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No. 61 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 61 Squadron Royal Air Force



   No 61 Squadron formed at Rochford on the 24th of July 1917 as a Home Defence squadron covering the Thames Estuary. It was disbanded in 1919.

The Squadron was reformed on 8th March 1937 at RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire as a bomber squadron. In the two years before the war it was equipped with four different types of aircraft, but at the start of the war it was equipped with the Handley Page Hampden.  More info.

 

November 1939 Coastal Command

25 December 1939 First op.

8th March 1940 First bombs dropped

12th March 1940 Airmen killed

15th April 1940 Aircraft missing

1st May 1940 Airmen killed

12th May 1940 Massed raid

13th May 1940 Bombing raids to the Low Countries

15th May 1940 Ops

23rd May 1940 Navigation error

10th June 1940 Aircraft lost

21st June 1940 Hampden lost

22nd June 1940 Hampden lost

28th June 1940 Shot down

30th Jun 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

21st Jul 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

21st Jul 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

27th Aug 1940 61 Squadron Hampden lost

23rd Mar 1941 Bomber Command on Ops

8th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

18th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

26th Jun 1941 Aircraft Lost

29th Jun 1941 61 Squadron Manchester lost

5th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

17th July 1941  Moved and re-equipped

24th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

30th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

8th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

29th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

5th November 1941 Short move

7th Dec 1941 Aircraft Lost

8th Jan 1942 Aircraft Lost

17th Feb 1942 61 Squadron Manchester lost

30th Mar 1942 61 Squadron Manchester lost

5th May 1942 Moved and re-equipped

14th July 1942 Coastal Command

10th Jul 1943 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

18th Aug 1943 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

3rd Nov 1943 Bomber Command

16th November 1943 On the move

30th Dec 1943 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

1st February 1944 Relocated

30th Mar 1944 Aircraft Lost

15th April 1944 On the move

5th July 1944 Crash landing

24th Sep 1944 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

24th Sep 1944 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

15th Oct 1944 61 Squadron Lancaster lost

26th April 1945 Oil refinery bombed

6th May 1945 PoWs brought home

August 1945 


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



Those known to have served with

No. 61 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Alford Bernard William. F/Sgt.
  • Altmann Otto Reginald. Wing Cmdr.
  • Aspinall Harry. Flt/Sgt. (d.23rd April 1944)
  • Aston Ron. Flt.Lt
  • Battersby. Ronald . Flight Sergeant
  • Boakes Edward . Flight Sergeant
  • Brown John William. Sgt. (d.24th Feb 1944)
  • Campbell Ian Melville. F/O (d.23rd September 1944)
  • Campbell Ian Melville. F/O. (d.23rd Sep 1944)
  • Campbell Jack.
  • Corewyn. William . Flying Officer
  • Deaville Aurther Kenneth. Flt.Sgt.
  • Donoghue Patrick. Sgt. (d.25th June 1944)
  • Douglas. John . Sergeant
  • Earl. Peter . Sergeant
  • Elliott Newman Walter. Flt.Sgt.
  • Etheridge Ronald. Sgt. (d.14/15th April 1940)
  • Fletcher Alfred. Sgt.
  • Garrett Arthur Thomas. Flt Sgt. (d.25th Feb 1944)
  • Grantham William Edwin. F/Lt. (d.8th July 1944)
  • Hoad John Norman. Sergeant (d.23rd September 1944)
  • Isaacs George Arthur. F/Lt.
  • James Sidney . Flight Sergeant
  • Jordan Thomas William.
  • Lawrence Jack. Sqdr.Ldr.
  • Lea H. Sergeant
  • Macfie John. Sgt. (d.25th June 1944)
  • Manning John. F/Sgt
  • McCabe John. Sergeant (d.23rd September 1944)
  • McConnell Victor. F/O. (d.11th Apr 1944)
  • Mullins Alfred George. Ft Lt
  • Mullins Alfred George. Flt Lt
  • Mullins Alfred George. Sgt.
  • Norgate Kenneth . Sgt (d.29th Aug 1942)
  • Richardson Harnett Richard. Sgt (d.17th Dec 1940)
  • Richardson Harrnet Richard. Sgt. (d.20th Dec 1940)
  • Richardson. Richard . Sergeant
  • Robinson Henry Francis. Sgt.
  • Shannon Thomas Patrick. Flt.Sgt.
  • Spencer Hubert Arthur. Flt.Lt
  • Wickland Samuel Vernon. Flt/Sgt (d.23rd September 1944)
  • Wonham Federico Arturo Bruce Gibbing. Sqd/Ldr.
  • Woodvine Arthur Bradley. Sgt. (d.11th Apr 1944)

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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F/O Ian Melville Campbell 61 Squadron (d.23rd September 1944)

My great uncle flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find information on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive. > > The crew were:
  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea > > Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe



    Sergeant John Norman Hoad 61 Squadron (d.23rd September 1944)

    my great uncle, flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find info on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive.

    The crew were:

  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3 km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe



    Sergeant John McCabe 61 Squadron (d.23rd September 1944)

    My great uncle flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find info on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive.

