- RAF Elsham Wold during the Second World War -
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RAF Elsham Wold
During WW1 FE2b aircraft of 33 Sqn operated in this area from December 1916 to June 1919. RAF Elsham Wolds became a Heavy Bomber Station of No 1 Group home to Wellington I, Halifax II and Lancaster III of 103 Sqn. The most successful Lancaster of all time flew from this station - ED888 M2 with 140 ops. (including 98 to Germany with 15 of these over Berlin). This aircraft was scrapped after the war. Between May 1942 and October 1943 Elsham Wolds was home to 103 Conversion Flight with Halifax II. The station acted as Releif Landing Ground for 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit from Blyton between January 1943 and April 1945
576 Sqn formed here in November 1943 with Lancaster I and III, they moved to Fiskerton in October 1944. April 1945 to December 1945 saw 100 Sqn using the station, their last op too place on 25th April 1945 to Berchtesgarden. After the Bomber Sqns left 21 HGCU of Transport Command were here from December 1945 to November 1946 with Halifax, Albermarle and Horsa gliders.
Today the site is used for agriculture and industry.
Squadrons stationed at RAF Elsham Wolds
- No: 100 Squadron from April 1945 to December 1945
- No: 103 Squadron
- 103 Conversion Flight from May 1942 to October 1943
- No: 576 Squadron from November 1943 to October 1944
16th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost
21st Jan 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
3rd Aug 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
21st Dec 1942 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
10th Jan 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
22nd Jan 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
14 April 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
17th Feb 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
27th Feb 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
2nd Mar 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
2nd Mar 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
4th Mar 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
17th Jun 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
1st Apr 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
10th Apr 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
9th Jun 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
15th Jun 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
4th Jul 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
4th Jul 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
13th Jul 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
25th Jul 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
3rd Aug 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
10th Aug 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
18th Aug 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
23rd Aug 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
1st Sep 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
28th Sep 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
21st Oct 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
22nd Oct 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
22nd Dec 1942 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
6th Jun 1944 Lancaster Lost
15th Jul 1944 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
29th Jul 1944 576 Squadron Lancaster lost
25th Jul 1943 103 Squadron Lancaster lost
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served at
RAF Elsham Wold
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Bradley William Leslie. Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Bradshaw Neville Rollinson. (d.29th July 1944)
- Cole Fredrick Ivor Geoffrey. Sgt.
- Farrow Dorothy.
- Griffiths Jimmy S.. P/O
- Hamilton Ernest William. Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Johnson T. F.. Flt Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Lee John Charles. Flt.Sgt. (d.7th Aug 1942)
- Luck Jack. Flt Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- McDonald . Bernard Graham. F/O.
- Molesworth James. F/Sgt. (d.25th Oct 1942)
- Osborne Frederick George Francis. Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Stevens Arthur. F/O (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Taylor Francis James. Sgt. (d.20th Feb 1944)
- Telfer Robert Lloyd. WO1. (d.28th Aug 1942)
- Vowles Peter Adrian. F/Sgt.
- Watt Alastair Clarence. F/Lt. (d.17th Mar 1945)
- Weight Christopher Joseph. P/O. (d.4th Jan 1945)
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List
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P/O Jimmy S. Griffiths pilot 576 Sqd.My father was Jimmy Griffiths, who is named on the Elsham Wolds page on your site.
I recently stumbled across your site on Google and I mentioned it to my mum, Jimmy's widow. Below are some memories which she provided. Feel free to use them, edit them as you see fit and please get in touch with me if you would like any more info.
I'm guessing you've read the book 'The Lancaster at War'. If not, it's well worth tracking down, as it contains Jimmy's account of the doomed April 1994 flight as well as a photo of Jimmy with the veteran Lancaster, "Mike Squared":
In April 1944, we arrived at Elsham Wolds to join 576 Squadron as 'new boys'. To our dismay, we were allocated the oldest Lancaster on the station. But just one week and three operations later, the Flight Commander, whose posting to PFF had just come through, yielded to our protests and let us have his new Lanc BIII, LM527 UL-U2.
Briefing was over, final checks had been made on the aircraft and the crews were relaxing in the few minutes left before take-off time, on a lovely spring evening, April 30, 1944 - target Maintenon. I was thrilled at the prospect of flying one of the latest Lancasters, so much superior to old M2, the veteran aircraft I had flown on my first three operations. The runway in use was the shortest one on the 'drome and necessitated revving up aginst the brakes, almost to full power, before take-off, similar to the method employed on aircraft carriers. Time to go - always a tense moment - and we are soon lined up on the runway making the last quick cockpit check. "Rich mixture", "Propellers in fine pitch", "Flaps up", "Fuel gauges OK". Ready to go! Throttles are opened slowly against the brakes until the aircraft throbs with power, straining and vibrating until the brakes can barely hold her. brakes are released and we leap forward. Keep straight by use of throttles and rudder and ease the control column forward to bring the tail up. "Full power!" the engineer takes over the throttles and opens them fully, locking them in that position. The tail is now off the ground, giving full control on the rudders for keeping straight, and the airspeed indicator is creeping slowly up towards the take-off speed.
Something's wrong! We are nearing the end of the runway and haven't yet reached take-off speed. We should be airborne by now! A glance at the instruments shows that, whilst all four engines are running smoothly, they are not giving maximum power. Too late to stop - the fence at the end of the runway is right under our nose - speed is dangerously low. I yank back on the stick and the aircraft labours painfully off the ground. We are on the point of stalling and I have to level out, praying that I'll miss the small hill beyond the fence. I have just time to shout "Wheels up!" when - Crash!!!
The aircraft shudders violently; the nose kicks up at a dangerous angle and I instinctively push the stick forward to avoid stalling. I ease the stick back quickly, flying a matter of inches above the ground which, providentially, is sloping downards. I nurse the aircraft along, still hugging the grass. The speed slowly increases beyond the danger mark and very gradually the altimeter needle creeps away from ZERO in answer to a slight backwards pressure on the stick. I start to breathe again, brushing the perspiration from my brow and feel a cold chill up my spine as I think of the load of high explosive bombs beneath my feet hanging on their inadequate-looking hooks. "A fine start to an operation," I was thinking; but more was to follow.
