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No. 101 Squadron Royal Air Force in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- No. 101 Squadron Royal Air Force during the Second World War -

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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

No. 101 Squadron Royal Air Force

   No. 101 Squadron was formed at South Farnborough on 12 July 1917 ans saw action in the Great War. At the outbreak of the Second World War 101 Squadron engaged in attacking enemy barge concentrations in the Channel Ports flying Blenheim IVs. In mid 1941 they converted to Wellingtons and flew night sorties against Germany and Italy. In 1943 they converted to Lancasters to become a specialist in "Airborne Cigar" (ABC) and flew with an additional German speaking crew member known as the Special Operator who distrupted the enemy flight controllers with jamming and the broadcast of miss-information. 101 Squadron had the highest casualty rate of any squadron, mainly due to pinpointing of their possition through their ABC broadcasts.
Airfields No. 101 Squadron flew from.
  • West Raynham
  • Holme-on-Spalding
  • Ludford Magna


 History of RAF Ludford Magna

19th Jul 1940 101 Squadron Blenheim lost

20th Aug 1940 101 Squadron Blenheim lost

25th Sep 1940 101 Squadron Blenheim lost

17th Dec 1940 101 Squadron Blenheim lost

28th Apr 1941 Aircraft Lost

3rd May 1941 Aircraft Lost

24th Jul 1941 101 Squadron Wellington lost

24th Jul 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

19th Aug 1941 Aircraft Lost

10th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

20th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost

10th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

11th Oct 1941 101 Squadron Wellington lost

13th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

24th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost

7th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

19th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

30th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost

27th Dec 1941 Aircraft Lost

2nd Apr 1942 Aircraft Lost

31st May 1942 101 Squadron Wellington lost

16th Nov 1942 Lancaster Lost

18th Dec 1942 Lancaster Lost

26th Jun 1943 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

6th Sep 1943 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

234th Sep 1943 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

27th Nov 1943 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

27th Nov 1943 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

20th Feb 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

30th Mar 1944 Aircraft Lost

17th Jun 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

21st Jul 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

1st Aug 1944 Aircraft Lost

13th Aug 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

13th Sep 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

24th Sep 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

5th Nov 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

6th Nov 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

18th Dec 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

29th Dec 1944 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

3rd Feb 1945 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

23rd Mar 1945 101 Squadron Lancaster lost

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

Those known to have served with

No. 101 Squadron Royal Air Force

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Addy Donald. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Anderson Robert Gordon. Sgt.
  • Auer . Flt. Sgt.
  • Ault William George. Sgt. (d.23rd May 1944)
  • Ballinger William Stanley. Sgt (d.13th Aug 1944)
  • Bardill Cecil. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Beedle Stanley. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Bennett William. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Billson Dennis Roland. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Birch Tommy. Sgt.
  • Bond Ivor Hexter. W/O (d.7th Aug 1945)
  • Boyle Ernest Elroy. P/O (d.21st Jun 1944)
  • Boyle Ernest Elroy. Sgt. (d.21st July 1944)
  • Boytell Graham.
  • Brace Alexander. Flt.Sgt. (d.9th July 1942)
  • Brinkhurst Don. Sgt.
  • Brooks Sam. P/O
  • Brown Eric Ronald. Sgt. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Bryan Robert Harry. Sgt. (d.19th Mar 1944)
  • Bullock Harold Gordon. F/O
  • Cheadle George. Sgt. (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Chevalier Victor. Sgt.
  • Clark James. Flt. Sgt. (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Collier Richard Alfred James. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Condon Leslie Francis. Flt Sgt
  • Conoly John Cuthbert.
  • Cooper Eric Harold. Sgt. (d.24th July 1942)
  • Cooper William James. Sgt. (d.21st July 1944)
  • Corfield Norman. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Crane Thomas. Sgt. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Cross Walter.
  • Cummings J. M.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Curtis Colin Hubert. P/O. (d.20th January 1942)
  • Dalziel James Samuel Kevin. P/O (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Daniel Ronald Basil. F/Lt. (d.1st July 1944 )
  • Davidson . Sgt.
  • Dimond Leonard Gordon Charles. Sgt. (d.30th Nov 1941)
  • Dimond Leonard Gordon Charles. (d.Nov 1941)
  • Dodemaide Ernest William. Flt.Sgt.
  • Duff Thomas Handley. F/Sgt. (d.22nd June 1944)
  • Easdon L.. Sgt. (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Edis Herbert George. Flt. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Englehardt Wolf Herman. Sgt. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Evans Jack. Sgt. (d.22nd Sep 1943)
  • Findlay John. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Fotheringham Norman. Sgt. (d.24th June 1943)
  • Freeman Ralph Reginald Ernest. Sgt.
  • Geraghty Gerald Francis. F/Sgt. (d.5th Oct 1944)
  • Gittins George Henry. Flt.Sgt. (d.18th Nov 1943)
  • Glendinning David Russell. F/Lt.
  • Goddard Joseph Eric. Sgt. (d.28th Jul 1943)
  • Gosling Keith. P/O (d.21st Jun 1944)
  • Gould Albert Norman. P/O. (d.4th Nov 1944)
  • Greasley William Edmund. Sgt. (d.12th March 1943)
  • Gunter Peter Foley. F/O (d.3rd July 1945)
  • Haigh Geoffrey. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Harper J. H.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Hart Alan Douglas. Sgt.
  • Hawkins Hedley Maurice. Sgt. (d.21st Sep 1942)
  • Hobson Lionel. Sgt. (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Hobson Lionel. Flight Sergeant (d.4th Sept 1943)
  • Hodder John Walter. Sgt. (d.1st February 1945)
  • Holdaway Ronald David. Sgt. (d.1st Sep 1943)
  • Holmes Ronald. P/O
  • Holway . Sgt.
  • Hopkins Daniel. Sgt. (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Horrigan L. V. H.. W/O
  • Humphry Samual Charles.
  • Hurley Ronald . Flt Sgt (d.14 March 1945)
  • Hyland Peter Joseph. P/O (d.29th July 1944)
  • Jossa John.
  • Judge Robert Crichton. Sgt.
  • Kabbash . F/O
  • Keogh John Edward. Sgt. (d.22nd June 1944)
  • Kesten George. Sgt. (d.4th Nov 1944)
  • Lander James Frederick . Flt.Sgt.
  • Maunders G. F. S.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • McLatchie George. Sgt. (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • McNay Irvin Robert. Flt. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Meier D. L.. P/O
  • Mitchell P.. Sgt. (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Moore John Thomas Victor. Sgt. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Naylor Kenneth. Sgt. (d.30th Nov 1941)
  • Nelson Henry Montague. P/O. (d.9th Apr 1943)
  • Nimmo Neil Duncan. F/Lt.
  • Nixon Jack Elwin McIntosh. P/O (d.21st Jun 1944)
  • Orchard Edwin. AC1.
  • Park James Aloysius. Sgt. (d.24 May 1943)
  • Parsons J.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Patterson M. C.. F/S (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Peyton-Lander John. Flt. Sgt.
  • Phillips John Henry. Sgt. (d.23rd Aug 1943)
  • Poulton C. J.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Reeve George Edward. Sgt. (d.22nd/23rd Sep 1943)
  • Reid Ian Henry Milne. Sgt. (d.21st Jun 1944)
  • Reynolds . Sgt.
  • Rice Alan Norman. W/OII (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Roberts Robert Russell. Sgt. (d.31st March 1944)
  • Robinson Earnest Gordon .
  • Ryan Patrick Joseph. F/O (d.24th Aug 1943)
  • Schneider A. W. L.. Sgt. (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Shakespeare N. J.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Sharp Robert Wymss. F/Lt.
  • Slater J. W.. F/S (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Smith . Sgt.
  • Smith Clifford Ernest. F/Sgt. (d.29th July 1944)
  • Smith Henry Keith. Flt.Sgt. (d.25-26 June 1943)
  • Smith William.
  • Stafford J. F.. F/S (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Stancliffe. J K. Sgt
  • Steventon James Edward. Flt.Sgt.
  • Stewart Leonard Walter. F/Lt.
  • Stodd John. Flt Sgt.
  • Straw Bernard B. Sgt.
  • Studd John. W/O
  • Tanuziello D.. Sgt. (d.21st Jun 1944)
  • Thomas Edwin Robert. Flt. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Thompson George William.
  • Thomson Arthur S.. Sgt. (d.26th May 1943)
  • Thorogood Ronald.
  • Traeger Ernest Hugo. Flt. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 1944)
  • Trobe Jack Hewson.
  • Trobe Jack Hewson.
  • Tucker Dennis Arthur. W/O (d.4th Sep 1943)
  • Turner Donald Stuart. F/O. (d.23rd Sep 1943)
  • Tuuri Albert William. P/O (d.29th July 1944)
  • Vicary Charles Gordon.
  • Wade . Sgt.
  • Waind . Sgt.
  • Wall E. G.. Sgt. (d.3rd Nov 1943)
  • Walmsley A. H. . F/O
  • Watchorn S. E.. P/O (d.14th Jan 1944)
  • Wells Henry Eric. F/Sgt
  • Wigham William. F/O
  • Williams James Wartell. Sgt. (d.20th Jun 1942)
  • Wilson Allen Howard. Flt. Sgt. (d.31st Mar 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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Sgt. George McLatchie air gunner. 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