    The crew were:

  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3 km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe



    Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 61 Squadron (d.23rd September 1944)

    My great uncle flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find info on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive.

    The crew were:

  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3 km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe



    Sergeant H Lea 61 Squadron

    My great uncle flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find info on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive.

    The crew were:

  • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
  • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
  • Sgt R.D.Cole
  • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
  • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
  • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
  • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 23rd Sep 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War cemetery.

  • Michael Smythe



    F/Sgt John Manning 61 Squadron

    My father, John Manning, served as a Flight Sergeant/Air Gunner on 61 Squadron, flying Lancasters based at Skellingthorpe, an airfield shared with 50 Squadron at that time.

    Dad had a roll-out picture taken (he thinks) at the end of the war with aircrew of both squadrons sitting on the wings of a Lancaster. This photo was unfortunately lost when my sister died, as she had been looking after it.

    Dad is, thank God, still with us and still very sharp, but he misses his photograph. Has anyone out there got a copy they can scan?

    Christopher Manning



    Sgt Kenneth " " Norgate 61 Squadron (d.29th Aug 1942)

    My late uncle Sgt Kenneth Norgate from 61 Sqd RAF is buried at the War Cemetery in Durnbach, Germany. I promised my late mother and father that I would visit the cemetery which I have plans to do very soon. I would like to find out more about my uncle, my parents always told me that he was shot down whilst flying in a Lancaster bomber over Munich during WW2. I would like to find out where 61 sqd was based and details on my uncles last bombing mission.

    UPDATE: Lancaster R5742 took off from RAF Syerston at 2105 on the 28th of August 1942 on a mission to Nuremburg. All the crew were lost on this mission and are buried in Durnbach War Cemetery.

    The crew were:

    • Sgt K. Norgate
    • F/S. J. E. Richards
    • P/O W. S. Pattinson RCAF
    • F/S F. Janiszewski RCAF
    • Sgt L. M. Cowan RCAF
    • Sgt W. Toole
    • P/O J. A. Wright RCAF

    F/S Richards was an American from San Francisco serving in the RAF. His brother, Branson Richards, also died on Active Service.

    Keith Norgate



    Flt.Lt Hubert Arthur Spencer 61 Squadron

    I qualified as a wireless operator for aircrew and joined 61 Sqdn in February 1945 and operated from Skellingthorpe until May 1945.

    Hubert Spencer



    Flt.Lt Ron Aston 61 Squadron

    LANDING ON THREE! Ron Aston (a survivor) now living in Gordons Bay South Africa.

    November 25th 1944 was a wet wintry day in Wigsley, Nottinghamshire. Cloud was low and it was dull grey with showers. I was there to convert from twin engined Wellingtons to Stirling four engined aircraft, prior to going on to Lancasters and thence to joining a squadron.

    Today my crew and I were to undertake our first cross-country exercise. Well prepared, with four hours solo, briefed, in possession of the met forecast, we took off after lunch into the murky day. The weather didn't present any problems, we were well trained on instruments both in cloud and at night, and we knew we would have to make a night landing on our return. I had a good Navigator and was confident that this would be just another exercise... How wrong could I be?

    We were climbing on course and levelled out at about 6000' in and out of cloud. I was busy sighting the two port engines to synchronise the propellers, after which I would do the same with the starboard ones. This is done by simply adjusting each pair of throttles so that the pair each side are running at exactly the same speed - this cuts out the droning associated with multi-engined piston aircraft. Whilst adjusting the throttles, the port outer throttle lever gave me a severe rap across the knuckles which, despite the gloves, hurt. I immediately asked the Fight Engineer to check the instruments for that engine. I knew that there must have been a backfire through the fuel induction system which could be caused by a broken valve or faulty ignition. Either way is wasn't good news, especially when the Engineer reported that the engine was running hot and losing oil pressure rapidly. There was no choice but to tell him to feather the prop and shut down number one engine.

    Now I knew that the Stirling was underpowered, indeed, it was a very heavy and ponderous aircraft to fly. But I had no idea how it would perform on three engines... Shortly I would find out! With the remaining three engines now at full power, I now had a course to steer for a return to base, but there I was with both feet on the same rudder pedal, both hands straining the ailerons to keep the port wing up, and losing height.

    Returning for an emergency landing, at about 3000' feet I was holding height. We were now in cloud and it was getting dark. I called the Wigsley tower for an emergency landing and was told to stand by. This I accepted as I knew they would want to get the emergency vehicles at the ready. Meantime the Engineer and I were recalling items from the Pilot's Notes for the Stirling. One point kept coming back - on three engines with wheels and flaps down you cannot overshoot. This meant that once these were down we were committed to land. Then another thought occurred to me; I had never been demonstrated a three engine landing or practised one with an instructor! So I assumed it was the same as a single engine landing on a twin, so it didn't worry me too much.

    Continuing to call base for permission to break cloud and land, each time they came back with the same message to stand by. After half an hour of flying the crippled aircraft around in thick cloud I was beginning to sweat blood. Calling base again I told them I was breaking cloud and preparing to land at the first aerodrome I saw. Immediately they came back with the instruction to divert to Waddington. My Navigator gave me a course to steer and an ETA of eight minutes. At 1000' we broke cloud into a clear black night. In a short while I saw the runway lights and the Drem system of an airfield dead ahead and told the Navigator that I could see Waddington.

