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No. 12 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 12 Squadron Royal Air Force



2nd Sept 1939   No. 12 Squadron was formed in 1915 and moved to St Omer, France to undertake long-range reconnaissance. By 1918, it was engaged in night bombing and ground attack missions. After the armistice at the end of WW1, 12 squadron moved to Germany as part of the army of occupation and by November 1919 was the sole operational squadron in Germany. The squadron was disbanded in 1922.

It was reformed in 1923 as a bomber squadron. As well as training in day and night bombing and formation flying, the squadron undertook trials of parachutes. The Squadron was also tasked with experimental trials with oxygen systems, high altitude photography, and low temperature operations. In October 1935 the Squadron moved to Aden in response to the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, but they returned home in August 1936 without being deployed.

With the political situation in Europe deteriorating, rearming Britain became a priority and in February 1938, the Squadron was re-equipped with Fairey Battles and relocated to RAF Bicester. The Squadron deployed to France at Berry-au-Bac, about 15 miles north of Rheims on 2 September 1939, the day before war was declared.

2nd Sept 1939 

30th Sept 1939 Training

10th May 1940 Operation Luxembourg

12th May 1940 Bridge Attack

12th May 1940 Maastricht bridges

14th May 1940 Operation Sedan

15th May 1940 On the move

19th May 1940 Bombers lost

7th June 1940 Bomber lost

8th June 1940 

13th June 1940 Attack on panzers

14th June 1940 Two aircraft lost

15th June 1940 Souge airfield abandoned

16th June 1940 Back to England

3rd July 1940 Night bomber role

16th Oct 1940 Operation Sealion

10th April 1941 New aircraft

2nd July 1942 Bomber lost

25th Sept 1942 Move

Dec 1942 Re-equipped

25th April 1945 

May 1945   
Airfields No. 12 Squadron flew from during WW2.

  • Berry-au-Bac, France from 3rd September 1939
  • Amifontaine, France from 8th December 1939
  • Echemines, France from 16th May 1940
  • Soulge, France from 8th June 1940
  • RAF Finningley, Yorkshire from 16th June 1940
  • RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire from 3rd July 1940
  • RAF Thorney Island, Hampshire from 7th August 1940
  • RAF Eastchurch, Kent from 12th August 1940
  • RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire from 7th September 1940
  • RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire from 25th September 1942


May 1945 


If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.



Those known to have served with

No. 12 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Arnold Ron. Sgt
  • Arnold Ronald. Sgt.
  • Aylard Arthur Charles. Sgt. (d.17th Jun 1943)
  • Bartlett W H. Sergeant (d.7th July 1943)
  • Baxter R G L. Squadron Leader
  • Buchanan R. H.. P/O
  • Butcher Arthur Lepine.
  • Chedd C. J.. Sgt.
  • Clements James Douglas. Sgt.
  • Dyerson Harold Edward. Sgt. (d.27th April 1944)
  • Golding Albert. Wing Cmdr. (d.26th Mar 1942)
  • Gorton J.. Sgt.
  • Goudge Ivor Philip Chester. Flt Lt (d.30 May 1943)
  • graham Albert Edward. Sgt. (d.30th May 1943)
  • Harris Edwin Fuller. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Hatch Norman Morgan. Sgt. (d.30th May 1943)
  • Holloway Peter. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Jones John Glynn. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Kauter Frederick John. Flt.Sgt.
  • Kingman Leonard.
  • Laybourne Roy William. Sgt. (d.27th April 1944)
  • Lennard Frank. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Machin Harry. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Matthews Leslie Albert. Sgt.
  • McInerny Geoffrey Louis. Sgt. (d.22nd Oct 1941)
  • McJannett Alexander Strathern. Sgt. (d.27th April 1944)
  • McKay Alfred Thompson. F/O (d.27th April 1944)
  • Murdo H. M.. Sgt. (d.9th Mar 1942)
  • Murray Tom.
  • Murrison Gordon. W/O
  • Nicholls George Edwin. P/O (d.27th April 1944)
  • Potter Edward Vivian. F/Sgt,. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Purcell George Albert. Sgt. (d.1st September 1943)
  • Richardson Thomas Cyril. WO.
  • Richmond Ronald Stuart. Sgt. (d.30th May 1943)
  • Sanders P. G.. Sgt. (d.9th Mar 1942)
  • Scragg R. A.. Sgt. (d.9th Mar 1942)
  • Shiels Alexander Kelso. Sgt. (d.27th April 1944)
  • Smith Lawrence Lindsay. F/O (d.27th April 1944)
  • Wells Victor. Sgt. (d.30th May 1943)
  • Wensley H.. Sgt. (d.29th April 1943)
  • Willis Geoffrey Charles . Sgt. (d.15th Oct 1942)

