been stalking them from below and the “discussion” had been totally academic. They had no chance of seeing him with the tail gunner already dead.
On hitting the ground Dad’s seatbelt must have broken, the navigator sat sideways on with a lapstrap belt, and he must have been thrown out through the cockpit canopy. Apparently his parachute then opened and snagged on the wreckage, breaking some bones, the parachute cords then snapped and he flew clear of the wreckage. The Germans found him some distance from the wreckage. As I said he woke up three weeks later, he’d been in a coma due to his head injuries, his other injuries affected every part of his body, virtually every bone was broken,his back was broken and been compressed, his skull was fractured in three places as was his jaw and his tongue had been split right down its length.
Exactly what happened on impact will never been known for sure, what I have described here is is based on his injuries, and what the Germans told him, and also on him sitting in the navigators seat on the “gate guardian” Lancaster at Scampton in about 1980,trying to figure out how he got out. That Lancaster is now the one at East Kirby used for taxi ride trips.
The German doctors told him he would never walk again, and when he returned home British doctors told him he would never have children. Well he did walk and I have 2 brothers and 3 sisters, typical of the determination and courage of that generation.
He met a Luftwaffe night fighter pilot in hospital, he’d broken his leg after being shot down some time after Dads Lancaster had been. He thought he may have been the one to shoot Dv268 down. Dad said he was a nice bloke, and just like the RAF men.
I hope this sheds some light on the loss of William Rowland and the rest of the crew, Dad never forgot and they were in his thoughts until his death in 1990. This was directly related to the injuries he received that night.