    Calling on the emergency frequency I requested permission to join the circuit for an emergency landing. This given, I reported in the circuit and again on downwind. As I turned onto base I lowered the undercarriage and still with plenty of height, lined up with the runway as I turned onto final. As we reduced speed it became more difficult to keep straight. At 300' I called for full flap as I was then certain of making the runway. Just as the flaps came down I was given a red from the runway caravan and a red Very light, just in time to see another four engined aircraft taxi out onto the runway for take off...

    The very same runway we were now committed to! I had no time to be horrified, I knew that an overshoot was impossible, and the instinct for self preservation took over. There was no time to think; I knew I had to land and I didn't fancy landing on top of the other aircraft. So I did the only thing possible - turned 10„a to port and proceeded to land on the grass, looking out of the starboard window to judge my height from the flare path, seeing also the other aircraft take off. Fortunately there were no obstructions and we made a fair landing.

    Making back for the runway I turned off left, parked and shut down, with an incredible feeling of relief! Most of the crew had no idea what was going on - just that I had landed on the grass - but those up front soon put them wise. A van arrived shortly and we all piled in. I asked to be taken to the tower and arriving there marched up the steps feeling very much put out and more than a little peeved. I opened the door with a bang and asked who the hell let the aircraft take off whilst I was coming down on an emergency landing. They all looked puzzled and said they had no knowledge that I was making an emergency landing. I was quick to remind them that I had been talking to them only minutes before on joining the circuit... this they denied all knowledge of... and then it struck me... I asked "this is Waddington isn't it?" "Oh no!" they said, "this is Swinderby!" I had landed at the wrong airfield!

    24th February 1945 was my first daylight raid, the target being the Dortmund–Ems Canal Canal, Germany. I paid particular attention to the briefing to be ‘on the ball’ and to make sure of my designated position in the ‘goggle’. Unlike the US Army Air Corps, the Lancaster wasn’t designed to fly in formation; we kept position in loose groups of aircraft.

    We took off with a full bomb load from our Linconshire base early afternoon, expecting a return night landing. As we went out to the dispersals I kept an eye on the other aircraft that I was to fly alongside, so I could take off as close to them as possible. There was little wind and we used the whole runway to take off. Alas, once airborne it was impossible to catch up with those in front. We were climbing at nearly full power so I did what everyone else did and slipped into the gaggle at the nearest point and held station, which wasn’t easy as the Lancs in front & on either side began to wander. daylight raids demanded more attention than keeping course at night. All went well for a couple of hours, but then the Wireless Operator announced that the op had been abandoned due to heavy cloud over the target, and that we were to return to base. I thought that we should go for an alternative target, but no, we were to return to Skellingthorpe. As we turned I could see some of the other Lancs dropping their bombs into the North Sea. As we flew back 4Flight Enenginee and myself had a discussion about the weight of the aircraft for landing. The bomb load comprised fourteen 1000 lb bombs with half-hour delay acid fuses. We had consumed fuel on the engine run-ups prior to take off, climbing to height and cruising for two hours since then.

    The flight engineer gave his computed figure which showed that we were well over the maximum permitted weight for landing. Should I jettison some or all of our bombs? Hell, to come all this way and drop those precious bombs into the ocean seemed such a waste; overweight or not, I would take those bombs back. I was confident that I could handle it, as the Lancaster was the most forgiving aircraft that I had flown, so we continued back in the dark. I could see other aircraft landing as we approached Skellingthorpe, and I could already imagine the taste of the hot cup of cocoa as we entered the crewroom. I called up on the radio and we joined the circuit. Suddenly the whole world lit up. A huge explosion had taken place on the airfield, and even at 1000 ft we felt the shock wave. Immediately I turned off the navigation lights as I thought German night fighters had come back with us in the bomber stream, as sometimes happened. After a few minutes I was diverted to Woddington, just a short hop away from our own base, and was soon on the approach to landing there. In the meantime, with all the excitement, I had other things on my mind and had forgotten about our weight. However, all this came rushing back to me as we were about to land, but thankfully all went well. However, I was surprised when the groundcrew directed us to the far side of the airfield, where we began a long wait in the dark.

    Eventually, after we had tucked the aircraft down for the night, a ~n from Skellingthorpe picked us up. The driver told us that another LAnc with bombs on board had exploded, killing its crew as well as seven ground crew, and destroyed other planes and hangars.

    It was a very sad journey home, and we got to bed in the early hours of the morning. Early that same morning I was woken with the news that I was to return to Waddington to collect our aircraft, as it was required for a sortie that same night. A little piece of RAP St Mowgan’s 42 Squadron History: Flown by squadron CO Wg Cdr Carson, on 2nd Auciust 1965, Mk III SF~ack WR958 dropped supplies at a rendezvous 400 miles out into the Atlantic.

    Robert Manry, sailing a 14 ft dinghy from Falmouth, Connecticut USA to Falmouth, Cornwall was making the British National press headlines at the time and, of course, someone at Mob thought it great PR to drop mail and fresh fruit to sailor Manry. The skill in finding this tiny boat in the middle of the ocean didn’t occur to anyone, except the aircrew who had to find it - pre-GPSI. The Press were in the accompanying shack to witness and photograph the event, and this is the photo syndicated at the time.

