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No. 50 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 50 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -


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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 50 Squadron Royal Air Force



 

19th Mar 1940 Raid

12th April 1940 Raid

14th April 1940 

13th May 1940 Night Ops

13th May 1940 Bombing raids to the Low Countries

15th May 1940 Ops

26th Jun 1940 Hampden L4078 lost

26th June 1940 Aircraft Lost

10th July 1940 

2nd Mar 1941 Hampden Lost

10th Apr 1941 50 Squadron Hampden lost

2nd Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

20th July 1941 

26th Nov 1941 On the Move

27th Dec 1941 Aircraft Lost

10th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

14th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

April 1942 New Aircraft Arrive

30th May 1942 Raid

20th June 1942 On the Move

16th Oct 1942 On the Move

17th October 1942 Raid

13th Jun 1943 50 Squadron Lancaster lost

15th Jun 1943 50 Squadron Lancaster lost

23rd Nov 1943 50 Squadron Lancaster lost

26th November 1943 Aircraft Lost

5th Jun 1944 Aircraft Lost

3rd Feb 1945 50 Squadron Lancaster lost

26 April 1945 Last Ops

16th June 1945 Preparations


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



Those known to have served with

No. 50 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Amey F. W.. Flt.Sgt.
  • Andrews Edgar James. Sgt. (d.15th Oct 1940)
  • Austin Derrick. Sergeant (d.8th Jul, 1944)
  • Ballantyne Donald.
  • Barnes Richard. Pilot Officer
  • Barnes Richard. Pilot Officer
  • Baveystock L H. Sergeant
  • Baveystock L H. Sergeant
  • Bell Derek. Sgt. (d.27th Dec 1941)
  • Bishop James Douglas. P/O (d.8th Jul 1944)
  • Buchan David McDougal. Sgt.
  • Bull John. (d.12th Apr 1940)
  • Bunbury John Shirley. F/O (d.17th Aug 1942)
  • Collins Eugene Patrick. Sgt.
  • Craig Robert. Flt.Sgt. (d.25th July 1944)
  • Darby William. Sgt. (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Dowling Ralph Andrew. Flt.Sgt. (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Dunkelman George Amos. P/O (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Endean William John Keand. F/O.
  • Farrow James Phillip. Sqd.Ldr.
  • Faulkner William John. Sgt. (d.30th Aug 1944)
  • Fleming Jerrold Ronald. Sqd.Ldr.
  • Frith Stanley R.. Flt.Sgt. (d.30th Aug 1944)
  • Grant Donald. F/O
  • Green Albert William. Sgt.
  • Gurney Denis Albert. Sgt. (d.24th Jan 1945)
  • Harper Robert Noel. Sergeant (d.8th Jul 1944)
  • Hopkins Frederick Randall. P/O (d.8th Jul 1944)
  • Horning Frederick Arthur. F/O (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Horsley R M. Pilot Officer
  • Horsley R M. Pilot Officer
  • King S E. Sergeant
  • King S E. Sergeant
  • Knight Harold. Sgt. (d.17 April 1942)
  • Laidlaw Alain. P/O
  • Layne Walter Henry.
  • Lewis Clifford Howard. Sgt. (d.2nd Mar 1943)
  • Lewis Denys William. Flt.Sgt
  • Manser Leslie Thomas. Flying Officer (d.31st May 1942)
  • Manser Leslie Thomas. Flying Officer (d.31st May 1942)
  • Marlow Ronald.
  • McCallum Robert. W/O
  • McCray David William. F/Sgt. (d.17th Dec 1944)
  • Meeking Donald William. Sgt. (d.12th Feb 1942)
  • Mills A McF. Sergeant
  • Mills A McF. Sergeant
  • Miners C. Alf. Sgt.
  • Motriuk Stanley Arcadie. W/O (d.8th Jul 1944)
  • Mutch Ernest. Sgt. (d.30th August 1944)
  • Nash Reginald Morris.
  • Naylor B W. Sergeant
  • Naylor B W. Sergeant
  • Newman Cecil. W/O
  • Nisbet Adrian Home. F/O.
  • Noren Peter Oliver Kenneth. Flt Sgt. (d.8th Jul 1944)
  • Pate Alfred Joseph William.
  • Pate Alfred. WO
  • Poole David John. Sgt. (d.24th Dec 1943)
  • Rennie Robert Edward. F/O (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Ross Robert John S.. Sgt.
  • Smettem Kenneth Richard K.. P/O. (d.30th Aug 1940)
  • Steward Maurice James. F/O. (d.13th Feb 1943)
  • Terris George Thompson Gilbert. F/O (d.6th Nov 1944)
  • Thibedeau Roy Frederick. P/O (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Weber Arthur John. Flt.Sgt. (d.13th Jun 1943)
  • Wilkins George A.. A/Fl.Lt
  • Willett Tim. Flt. Sgt.
  • Wise Geoffrey Norman. F/Sgt. (d.12th Sep 1944)

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Flt. Sgt. Tim Willett pilot 50 Sqd

F/S Willett was pilot of Manchester L7516 VN-N which was shot down on the 20th of April 1942 flying from RAF Skellingthorpe. They landed on tidal mudflats on the island of Sylt, Germany.

The crew were:

  • F/S S.Willett DFM
  • F/S S.E.Packard
  • P/O N.Hannah
  • F/S H.S.McDonald
  • Sgt C.A.Miners
  • Sgt D.A.Williams
  • Sgt C.J.Scott




Sgt. C. Alf Miners 50 Sqd

In 1941 I trained in the Australian Empire Air Training Scheme as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and on completion was posted to the embarkation depot in Perth, Western Australia, where I discovered I would be posted to Singapore. A few days later we were told that a number of Lockheed Hudson aircraft which were to be sent by the British to Singapore for our use could not be spared and consequently we were to travel to England.

The first part of our travels was under first-class conditions on an American passenger liner, the Maraposa, where I was fortunate to be allotted a single, self-contained cabin on the Promenade deck, much to the envy of all the troops. This ship was, of course, travelling under peace-time conditions and the food was quite unbelievable. The ship called at several ports on the way including Auckland, Fiji, Pago Pago and Honolulu. At the last named we were met by some of the local ladies who had brought their cars in order to take us on a tour of the island.

At one of the beaches we surprised a soldier who was supposed to have made himself invisible and prepare for an invasion. I did have the opportunity to examine a Garrard semi-authomatic rifle which I had not previously seen. The American Air Force put on a show for us with a full squadron of 'Bell Air Cobra' fighter aircraft which were well in advance of those we had in Australia. I should mention that this incident happened only a few weeks before the attack on Honolulu by the Japanese.

Our first port of call in America was Los Angeles where we were taken on a tour of Warner Brothers' film studios. After touring the studios we were given drinks and cigarettes by young starlets. We watched Bette Davis at work on a picture as well as other performers whose names I have since forgotten.

We re-embarked and travelled to San Francisco where we boarded a train for Vancouver. We made a number of stops and at most of them there were local inhabitants gathered at the level crossings, apparently to cheer us on. Although conversation was carried out at high volume, it was a very friendly interlude. The reception was at all times very enthusiastic and we all felt that there was a strong bond between Americans and Australians. The journey was quite enjoyable and the type of country varied a lot, unlike our Nullabor Plain.

After arrival in Vancouver we were embarked on the Canadian National train. I was very impressed with the size of the locomotives which were designed to haul their trains across the Rocky Mountains. During this trip we travelled almost exclusively by night and we were given the days to see what we could of Canada. The highlight was in Ottawa where, to secure better photos, we entered the tallest building we could see. This building we discovered was a Government office housing the Department which dealt with the inhabitants of the northern ice-bound regions. We met a Department officer who went to a great deal of trouble to explain the difficulties and the way in which they tried to overcome them. The places at which we stopped which spring most easily to mind are Jasper and Toronto which are quite beautiful. We travelled right across Canada on the train which had the American style Pullman sleeping cars, the journey taking about a week.

At Halifax, the end of the line, we boarded a troop ship, The Warwick Castle, a vessel of 20,000 tons and which was cleared to join a 20-knot convoy. My good fortune still held for this ship had not been converted to the usual troop ship but still had four-berth cabins. We were provided with a strong escort which included a light cruiser and a number of destroyers. We saw little action on the Atlantic crossing although when we counted the ships each morning there appeared to be some missing. We saw a demonstration of the ability of these escort ships when a warning of a submarine attack was given. The sight of these ships speeding around making rapid, sharp turns and throwing depth charges was something I will never forget. On this day the swell was described as 'moderate' but I think sailors are very conservative. I did not discover whether these depth charges caused any damage to the submarine. Over one day and night we encountered a severe gale when the sea swamped the boat deck making the biggest waves I have ever seen.

