- No. 44 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -
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No. 44 Squadron Royal Air Force
3rd Sept 1939
21st Dec 1939
26th March 1940 Raids
12th April 1940 Raid
12th April 1940 Aircraft Lost
15th May 1940 Ops
15th May 1940 Aircraft Lost
24th May 1940
4th June 1940
12th June 1940
25th August 1940
12th May 1941 Hampden Lost
Sept 1941 In September 1941, No.44 Squadron's title was altered to No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron in recognition of that country's generous donations to the war effort, about a quarter of the squadron's personnel were Rhodesian.
17th Dec 1941 Losses
17th Apr 1942 Daylight Raid
27th April 1942 Third Attack on the Tirpitz
28th April 1942 Fourth Attack on the Tirpitz
8th May 1942
31st May 1943
24th Jul 1943 Bomber Command
18th Nov 1943
30th March 1944
21st June 1944 On the Move
17th Aug 1944
5th Nov 1944 44 Squadron Lancaster lost
9th Feb 1945 44 Squadron Lancaster lost
10th April 1945
If you can provide any additional information, please add it here.
Those known to have served with
No. 44 Squadron Royal Air Force
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Beaton Jack.
- Beckett Geoffrey. Sgt (d.17 Dec 1942)
- Bell William. Sgt. (d.6th Sep 1940)
- Bennett William. Sgt
- Bennie John Gowans. Gunner
- Brock Thomas W.. Sgt. (d.22nd Nov1942)
- Brock Thomas William. Sgt. (d.22nd Nov 1942)
- Brock Thomas W.. Sgt. (d.23rd Nov 1942)
- Cook William Bernard. F/Lt.
- Coults John. Sgt.
- Craig Gordon.
- Craig Thomas Watson. F/O.
- Crammond J. H.. F/Sgt
- Croft Leonard George. Sgt. (d.3rd Aug 1943)
- Currie John Richard. Sgt.
- Elgar John.
- Emson Joseph William. S/Sgt. (d.18th Oct 1943)
- Forrest John la. P/O
- Goulette Jimmy. Sgt.
- Hayes Bernard Michael. P/O. (d.25th Mar 1944)
- Heath Merrik. Flt Lt
- Hill Charles Ellison. Flt.Lt. (d.23rd Nov 1943)
- Jack William Cameron. Sgt. (d.15th March 1944)
- Johnson Charles Edward. Sqd.Ldr. (d.24th May 1940)
- Lewis John. Sgt. (d.25th Jun 1944)
- Lewis John. Sgt. (d.25th Jun 1944)
- McCallum Robert. W/O
- McCoy Louis Joseph Patrick. Flt.Sgt. (d.22nd June 1944)
- Nettleton John Dering. Sqd.Ldr. (d.13th July 1943)
- Norman Allan. Sgt.
- Oakley Clarence.
- Openshaw Roy. Sgt. (d.25th Feb 1944)
- Parkinson Ron. Sgt
- Phillips John Ernest. F/Sgt. (d.1st September 1941)
- Pitcher Henry Robert. Flt/Sgt.
- Pitcher Henry Robert. F/O.
- Pyper Paddy. Sgt
- Rawson John. Flt Sgt
- Riddoch Robert Alexander. WO2 (d.25th Jun 1944)
- Saunders Harry. Sgt.
- Shearman Peter James. P/O (d.15th Jun 1943)
- Smith A.. Sgt
- Stace John Alan. Flt.Sgt.
- Stoddart Raymond Tarlton. Sgt. (d.29th May 1943)
- Swinfen Kenneth Edward. Flt.Lt.
- Thompson John Charles. Sgt
- Thompson John Charles. Sgt.
- Toft William Eric. Sgt. (d.2nd Mar 1943)
- Vause Charles William. Sgt.
- Weymouth Charles Anthony. Sgt. (d.23rd Nov 1942)
- Whitney Stanley William. Sgt. (d.24th Dec 1943)
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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Sgt. John Coults rear gunner 44 Sqd.My Dad,John Coults who passed away in 2006, was in 44 Rhodesia Squadron. He flew in R for Robert PB417 and completed 32 Operations. The first two were pamphlet drops in France, the other 30 were combat missions between 19/07/44 and 6/11/44. Dad then transfered to Liberators based in India.
The crew were:
They were based at RAF Spilsby from 5-10-44 to 6-11-44 (at least).
- Flt Lt Merrik Heath (Rhodesian), PILOT - tragically killed in a civilian Lancastrian during the Berlin Airlift (22/11/1948) at Chute, near Andover.
- P.O John La Forrest (Australian) BOMB AIMER
- Sgt A Smith (Irish - Northern Ireland) FLIGHT ENGINEER
- Sgt Bill Bennett (Scottish), NAVIGATOR
- Sgt Ron Parkinson (English), WIRELESS OPERATOR
- Sgt Paddy Pyper (Irish, Northen Ireland) MID UPPER GUNNER
- Sgt John Coutts (Scottish), REAR GUNNER
Dad is back row, 2nd from the leftDavid Coutts
Flt Lt Merrik Heath pilot 44 Sqd.Flt Lt Merrik Heath was the pilot of R for Robert PB417 flying with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby. He was tragically killed in a civilian Lancastrian during the Berlin Airlift (22/11/1948) at Chute, near Andover.David Coutts
P/O John la Forrest bomb aimer 44 Sqd.P.O John La Forrest, an Australian, a bomb aimer in the Merrick Heath's crew flying R for Robert PB417 with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby.David Coutts
Sgt A. Smith flight eng. 44 Sqd.Sgt A Smith was the Flight Engineer with Merrick Heath's crew, flying R for Robert PB417 with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby.David Coutts
Sgt William Bennett navigator 44 Sqd.Sgt Bill Bennett was the navigator with Merrick Heath's crew, flying R for Robert PB417 with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby.David Coutts
Sgt Ron Parkinson w/op 44 Sqd.Sgt Ron Parkinson was the Wireless Operator with Merrick Heath's crew, flying R for Robert PB417 with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby.David Coutts
Sgt Paddy Pyper mid upper gunner 44 Sqd.Sgt Paddy Pyper was the Mid Upper Gunner with Merrick Heath's crew, flying R for Robert PB417 with 44 Rhodesia Squadron based at RAF Splisby.David Coutts
Gordon Craig 44 Sqd.My father, Gordon Craig was moved to Stalag VIIIB from Stalag Luft III after being caught up in various escape attempts. He had been shot down in Lancaster C-Charlie from 44 Squadron, RAF on the night of 6th October, 1942, during a raid on Osnabrück. He remained at VIIB until being force-marched on what became known as the Death March.