    I can only tell you how relieved the navigator in ‘b’ was when the aircraft landed - the crew also had an AVM on board, a future AOC for 18 Group! Waddington knew of the tragic accident at Skellingthorpe before we landed, and didn’t want a repeat performance with another of our aircraft. Last night there had been seven aircraft lined up with ours, but this morning mine was the only plane there and all the other crews were back in bed - where I wanted to be as I expected to fly an op again that night. Meanwhile, there was not a soul in sight by our aircraft - everyone knew that my bomb-bay was full of bombs! On entering the aircraft we were staggered to see the fuselage aft of the tail door stocked with the fins from our 1000 lb bombs, each standing chest-high. There were also ammunition boxes containing the bomb fuses. With so much weight in the rear of the aircraft it was impossible to take off, so something had to be off-loaded. I then contacted control and asked if the armourers could take off some of the bombs. But we waited and waited, and nobody came. After two hours I had had enough, so I sent the bomb aimer to see if the bombs were safe. He did just that and reported that all was well. I started the engines, did the proof light checks, switched off the radio, and then told the bomb aimer to release the entire bomb load on the grass. We felt a jolt as the bombs left the aircraft, and I could feel the Lanc breathing a sigh of relief, just like me. To clear the tail wheel around the bombs I locked one main wheel and pivoted the Lanc around. Fortunately this manoeuvre worked, and as I headed for the runway I glimpsed our 14 large bombs laid out neatly on the grass. I then took off and landed at Skellingthorpe a few minutes later. Believe it or not, I never heard another word about the incident. Thankfully I also didn’t have to fly that night, but I did return to Dortman Elms Canal several times.

    Ron is alive but not too well, in Gordons Bay South Africa.

    Peter Chamberlain



    Ft Lt Alfred George "Fred" Mullins DFM. 61 Squadron

    My father, Flight Lt Alfred George Mullins DFM, was doing his tour of duty in 61 Squadron during 1943 as a sergent flight engineer on Lancaster bombers.

    After one of the bombing raids over Germany their aircraft was damaged by flak and the hydralics were badly damaged, on returning to Syerston in order to get the undercarriage down to land my father filled the hydralic accumilator with all liquid available on the aircraft which enabled them to lower the under carriage and land. However, he got it in the neck from the ground crew at dispersal because they had to work all night to repair and flush the system through ready for the next operation. On another occasion the same aircraft QR-Q, on landing and near the end of the runway the undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft slid into a field at the end of the runway where potato pickers were running for their lives. All the crew laughed afterwards because some of the potato pickers were throwing potatos at the aircraft in retaliation for being frightened, no one was hurt. The aircraft was sent to an MU for repair. These stories my father told me when I was young

    Colin Mullins



    Sgt. Harrnet Richard Richardson Observer 61 Squadron (d.20th Dec 1940)

    I have been contacted by a lady who is trying to get information on her Father. Her mother received a letter from MOD stating that Sgt Richardson, Observer of 61 Squadron, had failed to return from an Operational Flight on the 17 December 1940. She never received any other information. I was hoping that someone may possibly be able to fill in some blanks for this Lady.

    Editor's Note: According to RAF Losses, Hampden X3128 took off from Hemswell on the 16th of Decemebr 1940 on an operation to Mannheim, the aircraft and her crew were lost without trace.

    The Crew are commemorated on the the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing.

    • Sgt G.E.Cowan, DFM
    • Sgt H.R.Richardson
    • Sgt A.J.P.Casey
    • P/O E.Reeve

    John Stewart McArdle



    Sgt. Henry Francis Robinson DFC. 61 Sqd.

    My father Henry Robinson was a Rear Gunner in WW2, he was awarded the DFC as a WO. His first opp was to Brest with 61 Sqd. His pilot was PO Gunter, they did 25 trips together. He also flew with Sgt Northgate & F/Sgt Ferguson.

    He did a second tour with 619 Sqd with PO Knilands and then finished at Bardney where he flew with F/O Morrison, F/O Mathers and F/O Duncan

    If there is anybody who has any recollections or information about him or reollections of this time I would be grateful.

    Richard Robinson



    Flt Lt Alfred George Mullins DFM 61 Squadron

    Took part in operation Bellicose in Lancaster w5002, QR-L, with crew members P.O. W.C.Parsons, pilot.F/S R.C.Dyson Navigator. F/S F.J.Poole A.B, Sgt.A.Clark wt/AG, Sgt.O.D.Towse AG1, and Sgt.G.A.Isaacs AG2,the first round trip raid by 60 Lancaster aircraft, carried out without loss of any personnel.

    Colin Mullins



    Flt Sgt. Arthur Thomas Garrett 61 Squadron (d.25th Feb 1944)

    My uncle served in 61 sqdn and I am trying to find out some more details about his service. The family story goes that when he and his fellow crew were shot down there was some confusion as to who was on the aircraft. My grandparents were told a number of stories and this only led to more confusion. If anyone can throw some light on this tale for myself and my family we would be very grateful. Unfortunatly all my grandparents letters and papers have been lost over the years.