We were climbing very slowly and I realised from the sluggishness of the controls that all was not well. Charlie Bint, the bomb aimer, climbed down into his compartment in the nose and was able to inform me that the starboard wheel had not fully retracted! It must have taken the full force of impact into the hill. No amount of pumping would budge it either up or down, and I knew we would not be able to continue the mission as it was taking too much power and consequently too much fuel to overcome the drag of the damaged wheel.
I flew east, still climbing very slowly, meaning to jettison the bombload in the North Sea and return to make an emergency landing. One hour after take-off we had reached 9000 feet and were circling a few miles east of Grimsby, the North Sea looking cold and deserted underneath. I depressed the lever which should have opened the bomb doors but no red warining light appeared! This was serious. I dived steeply and pulled out quickly in the hope of shaking the doors open, but to no avail. The flight engineer reported that the tank for the hydraulic fluid was completely dry. It was obvious that in our attempts to retract the damaged wheel we had pumped all the fluid into the atmospshere through a broken pipeline.
There was no alternative but to return to base for instructions. It was safe to break radio silence now that the rest of the squadron had been on their way for almost two hours. The WAAF radio telephonist lost no time at all in passing my message to the Flying Control Officer and very soon I was talking to the Station Engineering Officer and finally to the 'old man' himself. We were ordered to make further experiments, but when we had tried everything it was finally apparent that we were saddled with a bobmer fully laden with bombs which couldn't be released and a damaged undercarriage which would make landing a hazardous affair not to be contemplated when our bombload was enough to blow an aerodrome to pieces!
"Stand by," I was ordered and we circled round, wondering how long it would take them to reach a decision. Tommy Atherton, the navigator, brought me a cup of coffee out of his Thermos flask and we had a quiet crew conference. "What do you think they'll decide, Skip?" - this from Taffy, one of the gunners. I spoke the thought that had been in my mind since the bomb doors had refused to budge. "How would you like to join the Caterpilliar Club?" (This is a Club consisting of airmen who have baled out to save their lives.) There was a bit of joking, but it sounded rather forced and I called up the 'drome to ask them to speed up their decision.
"Reduce height to 5000 feet and stand by!" I knew then that I had correctly assumed what the order would be - we were coming down to a level where a parachute wouldn't drift too far from the 'drome!
I reported again at 5000 feet and the next instrcution produced a stir of activity. "Fly upwind and order crew to bale out one at a time. Remain at controls and stand by." The crew needed no second bidding. Through they filed - two gunners, wireless operator, navigator, and engineer, filling the confined space of the cockpit, their parachutes fixed firmly across their chests. Charlie was already in his compartment in the nose, opening the escape hatch in the floor. As they stepped quietly out of my sight to take their turn at jumping, each one shook my hand vigorously as he passed.
In a very short time I was left alone, and very much alone I felt. The roar of the engines seemed to grow louder, the controls seemed heavier and the aircraft seemed suddenly to be larger, more powerful, more sinister. "All out," I advised control.
"Circle and stand by," I was ordered. Then folled the loneliest few minutes of my life and I was glad to hear 'the voice' again. "Fly across the 'drome on an exact course of 080 degrees. Engage automatic pilot ('George'). When exact height and course being maintained - bale out!" I welcomed the opportunity of having something to occupy my attention and spent quite a long time adjusting the controls until the aircraft was flying 'hands off' at exactly 5000 feet on an exact course of 080 degrees. I engaged the automatic pilot, made a few final adjustments and then, as the 'drome appeared ahead, I hurried down into the bomb aimers compartment where the escape hatch lay open, almost invitingly.
I was glad that I had taken the precaution of having my parachute hooked on before the crew had gone and, with a final quick check, I crouched beside the hatch, my hand already clutching the steel handle of the rip-cord. I sat on the edge of the hole and let my legs dangle. The rush of air immediately forced them against the underside of the aircraft and I allowed myself to roll out into space, head first. I did four complete somersaults, seeing the four exhaust pipes of the aircraft glowing each time I turned over. I was counting one, two, three, four at each somersault and suddenly thought I must be near the ground. I pulled the ripcord handle and it came away so easily that I remember gazing at my hand, which was still holding the handle, and thinking, "It hasn't worked!" Before I could feel any panic there was a rush of silk past my face, followed by a not too violent jerk and I found myself dangling comfortably under the silken canopy. I felt a surge of absoulte exhilaration and was grinning like a fool. I wish I could describe the feeling of power, of remoteness, of unreality, of sheer exuberance I felt. No wonder our paratroops are such grand fighters!
There was no rush of air to indicate downward speed and it came quite a shock, on looking down, to see a field rushing up to meet me out of the darkness and a few scattered houses taking shape around it. I had hardly time to brace myself when I hit the ground, heels first, travelling backward. I sat down with a bump, rolled over in a backwards somersault and pressed the release catch to prevent being hauled along the ground. There was no need: the parachute flopped lazily over me and I lay still for a few moments, not beliving this was reality. I bundled the parachute under my arm and trudged across the field in unwieldy flying boots towards a large house about fifty yards distant. Fortunately there was a telephone in the house and the old couple, whom I eventually wakened, plied me with questions and cups of tea until the car arrived from the 'drome.
All the crew had reported safe landings and some had already been picked up by the time I returned. There were many theories put forward regarding the part failure of the engines and it was finally decided that they must have been running on 'hot' air, a device used under icing conditions, which reduced the amount of power to each engine.
All this time the aircraft was flying steadily onwards towards enemy territory and we learned later that the Observer Corps had plotted its journey more than half-way across the North Sea, maintaining the height and course I had set. The Duty Naviagtor who had given me the course computed that the fuel supply would last until the aircraft was somewhere in the Hamburg area. We can only guess the outcome. Before abandoning the aircraft I had switched on every available light, and I often wonder what the Luftwaffe and the German AA gunners must have though when they saw a large bomber approaching from the direction of England, lit up like a Christmas tree, flying steadily on a fixed course and blithely ignoring flak, searchlights and fighter attacks. I like to think that 'George', guided by his saintly namesake, would point the aircraft in its final dive towards some important military objective, the destruction of which may have contributed in some way to the dramatic collapse of the Reich war machine which was soon to follow.
We then reverted to our origional Lanc, Mike Squared, ED888 UL-M2, which served us well and we completed our tour. Indeed Mike Squared went on to become Bomber Command's top-scoring 'heavy', with 140 operational sorties safely completed.