I have a collection of letters between him and my mother, Mary Craig, written during his time as a POW, together with his prison camp and Death March diary and various artifacts, such as a polished tin 'mirror' he made to keep up his appearance (and thus his spirits) while he was there. He also wrote notes for a couple of talks he gave; apparently people with various types of civilian or technical expertise were encouraged to give talks to groups of inmates. He was involved with some of the shows they put on as well.
My dad was a Stockton boy, he grew up in Durham Road and first flew as a auxiliary from Middleton St George. My Mum was a Norton girl from Birkley Road; she worked in the torpedo labs at the ICI during the war and often did Fire-watch Duty at night.
My Dad and Mum died within a year of each other in the mid 1980s and are much missed. Despite the privations and sometimes horrors of my dad's wartime experiences, he always said in later years that he felt 'more alive' during the war and that life often seemed duller afterwards. On the whole, he spoke quite freely of events at Stalag VIIB, although he did refer to it as a much more 'serious' place that was grimmer and more prison-like than Stalag Luft III had been. His sense of humour certainly helped, he described a few situations that I would have been hard-pressed to find amusing had they happened to me!
My compliments to you on the site, it's beautifully put together and a real mine of information.Martin Craig
Flt Sgt John Rawson 44 SquadronFlt Sgt John Rawson was shot down on the 2/3rd September 1941 on a mission to Frankfurt, he was the only crew member to survive. He was held prisoner in eastern Poland and spent some time in Auschwitz, a punishment for repeated escape attempts he arrived back in this country in late 1945 or early 1946 weighing only 7st. He left the RAF and joined the colonial service and worked in Nigeria for 11years. He later went on to work for Burmah oil. He sadly passed away on in June 2009 age 87. He was my uncle and Ii am proud to have known himJames E Bower
John Elgar 44 SquadronI am trying to see if there are remaining crew members that flew Lancasters in 44 Squadron with my Grandad, John Elgar or anyone who knew him as he is 90 this year in October. I would love to contact some of his buddies.Mark Tierney
Sgt. Thomas W. Brock Air Gunner 44 Sqn (d.22nd Nov1942)Thomas Brock was my cousin and, at the age of 32, was the "old man" of his crew captained by Plt Off Stanley Ryder Young aged 23. They took off from Waddington, time unknown, on the night of 22 Nov 1942 en-route for Stuttgart. Their aircaft was Lanc W4304 KM-C which had been delivered to Waddington on 10 Oct 1942 and had completed 55 flying hours to date. Somewhere, either en-route or returning from Stuttgart, they were lost without trace. No further communication had been received from the aircraft. All 7 of the crew are remembered on the Runneymede Memorial like so many were before and after them.
I only wish that they had been found and had a resting place. I served with the RAF for 20 years, some of that time in Germany, and would have liked just to be able to stand infront of his grave and just say "Thanks" for their sacrifice. I know nothing of his previous service which is a great pity as he left a wife, who I have never met and have no idea what happened to her after his passing.Paul Evans
Sgt. Raymond Tarlton Stoddart 44 Squadron (d.29th May 1943)Raymond Stoddart was killed along with all his crew mates when Lancaster EE123 KM-K crashed near Venlo in Holland on a mission to Wuppertal. His grave records him as being 22 years old, he was actually only 19.A.S.Matthews
Flt.Lt. Kenneth Edward Swinfen MID. 44 SquadronI have heard lots of stories as Kenneth Swinfen was a great story teller. He was always proud of the fact that he was an Englishman in a Squadron of Rhodesian flyers. Unfortunately now passed away, but he put together a book of short stores about his exploits during WW2. He was mentioned in despatches twice.Elaine Forster
Sgt. Thomas William Brock 44 Sqn. (d.22nd Nov 1942)Thomas was my first cousin once removed and was born in Mildenhall, Suffolk, December 1911, the son of Thomas and Emma Maud Brock. Thomas was serving with 44(R)Sqn RAF when lost without trace on the night of 22/23 November 1942. He was the Mid Upper Gunner in P/O S R Young's crew flying Lanc 1 W4304 KM-C outbound from Waddington on ops to Stuttgart. The aircraft was lost either en-route or returning from the target, there had been no contact with KM-C to advise any particular problem. The crew have no known grave and are therefore remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
The crew were:
It is such a pity that their final resting places are unknown and that I have no place to go and just say "Thanks" for their sacrifice. All remaining family have now, as far as I am aware, passed. Thomas was married to Rose Ellen Brock nee Rowland but I cannot trace any remaining family which is such a shame. If any of the above names ring a bell, please get in touch.