    Editors Note: RAF Bomber Command Losses records that Lancaster DV294 QR-K took off at 18:28 on the 25th of Feburary 1944 from Coningsby and crashed at Menil-Annelles in the Ardennes, 10 km South East of Rethel. The crew all lie at Liesse Communal Cemetery.

    • F/O F.J.Nixon
    • Sgt W.Craig
    • F/S J.W.Devenish
    • F/s A.T.Garrett
    • Sgt J.E.Chapman
    • Sgt H.W.J.Pain
    • Sgt H.F.Bore

    Lisa Rust



    Sgt. Alfred George Mullins DFM. 61 Sqd.

    In 1943, P.O.Parsons the pilot, and my father, Sgt A.G.Mullins the flight engineer were landing at RAF Syerston in Lancaster QR-L, they touched down and half way down the runway the undercarriage collapsed. Everyone hung on for dear life as the Lanc careered onward off the runway and through the fences into a potato field where it came to a halt.

    The engineer's foot rest bar, which was quite thick was bent. The field was full of potato pickers who were quite upset and started throwing some of their potato's at the stricken aircraft. After hours of flying over enemy lands, slight flack damage, but successful return they get potato's thrown at them!

    This story was told to me when I was young by my father Flt Lt A.G.Mullins DFM.

    Colin Mullins



    Sgt. John William Brown 61 Squadron (d.24th Feb 1944)

    I'm trying to find out any information on my great uncle Jack Brown. We know which squadron he was in and when he died. My mum's mum lives with us but is losing her mind and she goes on about her brother Jack so I would love to find out more about him for her and my mum. We hardly have any photos left as my nan's photos have been lost. Does anyone know of him, please help us, many thanks.

    Debbie Parr



    Sqdr.Ldr. Jack "Laurie" Lawrence 61 Sqd.

    My father, Jack Lawrence, was in 61 Squadron from 1937-1941 and would love to hear from anyone who might know him.

    Beverley Iren



    F/O. Ian Melville "Kiwi " Campbell 61 Squadron (d.23rd Sep 1944)

    My great uncle, Ian Melville Campbell flew a Lancaster with 61 Squadron and was killed on the 23rd of September 1944. I'm trying to find information on the only survivor, Sgt H.Lea who was put into Stalag Luft 7. I'd like to know if he is still alive. The crew were:
    • F/O Ian Melville Campbell RNZAF 426213
    • Sgt John Norman Hoad 1175274 23/09/1944
    • Sgt R.D.Cole
    • F/S M.J.Milne RNZAF
    • Sgt John McCabe 1348047 RAF Volunteer Reserve
    • Flt/Sgt Samuel Vernon Wickland 640170
    • Sgt H.Lea

    Lancaster ED470 took off at 19:07 on 23rd of Septemeber 1944 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen near Munster. It crashed at 23:30 at Wechte, 3km from Tecklenburg. Those killed are now buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    Mike Smythe



    Jack Campbell 463 Squadron

    My Grandfather, Jack Campbell, is a Canadian Second World War veteran who served as a mid-upper gunner in 463 Squadron, RAAF, 61 Squadron RAF. At my grandfather's request, I have recently transcribed his memoirs where he details his wartime experience, and his time spent at Skellingthorpe, from 1942 to 1944.

    The Airbourne Years

    Robin Heron



    F/O. Victor McConnell 83 Squadron (d.11th Apr 1944)

    I would like to tell the story of the crew of Lancaster ND389, my connection is slim, although I have spent many years researching the crew but I would like to add this in remebrance of the crew.
    • P/O V. McConnell
    • Sgt T/Powell
    • F/O A.J.S.Watts
    • Sgt H.S.Vickers
    • Sgt W.Surgey
    • Sgt G.H.Bradshaw
    • Sgt W.J.Throsby
    The first mention of the crew I have found is 13 October 1943 where they were identified as having been at 1660 Conversion unit at RAF Swinderby. Here they were learning to fly four engined bombers, having first been together as a crew on two engined aircraft, most probably a Wellington but possibly a Whitley.

    On the 13/10/43 they left Swinderby to join 61 Squadron who were based at RAF Skellingthorpe outside of Lincoln. This squadron was part of 5 Group. They flew their first Operation 03/11/43 to Dusseldorf. They remained with the squadron until 30/04/44 and flew Operations to Modan, flew on operations to Berlin 5 times, plus Frankfurt, Stettin and Brunswick - so they were very much a part of what came to be known as 'The Battle of Berlin'. If they had stayed with 61 Squadron and completed 30 Operations then they would have completed a 'tour', however during this period Bomber Command was experiencing very heavy losses and the chances of a crew completing their tour was very slim - and all crews were all volunteers.

    At some point whilst they were with 61 Squadron they must have volunteered to join a Pathfinder Squadron, this would have meant even more operations before they were considered to have completed their tour and as such the chance of survival became even less. They would probably have been considered as an 'above average' crew in terms of competence. On the 3st if January 1944 they went to Pathfinder Force Navigation training unit to spend 2 weeks learning the role of a Pathfinder. They joined 83 Squadron in mid February 1944 who were part of 8 Group, and were based at RAF Wyton. As will as some familiarisation exercises at the airfield they flew a number of Operations - Leipzig, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Essen, Lille and another 2 Operations to Berlin. I believe that during late March/Early April 1944 they may have had some leave.

