Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Remembering World War II Victor Stear Royal Canadian Air Force
Victor Stear Pilot Officer J/92357 419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force October 6, 1925 Winnipeg, Manitoba April 22, 1943 Winnipeg, Manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba 17 5 feet, 6 inches Medium Brown Dark Brown Single Metal Sheet Worker Lutheran Molly Stear (Mother) Winnipeg, Manitoba August 26, 1944 18 Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany 5. H. 8.
Name: Rank: Service No: Service: Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Date of Enlistment: Place of Enlistment: Address at Enlistment: Age at Enlistment: Height: Complexion: Eye Colour: Hair Colour: Marital Status: Trade: Religion: Next of Kin: Date of Death: Age at Death: Cemetery: Grave Reference:
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Pilot Officer Stear was the son of David Stear and Molly (Waleske) Stear of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He had three sisters and five brothers. Victor left school at the age of sixteen, completing grade nine. On leaving school he worked for a time as a delivery boy and In the nine months prior to his enlistment he was employed as a sheet metal worker at MacDonald Brothers Aircraft Co., in Winnipeg. His hobby was stamp collection. He played some football and baseball. On enlistment he trained in Canada and obtained his Air Gunner Badge on November 12, 1943. He departed Canada for the United Kingdom at Halifax on December 14, 1943 and disembarked in England on December 21, 1943. He continued his training at No 24 Operational Training Unit and was assigned to 419 Squadron on June 19, 1944. On the night of August 25/26 Pilot Officer Stear was the Upper Mid Gunner on Lancaster KB775 that departed RAF Middleton St. George at 19:56 hrs. to attack Russsellsheth, Germany, a main industrial centre and the site of the Opel Motor Factory. The Lancaster was one of a 412 Lancaster raid. Lancaster KB775 failed to return to base. This was the eleventh attack on enemy positions for Pilot Officer Stear. On his first sortie his aircraft was attacked by two enemy fighters and it was “primarily due to his prompt and effective action that they were driven off before any damage could be inflicted on his own aircraft. He had definitely proved himself to be a very keen and effective Gunner and that, combined with his cheerful temperament make him a distinct asset to his Section”. A telegram from the International Red Cross quoting German information stated a Lancaster aircraft crashed on August 26, 1944; The Pilot H. D. Wirwer was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. In 1946 it was determined that Lancaster KB775 en route to the bomb site collided mid-air with another Lancaster returning from the bomb site. Lancaster KB775 crashed in flames and exploded on impact two kilometres west of the village of Unter-Eisensheim. From the crater left by the explosion that measured 15 meters in diameter and 20 meters in depth, it was determined that the bomb load was still on board at the time of the crash. Six bodies were recovered from the site and buried at the Unter-Eisensheim Cemetery on August 27, 1944. In 1949 the bodies of the six crew members were re-buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany. The Seven Crew Members were: Howard D. Witner, (J/86988) Flying Officer/Pilot (Acme, Alberta) Survived Harold Lloyd McKay (J/92356) Pilot Officer/Navigator (Calgary, Alberta) Age 21 Arnold Wilfred Larsen (J//35069) Flying Officer/Air Bomber (Climax, Saskatchewan) Age 31 David Russell Barnard (R/92354) Pilot Officer/Wireless Operator (Bluevale, Ontario) Age 26 R. J. Boorman (1869230) Sergeant, RAF/Flight Engineer (Nottingham, London) Alvin Roy Jackson (J/92355) Pilot Officer/Rear Air Gunner (Norgate, Manitoba) Age 20 Victor Stear (J/92357) Pilot Officer/Mid-Upper Gunner (Winnipeg, Manitoba) Age 18
Excerpt from an account of the incident by Howard Witmer (Published www.bombercommandmuseum.ca) This operation was carried out in darkness, with many other aircraft in the bomber stream, some briefed to be at your same altitude, with no navigation lights on. The only way you would know if there were others around you was by flying through someone’s slipstream, or if you were close enough you might see their red hot engine exhaust pipes. We had to be very near each other to see that. I had just completed the turn, checked the compass, noted the Master Bomber’s flares at the target, when out of the corner of my eye, another aircraft was right there at the same altitude. I made an effort to evade a collision. As we had a closing speed of approximately 180 MPH there was really no time to avoid contact. I did feel a little “click”, I thought that I was very lucky if that’s all it was. But not so. Within a few seconds the nose dipped. I tried to bring it up, when all of a sudden we started to go down out of control. I wasn’t able to gain control over this tumbling aircraft. I still had my safety harness on, but I could see some members of the crew being thrown around. I yelled for them to bail out. It seemed that they were trying to get to the escape hatch, which was down in the nose. I kept trying to maneuver the controls, with negative results. It was then that I decided to release my safety harness and help the rest of the crew to abandon ship. As soon as I did that I was thrown against the roof, then landing on the floor. I have no recollection as to what happened after that until I came to, falling through the air. I realized where I was so I groped for the “D”ring, pulled it, and the chute opened. Just then I heard a huge explosion, and then I was dangling from a tall tree. Then there was another explosion nearby It had to be the aircraft crashing.