- Pilot : P/O S R Young 80194 aged 23 RAFVR
- F/Eng : Sgt C A Weymouth 524640 28 RAF
- Nav : F/O D J Appleton 106529 20 RAFVR
- Wop/AG: Sgt W K D Page 1310464 U/K RAFVR
- Obs : Sgt E A Waters 405531 22 RNZAF
- Wop/AG: Sgt T W Brock 1395027 31 RAFVR
- Wop/AG F/Sgt J G Tough R83273 20 RCAFPaul Evans
P/O Peter James Shearman 44 Squadron (d.15th Jun 1943)Peter Shearman was my father's favourite brother so it is difficult to talk about him. I don't really know very much about who he was, what he did. So anything anyone else knows would be wonderful.Susan Brailsford
Sgt. Thomas W. Brock Air Gunner 44(R) Squadron (d.23rd Nov 1942)This is the brief history of my 1st cousin , once removed , Thomas W Brock.
Thomas was born in Suffolk , his birth being registered at Mildenhall. He was the son of Thomas Brock and Emma Maude Cross. I have yet to establish when he joined the RAF and subsequently where he trained as an Air Gunner. I have tried to research the relevant ORB for 44 Sqn but unfortunately it does not state when Thomas arrived on 44 Sqn.
He was crewed up with P/O Stanley Ryder Yyoung aged 23 Pilot, the rest of the crew being as follows :
The ORB shows Thomas crewed with Sgt R Easom to Cologne in Lanc W4180 on 15 Oct 42 - he may well have been a substitute for Sgt Easom's regular rear gunner for this op.
- 106529 F/O David John Appleton aged 20 Nav
- 1395027 Sgt Thomas W Brock 32 Mid Upper Gunner
- 1310164 Sgt Walter Kenneth Page 20 WOP/AG
- 525640 Sgt Charles A Weymouth 28 Flight Engineer
- R83273 WO2 John George Tough 20 Rear Gunner RCAF
- 405531 Sgt Edward Aston Waters 22 Bomb Aimer RNZAF
6th Nov 42 shows Thomas with P/O Young in Lanc R5062 KM-B on ops to Genoa leaving Waddington 21.57 returning 07.04
7th Nov 42 again with P/O Young this time in Lanc R5666 KM-F . Forced to jettison bombs due to extreme icing at 17000 ft on approach to Alps. no target attacked.
9th November saw the same crew on ops to Hamburg again in KM-F . Take off was 17.58 , bombs gone 20.33 - returned to Waddington 23.09
This crew then had a break until 20th November when , again in KM-F , they attacked Turin - take off 1850 - bombs gone 22.27 - return to Waddington 03.36
22 November saw their last operation - destination Stuttgart. The take off time was not logged by operations and no further contact was had with the aircraft W4304 KM-C . The ORB just states "Aircraft failed to return" It was lost without trace either on the way to or from the target. Did they manage to bomb? Were they shot down either by flak of nightfighters? Unfortunately we will never know. Thomas has no marked grave , only a mention with thousands of other aircrew on the Runnymede Memorial.
I served 20 years in the Royal Air force. I walked around the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery and saw all the graves of those aircrew who have a final resting place. I saw their ages , some as young as 18 years of age. I must admit it bought a tear to my eye.Paul R Evans
Sgt. William Eric Toft 44 Squadron (d.2nd Mar 1943)Eric Toft was my husband's uncle, who died before he was born and my husband is named Eric in his memory. He was a wireless operator on board the Lancaster. They were shot down over Germany, and the crew are buried in the Commonwealth Cemetery in Berlin.
We have visited the cemetery, it is a beautifully kept and peaceful place, and a fitting memorial to such a young and dedicated group of men. We have not discovered any more detail of the sortie, so if anyone does have information, Eric's surviving brothers and sister, as well as the rest of his family, would love to know more of his story.
Editor's Note: Eric's Lancaster was W4829, KM-V. They took off from Waddington at 18:46 on the 1st of March 1943. They crashed near Doberitz, from where the burials of all the crew were reported on the 15th of March 1943. The crew were moved to War Cemetry at Berlin at the end of the war. They were:
- Sgt L.Farmer
- Sgt D.G.J.Coombes
- Sgt L.J.Holleron
- Sgt W.E.Toft
- Sgt J.Little
- Sgt B.F.Brown RCAFDeborah Toft
Flt/Sgt. Henry Robert Pitcher DFM. 44 (Rhodesia) SquadronFlt/Sgt Henry Robert Pitcher DFM flew with 44 Squadron as a rear gunner in Lancaster in R for Robert PB417 and completed 32 operations. Their last was Operation Gomorrah on the 24th of July 1943 - destination Hamburg, Germany. The take off time was not logged by operations but I think this was 5.30 am.Mary Pitcher
Sgt. Charles William Vause 44 SquadronMy father Bill Vause was a mid upper gunner in a Lancaster III with 44 Rhodesia Squadron in 1944. He was sShot down over Denmark on 3/4th April 1944 in Risgård Bredning Bay in Denmark, the aircraft exploding just before it hit the water. Dad and one other survived and ended up in Stalag Luft VII for the duration of the war until liberated by the Russians. His best friend Dennis is buried nearby see this linkKeith Vause
Flt.Lt. Charles Ellison Hill 44 Sqn (d.23rd Nov 1943)My Grandad's brother, Charles Ellison Hill, was the pilot of Mk 1 Lancaster Serial number DV 329 (Sqn Code KM-W) when on the 23rd of November 1943 on a mission to or from Berlin was downed - still don't know how - in the town of Rasdorf. All the crew, bar the mid upper gunner, were killed and were buried in the town. At the end of the war they were reburied in the Reichswald War Cemetry in Germany. He ended up at Stalag 4b (IVb) in Muhlberg (PoW number 263692)where he stayed until being released by the advancing Soviet Army. My Grandad has now sadly passed away before I managed to find out the above, but it is all still sketchy to say the least. From what I can gather from relatives the survivor was a Rhodesian chap who, despite requests for information from families, refused to talk about the crash. How true this is we may never know, but it would be wonderful to find out what actually happened and gain some insight into the crew. Charles Hill was a Police officer in Liverpool before the war - strange really as I spent 14 years working for the RAF and am now a Police Officer.