    On the 11th of April 1944 they were down for an Operation and took off at 20:46 from Wyton, flying Lancaster ND389 OL-A as part of a 341 strong Lancaster force aiming to Bomb Aachen. At approximately 22:08 a German Nightfighter Pilot took off from St Trond Airfield in his BF110, he was with Luftwaffe Nightfighter unit 4/NJG 1, his name was Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, he was a highly decorated Pilot and eventually finished the war having shot down over 120 RAF Bombers. The aircraft climbed to 5000 metres and at 23:05 the German Radar Operator got a signal, which turned out to be Lancaster ND389, the aircraft moved closer, behind and probably slightly under the aircraft where it could not be seen and at 23:15 opened fire on the Lancaster. It appears that it was a very successful attack and took the crew by complete surprise (it was possible that Schnaufer was using up ward slanted guns known as 'Schrage Musik'). The aircraft caught fire immediately and according to my eyewitness started to burn quite fiercely. As it was on its way 'in' it would have been still carrying a heavy load of fuel and bombs. Sadly it appears that at some point the crew all bailed out the aircraft but were too low for their parachutes to open, the Lancaster apparently blew up 100 metres above the ground (but that must have been hard to judge). The aircraft crashed north of Beerse in Belgium at a place called Boensberg. After about 15 minutes after the crash, a car was heard to be approaching, initially it was thought that this would be Germans but was apparently the Chief of Police from Turnhout, a religious father and a nurse. They asked where the crew were, who were apparently were sadly already dead by this point. The father apparently administered the 'last rites' and about 1 hour later apparently the Germans arrived and placed barriers around the plane to ensure no one approached it (although the aircraft had broken up in the explosion.) The crew were initially buried near a German Airfield and then taken Schoonselhof Cemetery in Antwerp where they now lie. The final note in the Operational Record Book for the Squadron on this crew notes that 'the crew were well liked and very promising'

    I have all the Operational Record Books for 83 Squadron during WW2 and would very much like to hear from anyone connected.

    Neil Webster



    Flt.Sgt. Thomas Patrick Shannon 61 Squadron.

    My Father, Tommy Shannon was the W/Op in Flt. Lt. Astons crew. I have my Father's log book and have matched the log to the incidents mentioned in Flt Lt Aston's notes. As a crew they flew over 20 missions with the initial half dozen focused on Window dropping and the main missions featuring Canals and Oil targets. Post VE day the crew moved onto training to become part of the intended "Tiger" force.The last flight in the log features an Avro Lincoln. My father never talked about operations however he did often tell tales of the nights in Lincoln, and the pride he felt in being one of the "Brylcreem Boys".

    James Shannon



    Flt/Sgt. Harry Aspinall DFM No.61 Squadron (d.23rd April 1944)

    Flt.Sgt.Harry Aspinall was my father and this year 2012 on Nov.11th I have been granted permission to take part in this years Cenotaph Ceremony in Whitehall. I shall wear my Dad's DFM with pride. He was killed 9 days after my first birthday on 23rd.April 1944.

    One night, in September 1943, he along with Pilot Officer Anthony Bird, Sgt.Edward James Kemish and Sgt.Bernard Kendrick while on a mission over Hanover were approaching the target when their aircraft was illuminated by searchlights and immediately attacked by 3 fighters. One engine was set on fire and rendered useless and the other sustained damage. The combined efforts of these 4 airmen resulted in the bomb being released over the target and the damaged plane being returned to base. Maybe there are relatives of some of these brave men still alive if so I would be very happy to meet them.

    Carole Pilling-Aspinall



    Sqd/Ldr. Federico Arturo Bruce Gibbing Wonham DFM 61 Sq

    My grand father was Federico Arturo Bruce Gibbings Wonham. He was from Argentine.

    He joined the RAF as a volunteer. As a squadron leader he won the DFM. I have a copy of the log book. He did his training in South Africa. He flew with Coockshot and Woods. I am asking for photograph of him and his squadron.

    Diego



    Sgt. Alfred Fletcher 61 Sqn

    My father Alf Fletcher was a Sgt Wireless Op/Mid upper Gunner, on Hampdens, based at RAF Hemswell. On the night of Saturday 2 March 1941, he flew his last 'op', to bomb Cologne. Aircraft callsign 'Q' Queenie. Handley Page Hampden. Crew:-
    • Pilot - P/O Jim Noble RCAF
    • Nav - Sgt R Mackinnon RAF
    • W/Op - Sgt A Fletcher RAF
    • Rear Gnr - Sgt FD Healing RAF
    They were hit by Flak, after completing their bombing run, which holed the fuel tanks. They returned to Hemswell, only to find German aircraft 'shooting up the airfield, causing the 'flare path' lights of the runway, to be switched off.