I came upon the Wartime Memories Project by chance and was so pleased to see my late husband's name. He was F/Lt. Jimmy Griffiths and he flew 30 missions from Elsham Wolds in Ed 888UL-M2 or Mike Squared, as she was affectionately called. The 30th April 1944 mission was written up by Jim as 'The Pilotless Bomber' and was included in Mike Garbett's book 'The Lancaster at War'.
Jim left Elsham Wolds in 1944. I am sorry I am unable to give any information on F/O Eddie Saslove or on Robert Alonzo Lyons.
We very briefly met one of Jimmy's crew in Glasgow in 1952. As far as I can remember he was George Bryson, who had left the RAF to look after his baby son as his wife had become ill. It is in my mind that his son became a well known writer, Bill Bryson, but I may be wrong about this and Jim is not here for me to check the facts.
Tommy Atherton and his wife Margaret visited us in Market Harborough in about 1985 and I am still in touch with Margaret although Tom died some years ago. About that time, we also met Jim Bell (Tinkerbell) who took over from Jim in 1944. At the time of our meeting, he and his wife lived in Melton Mowbray.
Jim and I attended a reunion at Elsham Wolds about 1984. None of his crew were there but we met two members of another crew who had been stationed at Elsham at the same time. One of these was called Jim Frost (or Jack Frost as he was nicknamed) and he told us he had come primarily in the hope of meeting my husband again. Jack died a few months later. His friend's name I can't remember but I was glad we had gone and all had enjoyed this reunion.
Sadly, Jimmy died in 1998 but I think his flying days were the most fulfilling days of his life and he had many happy memories of his time and friends at Elsham Wolds.
Helen GriffithsDavid Griffiths
Sgt. Frederick George Francis Osborne air gunner 103 Squadron (d.20th Feb 1944)Freddie Osbourne was a member of Sgt.W.L.Bradley's crew, Lancaster 111, JB745 PM-1,shot down en route to Leipzig. He was only 19, whereas his other gunner colleague was 37. Sadly, I have no photograph of him or his aircraft. As a young lad, I used to go out with his Father, Fred Osborne, helping him with his flower deliveries on a Saturday morning, but neither he, nor my Aunt Grace, would ever talk of him, and it has taken a lifetime to find details of him via a good friend with splendid connections, who handed me many details. It appears that both Aunt and Uncle were too grief stricken to ever mention their only child to anyone, even family..If anyone surviving 103 squadron could give me some idea what Freddie was like as a lad of 19 doing a man's job, and what he was like at the tail end of a gun, and how many German planes did he shoot down? I would love to know, as I am immensly proud of him. If anybody knows of a picture of him, I will gladly pay for a copy and all expenses. He died on the 20th.February, 1944 and I consider it my duty to pay his grave a visit in Hanover, as a mark of respect to him and the other members of the crew.
Sadly, bad health has held me back for some time, but I will get there somehow. Thank you in anticipation.
- Sgt W.L.Bradley
- Sgt F.J.Taylor
- F/S T.F.Johnston
- F/S J.Luck RCAF
- Sgt E.W.Hamilton
- Sgt F.G.F.Osborne
- P/O A.StevensTerence Osborne
Sgt. Fredrick Ivor Geoffrey "Figgy" Cole B Flight 103 SquadronMy Grandad, Fredrick Ivor Geoffrey Cole was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner for 103sq at Elsham Wolds during the period of September 1944 - March 1945. His Lanc, a B1 LM272 PM-C 'Charlie' carried him and his crew safely for 36 operations.
His pilot was a Canadian called Luke Morgan (Luke died in 2009 shortly after a BBC film crew did a short documentary about him at the BBMF). His Flight Engineer, a gentleman called Syd Marshall is still alive at the time of writing and in good health working as a guide at RAF Coningsby for the BBMF.
Sadly, Grandad passed away in 2001.Matty Durrance
Neville Rollinson Bradshaw 103 Squadron (d.29th July 1944)Neville Rollinson Bradshaw was my cousin, my last memory of him was at my Mother's house just before he went off on his last trip, when I was be two. I have found today a letter from his sister who has now passed away, saying that he was on a bombing raid to Stuttgart. They went over the target, were still airbourne, but loosing altitude and hoped to reach home, unfortunately they didn't clear the mountains and hit a power line over the Vosche Mountains and the plane blow up. They are buried in a mass grave in the village of Vosche (hope that is how you spell it). My cousin was told that it was tendered by the village.
It was their last trip of the tour and Neville was to be best man at the Bomb aimer's wedding. The poor bride was all dressed up when the telegram arrived.
The crew were:
They are buried at Charmes (Vosges) in the town's Essegney Military cemetery.
- F/O J.B.Moss
- Sgt R.R.Hardey
- F/O M.R.F.Harvey
- F/S S.J.Honour
- Sgt N.Bradshaw
- Sgt C.B.Osborne
- Sgt A.W.CrookeJo Stevenson
Flt.Sgt. John Charles Lee 103 Squadron (d.7th Aug 1942)My uncle, Flight Sgt. John Charles Lee, was in 103 Squadron based at Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire in WW2. He was killed on 7th August 1942 when his Halifax bomber crashed into the Humber Estuary.
I have never seen a photograph of my uncle and would be grateful if anyone has any information, or could provide me with any sources of information, that would enable me to find out more about him or perhaps even to see a photograph of him. We already have a copy of his RAF service record.Diane Churchill
F/O. Bernard Graham "B.G." McDonald 103 SquadronThat Damn Stuttgart Again
In the briefing room that evening we were startled to see the red route ribbons on the big wall map pointing to Stuttgart, with the same turning points as for the raids on the 24th and 25th. I turned to Vic and Chuck and said, "The stupid bastards haven't changed the ribbons for tonight's target." Even when Wing Commander R. St. John, DFC stepped up onto the stage, the ribbons hadn't been touched. I was thinking: "What the hell is going on?" when he announced in his usual hearty manner, "Gentlemen, target for tonight is Stuttgart."
Following his brief remarks emphasizing the importance of Stuttgart and the necessity to hit it again, the Intelligence Officer (a non-flying type) took over. In response to loud shouts of "Change the bloody ribbons!" he gave us a song-and-dance story to the effect that the Germans definitely would not suspect that we would fly the same route for three successive raids. His remarks were greeted by a chorus of groans, moans, curses, raspberries, and boos. One WAG demanded to know if Bomber Harris (Air Chief Marshal, Bomber Command) was going along with us to test his theory.