The crew were as follows:
I have been able to locate four combat reports from the crew which I can forward to any persons connected with the crew or sqn. Any info regarding the above would be greatfully recieved.
- Flt/Lt Charles Ellison Hill (127356) Pilot
- P/O Edric. G. Wright (156351) Flt/Engineer
- P/O James Marsden (156915) Navigator
- F/O Charles. W. Nunn (132381) Bombaimer/Gunner
- F/S Thomas Myerscough (1230232) W/op
- Sgt Ronald Ledsham (1535227) Rear Gunner
- Sgt P.B.Kirwan (?700738?) Mid Upper GunnerFrederick Hill
Sgt. Leonard George Croft 44 Squadron (d.3rd Aug 1943)Len Croft was married to my Mum. They married on the 24th of October 1942. Len was killed on the 3rd of August 1943 when returning from a bombing raid over Germany. The Lancaster aircraft he was on was shot down over Holland. Len was the flight engineer and is buried at Harling General Cemetery, Holland.Jan Spall
Sgt. John Richard Currie DFM. 44 Squadron.My father, John Currie was shot down in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in various POW camps.
He was awarded the DFM, his citation reads: 'Sergeant Currie has taken part in 33 operational flights involving a total of over 200 hours flying. He has always been keen and efficient and has shown coolness and courage in all operations. In April he took part in a daylight raid of warships in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire and attacks by a squadron of enemy fighters. The aircraft was badly shot up, and in part due to the skill in which he was able to obtain correct wireless telegraphic bearings that the aircraft made a successful return to its base. Sergeant Currie has also taken part in bombing raids on all the important targets and has given valuable assistance to his navigator. He has set an excellent example to other Sergeants in his squadron by his continuous devotion to duty.’
John Richard Currie, who was born in August 1920, enlisted in the Royal Air Force in January 1939, and commenced his operational tour with No. 44 Squadron, a Hampden unit operating out of Waddington, Lincolnshire, in March 1940, as an A.C.1 Air Gunner. And it was on 12 April, in a strike against enemy shipping in Kristiansand Harbour, that his aircraft, captained by Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace, was attacked by Me. 109s, 44’s Operation Record Book noting that the tail plane was damaged and the W./T. mast shot away.
A full account of this disastrous excursion into Scandinavian waters appears in Christopher Shores’ definitive history of the “Phoney War” and Norwegian campaign, Fledgling Eagles: ‘First off of the attacking force were seven Hampdens of 44 Squadron and five of 50 Squadron, which departed from Waddington from 0815 onwards, while 12 more Hampdens of 61 and 144 Squadrons set off from Hemswell. The latter formation, unable to find any targets, turned back; the former, led by Squadron Leader D. C. F. Good of 50 Squadron, having also found no vessels at sea in the bad weather prevailing, headed instead to attack two naval vessels in Kristiansand harbour. As they made their bombing run the weather cleared and the Bf. 109Es of II/JG77 struck. At 1215 the fourth section of bombers was seen to be in heavy flak bursts, and two bombers were observed to fall in flames. These were L4083 (Flying Officer M. W. Donaldson) and L4073 (Sergeant G. M. Wild) of 50 Squadron. At that moment the fighters were seen making a beam attack, and within seconds the third bomber of the section, L4081 (Pilot Officer M. Thomas), and two more from the 44 Squadron part of the formation - L4099 (Flying Officer W. G. Taylor) and P1173 (Flying Officer H. W. Robson) - were all shot down in flames. Taylor’s aircraft had apparently been hit by flak, and was lagging when caught by the fighters.
For 25 minutes the Messerschmitts kept after the remaining Hampdens and when they finally broke off due to shortage of fuel and ammunition, all the bombers had been damaged, two of them badly. In Squadron Leader Good’s L4168, Air Gunner Corporal J. Wallace shot down one Bf. 109, for which he was later awarded a D.F.M. P4290 (Pilot Officer F. E. Eustace) of 44 Squadron was attacked by two Bf. 109s and badly damaged, but one of the attackers was eventually shot down by cross fire from another Hampden. L4074 (Pilot Officer M. G. Homer) from the same unit was also repeatedly attacked, receiving cannon shells in the right wing, left engine and through the astro-hatch. Sergeant E. Apperson, the Rear Gunner, put a burst into one fighter and saw flames from the engine - this was later confirmed to bring the credited score to two destroyed and two seriously damaged.
Four of the bombers crashed into the sea south-west of Kristiansand, while Flying Officer Donaldson’s aircraft crash-landed on a nearby island, where three of the four crew were captured - the only survivors of the five aircraft. As the bombers limped home Pilot Officer J. B. Bull’s L4064, another 50 Squadron aircraft, came down in the sea 120 miles east of Newcastle, the crew being lost, while 44 Squadron’s L40491 crash-landed at Acklington, the crew unhurt. Only five made it back to Waddington, where Squadron Leader Goo was first to land at 1555. The Germans pressed home their attacks closer than was wise, or indeed was necessary with their cannon armament, and the Hampdens’ gunners’ return fire had been more effective than they realised ... ’
May witnessed the Squadron attacking a number of railway targets, while in June, as a recently promoted Sergeant, Currie completed another eight sorties, mainly against oil plants, two of them in the Hamburg region; July and August witnessed a further spate of similar operations, in addition to strikes against an enemy aircraft factory and a power plant. Finally, in September, among other activities, Currie participated in attacks on Magdeburg aerodrome and enemy shipping at Calais, his final sortie being a strike against a power station in Berlin on the night of the 23rd-24th.