    After circling for some 50 minutes, during which time, two other Hampdens crashed, and after some confused communication, they were diverted some 100 miles away. When they were 8 miles from the diversion field, first the port, and then the starboard engine, cut out. Indicated altitude was 950 ft( but due to a wrongly set altimeter, this was some actually 300 ft less.) The pilot crash landed the aircraft at some 95 mph. The Nav was killed outright, going through the perspex windshield, the Rear Gunner died of injuries sustained in the crash, in the ambulance en route to hospital. The Pilot & Wireless Op survived, though sustained serious injuries. They remained lifelong friends until their respective deaths.

    The wireless op was my father, and after a short break at the end of the war, he rejoined being later offered a permanent commission as an Air traffic controller, until 1963. He served at RAF Bishopscourt, N Ireland/RAF Topcliffe, Yorks/RAF Negombo, Ceylon/RAF Uxbridge, Middx/Driffield, E. Yorks/RAAEE Boscombe Down, Wilts/RAF Bruggen, Germany/RAF Sopley, Hants. He became a hotelier, Barons Court Hotel, Boscombe, Dorset, on leaving the RAF, and passed away, in Bournemouth in 1985. I joined the RAF, as a weapons engineer, in 1961, leaving in 1973. I have a handwritten copy of the full events of 2nd March 1941, written as a letter from the pilot, to my father.

    Jeff Fletcher



    Sgt. Ronald Etheridge 61 Sqdn (d.14/15th April 1940)

    My father Ronald Etheridge was a pilot with 61 Squadron and went missing whilst on a gardening op on 14th April 1940. Over many years I have been unable to establish what happened to his Hampden as all the crew were listed as missing presumed killed. Possibly another aircraft taking part in that raid returned and somewhere somebody may have just a little information. I have recently provided the authorities with a copy of my father's birth certificate enabling the record at the Runnymede Memorial to now show his correct age at death as 23 and not 35 as previously stated. Any snippets of information about my father or his fellow crew members would be appreciated.

    Ron Etheridge



    Sgt Harnett Richard Richardson 61 Squadron (d.17th Dec 1940)

    Harnett Richard Richardson (known as Dick) son of Harnett Richardson (died as a result of injuries sustained in WW1)and Eleanor (Nellie) Richardson all from Hartlepool. Eleanor was later re-married to George Robert (Bob) Smith and had two daughters Gladys (Pi) and Jean Smith who were half sisters of Dick.

    Dick joined the Royal Air Force at 17/18 yrs and became Sgt 526112 in Bomber Command Squadron 61, flying Hampdens as an Observer (Navigator) in WW2 out of Hemswell (Harpswell Aerodrome), Lincoln. At the age of 22 yrs he married Lillian Greenfields, who was aged 17/ 18yrs from Lincoln, but was tragically killed in action just two weeks later.

    He and his crew; Sgt G.E Cowan DFM, Sgt A.J.P Casey and P/O E Reeves took off from Hemswell in Hampden X3128 on December 16th 1940, on an Operational Flight over Mannheim in Germany, but failed to return on December 17th. The only correspondence Dick's mother ever received about her son was a telegram from his wife to say he and his colleagues had been lost without a trace and were missing presumed killed in action. Nothing more was ever heard. The Crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing and also in Lincoln Cathedral.

    Some years ago, Jean had contact with Harry Moyles, author of 'The Hampden File' within which there is reference to Dick's last operational mission. If anyone has any memory or knowledge of Dick, his wife Lillian, his co-colleagues or indeed what happened on that fateful mission, please contact his remaining sister.

    Jean Walker



    F/Sgt. Bernard William Alford 61 Sqd.

    I have little information, apart from the fact that my father Bernard Alford was based at RAF Skellingthorpe, near Lincoln and flew as crew on Lancasters during the Second World War. He was demobbed in 1948. He and my mother were divorced by then and, as far as I am aware, he had had no contact with either my mother or myself for sometime before that. He emigrated to Canada in 1957.

    This is just a long shot that someone might have some information about him which would fill in some gaps for me.

    Anne Phillips



    Flt.Sgt. Newman Walter "Bill" Elliott 61 Squadron

    My Father Newman "Bill" Elliott was a Rear Gunner, he trained at No.5 Lancaster Finishing School at Syerston, Nottinghamshire from July 29th to August 8th 1944. He then joined No. 61 Squadron at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire. His missions were all flown with F/O Cooksey.

    On August 10th - 29th 1944 his Logbook shows Lancasters flown in: MF 912, BJ183, EE17, PD266, ED8s60, PB434 R , Between September 10th - 27th 1944. PB434 R, Non specific 729 V, H, G, D. From October 1st to November 29th 1944. All operations LL843 R. From December 1st to 17th 1944. LL843 R, Non specific L. From January 12th - 27th 1945. All LL843 R From February 1st to 21st 1945. LL843 R, Non specific Q. March 1st to 11th 1945. LL843 R, Non specific O & Y. His tour expired 11th March 1945 when he had flown Thirty Six ops. I am researching further.