On arrival in England at Greenock, we disembarked and travelled by train to Bournemouth on the south coast. On the first night a small bombing raid was mounted by the Germans and although only a small number of aircraft was involved, some damage was inflicted and particularly to one of the nicest hotels. Our training did not include instruction on what to do in an air raid so we went to an air-raid shelter which seemed to be overcrowded and, I thought, the reception was somewhat hostile so we decided to go to the nearest hotel where we spent a pleasant evening despite the 'dressing down' I received for being too slow to close the blackout covers over the door. For some reason the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) were concerned this small light could be seen from the enemy aircraft and would precipitate an enemy attack.

I was posted to the Operational Training Unit near Doncaster and then to the squadron at Lincoln which, unfortunately, was equipped with 'Manchester' aircraft. We flew operations one night and had the next day at leisure. In order to perfect the methods to be used in the planned '1000 bomber raids' it was decided to send 250 aircraft per night for two nights consecutively on each target which were the cities of Lubeck and Rostock which had a ball-bearing factory and submarine pens respectively.

On the first of these raids on 28 April, 1942, we were instructed to attack Rostock at 12,000 feet and 'glide' bomb at 10,000 feet. I should mention that the 'Manchester' bomber could not reach a higher altitude so most other aircraft were flying at twice our height. After releasing the bombs we experienced a major explosion some distance below us and we flipped over on to our back. The pilots were successful in gaining control and righting the aircraft which was quite close to the ground as most of the crew agreed they felt heat from the fires in the city. Later discussion arrived at the belief that the explosion was a shell from a demounted cannon from one of the 'pocket' battleships. After this, the trip back to base was uneventful and we reached our squadron in Lincoln. The aircraft was fairly badly damaged, especially at the rear, by light and medium anti-aircraft fire. By some miracle the rear-gunner was not hit. On touchdown, however, a 500lb bomb, which had apparently been hung up on the bomb rack came out of the bomb bay from the starboard side and ran along the ground beside us for some time before it veered away. Fortunately, it did not explode.

Two nights later, on 30th April, 1942, we were instructed to lay mines around the 'pocket' battleship bottled up in Kiel harbour. This entails flying at an altitude of 500 feet at 150 miles per hour, straight and level. As I remember, this night was lit by a full moon and everything, including our aircraft, seemed brightly illuminated, which gave an uneasy feeling of insecurity. In addition, our instructions lead us further into Germany than any other bomber on that night which meant that for several hours we were the only intruders over enemy territory. As we proceeded on our way back to base it was discovered that one of the 1600 lb mines had hung up on the bomb rack and was still with us. The normal manoeuvres did not dislodge it so it was left in the bomb bay.

As we approached Denmark we were attacked by an ME 110 night fighter from below, which meant he was not seen and the first indication was a burst of gunfire. I was flying in the mid-upper gun turret on this night and a burst of cannon fire entered the lower portion of the turret, under my left arm and out through the Perspex in the top of the turret. I then saw gunfire at the rear of the aircraft and decided it was aimed at the rear gunner and as I saw no answering fire concluded he had been hit. I then requested the wireless operator to investigate.

I was able to fire a burst at the attacker who was below us and travelling in our direction. Unfortunately, the downward angle of fire was too steep and the guns jammed. I had further opportunities later the last of which was when the enemy appeared to have broken off the attack and went under us from right to left. The German rear gunner was still firing and as my gun came to bear, I fired and his firing stopped. My assumption was that I had made a hit.

I then saw that our port engine was on fire and although the pilot took all available action, including trying to feather the propeller, nothing worked and the fire increased. Due to enemy action our landing lights were activated thus lighting up the aircraft like a beacon. These were later extinguished and the order to abandon the aircraft was given. In order to vacate the turret it was necessary for me to step on to the arms of a chair beneath me and then get out. However, my foot slipped and I fell and was caught by the release buckle of my parachute harness on the floor of the turret and was swinging in mid-air. I managed to free myself and fell, fracturing my collarbone. My parachute was packed beside the door at the rear of the fuselage but the fire had beaten me to it thus rendering it useless. I then checked that the IFF radio (Identification "Friend or Foe") had detonated. This occurred as I looked and suffered some burning to my face.

By this time, the pilot had decided to land on the sea, which he did but was unable to pass on his decision to the rest of the crew as the intercom was not working. Following the decision to bail out, the front gunner and second pilot had attempted to open the escape hatch in the bomb aimer's position. Although it was jammed it eventually opened and the front gunner jumped. Unfortunately, the aircraft had descended to about 100ft and he was killed instantly. The second pilot then dived and swam to the side. We had landed on a sandbank but when the aircraft settled down it was found that he was trapped by the foot. The surviving crew members climbed out through the astrodome on to the starboard wing and between us we managed to free him and get him on to the wing.

As we could still see the searchlights operating on the shore it was an indication that we may be close enough to be able to walk there. The water we were in came up to my neck and when I tried to inflate my 'Mae West' lifejacket I was unsuccessful. The jacket was shown to me the next day by a German guard and had two bullet holes running parallel to my body. There was no life raft in the aircraft so our position looked a little precarious.

We started to wade and I tried to help the injured pilot but as his left leg was damaged, he had to lean on my injured right collarbone which was extremely painful. When I thought I could not continue we fell off the edge of the sandbank into deeper water and so had to return to the aircraft.

We discovered that the aircraft's force of impact on water and/or sandbank had caused both engines to be thrown forward twenty to thirty feet (about ten metres). We sat on the edge of the port wing watching the oxygen bottles and other objects exploding, one of which exploded with enough force to send the two of us from the wing into the water. The pilot then returned to the aircraft and emerged with the survival kits. There was one for each crew member, containing necessities to sustain us for one or two days. This included a small bottle of rum, which was most acceptable.

About 5.00 am an inflatable boat containing two occupants with Schmeiser submachine guns came to pick us up. When we were about half way to shore one of the petrol tanks on our aircraft exploded which looked very dramatic, particularly as we realised that if the Germans had been half an hour later we would still have been on the aircraft.

We were taken into the Sylt Luftwaffe headquarters and locked in a room. Our clothes were taken for drying and we were given hot soup. During the morning there was a loud explosion and some time later a lot of yelling. I later discovered that five German technicians went to examine our aircraft which was unfamiliar to them and while they were aboard the mine exploded killing all of them.

The pilot of the night fighter, Flying Officer Koeberich, came to see us during the morning and told me he had broken off his attack due to a fire in one engine and was preparing to land his aircraft when I saw him. He also advised that his gunner, Corporal Schubert, died that morning of gunshot wounds. From a report given by his replacement gunner, he was a successful pilot. When Reichsmarshall Herman Göring heard the details of the loss of the ME110 night fighter and the death of the gunner, he took the view that the Sylt Commandant had been negligent in sending assistance to his downed air crew and therefore the delay caused the gunner's death. This officer was relieved of his command at Sylt but I do not know the final result of his punishment.

Flying Officer Koeberich talked for some time in a friendly manner and described his training. He was recruited before the war and had had at least three years night fighter experience. At the end of our conversation he insisted that I receive some bandages. This was followed to the letter and I was presented with a two inch wide bandage to set a broken collarbone! Flying Officer Koeberich was later killed in a Royal Air Force air raid at Quakenbruch on Easter Sunday in 1944, when a bomb struck the air raid shelter he was in and the roof collapsed on him.

Our two injured crew members were taken to hospital but when I asked for some treatment I was ignored and this was repeated at each of the camps in which I was later interned. I cannot explain the reason for this but I was told on capture that as an Australian I had no right to be involved in this war. My injuries were not severe but treatment would have been beneficial. I had a broken collarbone, a broken nose, small fragments of shrapnel in my right thigh, Perspex splinters in my face, burns to face and hands and some damage to my knees. The two injured crew members were repatriated during 1943 in a prisoner exchange.

The pilot and I were transferred to Frankfurt for intensive interrogation and while there a bomb was dropped on the camp which destroyed some of the perimeter fencing, which caused a fair amount of excitement amongst the Germans. During the period of three days, I was locked in a room containing a bed, a table and a chair and waited for the interrogator. I was lucky enough to find a piece of a needle and a small piece of mirror. With these implements I passed the time digging out the Perspex splinters from my face.

We were then sent to Stalag Luft 3 passing through Hamburg. While on the platform, waiting for the train, we were joined by other prisoners and when the train pulled into the platform and we started to embark, the crowd on the platform which was now fairly large, started to push forward towards us which looked fairly dangerous. Our two guards pushed us into the carriage, jumped in and slammed the door behind them. They then made a great show of the fact that they were armed. Fortunately, the train left without delay.