I had a relative who died on, I believe his final mission on a mission back from Brunswick on 14th Jan 1944. The only details I have on this are: George McLatchie, Sergeant Air Gunner, 1349943 RAF(VR) died on the 14th Jan 1944 and was buried at Emmen Nieuw Dordrecht Holland, Plot 9 Row B Grave 11. He flew with 101 Squadron and was lost on a raid to Brunswick he was based at Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire. Son of Hugh and Mary Store Row Connel Park.


The aircraft DV287, was one of three Lancasters from 101 Sqd lost on this operation. They took off from Ludford Magna for ABC duties, with F/S Stafford as the eighth crew member, operating the ABC. George's aircraft was shot down by a night-fighter, flown by Oblt Martin Drewes of 1V./NJG1, they crashed at Klazienaveen, 10 km South East of Emmen, Holland. Of the eight man crew, F/O A. H. Walmsley survived and evaded capture, his escape was no coubt due to the fact that the enemy was not aware that there were eight men on board and they recovered seven bodies, the usual crew compliment.

The Funeral of those killed wwas held at Emmen Nieuw Dordrecht General Cemetery on the 18th of January 44.

  • F/O J.W.Slater
  • F/S M.C.Patterson
  • Sgt A.W.L.Schneider
  • P/O S.E.Watchorn
  • Sgt P.Mitchell
  • F/S J.F.Stafford
  • Sgt L.Easdon
  • Sgt G.T.McLatchie

Sean Lewthwaite

F/S M. C. Patterson 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

Sgt. A. W. L. Schneider 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

P/O S. E. Watchorn 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

Sgt. P. Mitchell 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

F/S J. F. Stafford 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

Sgt. L. Easdon 101 Sqd. (d.14th Jan 1944)

Sean Lewthwaite

John Jossa navigator 101 Sqd.

My father, Alfred Barnes was good friends with John Jossa for many years. John was a navigator on Lancasters in 101 squadron during the Second World War. He died some years ago.

Steve Barnes

Sgt. C. J. Poulton 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Sgt C.J.Poulton died when Lancaster LM635 SR-H was shot down on the 3rd of Nov 1943, flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft was shot down. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. J. Parsons 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Sgt J.Parsons died when Lancaster LM635 SR-H was shot down on the 3rd of Nov 1943, flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft was shot down. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. J. M. Cummings 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Flew with the crew of Lancaster LM635 SR-H which was shot down on the 3rd of Nov 1943 from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft.He rests in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. E. G. Wall 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

E Wall was killed along with the rest of the crew of Lancaster LM635 SR-H on the 3rd of Nov 1943 flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. N. J. Shakespeare 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Lost his life along with other seven crew of Lancaster LM635 SR-H on the 3rd of Nov 1943 flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. J. H. Harper 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Sgt J.H.Harper was killed on the 3rd of Nov 1943 when Lancaster LM635 SR-H flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft was shot down. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. G. F. S. Maunders ABC operator 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

Sgt G.F.S Maunders was the 8th crew member (ABC operator) of Lancaster LM635 SR-H was killed on the 3rd of Nov 1943 when the aircraft was shot down, flying from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft was shot down. He is buried in the Rheinberg War cemetery.


Sgt. Stanley Beedle 101 Sqd. (d.3rd Nov 1943)

My uncle, Stanley Beedle, aged 23 was shot down in a Lancaster over Germany in 1943, his date of death is 03/11/1943. He was based at Holme on Spalding Moor, 101 bomber squadron. He is now at rest in the Rheinberg war cemetary. Any infomation about him, his plane ,anything ,would be greatfully received.


Lancaster LM635 SR-H took off at 17:11 on the 3rd of Nov 1943 from Ludford Magna en-route to Dusseldoft. The aircraft was shot down and crashed in the vicinity of Manchengladbach, where all the crew were buried on the 6th of November 43. Subsequently they were re-interred in the Rheinberg War cemetery.

  • Sgt J.M.Cummings
  • Sgt S.Beedle
  • Sgt E.G.Wall
  • Sgt N.J.Shakespeare
  • Sgt J.H.Harper
  • Sgt G.F.S Maunders (ABC operator)
  • Sgt C.J.Poulton
  • Sgt J.Parsons


George William Thompson 84 Sqd.

My late Father George William Thompson, Royal Air Force was on-board the ss Aslem when she was sunk. Thankfully he was rescued after several hours in the water, I will always remember my Father saying that he was full of praise for the bravery of The Reverend Pugh tendering to the injured Airman who were trapped in the sinking ship. Dad always insisted on wearing his life jacket when on-board, he was ordered by a senior officer (no name though) to take it off & pass it him, Dad refused to do this & thus saved his life when the torpedo struck. I have seen a photo of my Mother, taken in his cabin, that is now at the bottom of the Atlantic having gone down in the Anselm.