Currie volunteered for a second tour of operations in the following year, when he joined another Waddington unit, No. 207 Squadron. But on the night of 16-17 August 1941, his Manchester bomber, captained by Pilot Officer H. G. Keartland, was shot down by German night fighter ace Hauptman Werner Streib of I/NJG1, crashing in flames at Oberkruckten. Luckily, however, he and his crew were able to bale out and became P.O.W.'s, Currie eventually being incarcerated in Stalag 357 at Kopernikus - in the interim having been held at Stalag Luft III from May 1942 to June 1943.
Werner Streib, winner of The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords, accounted for 66 Allied aircraft, all but one of them at night. His most successful sortie was flown in a prototype of the Heinkel 219 on the night of 11-12 June 1943, when he shot down five bombers in 30 minutes.Mark Currie
Sgt Geoffrey Beckett 44 Squadron (Rhodesia) (d.17 Dec 1942)Geoffrey Beckett was my great-uncle. He was born, with his twin sister Jean, on 11 March 1921 in Sheffield, the youngest son of Edward Fisher Beckett and Lottie May Moore. I do not know when Geoffrey signed up, or for how long he had been flying before his death. The information below is gathered from various sources. 17/18 December 1942 Minor Operations: 27 Lancasters of 5 Group were sent on raids to 8 small German towns and 16 Stirlings and 6 Wellingtons of 3 Group attempted to attack the Opel works at Fallersleben. This type of limited operation proved to be a costly failure. 9 of the 27 Lancasters were lost and, at Fallersleben, only 3 aircraft bombed the target, in cloud conditions, and 6 Stirlings and 2 Wellingtons were lost from this part of the night's operations.
Fifty aircraft were dispatched to lay mines from Denmark to southern Biscay - 1 Lancaster was lost - and there were 5 OTU sorties to France. Total losses for the night: 18 aircraft out of 104 dispatched, 1.3 per cent.
I know from checking further that Geoffrey's plane was the Avro Lancaster I, registration W4126, KM-B and that he was based in Waddingham in Lincolnshire. Geoffrey was a Sergeant and was the Air Gunner (mid upper) and the rest of the crew was possibly as follows;
There is some confusion in my mind as originally I had assumed that as Sgt Holmes was buried in the same place, and died on the same date (as per the CWGC site) that he was part of the crew - and this seemed to make sense as he was a navigator, but another site does not include him, but does include Sgt Read. I had always assumed that all of the crew were killed, but I've now discovered that Fl/Eng: Sgt. G.A. Read was a P.O.W. No: 27313 at Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344) in Poland. It is understood that W4126 was hit by Kriegsmarine flak and crashed at 18.45 hrs on the island of Texel. Sgt. Read on his release stated that the aircraft was on fire when he baled out. The Germans provided a funeral with full military honours on Tuesday, 22nd December.
- F/O. Lawrence Gerard Lyons McNamara - Pilot
- F/O. Raymond Norman McCleery - Air Obs
- F/O. James William Loree - Air Obs
- Sgt. Kenneth Robert Macleod - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
- Sgt. Gordon William Jones - Air Gunner (rear)
- Sgt. G A Read - Flight Engineer
- Sgt. Stanley Holmes - NavigatorNicola Roberts
Sgt John Charles Thompson DFM. 44 Rhodesia SqdnI have just purchased JohnThompson's DFM & it came with some paperwork. John was the Flight Engineer and took part in 26 sorties inc Berlin 10 times, Leipzig & Stuttgart. He was awarded the DFC in 1944. Total hours flown on operations, 199.12 hours. If I can find any more infomation I will pass it on & if anyone could help me with any information on him, I would be very greatful.Peter Whitehead
Sgt. William "Ginger" Bell 44 Squadron (d.6th Sep 1940)This is the story of my Uncle Sgt Willie Bell, wireless operater/air gunner serving on 44 Sqd. RAF Bomber Command, flying Handley Page Hampden medium bombers, the Hampden fuselage was only 36" wide and the crew had little room to move inside. Beginning in May 1940 he flew on night missions on a regular basis. Entries in his log book show five night operations between 15th and 26th May, with numerous training exercises in between. On May 27th he was promoted to Temp.Sergeant. He continued on "ops" through July and August at the height of the Battle of Britain. September 2nd was a raid on Stuttgart with P/O Taunton at the controls in Hampden s/no. P2087.
On the evening of the 6th September 1940 he climbed into Hampden P2087 again with P/O Taunton and P/O Vollmer as navigator/bomb aimer, and New Zealander Sgt. Bracegirdle, their target that night was Krefeld. They succeeded in finding the target and dropped their bombs, then turned for home but near Munster disaster struck in the form of a heavy AA shell which scored an almost direct hit, setting the starboard engine and wing on fire. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out, but all at once the aircraft lurched to starboard and went into a spiral dive of rapidly increasing velocity. Then there was a terrible explosion which blew P/O Vollmer out of the Hampden with his parachute still unfastened, he had been in the process of clipping it on when he was thrown out.
He knew the ground was coming up fast so he pulled the ripcord and prayed. His chute was ripped from his hands breaking two fingers but by a stroke of luck he had managed to secure one clip of the harness which held long enough to save his life. The pilot had managed to bale out to safety, but Sergeants Bell and Bracegirdle were not so lucky and went to their deaths when P2087 smashed into the ground.
An unknown German officer sent home Willie Bell's personal effects, his watch, ring and ID tags, accompanied by a letter to his parents to let them know he had been buried with full military honours and he was very kind to say there were no marks on his body.