Some distance from the station we saw evidence of airmen having been murdered. We arrived in Sagen and except for some prisoners from other camps who were to act as cooks we were the first batch in this camp. We spent about a year in this camp and were then transferred to Heyderkrug Stalag Luft 6 near the Baltic coast. After being sent to several other camps we finished up at Fallingsbostel and later were sent on a forced march, ostensibly to Lubeck. This was terminated after some weeks when we made contact with the British flying column who brought in some arms. I eventually returned to England on 7 May, 1945 in time to celebrate the end of the war.

As previously mentioned we were the first prisoners to go to Stalag Luft III but soon prisoners from other camps started to arrive and with the increased number of aircrew being shot down due to the escalating number of aircraft being used in each raid, it was not long before the camp was officially full.

At this time the camp consisted of only one compound in which prisoners were housed and a large compound for the administration block. The camp had been carved out of a pine plantation and the vorlager was still littered with stumps where the trees had been felled. Other huts were built until the maximum was reached. This left only enough room for a parade ground where the twice daily counts were conducted.

The huts were designed to hold about 100 prisoners in each and were divided into two rooms. The only furniture consisted of two-tier beds originally fitted with full sets of bed boards on which were placed mattresses filled with straw, often wet. By direct order from the Chief of the Luftwaffe, Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, we were not permitted to leave the camp for any purpose including working on farms. The concentration, therefore, became fixed on the food we would eat when we got back home and the method we could use to accomplish this. Many harebrained schemes were put forward in all sincerity but in most cases the proponents were persuaded not to try.

One aspect of this, however, probably had some good effect. Realising that any successful escape must involve a great deal of walking, many of us decided to exercise as much as possible and as the only method available to us was walking, we took this up. Due to the large number of men wishing to walk on the one available track which was around the perimeter fence, keeping clear of the warning rail, it was agreed that we would walk using only left-hand circuits (all turns are to the left). I should mention that to cross the warning rail was tantamount to suicide as the guards had instructions to shoot for any infraction of this regulation. We had a good respect for their ability to hit their target with either a rifle or machine gun so we did not take any chances. They had to attend weekly shooting practice on the practice range which was placed within easy earshot of our compound probably as a warning. Our ambition was to walk 30 kilometres which was considered the distance we would have to travel at least in the first day and probably on some subsequent days if we succeeded in escaping. This remained an ambition for most of our time but as the effects of restricted diet took effect it seemed more like a pipe-dream.

We were provided with personal washing facilities which consisted of a double-sided trough with a pipe in the middle holding a number of taps. It will be appreciated that a lot of water was spilt on the floor through this method and in the winter months the water froze making a hump of up to thirty centimetres in height, which made it quite difficult to use.

After some months in this camp we were attacked by hordes of fleas and it became a daily ritual to search the blankets and exterminate the pests. After some time of enduring this, we were shepherded to a formerly forbidden area of the camp and into a delousing facility. In this building were clothes racks on wheels and we quickly stripped off and placed our clothes on them. They were then wheeled into what I can only describe as an oven. We were permitted to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower - the first in a long time. We all agreed that this was the most enjoyable way of combating the attentions of fleas. Having been established, this procedure was repeated at irregular intervals.

We had little to do so boredom became a serious problem. On one occasion we were offered the chance to help remove the stumps of the pine trees displaced by the building of the camp which was, of course, due for extension. The Germans had dug out most of the sand from the stumps and our task was to lift the stumps out of the ground and onto a cart. We worked in teams of six and were provided with a tool referred to, almost reverently, as die maschine. I think it was designed by da Vinci and consisted of a pine log tripod with two lever, or handles, attached to it. A sling was attached to the stump and connected to hooks on the handles. With three of us on each handle the work was not very strenuous. We were paid for this engineering feat in what was known as lager geld, which was acceptable only in the canteen for the German troops and then only for specified articles.

One task we were to perform was to peel the vegetables for the daily soup. These were almost invariably potatoes which had spent the winter stored in the underground clamps. A great deal of the potatoes was wasted because of this which allowed the potatoes to rot. The main addition to this was mangelwurzels which are an oversize swede-turnip grown for cattle food.

Most of the ground around the huts was taken up by very small garden plots in which the owners spent a disproportionate amount of time but they still made a valuable contribution, firstly, in providing some interest and secondly, as a cover for the tunnels attempted. One of these was a garden about one and a half metres square, covered by a wooden board on which the plants were growing. The whole garden was lifted up, the operator slipped underneath and the garden replaced. Unfortunately, this was not a successful attempt. A number of such schemes were attempted but none reached more than halfway between the warning rail and the perimeter fence. If my memory is to be relied upon, this would equate to about seven metres of tunnel which, considering the difficulties faced, was quite a creditable effort. The worst feature of all this tunnelling was the fact that because the soil was impoverished sand it was vital to shore up the tunnel even over relatively short distances and the only suitable material was our bed boards. It was decided that a total of five boards would support a man's weight and from then on our beds were slightly less comfortable and this situation continued in each camp.

It may be of interest that this was the camp from which a mass escape was made and on which the American film "The Great Escape" was loosely based. A few weeks before this escape was made we were transferred to Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug which was situated not a great distance from Königsberg which gave us all the hope that it might be possible to board one of the ferries to get to Sweden.

After a short period of settling in we were paraded and an announcement made by the Camp Commandant that the escape from Sagen had been made and that in recapturing them, some of the prisoners had been shot. This, of course, caused a strong reaction for which the guards were prepared. They had been reinforced and our demonstration was quickly stifled by some manhandling.

This camp, probably because of the more severe weather conditions, had brick buildings and even a shower block. Each building held about 50 prisoners in one room. A heating stove was provided but no fuel.

Each morning we gathered at the main gate to see the new prisoners coming in. One day I saw in the group a friend whom I made at OTU (Operational Training Unit). The new prisoner was Vic Oliver, who was an instructor when I met him, resting after completing a tour of operations in which he earned a DFM. He was a talented pianist and a keen music lover and we stayed together until the war ended and he shared my unorthodox return to Britain, which is described later.

While at Sagen I saw my first game of rugby and was later pushed into playing. I did not know the rules or objectives but received a short verbal instruction session. I do not remember the name of the position I was allotted but I do remember I was in the 'scrum', which I found very uncomfortable. Towards the end of the game all action stopped and we found that one of the players had broken his leg and was being carried off the field. This ended the game and my participation in rugby for the future. To be injured in this place was a disaster as even small wounds took a long time to heal.

One story is that of a young Polish pilot who had joined the RAF in a Polish squadron after the German occupation. He was subjected to a considerable amount of enticement and threats to encourage him to join the Luftwaffe. His parents were reputed to live about twelve miles from the camp. He was promised almost unlimited visiting privileges but did not waver in his refusal which, considering the state of hostilities was a very courageous stance.

One of the saddest stories is that of an 18 years old gunner. He had joined the regular RAF and on 3rd September, 1939 was sent on a raid on a city in France. He was shot down and spent a considerable time as a prisoner. The trauma proved too much for him and his mental control was affected. We tried to have him included in the prisoner exchange which was carried out in 1943. I am not sure whether he was included but I believe he was as I did not see him after that time.

At each of the camps in which I was held someone had managed to create a radio on which we were able to receive the BBC news. In addition, we were told the German version of the progress of the war and we were, therefore, able to put together what we thought was a reasonable assessment.

At Heydekrug we were permitted to transform one of the wooden buildings into a theatre. We all laboured hard to do this. By working on this project we were able to steal some of the wood off-cuts which we used in our "blowers" to heat water to make tea. The apparatus was really a small forge made from food tins and with a belt-driven fan they were very efficient and boiled a 'billy' with very little fuel.

The theatre, however, was intended, in part, to deflect unwanted attention from the search for the radio. Because the local Gestapo had taken over camp searches, the possession of a radio could have had dire consequences so it was decided to burn down the theatre. This occurred late at night and although the German guards tried to extinguish the fire they could not and we were called upon to join the bucket chain. The search for the radio became less intense although regular searches of barracks and personnel continued.

There was a game which was played, as in other camps, where inmates, after being counted, would move to another group to be counted a second time. One night the parade went for an extra two hours much to the chagrin of our guards. When the count exceeded the full complement of the camp we considered we were victorious. This game rebounded on us the next day when the local Gestapo took over the count. During this period the barracks were minutely searched and we spent about eight hours standing in snow waiting to be dismissed. In order to fill in the waiting time, I engaged in conversation with one of the guards to discover his version of the state of the war. This was a complete failure but produced some humour. He was upset about the poor performance of their Italian allies and suggested that if our side would accept them as allies the Germans could win the war.

On a later search we were taken to a Gestapo colonel for interrogation and personal search and to show his authority he broke my last two cigarettes and threw them out on the pretext that I might have had a compass hidden in them. This wanton provocation made me lose my temper and I protested rather loudly for which I was hit from behind and commenced serving seven days solitary confinement in the camp "cooler".