Thankfully Dad survived 1939 – 45 after serving in 84, 101, 109 & 2nd TAF from the beginning of the war, prior to that had served with the RAF in Iraq & Egypt (84 Sqd.) flying in such delights as Westland Wapitis & the Vickers Virginia transport.

I believe there is a plaque, statue & bust of the Rev Pugh commemorating his bravery & sacrifice, does anyone know where this is please? Any info would be appreciated.

Ann Jones

P/O Ronald Holmes pilot 101 Sqd.

I served in the RAF in training and as a Pilot from October 1940 to August 1946. Operational flying:- Lancasters on 101 Squadron in Europe and Dakotas on 238 Squadron in India and Burma then in Australia and the South Pacific then 243 Squadron and finally 1315 Flight in Iwakuni, Japan.

On the morning of the 12th August 1944, I was on the RAF Bomber Station, Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire. The base of 101 Squadron, 1 Group, Bomber Command, a Special Duties Squadron with aircraft fitted with “Airborne Cigar” a highly secret radio counter measure for disrupting the enemy night fighter’s radio controllers transmissions. Our eighth crew member being the “Special Operator” to operate the set.

The village of Ludford Magna is completely surrounded by the RAF Station with the living quarters on one side of the main road which runs through the centre of the little village and the massive aerodrome on the other. We RAF types feel completely integrated with this rural community with the slow steady pace of the countryside infusing us with a sense of security. The sun is shining, the weather looks fine and the morning air is heavy with the scent of new mown hay and life seems very sweet. With a jolt we wake to reality. Our names are on the Operations Board for tonight! There it is! Aircraft N2 (Nan squared) Pilot P/O Homes, Navigator F/O Kabbash, Flight Engineer Sgt Waind, Bombaimer Sgt Wade, Wireless Operator Sgt Davidson, Special Operator Sgt Holway, Midupper Gunner Sgt Reynolds, Rear Gunner Sgt Smith. Oh hell! That means that our own Lancaster L,love, is still unserviceable. We've done our last two ops in N2 and we don't really like it. You develop a fondness for your own aircraft, it just feels right and although on the face of it all the aircraft appear identical they feel different and you get the "feel" of your own. Perhaps it's the confident relationship one builds up with your own ground staff, for you know that they are totally conscientious in their work and they are truly a part of your team. The change of aircraft does nothing to settle that nasty empty sinking feeling in the stomach, and the thoughts of whether you will see this sunshine tomorrow have to be quickly dismissed. Don't think like that! Think of something else! Anything, but don’t show your fear.!!! Right! Let's get the crew together and cycle out to the aircraft and give it a flight check All the crew must check over their equipment to make sure that it's fully operational for tonight, and the aircraft may have to be flown to make sure she is completely airworthy before she is loaded up with fuel, bombs and ammunition for the trip.The butterflies in the stomach seem to be settling down a bit, now that we have a job to do to take one's mind off the coming night. Our proficiency in our respective jobs and the camaraderie between us helps to build up our confidence. The jokes are a little too loud and a rather forced, but they will get worse as the day goes on as the anxiety gnaws at our insides and we strive to put a brave face on it. The aircraft is OK but we still have the rest of the long day to get through before briefing at 19.30hrs. So let's go and have some lunch.......... but somehow I don't really feel like eating!

We set off around the perimeter track on our bikes and already the bowsers, heavy with fuel, are approaching the aircraft to fill up their tanks with thousands of gallons of 100 octane fuel. Following them come the 'trains' of bomb trolleys with the various bombs on board and being towed by tractors. We try to find out what the fuel and bomb loads are, and from that, get some idea of what the target might be, but it's not very conclusive. We shall just have to wait until we get to briefing to find out.

Back at the mess the smell of food being cooked is a bit hard to take and I would rather go to the bar for a stiff drink but I need to keep off the booze in order to keep a clear head for tonight. Just take a deep breath and go into the dining room and try to do justice to the steak and kidney pie and mash and boiled cabbage,......oh dear!! More banter and jokes around the table helps to renew the flagging appetite and the meal begins to seem quite appetising and with a full stomach I might be able to manage a little sleep this afternoon. I really should try, because it will probably be near dawn tomorrow before I have a chance to sleep again. Oh dear, I wonder what will happen between now and then? I wonder if there will be a "then"????

Back in the "Nissan hut" accommodation, all is surprisingly quiet, maybe everyone is trying to get some sleep. It's pleasantly warm with the sun shining on the corrugated iron roof, sometimes it can get unbearably hot, and sometimes damned cold. I can hear the birds singing outside and the low drone of Merlin engines being run up on the other side of the village. It has a comforting sound, powerful and warm and reliable.......... The noises in the next room wake me, it's just before four o'clock and I've been asleep for an hour and a half and I'm feeling drowsy and comfortable and then I remember....... that damned sinking feeling hits my stomach again. Briefing is at seven thirty, which leaves just two and a half hours before we get our pre-ops meal of egg and bacon. Its just a short walk down a gravel path to the Mess in the warm August afternoon sunshine and somewhere behind all the Nissan huts further up on the hill a tractor is working in one of the fields and its muted engine noise joins in with the bird song and the warm air is full of the heavy smell of new mown grass. Life seems so good and you wouldn't think there was a bloody war on but for the increasing noise of activity from the airfield on the other side of the village. I wish I didn't have to fly tonight!

The Mess is very quiet, everybody subdued and deep in their own thoughts, most of the armchairs are occupied with lounging figures pretending to read well thumbed copies of Flight and Picture Post or yesterday's papers, but finding great difficulties in concentration. Two or three chaps are at the small tables around the edge of the room, writing letters, sometimes gazing into space seeking inspiration. What can you write about other than what fills your mind; tonight’s operation and the chances of survival but that must not be mentioned.. There's a copy of Tee-Em and an empty armchair which I soon make use of and get lost in the antics of 'Pilot Officer Prune', the feather brained pilot who puts up every flying 'black' in the book. Then suddenly I'm drawn back to the real world by my Navigator sinking into the next armchair with his friendly Canadian greeting 'Hi'. "Hello Alex, have you been sleeping", "Awe no" he tells me, he's just taken a walk down to the farm to see if there were any jobs to do, but Mr Martin was out in the fields, probably driving the tractor that I heard earlier, but I guess it filled in a bit of the time for him in these long empty anxious hours before an operation. The minutes drag by until it's time for the six o'clock news on the Home Service of the BBC. The radio is switched on and the precise well rounded voice of the announcer tells us of the successes of the armies as they push their way into France, and that, last night a strong force of Lancasters and Halifaxes attacked targets in the Ruhr and extensive damage was done to oil refineries and marshalling yards. I wonder where we shall be going in just a few hours time. Soon it's time for the eggs and bacon. The faces begin to look less worried for everybody knows that it's the other chaps that don't come back, not you. Anyway the food is comforting and the atmosphere is full of high spirits, even though a little false.