Willie Bell didn't win any special medals for heroism but it took a very brave person to do what he did night after night. I would like to dedicate this little article to his memory and to all the men and women in all the wars who made the ultimate sacrificeWilliam Bell Turkington
F/O. Henry Robert Pitcher DFM. 44 (Rhodesia) SquadronMy father Henry Robert Pitcher DFM RAFVR was a rear gunner in a Lancaster during 1944. R for Robert by my investigation.Mary Pitcher
Sqd.Ldr. John Dering Nettleton VC. (d.13th July 1943)Squadron Leader John Dering Nettleton was born 7 in Nongoma, Natal Province, South Africa. He was commissioned in the RAF in December 1938, he then served with Nos. 207, 98 and 185 Squadrons before joining 44 Squadron flying the Handley Page Hampden. He took part in a daylight attack on Brest on 24 July 1941 and in a series of other bombing raids and was mentioned in dispatches in September 1940.
Nettleton was promoted Flying Officer in July 1940, Flight Lieutenant in February 1941 and was a Squadron Leader by July 1941. No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron was based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire at this time and had taken delivery of Lancasters in late 1941.
In 1942 a daylight bombing mission was planned by RAF Bomber Command against the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Bavaria, responsible for the production of half of Germany's Uâ€‘boat engines. It was to be the longest lowâ€‘level penetration so far made during World War II, and it was the first daylight mission flown by the Commandos new Avro Lancaster.
On the 17th of April 1942 Squadron Leader Nettleton was the leader of one formation of six Avro Lancaster bombers on a daylight attack on a diesel engine factory at Augsburg, near Munich Germany flying Lancaster Mk I, R5508, coded "KM-B". A second flight of six Lancasters from No 97 Squadron based at RAF Woodhall Spa, close to Waddington, did not link up with the six from 44 squadron as planned, although they had ample time to do so before the aircraft left England by Selsey Bill, West Sussex.
When they had crossed the French coast at low level near Dieppe, German fighters of JG 2, returning after intercepting a planned diversionary raid which had been organised to assist the bombers, attacked the 44 Squadron aircraft a short way inland and four Lancasters were shot down. Nettleton continued towards the target in and his two remaining aircraft attacked the factory, bombing it amidst heavy anti aircraft fire. Nettleton survived the incident, his damaged Lancaster limped back to the UK, finally landing near Blackpool.
His VC was gazetted on 24 April 1942.
Nettleton was killed on 13 July 1943, during a raid on Turin in Italy. His Lancaster KM-Z ED331 took off from Dunholme Lodge and was believed to have been shot down by a night-fighter off the Brest peninsular. His body and those of his crew were never recovered. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.S. Flynn
Jack Beaton 83 Sqd.Just received my uncle Jack Beaton's log book and want to know as much information as I can. I was told he was in the Pathfinders. He was with 83 Squadron in Conningsby, Lincolnshire and 44 Sqd at Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire. In the log book shows all his training in and around Lincolnshire starting with the Ansons then Bolly, Wellingtons, Stirlings and then finishing up with the Lancasters to the end of the war. His pilot almost throughout was P/O Cartwright. Jack was air bomber (armament),(navigation, bomber moving targets).Tracy
Sgt. William Cameron Jack 44 Squadron (d.15th March 1944)William Jack was my second cousin. I only found his information via CWGC site. He was an air gunner and is buried in Durnbach Cemetery. I would love to find out more.Carol Berger
W/O Robert McCallum Air Gunner 50 Sqn/630 Sqn/44 SqnRobert McCallum joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on the 20th of June 1940 and served until the 13th of Mar 1946. He became aircrew in 1943 and trained with 17 OTU at Turweston and Silverstone this was followed by 1661 Conversion Unit at Winthorpe. He began at 50 Sqn Skellingthorp with F/O Hinkling as his first pilot then transferred to 630 Sqn in Feb 1945, flying with pilot F/Sgt Grange at East Kirkby. He transferred to 44Sqn on 18th June 1945 to the crew of pilot F/O MunsonNic
Sgt. John Charles Thompson DFC. 44 (Rhodesia) SquadronI am trying to track down my grandfather's Distinguished Flying Medal. Sgt John Charles Thompson was a flight engineer for 44 Rhodesia Sqdn in WW2. The medal was sold out of our family unknowingly and we are trying to get it back. Please keep me informed if you come across this medal or have any information. It would be much appreciated. The previous poster (Peter Whitehead) no longer has this medal.Philippa Spurr
WO2 Robert Alexander Riddoch 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron (d.25th Jun 1944)Robert Riddoch was my great Uncle. He was trained in Canada and attached to the RAF where he served with the RAF stationed at Dunholme Lodge. The Squadron identity letters were KMJ and the serial number was ND 751. He flew on bombing missions as part of the crew captained by Flt Sgt DE Aiken. He signed on on March 31 1944 and flew operations all in Lancaster MKIII aircraft. The aircraft left at 2330 and the raid was against Pommerval.
He flew missions were on April 20th, 22, 24, 26, 28th, May 11, May 19th, May 21, May 22, May 27th, May 31, June 2, June 5, June 6 June 8, June 9, June 12 and June 24. He and the crew never returned from the June 24 mission and were listed as missing in action but later confirmed dead. Date of death is listed as June 25, 1944.
Crew members were:
Robert Riddoch was twenty three years old when he was shot down and died. He and all of the flight crew are buried in a mass grave in a church cemetery at Criquetot-Sur-Longville Churchyard Seine Maritime France and it is a joint grave for them and he is in grave 3. The village church is about 17 Km south of Dieppe and one Km east of the N 27 road from Dieppe Totes. His name is in the book of Remembrance in Canada. For his sister and his wife life would never be the same and closure never came to his sister Dorothy Johnstone.