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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Sergeant W H Bartlett No. 12 Squadron (d.7th July 1943)

Does anyone know if Lancaster ED548 of No. 12 Squadron was recovered from the River Forth after crashing near the Kincardine Bridge on the 7/7/1943 whilst taking part in a cross country flight?

I know that Sgt W H Bartlett (air gunner) and Sdn Ldr R G L Baxter, pilot both died in the accident and are both buried in Gransable cemetery.

The reason I am asking is that I am a interested in aircraft and have my own company using ROVs to do under water videos and inspections, and if this Lancaster is still down at the bottom of the Forth I would like to film it for future archives.

Steven Bothwick



Squadron Leader R G L Baxter No. 12 Squadron

Does anyone know if Lancaster ED548 of No. 12 Squadron was recovered from the River Forth after crashing into the river near the Kincardine Bridge on the 7/7/1943 whilst taking part in a cross country flight? I know that Sgt W H Bartlett (air gunner) and Sdn Ldr R G L Baxter (pilot) both died in this accident and are both buried in Gransable cemetery.

The reason I am asking is that I am a interested in aircraft and have my own company using ROVs to do underwater videos and inspections, and if Lancaster ED548 is still down at the bottom of the Forth I would like to film it for future archives.

Steven Borthwick



Leonard Kingman DFC 12 Squadron

My grandad was Leonard Kingman. He was in 12 Squadron and received the DFC. After he died his second wife sold his medal.

I would love to trace the medal so that I could return it to my mum who has hardly anything left of my grandad's as his wife either sold or burned anything from his past. As my grandad was only sixty when he died and my mum's mum died when she was very young, I would love to get any information I could for her. Can anyone help me?

Joanne Tickner



Flt Lt Ivor Philip Chester Goudge 12 Squadron (d.30 May 1943)

F/L Ivor Goudge (my Father), was the pilot of Lancaster No. ED.996 which was operating with No.12 Squadron. The aircraft took off from RAF Wickenby on the night of 29/30 May 1943, and was detailed to operations against Wuppertal, but failed to return from the mission, and was presumed lost over the target area, due to enemy action. The crew details were:
  • 42562 F/L IP Goudge - pilot (killed)
  • 1501247 Sgt J Gorton - navigator (POW)
  • 1348445 Sgt R Richmond - bomber aimer (killed) 1113723
  • Sgt V Wells - wireless operator (killed) 1444939
  • Sgt AE Grahame - flight engineer (killed)
  • 1398617 Sgt N Hatch - mid-upper gunner (killed)
  • 1508882 Sgt J Hardman - rear gunner (killed)

My Mother was carrying me at the time so I never got to know my Father. I have been trying to contact any living descendants on my Father's side. I know that he had a sister named Margaret (Peggy). His parents were Philip Arthur Montague and Edith Evelyn Goude. They died in Banstead, Surrey. Any information regarding my Father or the Squadron would be very much appreciated. I have several pages on the No. 12 Squadron if anyone is interested

Pamela Forsythe



Sgt Ron Arnold 12 Squadron

My Grandfather, Ron Arnold was the rear gunner with a crew which was shot down in 1942, in Wellington mkII W5442 PH-B of 12Sqn flying from RAF Binbrook.