"B flight bus is outside!" shouts somebody from the dining room door. A hundred or more chair legs scrape the floor and a crowd make for the door to grab their hats in the scrum in the hall. It's amazing how most people manage to get their own hats when they all look alike. Outside the sergeants are streaming out of their Mess across the road and gathering together in groups with their officer crew members and a lively chatter of speculation develops as they board the buses to take them down to briefing. Not long now to find out what the target is!

As we all file into the briefing room all eyes go to the big map on the wall to see where the red ribbon goes to. Where is it ? Frankfurt? Mainz? The loud general chatter and the scraping of chairs as the crews get themselves grouped together at the tables is suddenly silenced by the arrival of The AOC, The Base Commander G/Cap King, and the Squadron Commander W/Com. de la Everest. Everybody stands until brought to ease by the Squadron commander who steps up to the briefing platform with the words "Tonight's target is Russelsheim here between Mainz and Frankfurt" as he points to the spot on the map, with a long pointer "It's the Opel motor works that we have to flatten gentlemen, in order to reduce Hitler's already shortening war supplies ever further". "There will be 450 aircraft on the raid and as usual this squadron will be timed to be spaced evenly through the bomber stream. Start engines at 21.00hrs for take-off at 21.30hrs. Climb on track for Skegness where you will join the main stream at your allotted times. Climb on track again to be at this point on the Dutch coast at 18000ft, then on to the next turning point here (again the stick taps the chart) when you should be at your bombing height of 21000ft"........and so on. Then follows the Met man with news of fair weather, then the Navigation leader emphasising the importance of staying on track and in the stream and on time to the half minute, then the Intelligence officer with warnings of heavily defended areas to avoid, "the run into the target will be from the north-west between Mainz and Frankfurt so hold your track to avoid these areas". Then the Bombing leader and the Flight engineering leader and the Gunnery leader all with their instructions and words of warning, set your watches, and finally a word of encouragement from the AOC, "hit the target hard and good luck chaps".

There's a look of determination on some of the faces now. We know the job and how to do it. This is what we have been trained for and we feel confident. The general chatter gets louder as we all file out of the briefing room to walk to the Locker Room to get kitted up for the trip. For most of the crew it's just flying boots, a sweater and silk scarf, Mae West and a parachute. Let's hope that we don't have to use them. The gunners and special-operators have to put on heavier, warmer gear. It's colder in their part of the aircraft. Pockets are emptied of letters, bus tickets, cinema tickets and anything that could be of use to enemy intelligence in the event of being shot down. I notice Smithy, our rear gunner, slip his 'lucky' wishbone into his top pocket before he struggles into his thick, yellow, electrically heated suit and he catches my eye with a shy grin on his face. I hope it works! I mean, the wishbone. All kitted up and ready to go we file out to the crew buses to take us out to the aircraft.

The buses trundle around the perimeter track full of noise and ribald remarks. Nerves are stretched to breaking point now. It's funny how you feel chilly and a little shivery at this point regardless of the temperature, but it will be all right when we get on board the aircraft. We drop off the crews at their respective aircraft with loud shouts of "farewell" and "good luck" and "see you in the morning". Then the shout of "Nan Squared" means that we have arrived at our dispersal. In the cool half light of the evening, the aircraft stands there, big, black and menacing against a turquoise sky. The ground crew greet us with small words of assurance as to the airworthiness of the aircraft and Stan, our Flight Engineer, and I go around the aircraft doing the external checks. Pitot head covers removed, all cowlings, inspection panels and leading edges secured. Check tyres for creep. We climb aboard to our respective positions, checking escape hatches, etc etc. Inside the aircraft there's that familiar smell of cellulose, oil and 100octane fuel. Checking more equipment in the fuselage as we climb the steep slope forward and struggling over the main spar, our minds are beginning to get to grips with the task ahead. Settling into the pilots seat on the parachute, buckling it on and doing up the seat belt, my hands are shaking a bit and none of the buckles seem to go together easily. The seat seems a bit hard and a bit too low. I adjust it and that seems to be more comfortable. Helmet on, plug into the intercom and connect the oxygen, check the instrument panel, switch on radio and check the intercom.

20.50hrs, ten minutes to start up and all the crew are now in there positions with their equipment checked. Switch on intercom, "Pilot to Rear gunner OK?" "Rear gunner OK Skip", "Pilot to Mid upper OK?", "Mid upper OK", "Pilot to Special OK?, "Special OK", "Pilot to Wireless Operator OK?", "OK Skip", and so on checking on each of the other seven crew members in turn. "OK Engineer it's 20.58hrs and we're ready to start up". "OK Skip ground/flight switch to Ground, Trolley Acc is plugged in, Engine controls set, Fuel OK". " Right start up number one", the big prop turns slowly with a whining noise,-- it kicks, and with a cloud of exhaust smoke it bursts into life with that deep throated roar. Number two- three- and four. All engines running now, all gauges OK. "Ground/flight switch to FLIGHT " set engines to 1,200rpm to warm up. Temperatures and pressures building, check hydraulics, Gunners check the movements of their turrets, Wireless Operator checks the radios, Navigator checks the Gee, compass etc etc. All the crew are working like clockwork now, going though the actions that they have been well trained to do. With the work in hand, you can feel the confidence building and the butterflies are being flushed out. Set each engine to 1,500rpm and check magnetos, open up all four engines in turn to zero boost and check the superchargers, check constant speed units. Open up each engine in turn to takeoff power and check boost, rpm.and magnetos. The whole aircraft shakes and trembles like a huge animal coming to life. All OK throttle back to 1,200rpm and ready to go. "Pilot to Rear gunner, all OK?" "Rear gunner OK Skip", "Pilot Mid upper OK?", "OK Skipper" and so on checking on all the crew in turn once again, a procedure that will be carried out over and over again during the trip. “Right Chaps, we are ready to taxi”.

It's now 21.20hrs and the light is beginning to fade and other Lancasters are starting to roll along the perimeter track, big and black with their navigation lights on, towards the takeoff point. Thumbs up to the ground crew and wave the chocks away and we get a good luck wave back as we open up the throttles and trundle forward onto the perimeter track to take our place in the queue for take off. The usual group of well wishers are gathered by the signals hut at the end of the runway. All ranks, Officers, Airmen and Waafs, all with friends and loved ones taking off into the evening sky, perhaps, never to be seen again. An experience that could be shattering in any normal times, but they have all learnt to steel themselves and put on a cheerful smile and a wave to give us confidence, and they repeat this performance night after night.

All pre-takeoff checks have been done, we now roll heavily forward to the hold position straight and lined up with the runway and brakes on. The cockpit is flooded with a green light from the Aldis the signals hut gives us the OK to takeoff.