After stowing our parachutes, lunch and other gear in our B-Baker Lancaster, we loitered around outside the kite making small talk. I'm sure each member of the crew was silently visualizing the perils that awaited us in the skies over Germany; radar-predicted batteries of searchlights and flak guns, as well as the deadly night fighters. We knew the Gerries weren't about to allow 800 RAF/RCAF bombers to penetrate deep into Germany without putting up a hell of a fight. Although I had 100% confidence in the ability and steadfastness of our crew, I also was aware of the old saying: "If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, there's nothing you can do about it."
We maintained a sharp watch from the minute of take-off. Every man, not otherwise occupied, kept a constantly roving eye for other aircraft; enemy or "one-of-ours." A collision in the dark with a friendly aircraft is just as deadly as being shot down by a Gerry fighter. My eyes were glued to the radar set and I would not change position until the target area, when I would stand with my head in the astrodome bubble acting as lookout for enemy fighters.
The Gerrys fought us all the way from the enemy coast. Contrary to Bomber Harris and his harebrained prediction that the Germans would be baffled by his route tactics, they appeared to have expected our visit. Searchlights, flak guns and fighters were extremely active. Flak was very heavy in many areas, searchlights coning hapless bombers and fighters infiltrating the bomber stream.
While all this was taking place, my job was to warn Art and Chuck of any suspicious blips on my radar screen. I don't recall how many times we gave evasive action calls to J.O. In response to "Corkscrew port" or "Corkscrew starboard" his instantaneous reaction treated us to bone-jarring corkscrews that compelled us to hang on for dear life. It was difficult to avoid being pinned against the roof or smashed against my equipment during J.O's violent rolling dives and climbs as he executed the corkscrew manoeuvre in masterly fashion. I hooked my knees under the wireless table, gritted my teeth and hung on!
As we approached the target area, the congestion of air traffic was so great that my radar was overwhelmed, so I left my position and stood under the astrodome with my head in the perspex bubble to watch for German fighters. Starting our run-in over the city, the scene was hard to describe. The sky was full of bursting shells, searchlights, flak coming up and bombs going down, along with clusters of incendiary sticks. There were cascades of brilliantly coloured markers, bomb bursts and fires raging on the ground. Added to the fireworks display were the seven million candlepower photo flashes automatically triggered as each bomb load landed. If you've never experienced the sight of a night attack on a major German city, it's incredible!
We were at about 24,000 ft. with bomb doors open when Vic calmly called out course corrections as he prepared to release our bombs and incendiaries. I was holding my breath when, suddenly, a tremendous thump shook the entire aircraft, as if a flak shell had hit our 4,000 lb. "cookie" right under my feet. At the same instant, I saw the whole starboard fin and rudder, the elevator and horizontal stabilizer crumple up and disappear in the slipstream. The whole assembly blew off so close to the rear turret that my first thought was "There goes poor Chuck." B-Baker flipped over and headed for the deck in a screaming dive. No doubt in my mind that this was the end, CHOP-CHOP!, but no real panic, I was simply resigned to my fate.
The popular notion that your whole life flashes before your eyes in the instant before death is a lot of bull. My only thought was of my parents receiving a telegram with the bad news. While the rest of us were quietly waiting for the big bang, J.O. and Paddy were fighting like mad to pull the kite out of the dive.
Unbelievably, they managed to straighten it out at about 10,000 ft. as J.O. shouted "Prepare to bale out!" A gallant gesture, as there was no way he could escape. Vic had already jettisoned the bombs. Chuck, miraculously alive, called on the intercom to say his turret door was stuck on the beam and he was unable to reach his parachute. We decided that, "No way were we going to abandon J.O. and Chuck."
J.O., with both feet and full body force on the left rudder pedal, was struggling with the controls and said he couldn't hold out much longer. I went forward and, crouching in front of his foot controls, I gripped the left pedal and pulled with all my strength to take off some of the pressure on his legs. It worked quite well, so Paddy and Vic also took turns. However, it was exhausting work in the cramped position, so Paddy fetched the dinghy rope and rigged the pedal to a stanchion. Happily, J.O. was able to carry on with much less exertion and, meanwhile, Chuck was able to straighten his turret by means of the emergency hand crank.
Half an hour later, we were still alive but in a very precarious situation, especially when Paddy announced that we were losing petrol. My equipment was undamaged so I kept watch on the radar. At the same time, I searched frequencies on the radio receiver to pickup Gerry controllers issuing instructions to night fighters patrolling the defensive boxes through which we were flying.
Unable to take evasive action, we were sitting ducks if enemy fighters were to attack. At this stage of the game I announced on the intercom: "I don't know about you guys but I don't intend to die on an empty stomach. I'm going to drink my coffee and eat my sandwiches right now." I proceeded to do just that by pouring myself a cup of coffee and munching on a sandwich.
While J.O. steered the course for base that Jack plotted with little regard for the designated return route, we assessed the damage. The complete starboard tail assembly blown off, about six feet torn off the starboard wing, bomb doors ripped off, landing gear smashed, hydraulics damaged and a petrol leak. Both gunners were unable to rotate their turrets except by hand crank. Our chances of surviving a four-hour journey through enemy territory were slim. We knew what happened to badly damaged stragglers limping back to England. Chop-Chop!
Fortunately, it was a moonless night with cloudy patches and low visibility, giving us some hope. Suddenly, I picked up a German controller, loud and clear, obviously having caught us on his radar screen and now directing the night fighters to our position. I tuned the #1154 radio transmitter to the German's frequency and activated the starboard engine microphone to jam his instructions. Both Chuck and Art reported parachute flares descending from above and to our rear as the fighters searched for us. This "cat-and-mouse" game continued intermittently as we passed through successive defensive boxes.
Long before approaching the Allied lines in France, my thermos was empty, sandwiches and chocolate bar eaten. We gave a collective sigh of relief when Jack announced that we were over the British/Canadian sector of the battlefield below. It was short-lived relief, however, when flak started to burst uncomfortably close. We couldn't blame the ack-ack gunners, they had no way of knowing we were "one-of-theirs."