The Raid:

Essen 9 March 1942

187 aircraft took part - (136 Wellingtons, 21 Stirlings, 15 Hampdens, 10 Manchesters, 5 Halifaxes) to continue the series of heavy Gee-guided raids to Essen. 2 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax were lost. Thick ground haze led to scattered bombing. Only 2 buildings were destroyed in Essen but 72 were damaged. Bombs also fell in 24 other Ruhr towns with particular damage in Hamborn and Duisburg. 10 people were killed, 19 were missing and 52 were injured in Essen; 74 people were killed and 284 injured in other towns.

W5442 took off at 20:39hrs from RAF Binbrook. Shot down by flak and crashed at 23:42hrs alongside a road known as the Kagerweg, near Beverwijk Noord Holland, 21 km NW of the centre of Amsterdam.

Crew:

  • Pilot: P/O R.H. Buchanan 45419 - Inj (P/O Buchanan was confined in Hospital due injuries then returned to UK)
  • 2nd Pilot: Sgt P.G. Sanders 1380919 (Killed in action)
  • Navigator: RNZAF Sgt R.A. Scragg nz/401413 (Killed in action)
  • Front Gunner: Sgt H.M. Murdo 1060255 (Killed in action)
  • Rear Gunner: Sgt R.A. Arnold 612589 (Initially reported as missing in action, on 26 March a call was received from Berlin advising that he was a PoW interned in Camp 8B/344/L4. No.24843)
  • Wireless Operator: Sgt C.J.Chedd 923890, (PoW No.24831)
Those killed are buried in the General Cemetery at Bergen

Camp:

Stalag VIII-B near Cieszyn (Teschen), Poland, a sub camp of Stalag 8b (later renamed 344) which was the main camp 3km from Lamsdorf.

Chris Roberts



Sgt. James Douglas Clements WOP/AG 12 Sqd.

My Dad, James Clements was a Wireless Operator Air Gunner and since my Dad's death in 2006 I have taken great interest in his service life. Binbrook is one of the airfields he often mentioned. I regret that I was not able to learn more about his service life while he was here but wonder how much he would have been comfortable with telling me.

This website has helped me hugely in piecing together where to start and how to find out more including journeys to Lincolnshire that have enabled me to understand the way it was. A recent visit to East Kirkby where some 12 Sqn memorabilia is held was very special for me and I can recommend a trip to this museum for any others who are undertaking such a trip down their own or their loved one's memory lane.

Jan Dove



Sgt. Ronald Arnold 12 Sqd

My Grandfarher Ronald Arnold served with the RAF in 12 Squadron, flying in a Wellington as rear gunner. He was shot down and was held in Stalag Luft III between 22nd of July 1943 and 27th of January 1945

Chris Roberts



Sgt. Geoffrey Louis McInerny 12 Squadron (d.22nd Oct 1941)

This story is written to the best of my memory, as there are none of the family left from that time. Geoffrey McInerny was aged 23 when he was killed. On returning from a mission the aircraft crashed on the edge of the airfield. The only survivor was the tail gunner who, because of wounds, was unable to come forward as was apparently normal practice. Geoffrey was the son of Augustine Aloysius and Louisa Marian McInerny, he is remembered with honour and lies in Binbrook (St. Mary) Churchyard.

Geoffrey M McInerny



Arthur Lepine Butcher DFC. 12 Squadron

My father, Arthur Lepine Butcher served with 12 Squadron at RAF Wickenby from October 1944 to April 1945. Before that he was a flying instructor. I would like to find out more, can anyone fill in any details?

Tony Butcher



W/O Gordon "Flash" Murrison 12 Squadron

My brother W/O Gordon (Flash) Murrison served at Wickenby, he was a mid upper gunner with 12 Squadron and completed his tour 30 missions.