One morning one of the guards in a postern tower heard that his family had been killed in an air raid the previous night and he opened fire with his machine gun. A number of near misses occurred but I did not hear of any casualties.

The impossible escape ideas still came up. While walking just before dusk I saw two of our number lying in a shallow creek which ran through one end of the compound. They had the intention of digging under the fence after dark, fortunately, they were persuaded to give up the attempt.

One of the English prisoners had apparently spent a considerable amount of time in pre-war Germany and could speak the language well enough to pass as one of them. I do not recall his name but he seemed to be able to go out and in at will. On one occasion he agreed to escape and gather information to help an escape bid and then return. He later vanished from the camp and enquiries elicited the statement that he had been sent to a holiday camp - a statement that left us full of foreboding.

After about twelve months at this camp we were transferred to another in Thorn in Poland. Transport was in the usual horse boxes which were always labelled '40 hommes-10 horses'. These railway vehicles were divided into three sections, the end ones for the horses and the middle for their attendants, in our case, for the guards. The wagons were built with rather heavy planks with a gap of about 75mms between them. The wagons were not sufficiently wide to allow us to lie down straight and so were rather uncomfortable.

When entering Thorn railway yards I was dismayed to see groups of women under guard and re-ballasting the tracks. This involved using picks and shovels. By the way they swung the picks they must have been in great fear.

On arrival at the camp we were ushered into a reception area which was filled with three-tier beds and wet straw mattresses. We were, however, only kept in that place for a few days and were then transferred to our new homes. We discovered that a large number of Australians (AIF members) were being held here and I even met one who was a friend of my future wife. My stay in that camp convinced me we were bringing a lot of trouble on ourselves by our actions.

We had been told in England that if we became prisoners we were to attempt to escape if possible and to cause enough trouble to ensure that as many of the German forces as possible were required as guards and I believe we all followed this course fairly successfully.

The practice of locating Prisoner of War camps next to service establishments was followed and at Sagen we must have been next to a Luftwaffe camp charged with testing new models of aircraft. One ME110 used to make an extremely low-level pass over our camp each morning until an idiot threw stones and eventually hit the aircraft. This could have resulted in a large number of casualties as most of us were out waving encouragement to the pilot. We were later privileged to see testing of other models, such as, the new two-engined super dive bomber.

At another camp (probably Fallingbostel) we were next to a rocket testing site. These were not the big ones like the V1 and V2 rockets but rather limited to about 1.0 to 1.5 metres in length. There seemed to be a problem with steering as large numbers careered wildly on the way up and crashed back to earth - fortunately not in our camp.

Events of great interest were the sight of Mosquito aircraft being pursued by German fighters and relying purely on their superior speed to escape. A similar occurrence was sighted when our first jets showed a clean pair of heels to the FW190's (Focke-Wulff 190's), which were probably the best of the German fighters.

Some time later we were transferred again, this time to Fallingbostel. The camp was not very different to others and had brick buildings. The interesting item was the small road roller used to collapse tunnels. However, the distance was too great from buildings to the fence and to my knowledge only one succeeded in reaching this distance and was collapsed. Another radio operated in this camp and our spirits soared and sank as the fortunes of war changed.

One aspect of prison life which was not too pleasant was the use of guard dogs to enforce orders. This was more prevalent after the daylight raids on Germany commenced. We were supposed to proceed to our barracks and not make any gestures which could be interpreted as signals to the aircraft. After shouted orders followed by threats with rifles, the dogs would be let loose which had an immediate effect with prisoners running madly for shelter.

The trip to Fallingbostel turned out to be an interesting interlude. We were crowded into the usual horse wagons and at one station, which had a large marshalling yard, we stopped and the guards left the train. Naturally we tried to assess the chances of getting away but as some of our members tried to open the wire doors we discovered that each wagon was guarded by a young soldier equipped with a sub-machine gun. An ambulance train carrying many Red Crosses passed us heading in the opposite direction and the inmates appeared to be very fit to our eyes.

Shortly after this we were attacked by three American Lockheed 'Lightning' aircraft. I was climbing the wall for a better view when firing started and dived for the floor. A number of nasty holes appeared in the walls but we decided we were probably not the prime target as on the second set of rails from us stood a train of fuel tankers some of which were burning.

Later that day as the temperature started to drop we stopped to cross another train heading in the opposite direction to us. As this train neared we heard the most unearthly sound, which was spine tingling. The train consisted of steel wagons covered in pig netting and the noise was made by Frenchmen being transported as slave labourers to Germany and were crying for help to relieve their sufferings. We could do nothing for them but their cries gave me nightmares for some years after the war. I cannot imagine how many were in the wagons and how many could have survived the night.

From the camp at Fallingbostel we were able to hear the sound of the canon at the time the crossing of the Rhine was being pursued. This continued day and night for some days and when we found out the attempt had been successful we were elated.

About this time the Germans apparently decided we were of some value to them and arranged an evacuation. We were to travel by train to Lubeck but when we arrived in Hamburg a large air raid was in progress which did considerable damage to buildings and railways. As our train could not proceed we were required to finish the journey on foot. Our route is now a mystery to me but I do remember passing through Schleswig-Holstein and days later crossing the river Elbe by ferry which looked like a small landing barge. During this embarkation of about 100 prisoners, two British aircraft appeared. They came down low but did not fire, much to our relief. We then walked about 30 kms per day sleeping in barns on farms each night. We did, however, have a rest day on Sundays. Our biggest fear was that of being 'strafed' by British aircraft and indeed this happened to the group which left after ours. We did, however, become adept at diving into the ditches on each side of the road.

Early in the march most of us suffered from an internal complaint which struck suddenly and left no time to seek a suitable location. The first two casualties occurred one morning and they dropped behind. Two guards stayed with them but I do not remember them ever rejoining the party.

My own case was more amusing. We had stopped in a barnyard and dug a hole. There was no cover so the hole was in plain view from the road. While I was using this convenience two girls drove up in a wagon of potatoes and waved quite vigorously. They were not in a hurry and were quite happy to stay and talk to the group.

Later in the march some of the guards left us, apparently deserting military service. The sergeant in-charge managed to obtain bread at each town except for one which gave him flour, which we could not cook and so we went hungry.

One night, while being overcome with an attack of our illness, I shot out of the tent we were using, dived underneath the bayonet of the guard and went to the hole. He followed me and when he saw what was happening he left me alone. I did not return but decided to try to escape which, considering our condition and location, was a very stupid choice. When daylight returned I found myself in another farmyard which sported an extremely large clump of what looked like rhubarb. I decided to hide in them until I planned my next move.

There was a fairly large building about 250-300 metres away with two farm wagons outside - these were drawn by the usual one horse and one cow. Soon a number of men started loading the wagons with objects brought from the building. From my position, and considering the manner in which the objects were thrown onto the wagons, I decided they were human bodies. I have not been able to confirm this conclusion but it gave me a great deal of concern at the time. I then decided to rejoin our party if I could find a way to do so without being shot. Fortunately I was successful, thanks to the cooperation of the members of our group.

My memory says we continued to walk east for some time, probably two to three weeks, when a guard to whom I was talking made the comment "Tomorrow, we will be the prisoners and you the guards". Despite my probing he would say no more. By some means which I cannot describe, we found out that a flying column was approaching and that the army would not be too far behind.

Early the next morning we took off through the 'bush' and made contact with a jeep containing a British Lieutenant and a corporal who advised us to return to camp and that they would come the next morning and bring some arms. They kept their promise and appeared with six rifles. This was sufficient as our guards were ready to surrender and no other military personnel were too close. All this occurred on 2nd May, 1945. We were not far from town and a group of five of us joined forces and walked. The name of the town eludes me.

When we arrived in town we looked for accommodation and transport but we found only the former. A large building of apartments seemed to contain only women and when we explained our situation as being escaped prisoners of war, a number of the women appeared afraid of us, which was, of course, understandable. After some talk they seemed to accept our assurance that we meant them no harm. One of them, after discussion with her neighbours moved her things to the next apartment and lent us hers for the night. These women told us they were the widows of German soldiers killed in Stalingrad. I do not know if this was correct and some other explanations for a large number of women in a building circulated.

However, they adapted to the situation and in the apartment we were actually cooked bacon and eggs. In return I gave the woman some tins of German rations that I had acquired. As we drifted into town we found that some British soldiers had set up a sort of canteen and served hot tea and white bread and butter. When I saw the white bread I thought it was sponge cake and ate half of it before I realised I could have put butter on it.