Soon after passing through the "friendly" flak, we faced another problem; our diminishing supply of fuel. Paddy said it looked as if we'd have to ditch in the North Sea. At the midway mark of the water, dawn was breaking and we could see the whitecaps below. I commenced emergency procedures, switching on IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) and transmitting SOS signals. Prospects of surviving a ditching in the choppy sea were not good, so we decided to try for a crash landing at an airfield near London. I clamped the wireless key to the emergency frequency in case we suddenly had to ditch.
We agreed that those of us not essential for the crash-landing procedure would bale out over London. J.O. needed Jack to direct him to the nearest airfield and Paddy's role was crucial helping him with the throttles. The rest of us were excess baggage; if the three of them were killed in the crash-landing, the ones who baled out would live to fight another day.
Over the English coast we ran into a stretch of cloud with nil visibility. As if we needed further complications, our earphones picked up the ominous "beeps" of a balloon barrage area. Emerging unscathed from the cloud, we were pleased to see a clear sky and the suburbs of London.
I took charge of the jumping and Vic was the first to go. He crouched at the open escape hatch in the belly of the kite and hesitated as if he didn't like what he saw below. I grabbed hold of two stanchions, placed my feet squarely on his backside and gave a mighty heave. He released his grip at the same time and shot out of the aircraft like a human cannonball.
I turned to see Art shedding his bulky gunner's suit and buckling his parachute harness over his battledress. It looked as if his quick-release unit wasn't working properly, so I insisted that he rebuckle the four metal inserts. I made him repeat the process twice, with no noticeable improvement. No time to fool around... especially when he said, "Oh, yeah, a jeep ran over my harness just before we boarded the aircraft." He was about to jump when I noticed his helmet was plugged into a nearby intercom socket and the wire leads twisted. No time to unbuckle his helmet, so I whipped out my hunting knife and slashed off the wires, close to his ears. I'll never forget the look of shock in his eyes.
We were standing in the flight engineer position and looking down at the escape hatch about ten feet below and to the left of the steps. Completely ignoring the steps, Art dived headfirst straight through the open hatch. Had he misjudged his dive, he'd have cracked open his head.
Chuck moved up from the rear turret and prepared to jump. Halfway down the steps to the escape hatch, he turned and started to climb back to where I was standing. I suddenly remembered that he had vowed, several times, never to bale out, preferring to take his chances staying aboard. I blocked his way with my body and tried to force him back but the son-of-a-gun was too strong for me. I shoved him aside and shouted in his ear, "Okay, Chuck, if you don't want to jump, then get out of my way because I do." I had always wanted the opportunity to bale out and I didn't intend to miss this chance.
We were at 6,000 ft. and it was 0600 hours by my watch when I dropped through the hatch of B-Baker, hugging the chute to my chest with my left arm and gripping the D-Ring release with my right hand. I had no intention of opening the chute until I had some idea of what lay below. I didn't relish the thought of landing on the slope of a cathedral roof and sliding off. Also, I was hoping to land near a pub. Although opening hour was some three hours away, I thought I could talk the proprietor into drawing a pint for me in view of the circumstances.
With these pleasant thoughts going through my mind, I was struck by the absolute silence compared to the noisy aircraft, and the great sense of freedom as I floated face down. Realizing the impossibility of identifying a pub from the air, and with the city coming up fast, I pulled the D-Ring. The chute whipped past my face, tore off the left earphone unit of my helmet and opened with a snap. Instead of dropping the D-Ring, I shoved it inside my battledress jacket as a souvenir. Today, it is mounted on a plaque and hanging in my son's Ottawa office.
A surprisingly strong wind blew me towards what looked like a flock of sheep. Sheep in a London suburb??? It didn't make sense. As I floated closer, I saw that it was a cemetery full of white gravestones. The city street was deserted except for one man riding a bicycle with a lunch pail on the handlebars. A couple of blasts on my whistle got his attention. I felt sure he would summon help in case I was injured on landing.
Drifting quite fast into the cemetery, I covered my head with my arms to cushion possible contact with a granite gravestone. I needn't have bothered because the next thing I knew, I was swinging like a pendulum under the overhang of the tallest tree in all of England. I was about 40 feet or so off the ground with my silk caught in the upper branches , no possibility of climbing into the tree and far too high to risk breaking my legs or neck by releasing my harness. Confident that my friend on the bicycle would send help, I dug out my cigarettes and lit one. The harness straps were pressing so hard against my temples that it was uncomfortable to look down. A few minutes later, I heard a great shout from below: "Surrender or I'll Fire!"
Pulling one strap aside, I looked down to see an elderly man in Home Guard uniform pointing a Lee-Enfield rifle at me and repeating his command to surrender, obviously anxious to put a bullet into what he thought to be a German airman. I roared back at him "Put down that effing rifle or I'll climb down from this effing tree and wrap it around your effing neck!" I had to laugh when he exclaimed, "OH! A Bloody Can-ide-dee-un!" He lowered the rifle and enquired, "I say, Canada, are you wounded?" Assuring him that I was fine, he replied that he would get help "roight awaye"... and off he went.
Next to arrive was an ambulance and both attendants wanted to know if I was wounded. Five minutes later, a police car joined the group and an officer asked if I was wounded. He also reported that Vic and Art had been picked up and were at the Battersea police station. He had no word on the fate of J.O., Jack, Paddy and Chuck. I was told that I had landed in Battersea Cemetery (Morden, Surrey) and that a fire truck was en route to rescue me.
The fire truck arrived around 0645 hours. By this time I didn't bother to look down when communicating with the men in the cemetery. With the harness straps pressing against my temples, I kept my head rigid, eyes straight ahead and shouted my answers. You guessed it! One of the firemen called out: "Are you wounded, Canada?" I shouted back: "No. I'm not wounded but my nuts are killing me and I need to take a leak." Great peals of laughter greeted this announcement. Loosening one strap, I peered down and was astonished to see a large group of people. Among the onlookers were housewives in aprons, elderly men and women, adolescents and little children, all laughing like mad! I was quite embarrassed.
The hydraulic ladder was activated but missed me by at least twelve feet. When I suggested that I release my harness and attempt to drop onto the top of the ladder, the firefighters wisely persuaded me to be patient. They promised to order a longer ladder from Croyden amid encouraging words: "Hang in there, Canada, we'll get you down."