“OK chaps, here we go!” Left hand on the control column, feet on the rudder pedals and the four big throttle levers in my right hand are eased forward leading with the left engines to counteract the swing, keep her straight with the runway, the deep throated roar envelops us. A bit of right rudder, that‘s it.. Ease the stick forward, get the tail up, that’s it! The rudder is beginning to respond now, keep her straight, that’s it! Throttles go forward “Full Power!” The Flight Engineer takes over the throttles and pushes them right forward “Full Power Skip”. Both hands on the control column now, keep her straight, aircraft is throbbing, the roar from the four engines is deafening. Airspeed is building, “60, 80, 90mph“ .is called out by the Flight Engineer. The runway roars past but the full massive weight of 2000gallons of fuel and six tons of bombs makes itself felt through the controls and the end of the runway gets nearer and nearer. If one engine fails now we would run off the end and the whole lot would blow up and leave a nasty big hole in the ground. “100, 110, 115, 120mph calls the Flight Engineer, gently ease back on the control column and all the rumbling and shaking stops, and we are airborne, just in time to see the end of the runway slide away underneath. “Airborne 21.34hrs Navigator” “ 21.34hrs Skip”. Phew! L ‘love’ would have made a better job of it than that! A touch on the brakes to stop the wheels spinning and “Undercarriage up” “Undercarriage Up” responds the Flight Engineer. The heavy aircraft begins to slowly gain speed and height. Three hundred feet and the familiar trees and village houses slip away underneath the upturned faces of village friends wishing us a safe return. “Flaps up to 10 degrees” she gains a bit more speed, “OK Flaps all the way up”, “Flaps right up Skip”. Trim nose up, now she seems to be ‘flying’ as the airspeed builds to our climbing speed of 175mph. One thousand feet “Reduce power to 2850, +9”, “2850, +9 Skip” and we slowly turn onto our heading for Skegness of 135Compass. “Pilot to Navigator on 135Compass”, “OK Skip, ETA Skegness at 41”, “Roger”. The higher we climb the brighter it gets and now the low setting sun glistens on our Perspex and that of the swarm of Lancasters that are gathering around us and all going our way. The sky ahead is a deep indigo with the oncoming night and the coastline is just visible in the grey mist below. Another crew check and everybody is OK except Smithy the rear gunner who can’t see a thing with the setting sun in his eyes I tell him not to look at it in case it spoils his night vision. We shall need all the good eyes we can muster to look out for enemy fighters and to avoid collisions with friendly aircraft in the dark. “Navigator to Pilot, we’re running about a minute ahead”, “OK Nav we’ll slow up a bit, make it 160mph”

“Pilot to Navigator, she’s climbing about 300 feet a minute which should put us about 18,000ft at the Dutch coast”, “OK Pilot I’ll just check”. “Bombaimer to Pilot, Skegness is just coming up now, dead ahead”, “OK Bombaimer tell us when we are right over it”, “OK Skipper” Onward we drone and slowly the night settles in, the sun has gone now and the instruments take on that familiar green fluorescent glow. “Bombaimer to Pilot, we’re right over Skegness now”, “Right Bombaimer, that’s Skegness at 44 Navigator” “OK Skipper that’s fine, turn onto 128Compass”, “128Compass it is Navigator”. The sky grows steadily darker “Pilot to gunners, keep your eyes peeled for friendly aircraft and enemy fighters, the stream is beginning to bunch up now and it will soon be completely dark”, “ Rear Gunner, OK Skip”, “Midupper OK Skipper” With a steady drone we climb into the darkness as the outside world fades away with the cold, now invisible, sea two and a half miles below. It’s warm in this part of the aircraft and one could begin to feel that the rest of the world doesn’t exist, just this cocoon of metal with the instruments glowing comfortably on the instrument panel. With this false sense of protection and with the steady drone of the engines one could easily be lulled off to sleep. “Lancaster, starboard bow, same level Skip”, “OK Bombaimer I see him” The call quickly shakes me out of my cosy feeling and I make some adjustments to avoid him. It’s not healthy to creep up behind another aircraft, a twitchy rear gunner is likely to think you are an enemy fighter and give you the benefit of his four Brownings and it would seem such a waste to be shot down by a friendly aircraft. “Navigator to Pilot, ETA Dutch coast at 34”, “Pilot to Navigator ROGER Dutch Coast at 34, I’m holding 128 Compass, Air Speed 160”, “Nav to Pilot the G’s good and we’re bang on track”, “ Pilot to Engineer, engines look OK, how’s the fuel consumption?”, “Engineer to Pilot it looks OK so far Skip”. Onward and upwards we drone though the dark, chill, space of night, checking this and that and searching the blackness outside for the slightest smudge of blacker black, which might be another aircraft on a collision course.

Onward and upward the steady drone goes on with the regular scan of the instruments and the night outside punctuated at regular intervals by the crew check. Everybody fully occupied with their own job and their own deep inner thoughts. The Special Operator back there in the fuselage is busy with his cathode-ray tube searching the frequencies for directions to German Night Fighters from their controllers so that he can jam them with one of his three transmitters.

“Searchlights and flak ahead on the port bow Skipper!” “OK bombaimer, it looks like somebody has wandered off to port of track and is getting a reception from Rotterdam. Are we on track Navigator?” “Navigator to Pilot, the G says we’re bang on and the signal’s pretty good so far” “Good show! Navigator”.”Pilot to Bombaimer, see if you can get a fix on the Dutch coast, it should be just about visible and we should be there in three minutes” “OK Skip”. “Pilot to Gunners, keep your eyes open chaps, it looks as though they know we’re coming now”.”Midupper, OK Skip” “Rear Gunner, OK Skipper” “ Pilot to Special, any activity in your department yet?” “ Hello Skipper, Special here, no, it all seems quite quiet at the moment, no doubt it will liven up soon” “OK Special, keep us informed” My eyes sweep the green glowing instruments, again and again, then into the inky black sky, all OK, - just saw another sparkle of exploding anti-aircraft fire ahead. It looks quite pretty from here, but it won’t when we get nearer. “ Bombaimer to Skipper, I can just see the Dutch coast coming up now, I’ll give you a fix when we cross----------now! 34 and a half on the tip of Overflakkee and I’m glad that it’s not living up to it’s name at the moment” “So am I Bombaimer, it all looks very quiet, that could mean that there are Jerry Night Fighters about, keep your eyes open Gunners” “Pilot to Navigator, did you get that?” “OK Skip, we’re on track and 30 seconds late. Turn onto one zero two Compass, ETA Turning Point is on the hour”. “Roger, Navigator one zero two Compass and on the hour”.