- P/O Douglas Aiken RCAF Pilot,
- Sgt John Hare- air gunner,
- Sgt Horace A Lewarne- flight engineer,
- F/Sgt Sidney Rawson- wireless operator,
- WO Robert Riddoch RCAF-navigator,
- PO Alfred M Simmons RCAF- air bomber.Edith Harper
Sgt. Jimmy Goulette 44 SquadronSgt. Jimmy Goulette served with 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force during WW2. His Aircraft Lancaster W4125 KQ-M took off for a raid on Munich on the night of 21/22nd December 1942 and was shot down on the return journey near Heilbron. Only two of the crew survived.
He was interned at Stalag8B and took part in the death march.
Full details of his account are presented on this dedicated website. http://camomilesworld.com/raid/
Sgt. Harry Saunders DFM. 44 SquadronSgt Harry Saunders served with the Royal Air Force 44th Squadron. His Lancaster was shot down in December 1942 after a bombing raid over Munich, targeting the Nazi headquarters. Only three of the crew survived. Sgt Suanders was captured by a policeman. He and another crew member Sgt. Jimmy Goulette were taken to a Luftwaffe POW camp at Mannheim and later transferred to Dalagluft in Frankfurt.
In January 1943 they were among 743 POWs transferred to the Stalag 8b POW camp near Lamsdorf.
Sgt. Roy Openshaw 44 Squadron (d.25th Feb 1944)Roy was my maternal grandmother's brother who was only 18 when he lost his life on a bombing mission. He was Air Gunner on 7 man Crew of Avro Lancaster Bomber ND525 KM-Q on a mission to bomb the ball bearing factories of Schweinfurt, Germany when they were shot down over the target area. All 7 lost their lives and were buried by the Germans in Avricourt Military Cemetery and later re-buried in Choloy War Cemetery after the war had ended.
The crew were:
Victor Bennett. Sgt (Flight Engineer) No 1581863 George Robert Shield Halliday. Flight Sgt (Navigator) No 1485099 George Andrew Weddle. Sgt (W.Op/Air Gunner) No 1502961 Roy Openshaw. Sgt (Air Gunner) No 1590386 George Pierrie Nicholson. Sgt (Air Gunner)No 1555268
All were from Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve except Bergland who was from the Royal Canadian Air Force.Nadine Lovell
F/Sgt J. H. Crammond 44 Sqd.My late father was Flt.Sgt. J H Crammond. His RAF log book started on 21.4.44 and he served at Spilsby, Winthorpe.James Crammond
Flt.Sgt. John Alan Stace 111th Sqd.My Dad, John Stace, served in the RAF Bomber Command on Lancasters. I believe his crew were:
- Johnny Brown Pilot Flight Engineer
- John Stace Wireless Operator
- Peter Bishop Mid Air Gunner
- Gordon Cox Rear Gunner
- Nobby Clark Observer or Bomb Aimer Hadfield
Dad joined the RAF in 1942 from school having been an Air Cadet. He left in 1946. The only time he crashed was not whilst with his own crew but with another crew in 1946 he survived but the pilot died. I believe he was at Eastchurch and Feltwell amongst other bases. He flew with 115 Sqadron and also 44 Squadron. He was at Cranwell and also Scampton
I would love to know more about his life as sadly he died in 1977 so I didn't get time to ask him.Dawn
P/O. Bernard Michael Hayes 44 Sqd. (d.25th Mar 1944)I have a few pictures of my uncle, Bernard Hayes. He did his training in Winnipeg, Canada, in the 44th Squadron. He was killed, shot down over Holland in 1944. He is buried in Eindhoven War Graves Cemetery.Michael J. Hayes
F/Lt. William Bernard Cook 44 (Rhodesia) SquadronMy father, William Cook served with 44th Squadron during the Second World War, he flew with Nettleton etc. We have his log book and are trying to find details.Penny Broadrick
S/Sgt. Joseph William Emson 44 Squadron (d.18th Oct 1943)My uncle Joseph Emson was killed when I was 1 year old. He flew from Dunholme Lodge on 18th Oct 1943. He was killed on evening of 18th in a crash near Bissendorf, 17 km from Hannover. His son Barry was born after his father's death. I would appreciate any further information about his flight, crew etc.John Hillyard
Sgt. Stanley William Whitney 44 Squadron (d.24th Dec 1943)Stanley Whitney flew in Lancaster R5669 KM-Z of 44 Squadron from Dunholm Lodge.
F/O. Thomas Watson Craig 44 (Rhodesia) SquadronI recently came into the possession of the Flying Log Books, medals, wings and other memorabilia of my late Uncle Thomas Watson Craig who was a Lancaster pilot with No. 44 Squadron based at RAF Spilsby from November 1944 through June 1945.
His first operational flight was on the 2nd of November 1944 for Operation Dusseldorf as 2nd Pilot then two days later on 4th of November he flew as pilot in command of his own Lancaster in operation Dortmund-Ems Canal. He completed his 30th and final mission on 25th of April 1945 for Operation Berchtesgaden. With the end of hostilities, he transferred to Transport Command and flew Yorks in the Middle East and as a Flt/Lt was appointed a route check pilot for 51 Squadron, No. 47 Group. He retired from the RAF in 1966 with the rank of Squadron Leader and resided with his wife in the town of Knaresborough, Yorkshire. I believe he was a Post Master at a post office there.
A curiosity is that his initial Log Book is labelled Royal Canadian Air Force although all his initial flying training was done at No. 28 EFTS Wolverhampton. He did some time at Moncton, New Brunswick prior to going to Texas for training on the AT6A Texan. His second log book with Air Transport Command is an RAF one. Unfortunately, in the information passed along to me, there was no mention of his crew’s names but his aircraft numbers were shown in his log with the most frequent being a tail number 625H in which he flew 18 sorties.Neil Craig
Sgt. John Lewis 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron (d.25th Jun 1944)Johnny Lewis was a Sergeant Air Gunner, 1445360, with the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was born in 1921, the son of John & Elizabeth Lewis from Lampeter, Cardiganshire in Wales. He served with 44 Squadron RAF which was equipped with the Avro Lancaster BIII and based at RAF Dunholme Lodge.