David Murrison



Sgt. Arthur Charles Aylard 12 Squadron (d.17th Jun 1943)

Sgt Arthur Charles Aylard was the pilot of Lancaster ED629 PH-K, flying with 12 Sqn. He was my great uncle and was killed on the 17th of June 1943.

Dave Purvis



Wing Cmdr. Albert Golding DFC 12 Squadron (d.26th Mar 1942)

The crew of a Vickers Wellngton, which was shot down near Andijk (The Netherlands) at the evening of March 26th, 1942 were:
  • RAF Wg Cdr Golding, A DFC and Bar Captain (Pilot)
  • RAAF 403431 Sgt F D McLeod, (2nd Pilot)
  • RCAF Flt Sgt B A Doe, (Observer)
  • RCAF Flt Sgt M Duncan, (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • RAF Sgt W S Makin, (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • RAF Flt Sgt P G Thorpe, (Rear Gunner)
It took off from Binbrook and was heading to Essen (Germany) to bomb the Krupp steel factories. The bomber was shot down by Egmont Prinze zur Lippe Weissenfeld of the German night fighters. We are investigating this in order to erect a monument at the place they crashed to honor and remember them. We are looking for all kind of information and specially pictures of the crew.

G. van Keueln



Flt.Sgt. Frederick John Kauter DFC. 12 Sqdn.

12 Squadron: Lancaster PH-U  Back Row: Sgt A. Evans, F/S S. Dunshea, F/S M. Pritchett, Sgt E. Brooks, Sgt H. Binder, F/S F. Kauter.  Front Row: Ground Crew (names unknown)  Photo taken by F/S M. Brown (pilot)

Frederick Kauter was born in Pambula, New South Wales on 28th August 1911. He was the third child of George Joseph Kauter and Ethel Mary Cavanagh. He joined the RAAF on 12th of September 1941 and served with 12 Squadron RAF. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on 18 November 1943 with the rank of Pilot Officer. He was discharged on 1st July 1947 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Mark Gattenhof



Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis 12 Sqdn. (d.15th Oct 1942)

I am still researching about my grandfather, Geoffrey Charles Willis who served with 12 Squadron. On the 15th of October 1942 Wellington III BJ606 PH-S piloted by Sgt. Robert Bayley took off at 18.42 hrs. from RAF Wickenby to join a total of 289 aircraft (1 Wellington, 74 Halifaxes. 62 Lancasters and 44 Stirlings) to bomb Cologne. The aircraft was lost over Limburg, Holland. The crew were:
  • Pilot. Sgt. Robert Bayley 1210044 RAFVR Age 20.
  • Nav. Sgt. Alec Gordon Willans 1381545 RAFVR Age 30.
  • Nav. Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis 1023440 RAFVR Age 32.
  • W/Op Air.Gnr. F/Sgt Jack Johannesen AUS/412146 RAAF Age 22.
  • W/Op Air.Gnr.: F/Sgt. John Edward Freese Martin AUS/403060 RAAF age 31.
  • Air/Gnr: F/Sgt. Edmund St. Aubin Richardson R/82608 RCAF Age 31.

I would love to hear from anyone who served in No 12 Squadron, or anyone whose relatives served, to see if there are any logs in their relative's books that refer to my grandfather.

Samantha Anderson



Sgt. H. Wensley 12 Sqdn. (d.29th April 1943)

Sgt. H. Wensley was killed in action mine-laying the river Elbe.

Dennis Over



Sgt. Harry Machin 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

Harry Machin was a Lancaster bomber pilot in 1943. He was lost in action on 1st September 1943. Does anyone know if him or any of his crew? If anyone has photographs of his crew and plane or any activity whilst at Whitenby I would be grateful.

Update: Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 2015 on 31/8/43, target Berlin, crashed nr Zerbst 1/9/43. Crew:

  • Sgt H. Machin
  • Sgt P. Holloway
  • Sgt F. Lennard
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell
  • Sgt E.F. Harris
  • Sgt J.G. Jones

All are buried in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.