Over occupied territory now and right over a whole nest of German Night Fighter airfields, but so far all seems to be quiet, time for another crew check, all OK. I slowly become conscious of a beat developing in the steady drone of the engines as they become slightly unsynchronised, a quick check of the engine instruments shows that the starboard inner has dropped a few revs. The Flight Engineer leans forward, he has spotted it too, he checks the Boost and temperature gauges and gives me a thumbs-up sign and a shrug of the shoulders. “Could be a little icing in the carb Skip” “OK I’ll adjust the throttles, but keep your eyes on it”. With a slight adjustment of the pitch levers the engines revert to their steady drone. “Engineer to Pilot, fuel consumption is fine , just changing to number 2 tanks” “OK Engineer”

The monotonous drone is broken by a crackle on the intercom as somebody switches on their microphone. “Navigator to Pilot, we’re about 3miles to port of track alter course to one one zero Compass for the turning point” “Pilot to Navigator, one one zero Compass it is, we’re levelling out at 21000” “OK Skipper 21000, the wind seems to be a bit more southerly up here”-----“ Midupper to Pilot, Lancaster on the starboard beam about 300 feet above us” “OK Midupper, keep you eyes on him, we will probably converge on him with this new heading” “OK Skip” Staring into the black night sky to hold onto a black smudge while you’re searching the blackness for other black smudges which could turn out to be a lot more sinister is very tiring, but if we can spot them first we stand a chance of living. My eyes are getting tired now and I have to fight off the drowsiness that threatens to engulf me. Onwards into the blackness relieved only by the red glow from the exhaust of the port inner engine. They always seem to be uncomfortably bright on these very dark nights. “Pilot to Navigator, we must be getting close to the turning point now” “ Navigator to Pilot, yes Skipper, only another minute to run, then onto one three six Compass, ETA for next turning point is 38. “Roger Navigator, turning now onto one three six Compass, ETA at 38, Airspeed 190.

Suddenly a bright orange ball of fire lights up the sky about a quarter of a mile on the port beam when a Lancaster and it’s full fuel and bomb load disintegrates. “Some poor sods have bought it Skip”, “Pilot to Midupper, OK we can see it” “Pilot to crew, there was no sign of flak chaps, so that means fighters. Keep you eyes skinned. Navigator, make a note of that on your log.” “ OK Skipper” Onward we drone with the aircraft swinging slightly from side to side as the gunners swing their turrets in their endless searching into the blackness. Eyes staring into the dark sky,…….what’s that?……….a faint patch of light on the port beam. What the…………? Of course it’s the moon just coming up and behind a patch of cloud. Not a full one tonight, thank God! “Pilot to Rear Gunner, OK?” “ OK Skip, the moon’s just showing up on the Port Beam”, “ Good show, I’m glad you’ve spotted it, keep a good look out to Starboard, we might be silhouetted against that light patch. Midupper?” “OK Skipper” “Pilot to crew, everybody still awake?” “Special OK Skip, there’s quite a bit of fighter activity on the frequencies” “OK Special” “Wireless, you OK” “OK Skip, we just got the broadcast wind and I’ve past it to the Nav” “Navigator’s OK Skip, turn onto 138 Compass, we’re slightly to port of track, the wind has gone round a bit to the west. ETA is still good at 38 for the turning point” “Roger, Navigator, Pilot to Bombaimer, are you OK?” “Bombaimer to Pilot OK, I’m still chucking out this bloody Window!” “OK keep up the good work!” “Ha, Ha!”

Onward into the night we drone, check the heading, the airspeed, the altimeter,………. we’ve gained a couple of hundred feet,………trim the nose down a bit. Must be getting a little lighter as we burn off some fuel. The green glow of the instruments seem so bright now that they seem to be burning into my eyes, it must be past my bed time. How nice it would be to be in bed now, all warm and safe instead of four miles up in the dark over Germany with the Luftwaffer intent on killing you. “Rear Gunner to Pilot, there’s Flak and Searchlights about five miles on the Starboard Quarter” “Pilot to Rear Gunner, Roger, - somebody’s wandered over Cologne I expect”. “It might be a diversionary raid” says the Engineer who is standing next to me, scanning all his engine instruments and writing up his log with the aid of a glow worm of a torch. “Yes, Engineer, let’s hope it works, we’re only about 20 minutes to the target now; engines look happy?” “Yes Skip”. “Navigator to Pilot, we’re running a couple of minutes early, can you cut the speed back to 175?” “Pilot to Navigator Wilco”. Bring back the throttles a bit, trim up the nose, and the airspeed creeps back to 175, a slight adjustment to the pitches and the four big engines resume their regular drone. “Navigator to Pilot, it’s 14 minutes to the turning point then 10.5 minutes to run into the target. “Pilot to navigator, Roger, things will start hotting up soon chaps, ..everybody keep you eyes skinned” “OK Skipper”. “Special to Pilot, There’s a lot more fighter activity now Skipper” “Ok Special, did you hear that chaps? Keep your eyes open Gunners” “Bombaimer to Pilot, it’s all looking very quiet and dark ahead Skipper” “OK Bombaimer, I expect they will be switching on the bright lights for you soon”

“Navigator to Pilot, turning point in one minute, then onto 171 Compass”. “ Roger Navigator, 171 Compass it is”. Only 10 minutes to the target now! You can feel the tension growing, five pair of eyes constantly searching the blackness for a darker patch that may be an enemy fighter or at best another Lancaster on a collision course. It may come from above, or below, fighters usually attack from behind and below, but only the gunners have a chance to see them, so I swing the aircraft slightly from side to side to give them a chance to spot them under our tail.

Eight minutes to the target now and some green TIs (target indicators) start to go down, way out in front and on our starboard bow. That’s right, it must be our target because we have a twenty degree turn to starboard for a short run-up of ten miles to target. “Pilot to Bombaimer, you had better get your gear set up” “Bombaimer to Pilot all set Skipper, they’re beginning to switch on the lights now” “Yes, searchlights and a bit of flak going up now”. Suddenly over to port there is a concentrated load of flak finishing with a bright orange ball of fire as another Lancaster is hit. “Another one’s got the chop Skipper” somebody shouts over the intercom. “Pilot to Mid Upper, if that’s you, OK I saw it” “Pilot to Navigator, log that one, over Frankfurt I guess,” “OK Skipper”

Bombs are beginning to go down over the target now, and I tune into the frequency for the Master Bomber. His voice is just audible over the static saying that the marking is good. Fires are beginning to light the night sky over the target and more flak is coming up ahead. Five minutes to run now, “Pilot to Navigator, turning onto the bombing run now, speed 175” “Nav, OK Skipper” “Pilot to Bombaimer, all set?” “Bombaimer OK Skip, bombs selected” “Pilot to Crew, OK chaps here we go, keep you eyes open, but with this amount of flak coming up I don’t suppose there’s any fighters about”