The mission took off at 11.35pm in Lancaster ND751 on the 24 June 1944 to destroy a flying bomb site at Pommerval. A total of 739 aircraft had taken part on that night to bomb various flying bomb locations. The mission was carried out on a clear moonlit night and so with help of the effective searchlight units many aircraft were destroyed by night fighters. 22 Lancasters were lost including ND751 and ME628 of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron.
Johnny was killed when his Lancaster was shot down over France on 25 June 1944. He is buried at Criquetot-Sur-Longueville Churchyard with six other colleagues, Pilot Officer Douglas Earl Aiken RCASF, Sergeant John Hare Sergeant Horace Arnold Lewarne, Flight Sergeant Frank Sidney Rawson, W/O Robert Alexander Riddoch and Pilot Officer Alfred Montague Simmons RCAF. Criquetot-sur-Longueville is a village and commune 17 kilometers south of Dieppe, one kilometer east of the N.27 road from Dieppe-Totes and the crew of ND751 are buried in the north corner of the churchyard. Johnny left behind both his parents and four siblings.Rosemary Thomas
Sqd.Ldr. Charles Edward Johnson 44 Squadron (d.24th May 1940)My cousin, Squadron Leader Charles Edward Johnson's parents were Charles Frederick Johnson and Catherine Mary (nee Cable). His father, a Lincolnshire man, was an engineer who joined the Royal Navy in World War 1. Sadly, Charles Frederick died in 1919 from a disease he contracted during his navy service. He was only 37 years old. Charles Edward was just a toddler of 3 when this happened. The family had moved to London after living in Portsmouth for many years. It was here that tragedy struck a second time when his mother died when he was just 9 years old.
He was made of resilient stuff though and obviously had leadership qualities. This young man was flying a Handley Page Hampden Mark B.I on a mission from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire to attack rail communications in Germany when he was hit by flak over Aachen, Germany on the 24th of May 1940. The plane crashed and all on board perished.
The crew are now buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery:
- S/L C.E.Johnson
- P/O D.C.Barker
- Sgt H.G.Collins
- Cpl W.CrookChris Brammer
Sgt. John Lewis 44 Sqdn. (d.25th Jun 1944)Johnny Lewis was a Sergeant Air Gunner, 1445360, RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was the son of John and Elizabeth Lewis from Lampeter, Cardiganshire, Wales. He served with 44 Squadron RAF which was equipped with the Avro Lancaster BIII based at RAF Dunholme Lodge. He was killed when his Lancaster was shot down over France on 25th June 1944. Johnny is buried at Criquetot-Sur-Longueville Churchyard with six other colleagues:
Pilot Officer Douglas Earl Aiken Sunday, 25 June 1944 23 J/85822 Royal Canadian Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 2. Joint grave.
Sergeant John Hare Sunday, 25 June 1944 21 1439383 Royal Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 4. Joint grave.
Sergeant Horace Arnold Lewarne Sunday, 25 June 1944 Unknown 1279022 Royal Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 4. Joint grave.
Sergeant Johnny Lewis Sunday, 25 June 1944 22 1445360 Royal Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 1.
Flight Sergeant Frank Sidney Rawson Sunday, 25 June 1944 22 1324690 Royal Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 3. Joint grave. Warrant Officer Class II Robert Alexander Riddoch Sunday, 25 June 1944 23 R/172357 Royal Canadian Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 3. Joint grave.
Pilot Officer Alfred Montague Simmons Sunday, 25 June 1944 Unknown J/89960 Royal Canadian Air Force 44 (Royal Air Force) Squadron British Plot. Grave 2. Joint grave.
The crew's missions started in April 1944 until the 24/25th June 1944. List of missions for June is as follows:
2nd June 1944: Lancaster B1 ND869 KM-M. Attack on Wimereux
5-6th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on La Pernelle
6-7th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on Caen
8-9th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on Pontaubault
9-10th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on Etampes
12-13th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on Caen
24-25th June 1944: Lancaster BIII ND751 KM-J. Attack on Pommereval
Weather was fine but slightly hazy on the evening of 24th June 1944. 15 aircraft were detailed to carry out a bombing attack on Pommereval. P/S Oswald and P/O Aiken crews were reported missing without trace from this operation. All other aircraft reached and bombed the target successfully and returned to base safely.Rosemary
Flt.Sgt. Louis Joseph Patrick "Lou" McCoy RAF 44 Squadron (d.22nd June 1944)Louis Joseph Patrick McCoy Flight Sergeant RAAF No. 418722.
Lou enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. He undertook basic training in Victoria, Australia and was sent to Canada for further flight training. He was assigned to the RAF by the RAAF when bomber air crews were called for by the UK Government during WW2 and flew with 44 Rhodesia Squadron in 1943 and 1944. His crew position was tail gunner in Lancaster LM592.
Sadly, he was killed when his bomber was shot down during a raid to Wesseling from the Squadron base at Dunholme in England on 22 June 1944. He and his crewmates are buried in Woensol Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Section) in Eindhoven, Holland.
He was born and raised in Noorinbee near Orbost in eastern Victoria Australia and was only 20 years old when he died.Russell Smith
F/Sgt. John Ernest Phillips 44 Sqdn. (d.1st September 1941)My grandad's brother, F/Sgt Phillips, was part of the crew of a Hampden bomber that flew out of RAF Waddington and never returned. He is commemorated on Panel 37 at Runnymede.Graham
Clarence "Reg" Oakley 44 Sqdn.My father, Clarence "Reg" Oakley, was a pilot for 44 Rhodesia Squadron. His Lancaster was shot down and he ended up in Stalag Luft III. In think the year was 1943. I am looking for more information.Ian Oakley
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