Sgt. Peter Holloway 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • Sgt. Frank Lennard 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

    Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • F/Sgt,. Edward Vivian Potter 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

    Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • Sgt. George Albert Purcell 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

    Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • Sgt. Edwin Fuller Harris 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

    Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • Sgt. John Glynn Jones 12 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1943)

    Lancaster DV185 PH-D took off from Wickenby at 20.15 on 31st August 1943 for Berlin. The aircraft crashed near Zerbst on 1st September 1943. None of the crew survived and are buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. They were:
  • Sgt H. Machin (pilot)
  • Sgt E.F. Harris (airgunner)
  • Sgt P. Holloway (flight engineer)
  • Sgt J.G. Jones (airgunner)
  • Sgt F. Lennard (navigator)
  • F/Sgt E.V. Potter (airbomber)
  • Sgt G.A. Purcell (wop/airgunner)




  • P/O George Edwin Nicholls 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • Sgt. Harold Edward Dyerson 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • Sgt. Alexander Strathern McJannett 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • F/O Lawrence Lindsay Smith 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • Sgt. Alexander Kelso Shiels 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • Sgt. Roy William Laybourne 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of 27th April 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12e squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are at 'Jonkerbos' war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crew members were:
  • F/O A.T. McKay (navigator)
  • Sgt R.W. Laybourne (flight engineer)
  • Sgt A.K. Shiels (airgunner)
  • F/O L.L. Smith (airbomber)
  • Sgt A.S. McJannett (wireless operator)
  • Sgt H.E. Dyerson (airgunner)
  • P/O G.E. Nicholls (pilot)




  • F/O Alfred Thompson McKay 12 Sqdn. (d.27th April 1944)

    In the early morning of April 27th 1944 RAF Lancaster ND 873 12 squadron from Wickenby was shot down by a German nightfighter and crashed about 7 km from my home town in the south of the Netherlands. The seven crew members didn't survive. Their graves are now at Jonkerbos war cemetery in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The crewmembers were:
    • Flying officer McKay, Alfred Thompson 21 years, navigator. Son of Alfred and Margaret Thompson McKay, of Knockando, Morayshire.
    • Sergeant Laybourne, Roy William 21 years, flight engineer. Son of William and Martha Laybourne, of Worsley, Lancashire.
    • Sergeant Shiels, Alexander Kelso 21 years, air gunner. Son of James Lyle Shiels and Catherine Wilson Shiels, of Auchinloch, Lanarkshire.
    • Flying officer Smith, Lawrence Lindsay 21 years, air bomber. Son of the Revd. Lawrence Bradway Smith, B.A., B.D., and of Lillian Frances Smith (nee Casselman), of Westmeath, Ontario, Canada.
    • Sergeant McJannett, Alexander Strathern 21 years, wireless operator. Son of Margaret May McJannett; husband of Freda Joyce McJannett, of Wigston Magna, Leicestershire, from Wigston Magna, Leicestershire.
    • Sergeant Dyerson, Harold Edward 32 years, airgunner. Son of Alfred Dyerson, and of Ada Bell Dyerson, of Plaistow, Essex.
    • Pilot officer Nicholls, George Edwin 32 years, pilot. Son of James Edwin and Evelyn Nicholls, of Heamoor, Penzance, Cornwall; husband of Madeline Nicholls, of Heamoor.

    The seven crew members of ND 873 were killed immediately. Their bodies were buried by the German occupying forces at a tempory military cemetery in Venlo (in fact a part of a terrain at the Dr Blumenkampstraat near the hospital of Venlo, claimed by the German army soon after the occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 and initially intended only for their killed soldiers). In August 1947 the bodies of the seven crew members were removed to Jonkerbos War Cemetery in Nijmegen, 50 km north of Venlo.

    We, a small group of interested persons, are trying to collect information about this Lancaster and especially his crew. Is there more information about the crew members? Photographs are very welcome. Are there next of kin still alive? They are invited to contact me. Perhaps we have some information or pictures of interest for them.

    Theo van de Mortel







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