The Master Bomber’s voice is clearer now saying “Bomb the red and green TIs, the marking is good”, as we slowly, oh so slowly advance towards that huge dome of fire. Exploding anti-aircraft shells sparkle in clusters like iron fillings dropped in a flame, just at our level but still a little ahead. The fires below begin to reflect a glow on the under side of the aircraft and other Lancasters come into view like little black toys silhouetted over the fires of the target. “Bombaimer to Pilot, starting the run up now, we’re a bit to port, Right-Right” “Roger Bombaimer, over to you” “Roger, Bombdoors open skipper” My left hand drops to the lever and selects, Bombdoors open “Roger, Bombdoors open” A slight change of trim as the two massive doors under the aircraft open, fluttering into the slip stream and a tremble comes up through the controls. Everything has to be very steady now, keep the heading and airspeed correct. Airspeed steady at 175, heading 071 degrees, steady, steady. A sudden change will upset the Bombsight and we will miss the target. “Right Right” says the Bombaimer and I respond with a slight pressure on the starboard rudder pedal and the direction indicator swings slowly through two degrees. “Steady” responds the Bombaimer. I hold it at 073 degrees, brilliant flashes in the target area as bombs burst sending out concentric ripples in the fires below. The tension mounts everybody seem to be holding their breath...CRUMP..CRUMP.. two shells burst near enough to be heard above the roar of the engines and the aircraft jumps. Steady, check airspeed, check the heading, OK. “Left-left” calls the bombaimer, “Steady-steady”, as the red and green TIs slowly creep up the wire on his bombsight. Flashes from exploding shells seem to be all around us now, the Bombaimers instructions become more frequent, “right….steady……left-left……steady……steady….s.t.e.a.d.y…..s..t..e..a..d..y - BOMBS GONE!!! ”Donk….Donk….Donk…. go the bombs as they are released from their hooks and the aircraft rears up as its massive six ton load drops away. Trim nose down to keep the airspeed steady, check the heading, keep her steady now for a long , oh so long, two minutes, while the flak bursts seem to be getting closer and closer, until the photo flash goes off and the camera takes a picture of where our bombs would strike. Then “BOMB DOORS CLOSED” from the Bombaimer. “Bomb doors closed” I reply as my left hand pulls up the lever and my right hand pushes the control column forward to build up speed while the Flight Engineer pushes the throttles forward. You can sense the massive release of tension in the crew as the engine’s roar takes on a higher note and the airspeed builds up to get away from the target area and out of the flak as fast as possible.

Check the crew, “Pilot to crew, everybody OK? Rear Gunner?” “Rear Gunner OK Skip” “Mid Upper” “Mid Upper OK Skipper” and so on. “Right chaps, everybody’s OK , let’s go home”

“Navigator to Pilot, turn onto 297 Compass” “Roger Navigator 297 Compass, airspeed 195” “Roger Skip, airspeed 195, I’ll give you the time to the next turning point in a minute” “Roger, Navigator”. There’s comfort in the steady drone of the engines now and quite an elated feeling at having survived another target and we’re on our way home. Suddenly the Mid Upper shouts “FIGHTER” I slam on full left rudder, control column forward and hard to port, his guns begin to chatter and instantly the plane is shaken by a series of dull thumps. What a strange noise… WE’VE BEEN HIT! A brilliant yellow-orange light fills the cockpit. “ Starboard Outer’s on fire Skipper” shouts the Engineer, “There’s a bloody great flame going past the Tailplane” Shouts the Mid Upper. “OK chaps, settle down,- Pilot to Engineer, feather the Starboard Outer and push the fire extinguisher”. “OK Skip -----------Fire’s still burning Skip”…... “Shit!” Thoughts rush through my mind as I continue to throw the aircraft about in a corkscrew to avoid the fighters. We must be a choice target now, lit up in the night sky like a flaming comet and if we don’t get this fire out we have HAD IT! “Engineer to Pilot, it looks like a fuel fire, ----if we turn off the fuel to the Starboard side we might be able to starve it but it will mean feathering the Starboard inner engine as well” “ OK engineer try that!” “Pilot to Crew, anybody hurt?” “Rear Gunner, OK Skip but my turret’s U.S.” “Mid Upper’s OK but so is mine.” “OK Gunners keep your eyes skinned for that bloody fighter and just give me directions to avoid it” “OK Skipper”. “Special OK” “Navigator OK” “Wireless OK Skip” “Bombaimer OK Skipper” “Good show chaps -------What the hell is happening Engineer? “Starboard Inner’s feathered Skipper!” “So has the bloody Port inner, I’ve only got one engine left!!” The Engineer looks puzzled and runs his eyes over the controls and instruments and I think I catch a glimpse of a shrug of his shoulders. Is it getting darker?-------------- I think it is!----------- “The fire’s going out Skip!!!!” “Thank God for that, Engineer, I think I can stop corkscrewing now, Pilot to Gunners, shout as soon as you spot a fighter, and tell me which direction to corkscrew!” “Rear OK Skip” “Mid Upper OK”.

We’ve lost a lot of height over that and we are now down to 10000ft and all on our own well below the bomber stream and won’t be able to maintain that on just one engine. My left leg is aching with the pressure required to keep the aircraft straight against the uneven thrust of the one outboard engine. I become conscious of the sweat on my back and a dryness in my mouth and a growing determination to get this lot back. Please God, I don’t want to end up in a prison camp. “Pilot to Engineer, as soon as the fire has cooled down we will have a go at starting up the Starboard Inner, meanwhile let’s see if we can get this Port Inner wound up, we’re losing too much height like this.” “OK Skipper”. “Pilot to Navigator let me have a new heading for home as soon as you can, we are down to 10000ft now so there will probably be a different wind, you will have to take a guess on where we are now”. “Navigator to Pilot, hold onto 297 Compass while I work something out” “Roger Navigator”. “Engineer to Pilot, starting up Port Inner now”. “Roger Engineer”. The big propeller by my left hand window slowly begins to turn as it becomes unfeathered, a couple of blue flashes from the exhaust and she winds up to 1200 revs to warm up before opening up to cruising power. Everything appears OK and I get the thumbs up from the Engineer. Another hurdle over!

“Engineer to Pilot, we seem to be losing a lot of fuel from number one Starboard tank, I think it must have been holed. I’m switching all engines to that tank” “OK Engineer, have we lost much?” “Three or four hundred gallons I’d guess” “Christ! we’d better start leaning out or we shall never get back, I don’t fancy a swim in the North Sea after all this”. “OK Skipper I think we can have a go at starting up the Starboard Inner now” “OK turn on the fuel to that side but if the fire starts up again shut it down straight away” “Roger”. Everybody has their fingers crossed as the propeller out of the right hand window begins to turn and the engine slowly comes to life and as she comes up to cruising power a blessed relief is given to my left leg as the thrust becomes more even and I can trim it out. Another blessed relief is enjoyed by all when the Starboard Outer remains dark.