It was 0730 hours before the Croydon unit arrived and extended a huge ladder that placed a large platform right under my feet. The firefighter on the platform asked if I wanted him to retrieve my silk parachute tangled higher up in the branches. I said, "Hell, no, keep it with my compliments and have your wife make herself a pair of knickers." He insisted upon buckling a sturdy safety belt around my waist and hooking it to a rail before assisting my descent.
When I reached the last few steps, a husky firefighter hoisted me onto his shoulders and someone handed me a lighted cigarette and a mug of tea. The big guy paraded me around the cemetery while everyone clapped, amid shouts of "God bless you, Canada. Give 'em hell, Canada." What a wonderful people!
I was taken by police car to the Battersea station where I joined Vic and Art. We were told that J.O., Jack, Paddy and Chuck had safely crash-landed at the White Waltham airfield. The police were very good to us. Instructions came through to take us to a balloon barrage unit for the return to 103 Squadron.
Before detailing Vic and Art's experiences, I should mention Vic was barefoot. His fleece-lined flying boots had been ripped off his feet when he jumped into the slipstream. Art and I had worn laced leather shoes and they were still on our feet.
The commanding officer of the balloon barrage site was waiting at the entrance gate when we arrived in the police car. A veteran of World War I, with two rows of ribbons on his battledress jacket, he gave us a hearty welcome, shaking hands with each of us. Noticing Vic's bare feet, he turned his back, bent his knees and said, "Jump on; I'll give you a lift." Vic leaped onto his back and the CO piggybacked him all the way to the administration building. Whoever said English Army officers were stuffy?
On arrival at the admin building, Art and Vic opted for a good breakfast (and a pair of shoes for Vic) and they were taken away by the Orderly Sergeant. I declined breakfast but accepted the CO's invitation to join him in his office to discuss transportation back to Elsham Wolds.
I have forgotten his name and rank although I do remember calling him Colonel and he addressed me as Mr. McDonald, as my rank of WO1 warranted. He motioned me to a chair, dug a key out of his pocket, opened the top drawer of the filing cabinet and produced a bottle of Johnny Walker and two glasses. He poured two man-sized drinks, handed one to me and said, "Cheers!" Following a brief chat and a second powerful drink, we got down to business.
The CO said, "I'm sure you're anxious to get back to your Squadron as soon as possible. I can lay on a light aircraft or send you back by motor transport." Here I was, a short distance from my favorite pub and the city where I spent all my leaves. No way was I going to leave at once. I wasn't that anxious to rush back.
I pretended to consider the offer and, after a suitable length of time, I replied: "If you don't mind, sir, I prefer to go by rail. All I require is a travel warrant. I'll take charge of the two sergeants and we'll make our own way back to Elsham Wolds. He thought that to be a good idea, called for a corporal and ordered the necessary arrangements. By this time, about 0930 hours with six ounces of good Scotch on an empty stomach, I'm feeling quite mellow and could have cared less if I never got back to the Squadron. I said, "Colonel, I have a girl friend in London and I'd like to see her before catching the train. Would you mind letting us have a vehicle and a driver to take us into town?" The old boy looked at me, burst out laughing and said, "McDonald, my staff car will take you anywhere you want to go, so long as my driver is back here by 1200 hours."
At 10:00 hours we bade our host good-bye and thanked him for his great hospitality. With my best salute to a fine officer and gentleman, we were on our way, in the colonel's staff car. First stop at Cartwright Gardens. We trooped into the reception room where Miss Kelly was at the desk. She was startled to see me, saying, "What in the world are you doing here, B.G.? You just left on Sunday evening." I said, "Yes, but I had to bale out over Battersea Cemetery early this morning." Her answer was, "Come on, B.G., none of your usual blarney." The only way to convince her was to reach inside my battledress jacket, hand over my Smith & Wesson pistol and ask her to place it in the safe for me.
Realizing that I wasn't kidding, she became quite excited. She gave Vic and Art the key to a double room and said: "You come with me, B.G." I followed her to her office where she rummaged around in a cupboard and came up with a bottle of Scotch, saying: "I've been saving this to celebrate VE Day " but we're going to have a drink right now." She poured a large drink for me and a small one for herself. We touched glasses and said, "Cheers!"
By 11:00 hours, with a couple of quid borrowed from Miss Kelly, I was on my way to the Euston Tavern where "Uncle" was behind the bar with his back turned. I rapped on the counter and called out: "I say, old chap, do you have draft Bass on tap today?" He quickly turned to deal with what he thought to be an impertinent customer. He almost fell over when he recognized me. He had wished me luck on Sunday evening and "Auntie" had given me a big hug when she said good-bye. The lovable old girl treated me like a son. She used to say: "B.G., you're a mother's heartbreak."
When I told "Uncle" that I had jumped over the city, he said, "You're not drinking beer this morning." He darted into the basement and emerged with two bottles of Vat 69. "Auntie" joined the happy reunion along with Sheilagh and Fred. The drinks were coming from all directions and I still hadn't eaten since the sandwiches over Germany. While I was in the pub, three Canadians from another RAF squadron arrived in London on leave and checked into Cartwright Gardens. One of them said to Miss Kelly: "I'm afraid we have some bad news for you. Our old friend, B.G. McDonald, got the chop last night." Miss Kelly laughed and replied, "Well, if B.G. got the chop, it must have happened within the last hour or so. The last I saw of him, he was on his way to the Euston." Amazing how the wartime grapevine worked. They dropped their bags and rushed to the pub, just in time to have one drink with me before I flaked out from too much whiskey and too little food.
In the afternoon, we went to the rail station and witnessed a scene of organized bedlam. Thousands of London children were being evacuated to the country because of the ever-increasing danger from German buzz bombs (V1 rockets) that were hitting the city in large numbers.
I turned to Vic and said, "To hell with this, we're staying until this exodus peters out. We wouldn't want to take seats away from little kids, would we?" Both he and Art looked at me as if to say, "Here we go again, B.G. pulling a fast one on the RAF, hope he doesn't drag us into a charge of AWOL or worse." I knew what they were thinking and I assured them I would assume full responsibility for any repercussions.
I went back to the Euston to ponder our financial situation. It wasn't good. We had French francs and German marks in our escape kits, but no English money. Before going on a bombing raid, all participating aircrew had to place their wallets, notes, loose change, photos etc. in individual little cloth bags. They were name-tagged and held by the Intelligence staff until the safe return (or not) of the owners.