    Debbie Bloomer



    Sgt. John Macfie 61 Sqd. (d.25th June 1944)

    John Macfie was killed in action on the 25th of June 1944, aged 21. Buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Somme, France, he was the son of Andrew B. Macfie and Frances Macfie, of Glasgow

    s flynn



    F/Lt. William Edwin Grantham 61 Squadron (d.8th July 1944)

    My Uncle is William Edwin "Ted" Grantham. He was the pilot of Lancester ND867 (QR-V) of 61 Squadron Skellingthorpe, that was shot down at Moliens, France, on the 8th July 1944, returning from the raid on St. Leu d'Esserent.

    I am trying to contact relatives of his crew. Five of the 7 perished, one evaded capture, and the other was a POW. I've contacted the daughter and nephew of Cliff Young, the brother of Bill Hobbs, and the niece of Charlie Bolser. I would like to contact anyone related to, or who knew 1431592 Ronald Towndrow (WOP) and 1852464 Peter Henry Baigent (Rear Gunner). Thanks for contacting me if you have any information

    Neil Grantham



    Sgt. Arthur Bradley Woodvine 61 Squadron (d.11th Apr 1944)

    Memorial plaque

    News clipping, missing

    My uncle Flt. Sgt. Arthur Bradley Woodvine was killed in action on 11th of April 1944. His photo was likely one of the last taken of him about a month before his Lancaster JA695 was shot down by a German night fighter. The brass plaque featured is located at the Botanical Gardens, Australia Remembers Memorial in Brisbane, Australia which was opened in 1995, where all his living relatives now live.

    One of my first contacts was from a group/club in Belgium that searches for missing aircraft from all airforces, and they advised me they had contact with the relative of one of the other members of the flight crew of Lancaster JA695. The contact name of the person who was actually a witness on that tragic night.

    I now know the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter, the tail section was shot off which landed about 3 miles away from where the rest of the Lancaster crashed in a paddock at Kievermont near the small Belgium town of Geel. Of the seven crew only one survived. He became a POW and saw the rest of the war out in a German POW camp. From reading his debriefing report at the end of the war he was treated reasonably well. All the other crew were buried, but later disinterred and transferred to a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The night fighter pilot who claimed the Lancaster JA695 kill, in turn met his demise a couple of nights later.

    We were fortunate that there were a few witness to that crash, two of whom are still alive. One, whose name is Clement, was a teenager at the time and with his parents witnessed the final moments of that aircraft and its courageous crew. They could hear the planes engines screaming as it came spinning down on fire before hitting the ground upside down.

    I will definitely be writing a more detailed record of what I have found out about JA695 and its gallant and courageous crew, but until then, for the 11th April 1944 Lest we forget. The town of Geel in Belgium celebrated 70 years of freedom on 25th, 26th and 27th September 2014, by placing a small memorial close to the crash site of Lancaster JA695.

    Cyril Dennison.



    Flt.Sgt. Aurther Kenneth "Dev." Deaville 61 Sqd.

    My father Ken Deaville, flew Mk 1s, Mk 11s and Mk 111s as a Flight Engineer from 1943 to 1945 for 115 Sqd and 61 Sqd. In June 1944 he was in 115 Sqd at Witchford in Don Cameron's crew flying ME836 C-Charlie. By April 1945 he was in 61 sqd at Skellingthorpe in Danny Boon's crew flying NF997 H-How.

    Paul N Deaville



    F/Lt. George Arthur "Pop" Isaacs DFM/ 223 Squadron

    My father, George Isaacs was a mid upper gunner and completed his first tour in Lancasters with 61 Squadron. 223 Squadron was his second operational tour and he took the Official Secrets Act very seriously. He did not breath a word about 100 Group Spoof operations until 30 years after the war ended and two years before his death. When he told me he flew in B17s and B24s I thought he was pulling my leg. My abiding memory was his description of the crew standing well apart from the aircraft as German speaking Radio Operators were loaded into a secure compartment in the middle of the aircraft before take off and the procedure reversed on landing. Strictly no fraternisation. I recall his droll remark that they would be last out if the plane was hit also.

    To get some idea of the equipment that was used on these operations I recommend Martin Streetly's book "Confound & Destroy" the story of 100 Group's WW2 activity in Norfolk. I donated my copy to the library at the 100 Group museum at Blickling Hall.

    George W Isaacs



    Thomas William Jordan 61 Sqdn.

    My late father, TomJordan served as navigator on Lancasters in 61 Squadron during 1943 - 45 prior to being transferred to Burma where he served on Dakotas.

    He was the only Englishman on an otherwise all Canadian crew and, while he didn't like to talk about his experiences, he did tell a tale of having to bail out upon return from a mission over Germany because his plane was too damaged to land. They had lost all ability to navigate other than eyesight and dead reckoning so when they were over UK mainland they pointed the plane out into the North Sea and bailed out. They landed and were arrested by the home guard in Filey, North Yorkshire and when the North Yorkshire police phoned RAF Conningsby the following morning to confirm their story the base commander's only question was "What the bloody hell are you doing in Yorkshire?"

    Andy Jordan



    Sgt. Patrick Donoghue 61 Sqdn. (d.25th June 1944)

    My mother's uncle Patrick Donoghue served in 61 squadron and was presumed dead in France during air operations. He was a Wireless Operator and is buried in London Road Cemetery in Longueval, France.

    Helene Blackie







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