Next morning we again looked for transport and despite several attempts could not find a vehicle good enough. Then I discovered an American major who seemed to be organising traffic movements and, at my request, told me to take a German motor truck parked on the road. It was, to my eyes, a massive vehicle needing five steps to the cab and room to sit five across. The largest vehicle I had ever driven was a three-ton Bedford. When I started driving out of town I discovered a lot of other ex-prisoners looking for a way out and before long the truck was full. I did not count the number of passengers but it seemed to be a full load. At this time we discovered we had been given a ration truck which was full of edibles. Our passengers were good providers and were divided into groups to look for liquor and fuel and they were quite successful.

The road was crowded with traffic but we were impeded only at a few spots. At one of these an ambulance pulled alongside us and in starting collided with us and tore out the side of the ambulance. When the American officer, who was trying to keep traffic flowing, investigated the damage, he found that the only occupants were two high-ranking Germans trying to get away.

We eventually arrived back at the Elbe River and had to say goodbye to our truck because the original bridges had been destroyed and were temporarily replaced by Bailey Bridges, which would not carry the load. We caught a ride on a jeep and it is still a mystery how the driver could have seen his way. We had men on the bonnet and others everywhere they could find a hand-hold.

Across the river we found a reception area where we stayed the night and embarked on a British truck for the next stage westward. At the end of the journey we saw our accommodation - there were hundreds of little tents in a paddock. Our group now consisted of only Vic Oliver and myself and we decided that as we required medical attention for some obscure stomach affliction, we would take off on our own. This we did and rode on all sorts of military vehicles including tank carriers and ate at any army establishment we could find.

The British soldiers were very hospitable and we were provided with food and beds. Although our clothes were disreputable we had no trouble in getting the army drivers to pick us up.

We eventually arrived in Brussels in the late afternoon and were too late to get clothing or money which I desperately needed to go into town. We then noticed a Douglas DC3 aircraft with its engines running and ready for take-off. We both ran as fast as possible and were lucky enough to reach it in time. We thus became the first of our group to reach England.

We arrived at Bishop Stortford (now renamed) and travelled to a RAF hanger where a reception was laid on and we were ushered from the bus to a de-lousing centre where we were pumped full of DDT. From this area we were met by a WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), dressed in her best, and ushered to a table. I found this a little daunting as I must have smelt of DDT and had on a pair of trousers which had a large tear in the bottom. This was, of course, the first female I had met for three years.

We were later taken to our accommodation for the night and travelled to Brighton the next day arriving in time to be issued with some clothing but too late for money. This was, of course, VE Day and big celebrations were expected.

As I left to go into town I met a New Zealand soldier who lent me £5, which we proceeded to spend. By this time we had been joined by some WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) and one or two other servicemen. We danced in the streets and drank large quantities of beer and were all very happy. The next day when entering my hotel I was confronted by my cousin whom I had not seen for some years.

We were placed on a diet guaranteed to add body weight which included a gallon (4.5 litres) of milk per day. After being on this diet for ten days I was weighed for the issue of an identity card and was amazed to find I was then 35 kilos - my normal weight was 60+kilos.

Towards the end of August 1945 we embarked on the ship 'Orion' for our return home. This ship had been completely converted to a troop ship and, therefore, provided no storage for gear and had hammocks to sleep on. This was my first experience with hammocks and I was not impressed. We travelled by way of the Panama Canal. When in mid-Pacific, the Captain announced that he had heard that the Japanese had surrendered but as he had no official orders the ship would carry on under wartime rules, which included anti-aircraft practice with rockets.

We landed in Sydney and an English officer who had been designated 'Officer Commanding Troops' issued an order that we would not be granted leave and must remain on the ship. It was later discovered that there was to be a reception at the local RAAF station, which we attended. The next day he tried to enforce his order but was unsuccessful and I met my brother for the first time in five years.

The voyage to Fremantle was quite rough but was worth the worry when we arrived to see waiting on the wharf, the welcoming party consisting of my father, mother and my future wife, Phyllis, who was still waiting for me after my absence of five years. We married in 1946, had a daughter and a son, and 56 happy years together.

My crew were:

  • F/S S.Willett DFM. pilot
  • F/S S.E.Packard
  • P/O N.Hannah
  • F/S H.S.McDonald
  • Flying Officer L.T. Manser, VC.
  • Sgt D.A.Williams RAAF
  • Sgt C.J.Scott (d. 30 April 1942)
  • Sgt C. Alf Miners. RAAF

Alf Miners



Sergeant Robert Noel Harper flt eng 50 Squadron (d.8th Jul 1944)

Robert Noel Harper was the Flight Engineer of Lancaster VN-J of 50 Sqd. This young man, aged most likely 19 years old, was killed when their Lancaster crashed on the night of July 7, 1944 with 5 of the crew. The pilot, Alan Laidlaw from Winnipeg, Manitoba was ejected from their Lancaster plane. Robert Harper is burried in France, a small village called Meslin Mauger, near Roen. Their plane was one of 31 planes shot down by the German on that night. 208 Lancasters were sent, 13 mosquitos were sent to bomb at St. Lue d'Esserent the V-1 flying bomb storage depot. This fourth attack was part of the Operation Crossbow. It was a great victory. Does anyone know anything about this young man?

The crew were:

  • P/O A.F.Laidlaw RCAF
  • Sgt R.N.Harper
  • F/S F.R.Hopkins RCAF
  • WO2 S.A.Motriuk RCAF
  • Sgt D.Austin
  • WO2 J.D.Bishop RCAF
  • Sgt P.O.K.Noren RCAF
  • Danielle Lawrence for Alain Laidlaw now 86 years old.

Danielle Lawrence



Sergeant Derrick Austin w/op 50 Squadron (d.8th Jul, 1944)

This young man, aged most likely 20 years old, crashed on the night of August 7, 1944 with 5 of the crew. The pilot, Alan Laidlaw from Winnipeg, Manitoba was ejected from their Lancaster plane. Derrick Austin is buried in France, a small village called Meslin Mauger, near Roen. Their plane was one of 31 planes shot down by the German on that night. 208 Lancaster were sent, 13 mosquitoes were sent to bomb at St. Lue d'Esserent the V-1 flying bomb storage depot. This fourth attack was part of the Operation Crossbow. It was a great victor. Danielle Lawrence for Alain Laidlaw now 86years old.

Danielle Lawrence



Pilot Officer Richard Barnes 50 Squadron

I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

Julian Barnes



Flying Officer Leslie Thomas Manser VC 50 Squadron (d.31st May 1942)

50 Squadron Manchester crashed on 30th May 1942 in occupied Belgian. It had been hit by flak over Cologne, very severely damaged and subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31May42 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. He was 20 years old.




Sergeant L H Baveystock 50 Squadron

Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd

    P/O R.J.Barnes was interned in Camp L3. PoW No.370.




  • Pilot Officer R M Horsley 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant S E King 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant B W Naylor 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301, airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant A McF Mills 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301, airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant B W Naylor 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301, airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant A McF Mills 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301, airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Sergeant S E King 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Flying Officer Leslie Thomas Manser VC 50 Squadron (d.31st May 1942)

    50 Squadron Manchester crashed on 30th May 1942 in occupied Belgian. It had been hit by flak over Cologne, very severely damaged and subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31May42 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. He was 20 years old.




    Sergeant L H Baveystock 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd

    P/O R.J.Barnes was interned in Camp L3. PoW No.370.




  • Pilot Officer R M Horsley 50 Squadron

    Manchester L7301,airborne 30th May 1942 from Skellingthorpe, was hit by flak over Cologne and very severely damaged. Subsequently abandoned by six of the crew, after which the Manchester crashed 0200 31st May 1942 into a dyke at Bree (Limburg), 21 km NNE of Genk, Belgium. The testimonies of the five evaders were instrumental in the posthumous award of the VC made to their skipper, P/O Manser.
  • P/O L.T.Manser KIA
  • P/O R.J.Barnes PoW
  • Sgt L.H.Baveystock Evd
  • P/O R.M.Horsley Evd
  • Sgt S.E.King Evd
  • Sgt A.McF Mills Evd
  • Sgt B.W.Naylor Evd




  • Pilot Officer Richard Barnes 50 Squadron

    I am the son of P/O Richard Barnes who, with his identical twin P/O Eddie Barnes, were prisoners in Stalag Luft III.

    The story of the Barnes brothers meeting each other for the first time in Stalag Luft III is described in Paul Brickhill's book "Escape to Danger" on page 111. Dick was shot down as a navigator in a 50 Squadron Manchester on 30th May 1942, the airplane crash happening in occupied Belgian. The event resulted in the pilot F/O Leslie Manser receiving a posthumous VC for holding the aircraft until the crew could bail out. Dick was captured by the Germans. Almost a year later on 5th May 1943, Dick's brother Eddie, a rear gunner of a 78 Squadron Halifax, was shot down and captured. He also arrived at Sagan and the story of the confusion and humour when Eddie arrived at the camp and was mistaken for Dick and is described in Paul Brickhill's book.