We weren't allowed to carry anything over enemy territory that might identify our Squadron or its location, in case of capture and interrogation by German intelligence people. The French francs and German marks were for use in France or Germany while trying to evade capture after baling out. If I ever had to bale out over France, my chances of making my way back to England would have been good as I did speak some Quebec French. Escaping from Germany would have been a different story. It was only later when we learned that the Lancaster had a nasty reputation for escaping crews. Survival rate of the Lancaster was 11 % compared to 29% for the Halifax.
When I stepped up to the bar, Fred placed a draft Bass on the counter and said, "B.G., you don't have any money, do you?" I laughed and explained the reason and said I'd have to be heading back to Elsham Wolds, even though I'd prefer to stay in London for a couple of days.
Without saying a word, he opened the safe and handed me twenty-five pounds. That was a lot of spending money in 1944. I protested, saying, "Fred, I can't take it. Do you realize I could be killed within a few days of returning to Elsham Wolds and you'd be out twenty-five quid?" He refused to listen and wouldn't accept my offer to sign an I.O.U. I hasten to add that I repaid the loan shortly after returning to my squadron.
We rebooked our rooms at Cartwright Gardens and I loaned Art and Vic enough money for movies and other sundry pleasures. Fortunately, they neither drank nor smoked, otherwise, my borrowed twenty-five quid wouldn't have lasted very long.
We stayed in London for another two days , after which I was without funds and my two crewmates were becoming more apprehensive of a possible cool reception at Elsham Wolds. I couldn't blame them for being worried. It must be remembered that I hadn't communicated with the Squadron by phone, wire or any other method since baling out.
On Friday morning, I bade "au revoir" to my London friends, shaking hands with the men and kissing all the women, including Nellie, my favourite chambermaid. At the rail station there was no chance of getting on board due to crowds of adults. By this time, I knew we had to leave London before serious trouble caught up with us. A few words in the ear of a railway official and he pushed through the crowd, shouting, "Make way for these bomber boys. They must get back to their squadron." He secured seats in a first class carriage for us and we were on our way.
Barnetby was the closest rail station to 103 Squadron and, as the train ground to a halt, guess who was pacing up and down the platform? You guessed it! Flight Lieutenant J.O. Birch and he was furious! As we disembarked, I reminded Vic and Art: "Not a word except "hello, I'll do the talking." They readily agreed, not relishing the thought of having to explain.
Poor old J.O. was white with rage. So damn mad he could hardly talk. Finally, he snarled: "Where in hell have you been?" He turned to the other two and said, "Don't worry, you're not to blame." It appeared that I wasn't included in his act of amnesty. All he said to me was, "Wait till the CO gets you!"
We climbed into an RAF van for the ride to #103. On arrival, J.O. was all for presenting me to the Commanding Officer right away. However, I insisted upon going to my hut to get cleaned up. I deliberately took my time changing my shirt and fussing about, while J.O. stood watching and absolutely fuming. Dead silence prevailed, as we had not spoken since leaving the van. Finally, after testing his patience to the limit, I jumped on my bike and pedalled very, very slowly towards the flight shacks, with J.O. trotting along beside me.
At the flight shacks, we spotted the CO standing outside and chatting with a group of aircrew officers, all of whom looked up as I parked my bike in a nearby rack. Conversation ceased as J.O. and I walked over to the group, I guess everyone figured the flak would be heavy when Wing Commander St. John tore a double strip off my hide.
I stepped in front of the Wing Commander, clicked my heels together, saluted and said: "Good morning, sir!" Much to my surprise, he extended his hand and boomed: "Welcome back to the Squadron, McDonald." I replied: "Very glad to be back, sir." He asked how I liked baling out and, after a few words, shook hands again and turned away.
After taking several steps, he turned back and said, "I say, McDonald, what took you three days to travel from London to Elsham Wolds?" My reply was, "I took my survivor's leave, sir." Peering at me with a puzzled look, he asked, "What do you mean by survivor's leave?"
Looking him straight in the eye, I replied, "It is my understanding, sir, that the unwritten law of the Royal Air Force says that if an airman saves his life by baling out or ditching in the sea, he is entitled to three days leave. I took my three days leave in London, sir." He looked a bit stunned for a few seconds then laughed and exclaimed, "By Gad, McDonald, I've been in the RAF for many years and I've never heard that one."Terence McDonald
P/O. Christopher Joseph Weight 103 Sqn (d.4th Jan 1945)I have been researching the loss of a Lancaster from 103 Sqn at Elsham Wolds which came down in the Humber on 4 Jan 1945. The aircraft was ND862 PM-H and was captained by my wife's uncle, Plt Off Chris Weight. The aircraft is believed to have iced up and crashed into the River Humber "near the fishing port of Hull." it was seen crashing from Salt End jetty and a rescue boat was sent out which grounded on Foul Holme Spit.
I am keen to find out anything I can about the aircraft and crew and would very much like to hear from anyone who can help, including family or descendants, of the other crew members. The crew were;
- P/O Christopher Weight RAFVR
- P/O George Widdicombe RAFVR
- F/O Maurice Pickersgill RAFVR
- Sgt Henry Backway RAFVR
- Sgt Clifford Hillier RAFVR
- Sgt Cyril Lloyd RAFVR
The sharp ones amongst you will see only six crew, we believe that one of the Air Gunners had a cold that day and so did not fly.
I wonder if anyone can help me please? Any information would be gratefully received. Many thanks.Dave Howells
F/Lt. Alastair Clarence Watt 103 Sqd. (d.17th Mar 1945)Al Watt enlisted on the 17th of September, 1942 at Ottawa. He was posted 103 Squadron on November 25th 1944 and killed in action March 17th 1945. His hometown was Wolford Township, Ontario and from 1929 to 1938 he attended Merrickville Public School, from 1938 to 1940 Merrickville Continuation School. He then worked as a Truck Driver and as a Commercial Traveler. In 1939 until 1942 he served with the Brockville Rifles as a Sgt. His height is listed as 5’ 5” and weight 145lbs. He then joined the RCAF.