    Towards the end of the war the two brothers joined the other POWs in the long march westwards during the winter of 1944/1945 to meet up eventually with Allied forces.

    Julian Barnes



    John Bull 50 Squadron (d.12th Apr 1940)

    I am doing research into my family tree I have been contacted by a family in Australia. Their connection with my family dates back to 1691. It would be really nice to give one of his relatives now aged 35, some information regarding John Bull.

    John Bull was the son of Alfred Bull (1887-1965) and Zoe Elliott (1890- 1938). He was born in Kent Town, South Australia. He was shot down over the North Sea and from all I can find was flying in a Handley Page Hampden. He could well have an address of Norwood, South Australia, but this is a bit of a guess as it is where his parents were married in Sept 1911.

    I do know the problems you face as I am a volunteer at Chatham Historic Dockyard, and having served in the Royal Navy I am often confronted with people who think that records were always up to date and exact. If only! Thanks in anticipation.

    Update:

    RAF Losses record that the Hampden, L4064, which had been converted as a Torpedo Bomber, took off at 08:15 from Waddington to attack shipping which was reported in Kristiansand harbour. They reported as having ditched at 14:20, 120 miles East of Newcastle and it is believed that the crew managed to get into their dinghy, but despite an extensive search no trace was found. Sgt Nevinson's body was later washed ashore and he was buried in the Kiel War Cemetery, the remainder have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

    The crew were:

    • P/O J.B.Bull
    • P/O A.D.Pilcher
    • Sgt W.S.Nevinson
    • Cpl W.H.G.Evans

    John Keeling



    Donald Ballantyne 50 Squadron

    My father was a member of 50 Squadren. I'm going through a few of huis things and have found some maps of bombing raids also a map of the U S. Maybe where they stayed while in service. Not quite sure what you are looking for so if you could tell me I will try to find out more. Thank you. Looking forward to hearing from you .

    S A Bertram



    Alfred Joseph William "Micky" Pate 50 Squadron

    My Father served with 50 Squadron somewhere between 1940 and 1945. I remember when I was young he used to tell me about the crew of his Lancaster (Q Queenie), which was piloted by an officer from Canada or New Zealand, going out to the aircraft for missions piled on a convertible sports car, which had so many crew on it that whoever was seated on the front would shout directions and use their arms to direct the driver to the aircraft. I would love to hear from anyone who can tell me more about my father's time on the Lancasters as he died very suddenly at age 59 (in 1980). His birthday was 26th October 1941 and I am not sure if he had his nickname in the RAF or after it. He was a very good footballer and cricketer and I believe he played for the RAF or station team in football, which he carried on playing after his RAF discharge.

    Unfortunately none of his information from his RAF days has survived him. I have recorded his rank above as A/E as I remeber seeing this on a book of some description he had from his RAF days when I was very young, and the job Aeronautical Engineer is also very familiar to me. (I followed my father's footsteps into the RAF, serving from 1970 - 1974 as an Assistant Air Traffic Controller at Northolt and Bruggen. They proved to be 4 of the happiest years of my life.)

    I have a photo which I will scan and forward later, of my father in uniform. Head and shoulders only. Many thanks

    Susan Bricknell-Sproston



    F/O Donald Grant 50 Sqd

    I have been left my uncle Donald Grant's RAF navigator's air bomber's and air gunner's flying log book.

    I found reading it really interesting, not just because he was my uncle, but the details of training, bombing raids and the eventual winding down of the war in Europe and return to peacetime.

    At the start of his log he writes; After retreat to Dunkirk with 6th Gordons in 1940, volunteered for 9th Gordons but was sent to 1st Bn London Scottish in Kent, July 1940, saw "Battle of Britain" dog fights every day. Hated London Scottish, crazy about bayonet practice. I volunteered for commandos and airborne troops.

    However, how he ended up in the RAF is a mystery. The log goes on though his training as, Wireless operator, Air gunner and Signals leader. It goes on to list all his ops, targets, aircraft, successes and failures.

    On his third ops on 29th May 1943, he writes; Wuppertal, bloody shaky do, back on 2 engines, caught by searchlights over Cologne. First one engine hit by flak and knocked out, 2nd engine caught fire over North Sea - terrific flames. Pilot told us to fix on our 'shutes and be ready to bail out. Dived plane for at least 5000ft and fortunately fire went out.

    My uncle went on to be on 32 bombing ops in total and survived the war and passed away only a few years ago. I hope many other people find this as interesting as I have. If I can help give anyone information from this logbook please contact me.

    Donald Grant Summerd Hill



    F/O John Shirley Bunbury 50 Squadron (d.17th Aug 1942)

    John Bunbury was I believe a member of 50 Squadron. He had been shot down and ended in the Corbett Hospital in Stourbridge, Worcestershire. He was befriended by my parents. He returned to duty when recovered but unfortuately was lost on the 17th of August 1942

    Robert Matthews



    Sqd.Ldr. Jerrold Ronald Fleming 50 Squadron

    My father joined the RAAF in 1928 and served at both Point Cook (Vic) and Richmond (NSW) before being sent to the Staff College at Andover. From Andover he was posted to 50 Sqd. at Waddington at the beginning of 1939; in August he and my mother were en route to France for his annual leave, and I can remember their rapid return with war imminent. My mother recalled lying awake at night counting the departing bombers and waiting to count their returning. He then had a staff posting for 1940, and returned to Australia at the beginning of 1941.

    Brian Fleming



    F/O. Adrian Home Nisbet DFC. 50 Squadron.

    Adrian Nisbet was commissioned as a Flying Officer & transferred to England where he received further pilot training on Lancasters. He was posted to 50th Squadron and t ook part in raids over cities such as Berlin & Dresden. In July 1945 his contribution as a pilot was recognised & he was awarded the DFC, His citation reads :- "For skill and fortitude in operations against the enemy."

    Christina Gifford



    Sgt. David McDougal Buchan 50 Squadron

    My Uncle, Sgt David McDougal Buchan, was a Navigator serving with 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe.   

    David and his crew.

    Scan of a letter received from Skellingthorpe

    David William Buchan



    Flt.Sgt. Arthur John Weber 50 Squadron (d.13th Jun 1943)

    John Weber was my wife's cousin. He was an old boy of Bembridge School on the Isle of White and his name also appears on their war memorial.

    Dick Wingrove



    Flt.Sgt. Stanley R. Frith 50 Squadron (d.30th Aug 1944)

    A good friend of my family had a brother Stanley R Frith who flew with 50 Squadron. He was killed August 30th 1944. He was an Air Gunner. My friend has no idea where his brother was when he went down or what he was doing. It would be helpful for him to know.

    T. McIsaac



    F/Sgt. David William McCray 50 Squadron. (d.17th Dec 1944)

    I have been researching F/Sgt McCray for my Australian relatives as they believe that his name may be spelt wrongly in the memorial books in Lincoln Cathedral which I will return to in a moment. My distant cousin, David McCray, was a member of 50 Sqd in 1944. He was Navigator on Lancaster LM676, VN-W. which took off from Skellingthorpe at 1615 hrs on the night of 17/18th December 1944.

    The Crew was

    • P/O R E Amey DFC (Pilot)
    • Sgt F Livesey (Flight eng)
    • F/Sgt D W McCray (Navigator)
    • F/O D R Kennedy (Air Bomber)
    • F/Sgt G W Lane DFM (Wireless opp air)
    • Sgt M J Cook (Mid Upper Gunner)
    • Sgt R Shackelton (Rear Gunner)
    The RAAR records show that the Lancaster was detailed to bomb Munich. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that the aircraft crashed at 2200hrs on the 17th December 1944 at Freimann Barracks Munich. Five of the crew, including David, were killed in the crash and two P/O Amey and Sgt Livesey survived the crash and were POWs. The five who lost there lives are buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery 48 km south of Munich. P/O Amey was wounded and sadly died of his wounds in hospital on 31st December 1944. Sgt Livesey stated in a report that the aircraft crashed near to the target and both he and P/O Amey were blown out by the explosion.

    Now we come to the spelling bit. On a trip by John McCray (David's Brother) to the War Grave in Durnbach it was noted that David’s surname had been spelt wrongly as "Mcgray" this has now been rectified. John also attended the unveiling ceremony of the memorial in Skellingthorpe with his wife Eva and learned of the memorial books at Lincoln Cathedral but they were unable to go there to see. Now John is unable to travel and he has asked me to try to find out if David’s name has been spelt correctly in the memorial books. I would be very grateful if anyone could give me any info regarding F/Sgt David McCray or Sgt Livesey.

    Tim Robson



    Sqd.Ldr. James Phillip Farrow 692 Squadron.

    My Dad, Sqd Leader James Phillip Farrow (RNZAF), flew with 50 Sqd not long after his arrival from the training he received in Canada sometime in either 1940/42. He was at that time a Sergeant. I would like to find out more about 50 squadron, as Phil passed away last year and I never really asked him anything about this Sqd. I think he must have been flying Hampton's, as he was next sent to 408 Canadian Sqd (Goose Sqd). I realise that many of my dad’s mates may have passed on as he has, but one never knows. He did end up flying Mosies with 692 Sqd

    Jeff Farrow



    Ronald Marlow 50 Squadron.

    My grandfather, Ronald Marlow, was a rear air gunner with 50 Squadron Lancaster Bomber and 466 Squadron (an Australian squadron) during the War. He flew many missions to Stuttgart, Hamburg the Rhine etc. He is alive and well and remains very patriotic to Bomber Command.

    Carol Francis



    Sgt. William John Faulkner 50 Squadron. (d.30th Aug 1944)

    William Faulkner was my mother's cousin who served with 50 Squadron. Unfortunately, we have no further information and would like to know more if any such information is available, can anyone help?

    Edward Barbour



    Sgt. Eugene Patrick "Jimmy" Collins 50 Squadron

    I am sorry I don't have much of a story about my Dad's war experiences, except to know he was very young, very brave and served as a rear gunner. His name was Eugene Collins, known as Jimmy or Owen. I am trying to piece together any info I can find about him, even if he should have had any medals.

    Veronica Hagues



    Reginald Morris Nash MID 57 Squadron

    My dad, Reginald Nash did not talk very much about his war time experiences but I inherited from my mother, who died recently, my dad's wartime 'stuff' including his flying log.

    He qualified as flight engineer with effect from 8th of October 1942 and as flight engineer with effect from 24th of May 1944. He began operational duties on the night of 13th of February 1943 from Scampton with a sortie on Lorient in France. Throughout his time with the 57 squadron during 1943 he flew 29 successful sorties with 1 abort mostly over German cities.

    Some of the sorties were recorded as eventfull:

    • 8th July 1943, aircraft attacked over target (Cologne) by junkers 88, mid upper gunner killed, enemy aircraft destroyed by rear gunner.
    • 13th May 1943, Skoda arms works Pilsen, aircraft attacked by 2 Junkers 88s.
    • 3rd Apr 1943 Duisberg, rear gunner unconcious.
    • 12th May 1943 Duisberg, 'heaviest raid of war to date'.

    My Dad's pilot on most of the ops was Flt Lt Greig but I note that he flew 3 ops with Flt Lt Astell in Feb 43 who, I believe, was killed on the Dambusters raid.

    My dad then flew a limited number of operations during 1944 with 50 squadron and his last sortie of the war was on the 6th of May 1945 'Operation Exodus' to Brussels to transport POW's.

    My dad was at 97 Squadron Woodhall Spa from Oct42 to Jan43. Then 57 Squadron Scampton to Aug43; then 1660 conversion unit Swinderby to Aug 1944 and finished the war with 50 squadron based at Skellingthorpe. The aircraft types flown seems to have been almost everything the RAF had in service, Lancaster, Halifax, Sterling, Manchester and Oxford. In total my Dad flew 228hrs at night and 174.25 daytime and he survived without a scratch or being a POW.

    He was released from service on the 4th of September 1945. He had met my mother whilst doing his leaders coarse at St Athan and they married in Penarth on the 30th of September 1944. After the War my Dad joined BOAC then BA based at their engine overhaul site in Treforest near Pontypridd, South Wales as a Production Engineer before his retirement in 1975.

    He was, as well, for a number of years, President of the Penarth RAFA and I remember one of their guests at an annual dinner was W/Comdr Barder. There are many programmes on the TV these days about WW2 and now that I am custodion of some of my dad's wartime memories and know a lot more than I did I feel a real connection with those times. I am very proud of my dad's courage and achievements and I regret not finding out more of what it must have been like for him and thousands more of his generation when he was alive. Maybe he was embarassed with all the controversey over the tactics used by Bomber Command but I am pleased that at long last their sacrifice has finally been recognised and so would have my Dad.

    David. B. Nash



    Flt.Sgt Denys William Lewis 50 Squadron

    Denys William Lewis was a Flight Sergeant in 50 Squadron and was posted missing after the 21st February 1945. The telegram was sent to his mother telling them he was missing after air operations. On the 25th February 1945 they had a second telegram telling them that he was safe and back in the UK. The family suggest he had bailed out over Holland and came back across the North Sea. Can anyone tell me what operations he was on that night?

    Peter Garwood



    Sgt. David John Poole 50 Sqd. (d.24th Dec 1943)

    My Uncle was stationed at RAF Skellingthorpe with 50 Squadron. He was Sgt David John Poole (W.Op/Air Gunner) Aged 23 yrs. His Lancaster was brought down over Hanover on 24 December 1943 and he is buried in a War Grave in Hanover War Cemetery - section 5, row D, grave 13. His widow re-married in the 1950's and is still alive today. David was loved and missed for many years by all who knew him.

    Elaine Sayer



    WO Alfred Pate 50 Squadron

    My father Alfred Pate flew wth 50 Squadron, at the latter end of WW2. I would love to know who his crew was and where they flew from. I have vague memories of him mentioning being on the Ark Royal at one stage. I have found very little in the archives and I wonder whether because of the vast numbers involved in the bombing raids, and the turnover of crews and planes, there are records missing. I would be grateful for any information at all on my dad's time as I know that for all they were scary, he loved his time in the service.

    Susan Bricknell-Sproston



    W/O Cecil Newman DFC 50 Sqd.

    My Uncle, Cecil Newman, was a rear gunner with 50 and 635 squadrons, he was decorated with the D.F.C. He survived the war but passed away several years ago whilst living in Marsden near South Shields. Any information and further contacts would be gratefully received.

    Vaughn Dearling



    A/Fl.Lt George A. Wilkins DFC. 50 Squadron

    My second cousin George Wilkins flew with 50 Squadron, his DFC was cited in the Times on the 21st of October 1942.

    Marguerite Heppell



    Sgt. Robert John S. Ross 50 Squadron

    My Dad Robert Ross, joined the RAF in 1943 and mustered out in 1946. While he never really talked about his war efforts but one could tell he was very proud to have served and happy to be alive to not talk about it. After various aircraft and bases Dad ended his war service as a young 20 year old tail gunner on a Lancaster so I can understand his feeling. I write this to share with others what he did write down.

    He trained in 14943 at McDonald, Gunnery Training School, Manitoba Canada, his log records 20 Flights on Blenhiems - Duration 13/4 each for 3 weeks. He then moved on to the Gunnery and Navigation Training Wing in Linchonshire England, having Approx 30 Trips Average 3 Hrs over 5 Weeks, flying Wellington's This was also the Crew Gathering Unit . His Familiarization Training was at Relfor,d Lincolnshire England with Conversion to Lancaster Bombers to become familiar with Flight Controls of the Aircraft, Nav and Wireless EG and Hydralic Gun Turrents for 6 weeks. His crew then went operational at RAF Skellingthorpe - York England with 50 Squadron Bomber Command. Targets were: Berlin, Brenem, Dresden, Lupzieg, Dusseldorf, Kruptworks, Hamburg, Luxemburg, Stuttgart, Calongne, and Brussels. Canadian Military Records indicate he TOS 50 sqn and 53 base 31-3-45 and SOS 50 sqn 1-6-45 and then TOS 433 sqn 29-6-45 and SOS 433 sqn 7-7-45 before beginning the process of going back to Canada.

    I do have but one photo of Dad and if anyone recognizes any of the other lads I would appreciate your contacting me. Helps put the story together.Dad is the lad in the back row on the right in light coloured trousers.