Crew on first and last Operations:
Last Mission of NN758: NN758 departed Elsham Wolds at 17:15 as one of 15 aircraft headed for Nuremburg. All took off in good weather and on arrival in the target area it was found to be quite clear. All machines carried window (chaff) and cameras and the bomb load was: 1 x 4000lb High Capacity, 9 x 140 x 4lb Incendiary and 1 X Monroe (leaflets)
- Sgt. J.F. Jim Jackson, Flight Engineer (RAF, 3040028) KIA 17-Mar-45
- F/Sgt. W.H. Bill Fetherston, Bomb Aimer(RCAF, R/190659) KIA 17-Mar-45
- F/Sgt. G.W. George Blackshaw, Navigator (RAF, 1620678) KIA 17-Mar-45
- F/Sgt. J.S. Stan Hickey, Wireless Operator (RAF, 1230658) KIA 17-Mar-45
- F/Sgt. A.C. Bellisle, Mid-Upper Gunner (RCAF, R/271059) POW 18-Mar-45 (Stalag 5a)
- F/Sgt. A.E. Al Wotherspoon, Rear Gunner (RCAF, R/192267) KIA 17-Mar-45
The Path Finder Force were right on time and the markers were well placed and concentrated, and all crews on the Master Bombers instructions, who was very clear and precise, bombed these with it is believed good results, as fires were observed. Defences consisted of a light flak barrage, with some searchlight activity but many fighters were seen and a large number of aircraft were seen to go down in the target area. In addition to F/Lt Watt and crew, F/O Stepharnoff and F/O Armour and crews were also reported missing.
Crash: It was reported that NN758 was observed to go down near the village of Laichingen around 2200 hours. Buergermeister Schwenkmezger stated that aircraft believed to be a Lancaster had crashed 3km north of the village of Laichingen at about 2200 hours on March 16 1945. The remains of six airmen were found and buried at the local cemetery. The grave digger Pfrang stated that 2 of the 6 were intact, 3 were terribly burned and the other had no legs. All were buried without coffins. It was reported observed that an unexploded 4000lb bomb was 20 meters from the wreckage. There also appeared to be evidence of light flak hits on the starboard tailplane. F/Sgt Bellisle bailed out and was captured the next day. He was held as a POW at Stalag 5a and returned to Canada on May 20th 1945.
Timeline: March 16th 1945 1715 – NN758 Departs Elsham Wolds. 2130 – Estimated time at target (based on other A/C departing at same time). 2200 – Lancaster reported crashed at Laichingen.
Burial: F/LT A.C. Watt, F/Sgt. A.E. Wotherspoon, F/Sgt. W.H. Fetherston, Sgt. J.F. Jackson, F/Sgt. G.W. Blackshaw, F/Sgt. J.S. Hickey were buried together by local Germans in the town of Laichingen with a cross inscribed in German "Here Lie Six Unknown British Airmen" . The Germans assumed the whole crew was British as the only identity discs found at the crash site was that of Sgt Jackson. The identity discs were turned over to the local Luftwaffe headquarters. The grave was exhumed post war by US investigators who believed the remains to be American. The remains were then reburied by the Germans. The grave site was visited by an RAF investigator (F/LT Mauldon) in May 1947 who reported "The grave was visited and found to be in most excellent condition with a stone border and many flowers."Gordon Earl
F/Sgt. James Molesworth 103 Squadron (d.25th Oct 1942)James Molesworth and his crew, aboard Handley Page Halifax bomber W1223 were lost over France while on a bombing raid to Milan, Italy. Jim was the rear gunner and the crew was apparently on only their 2nd combat mission with 103 Squadron, Royal Air Force. They took off from Elsham Wold at 18:44 on October 24, 1942 and were never heard from again. The aircraft crashed at Moulin-sous-Touvent (Oise), 18 km NE of Compiegne, France. The crew are all buried in Moulin-sous-Touvent Communal Cemetery and they are the only Commonwealth War Graves in this particular cemetery. The cause of their loss is unknown. Jim's older brother Frank also enlisted in the RCAF and survived the war.
- Pilot - Sgt Sidney Arthur Claridge, 1331580, RAF
- Flight Engineer - Sgt Bernard Dudley Swain, 547856, RAF
- Navigator - P/O Ernest Adam Wagstaff, 121733, RAF
- Bomb-Aimer - Sgt Stanley Victor Goodhew, 1265668, RAF
- Wireless-Operator/Air Gunner - Sgt Ronald Ward Taylor, 403844, RAAF
- Mid-Upper Gunner - Sgt Kevin William McAuliffe, 1314722, RAF
- Rear-Gunner - Sgt James Molesworth, R85993, RCAFBryan McCready
F/Sgt. Peter Adrian "Chick" Vowles 103 SqnMy Uncle Peter Vowles was proud of his service with 103 Sqn as an Air Gunner (Tail and occasional Mid Upper), serving at Elsham Wolds as part of Taff Slee’s crew from late 1943 until converting to Lincolns transferring “en Bloc” to 57 Sqn at Scampton.
He took part in Op Manna and Op Dodge but we know little about any other operations he was involved in and would love to hear from anyone who can fill in these gaps for us. I attach some photos from his Diary that may jog memories.David Wookey
WO1. Robert Lloyd Telfer 103 Sqdn. (d.28th Aug 1942)Robert Telfer was piloting Halifax BB204 when the aircraft was shot down while on a raid over Germany on the night of the 28th of August 1942. All six crew members aboard perished.
Born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan Canada on 25th October 1915 to Mr and Mrs R. A. Telfer, Robert owned and operated a business in Larder Lake, Ontario prior to the outbreak of the war. At that time he returned to Saskatchewan and enlisted in the RCAF. He got his wings at the service flight training school in Saskatoon on 17th March 1941. He then was sent to Elsham Wold, England where he piloted Wellington bombers with 103 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, later switching to Halifax bombers with the same squadron. Robert was survived by his parents in Humboldt, his wife Marvel (Baker) and their 11 month old son Robert Edward Telfer, whom he had never seen. He was also survived by his brother Walter and sister Muriel. Warrant Officer Telfer is buried in the Communal Cemetery, Gosslies, Belgium.
Dorothy Farrow Bomber CommandMy mother, Dorothy Farrow, served as a WAAF radio operator in Bomber Command from 1941 to 1945. She served at Elsham Wolds, Binbrook, Scampton and Bawtry Hall. I believe she trained at Blackpool.Ian Boulby
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