    Derwyn Ross



    Sgt. Harold Knight Air Gunner 50 Squadron (d.17 April 1942)

    Harold Knight was my uncle. In civilian life he was a ladies hairdresser at 3 High Street, Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire. His home town was Oldham, Lancashire. He was killed on the night of 17/18 April 1942. He was part of the crew of a Manchester 1 bomber serial R5782, code VN. Their objective was to bomb Hamburg. They took off at 2340 hours from RAF Skellingthorpe and crashed at 0335 hours on the southern edge of the Tangstedter Staatsforst, Km southwest of Tangstedt. The crew were:
    • P/O G. Baker Killed
    • F/S C. B. Mackenzie RNZAF pow camp 357 (Stalag Kopernikus), pow number 169
    • Sgt F. J. S. Pearce RCF pow Stalag Luft 4 (Sagan & Bearia) pow number39630
    • Sgt R. B. Dawson pow Stalag Luft 3 (Sagan & Belaria) pow number 151
    • F/S A. T. Griffiths pow, Stalag Luft 6 (Heydekrug) pow number 159
    • Sgt S. Cranford pow camp 357 (Stalag Kernkus)pow number 147
    • Sgt H. Knight Killed
    The two crew members killed were buried in Utersen cemetery. They were later moved to a British Military Cemetery at Ohlsdorf, Hamburg Their grave is No 5, Row f, Plot No IV

    Connie Dores



    Sgt. Edgar James Andrews 50 Sqdn (d.15th Oct 1940)

    Edgar Andrews took off from RAF Lindholme in Handley Page Hampden X2993 c/s VN-T. Mission, to bomb Berlin, but was shot down by a nightfighter near Kalbe (between Hannover and Berlin). P/O Davies was also killed but Sgts Hurrell and Lee were taken prisoner and survived the war and eventually were repatriated. They were shot down by Hauptmann Werner Streib commanding 1/NJG 1 at 03.05 hrs

    Tony Pringle



    W/O Robert McCallum Air Gunner 50 Sqn/630 Sqn/44 Sqn

    Robert 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 Munson

    Nic



    Sgt. Albert William "Sonny" Green 50 Squadron

    My grandad, Albert Green, known as Sonny, was in 50 Sqn. based at Skellingthorpe. His plane was NF918 VN F, which went to VN N afterwards and sadly lost on a raid on a oil refinery in Bohlen on 6th March 1945. He was a rear gunner.




    Flt.Sgt. Robert Craig 50th Squadron (d.25th July 1944)

    My dad's older brother, Robert Craig, was killed in action on the 25th July, 1944 at the age of 19 years. My dad was only 13 years when his big brother was killed. He obviously found it difficult to talk about but he did tell me some things about him. Recently I have been trying to find out more about what happened all those years ago (nearly 70 years). I have discovered that he was a flight engineer on a Lancaster bomber and most of the other crew members were from the Canadian Air Force. They were based in RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincoln.

    Unfortunately, all crew members lost their lives on their first mission to bomb an oil refinery in Donges, France. They crashed in Pontchateau, Nothern France and are all buried in a collective grave.

    • P/O C.B.Haaland. RCAF
    • Flt.Sgt. R.Craig RAF
    • Sgt. J.L.Nelson RCAF
    • F/O S.J.Sulliven RCAF
    • Sgt. W.J.B.Doughty RAF
    • Sgt. N. Gronbeck RCAF
    • Sgt. G.F.Finch RCAF

    For my dad, who is now deceased, I plan to visit Skellingthorpe next year for the 70th anniversary and later in the year I hope to visit France to pay my respects to my Uncle Robin and all his crew. I don't have any photographs of my Uncle Robin as none have survived. I was wondering if anyone out there met or knew my uncle or any of the crew. Would love to find some photos of the crew and/or 50th Squadron. Do any survive?

    Lynne Sayar



    P/O. Kenneth Richard K. Smettem 50 Squadron (d.30th Aug 1940)

    My Uncle, K.R.K. Smettem who was a pilot with 50 Sq at Lindholme. His Hampden was shot down on the 30th of August 1940. The crew are buried in the Groesbeek War Cemetery:
    • P/O. K.R.K. Smettem, pilot
    • Sgt. A.A. Horsefall
    • Sgt. H.H. Best

    Keith Smettem



    P/O Roy Frederick Thibedeau 50 Sqdn. (d.31st Mar 1944)

    Roy with brother-in-law Earl Bock, also killed in another Lancaster

    Roy Thibedeau was one of three uncles killed in WWII who I never knew since I was born years later. I carry with pride his first name as my middle name. He was a son of Fred and Ruby Thibedeau; husband of Vera Thibedeau, of Echo Bay, Ontario, Canada.

    Roy is buried in Durnbach War Cemetery. Roy and two others from his crew were buried by the German civilians in a church graveyard and after the war their remains were relocated. His flight scarf was kept by a German resident of the village where the plane crashed and was later tracked down by a United States Army Captain. It was eventually returned to Roy's wife Vera. Four others from the flight crew survived and became prisoners of war.

    His brother-in-law was F-Sgt. Earl William Bock who died on 22nd October 1944 when his severely damaged Lancaster barely made it back to England, where his is buried.

    Art Osborne



    Flt.Sgt. Ralph Andrew Dowling 50 Squadron (d.6th Nov 1944)

    He was a member of a 7-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1619 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. the aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were: -

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087),Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289),Midland,Ontario, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island, coll. grave 667
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306), B.C. grave 666
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140), coll. grave 667
    • Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352), grave 665

    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    P/O George Amos Dunkelman 50 Squadron (d.6th Nov 1944)

    He was a member of a 7-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1619 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. the aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were: -

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087),Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289),Midland,Ontario, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island, coll. grave 667
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306), B.C. grave 666
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140), coll. grave 667
    • Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352), grave 665

    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    Sgt. William Darby 50 Sqdn. (d.6th Nov 1944)

    William Darby was a member of the seven-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 16.19 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. The aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were:

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087), Toronto
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289), Midland, Ontario
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto,
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306)
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140)
    • and Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352)
    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris 50 Squadron (d.6th Nov 1944)

    He was a member of a 7-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1619 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. the aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were: -

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087),Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289),Midland,Ontario, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island, coll. grave 667
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306), B.C. grave 666
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140), coll. grave 667
    • Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352), grave 665

    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    F/O Frederick Arthur Horning 50 Squadron (d.6th Nov 1944)

    He was a member of a 7-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1619 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. the aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were: -

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087),Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289),Midland,Ontario, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island, coll. grave 667
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306), B.C. grave 666
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140), coll. grave 667
    • Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352), grave 665

    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    F/O Robert Edward Rennie 50 Squadron (d.6th Nov 1944)

    He was a member of a 7-man crew of a Lancaster bomber that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1619 hours on 6th November 1944 and did not return. the aircraft crashed over Holland.

    Crew members, who are all buried in the Heerde general cemetery, Holland, were: -

    • Flt/Sgt Ralph Andrew Dowling (R/270087),Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • P/O George Amos Dunkelman (J/95289),Midland,Ontario, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Frederick Arthur Horning (J/36835), Toronto, coll. grave 667
    • F/O Robert Edward Rennie (J25818), Prince Edward Island, coll. grave 667
    • F/O George Thompson Gilbert Terris (J/36306), B.C. grave 666
    • Sgt William Darby (1737140), coll. grave 667
    • Flt/Sgt Michael Arthur Cook (R/263352), grave 665

    The graveyard is 9 miles from SW Zwolle, Holland.

    Mel Ogden



    Sgt. Donald William Meeking 50 Sqdn. (d.12th Feb 1942)

    Donald Meeking flew with 50 Squadron. Hampden AT177 (VN-) took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 2.40pm on the 12th of February 1942, one of 8 aircraft from the squadron, taking off for the same raid. The extremely poor weather conditions over the target area made bombing unsuccessful as visibility was down to 200-300 metres. AT177 was the only aircraft not to return. All its crew were lost and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

    The crew were:

    • pilot - Flying Officer Derek Guy Carter (22) son of Major Cyril Rodney Carter, D.S.O., and Celia Ellen Alexia Carter, of Penhalonga, Southern Rhodesia
    • Air Gunner/W/op. - Sergeant Frederick George Hancock (22) son of Doris Hancock and stepson of Harry Noden, husband of Thelma Hancock of Northwich, Cheshire.
    • Air Gunner W/Op. - Sergeant Donald William Meeking (19) son of William and Ellen Meeking of Gestingthorpe, Essex
    • navigator/observer - Sergeant Donald McGregor Symes (19) son of Ernest Edmund and Ivy Symes of Newton Abbott, Devon.

    My interest is that he is on our village war memorial and I am currently trying to ensure that all the names on the memorial from WW1 and WW2 are included on appropriate websites.

    Nick Ellis



    Sgt. Ernest Mutch 50 Sqdn. (d.30th August 1944)

    I am looking for any information regarding the above. My uncle, who I never knew, was in the voluntary reserves as a wireless operator but he was killed in Sweden on 30th August 1944. He is laid to rest in the Helsingborg Municipal Cemetry.

    Donna Bright



    F/Sgt. Geoffrey Norman Wise 50 Sqdn. (d.12th Sep 1944)

    Flight Sgt. Geoffrey Norman Wisewas killed on th enight of the 11th/12th of September 1944 on the bombing operation of Darmstadt. Has anyone any information or photos of him or of RAF Skellingthorpe at this time? Any information would be appreciated.

    Norina Dixon



    Sgt. Derek Bell 50 Sqdn. (d.27th Dec 1941)

    I am searching for a photo of Derek Bell who flew with 50 Sqn.

    Gerry Neckebroeck



    Sgt. Denis Albert Gurney 50 Squadron (d.24th Jan 1945)

    Denis Gurney flew with 50 Squadron as an air gunner.

    Barbara Gurney







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