“Pilot to Crew, OK chaps we’ve now got three engines again which should get us home alright, if we are careful with the fuel. We are 10000ft, well below the Bomber stream and we can’t afford the fuel to climb up and anyway we’re not really sure where we are. All the guns are out of action and it looks as though we have lost all our hydraulics, so keep your eyes skinned for fighters. “Rear Gunner to Pilot, my eyes are smarting and I’m soaked in bloody petrol”. “Pilot to Rear Gunner, I think that some of the fuel we lost has been sucked into your turret, hang in there as long as you can”. “OK Skipper”. “Navigator to Pilot, I can’t get a fix on anything and I’m not sure exactly where we are so hang on to 297 until we can get a fix” “Pilot to Navigator Roger 297 it is”. “Pilot to Engineer, let’s reduce the power to zero boost and 2000 revs “. “OK Skip” “ That should give us about 160 at this height” the engine notes become softer and return to the steady drone as the Engineer adjusts the pitch controls to synchronize the remaining three engines. All appears quiet and very black outside as the airspeed settles to 160. “Navigator to Pilot, at this speed, it should be just over the hour to the coast”. “ Roger Navigator, it’s going to be a bloody long hour” “Pilot to crew, did you hear that chaps, keep your eyes open and your fingers crossed” Onward we drone long minute after minute through the darkness with every body deep in their own thoughts, nerves stretched to breaking point. The Engineer over my right shoulder is busy with his glow worm of a torch and his fuel log working out the consumption, the Navigator busy trying to get his Gee set to work and give us a fix to find out where we are and the gunners manually winding their turrets from side to side to search the inky black sky for any signs of enemy fighters. “Pilot to Special, are your sets still working?” “Special, yes Skipper but there’s not much going on locally, we seem to be on our own” OK Special, let’s hope it stays that way”. “Pilot to Bombaimer can you see the ground?” “ Nothing worth while Skipper, I’ve been trying to get a fix on something but so far, no good”. “OK Bombaimer, keep looking” On and on we fly though the night on the heading of 297, heading for the coast of mainland Europe, but which part? Any minute we could fly into a heavily defended area, be coned in searchlights and be the sole target for all the flak, heavy and light, at this level. “Engineer to Pilot, we’ve used up all the fuel in number one starboard tank now and switched to Number one port. We seemed to have enough fuel for just over an hour and a half at these settings” “Roger Engineer, Navigator, would you like to take a guess at our ETA for Base?” “Navigator to Pilot my guess is about one hour fifty” “Roger Navigator, that seems a bit tight”.

One and a half hours of fuel and hour fifty to Base…… it looks as though we should go for an alternative. Without hydraulics, no flaps, possibly no brakes and a chance of a dodgy undercarriage an emergency field seems to be the answer. “Pilot to Navigator, if we can get a fix on the coast we had better set a course for Woodbridge we might need their two mile runway”. “OK skipper we should be getting near the coast in about ten minutes ”. “ Pilot to Bombaimer keep your eyes on the ground for some kind of fix” “OK Skip”. “Engineer to Pilot, there’s some flak way over to starboard” “Roger, might be the main stream”. Minutes drag by with all eyes searching the darkness for some point of recognition. How long can our luck hold out. Where the hell is that coastline? It must be coming up soon! Can we slip out over the sea without being attacked by a fighter or run into defended area? “Pilot to Engineer, what’s the fuel state?” “OK Skipper ’should get us to Woodbridge”. Where’s that coast line? I’m getting anxious now, check the heading for the hundredth time-- yes OK on 297 Compass. Perhaps we’ve got a stronger headwind at this level. A crackle on the intercom, somebody switches on their mike. “Bombaimer to Pilot, I can see some water down to starboard” “Good show Bombaimer can you identify anything?” “No Skipper, it’s wide….. not just a river…… hold on there’s another bit of coast coming up…. it’s an island…’s big……Christ it’s Walcheron! We’re going to go right over it”.

“Pilot to crew, at least we know where we are chaps, Navigator let’s have a course and ETA for Woodbridge” “OK Skipper “. Suddenly a hundred searchlights pierce the night sky forming what looks like an impenetrable fence of light. Now they start to move and sway about and three or four move in our direction. One sweeps across towards us and a heave on the controls into a diving turn to starboard and it sweeps past our port wing, hard over to port as another comes in from that direction…. missed us, a steep climbing turn to the right and, dam! One catches us, like a moth in a flame, the whole cockpit is lit up with a brilliant blue-white light. Immediately five or six others join in and we are coned, a sitting target for all the guns on the island………….. No guns fire! Not one! That could only mean that there are fighters in the vicinity and the searchlights are holding us as a sitting target for them. I’ve got to get out of these lights. Another heave on the controls into a vicious diving steep turn to port down, down, then over to the right with the airspeed screaming and the altimeter going through eight thousand feet then hard over to the left again and a pull back on the control column into a climbing turn to the right and suddenly it’s dark again and we’re out of their clutches. Thank God that starboard wing, which must have been weakened by the fire, held on. The lights continue sweeping and searching as we weave our way through them anticipating their next move, diving and turning to avoid being caught again. I can see the edge of the island now just down on the port side. Nearly through and out to sea. Now what? All the searchlights have laid down their beams pointing straight out to sea along our route out. “Pilot to Gunners, look at the lights, they’re showing the fighters which way we are going, keep you eyes skinned for them” “Reargunner OK Skip, Midupper OK Skip” We’re now down to five thousand feet and keeping up a gentle corkscrew. “Pilot to Navigator, after that bit of excitement, have you got that heading?” “Navigator to Pilot, Compass Course for Woodbridge is 280, and 44minutes to run. “Roger Navigator 280 Compass and 44 minutes” “Pilot to Engineer, how’s the fuel?” “Engineer to Pilot, we’ve got about 170 Gallons left, enough for about 68 minutes” “ OK That gives us a little in reserve, but not much”. “Pilot to Crew, everybody OK? How’s the eyes Reargunner? “OK Skipper, a bit sore” “Glad you were able to stick it out, not long now, but don’t relax too much they will still be after us, Midupper OK?” “OK Skipper” “Bombaimer OK? Good bit of map reading there”. “Bombaimer OK Skip” “Pilot to Wireless operator, call up Woodbridge and ask for an emergency landing, our ETA will be 0246hrs”. “Wireless to Pilot, Roger ETA 0246hrs”.

Onward through the night, the engines keeping up the continuous drone, enough to induce sleep after all that excitement but we must keep wide awake, for we are not home yet. It would be a shame to be shot down on the last leg and the thought of all that cold black sea underneath us sends a chill down my back and a longing for a warm bed. “Wireless to Pilot, we’re cleared to Woodbridge, call on R/T when we get closer” “Roger, fifteen minutes to run now”. Switch R/T over to Woodbridge frequency and call “DARKEY from RELATE NAN Squared request QDM one two three four five, over” “RELATE NAN Squared QDM two seven zero, two seven zero over” “NAN Squared, two seven zero, Roger out” A slight turn to port on to 270 and ease off power to reduce height to 2000ft. Ahead all is dark until, a glimmer of light, flashing, yes, dar dar dar dar dar dit dit, yes OZ, the beacon at Woodbridge. “Woodbridge from RELATE NAN Squared your beacon in site, landing instructions please” “NAN Squared you’re cleared for a straight in approach Runway 27 QFE 1012 wind 260, 15 to 20 knots, what is your damage, over” “Woodbridge, NAN Squared, three engines, no hydraulics, undercarriage suspect, your runway in site over” “Roger NAN Squared call finals” Reduce power, down to 1000ft “ Right Engineer, landing checks, undercarriage selected down, operate the emergency compressed air system” “Undercarriage down Skip……..we’ve only got one green light Skipper” “OK Engineer, the port’s OK, look out of your window and see if the starboard leg looks OK” He searches with a torch and it appears to be down but we can’t be sure it’s locked. “Woodbridge from NAN Squared we only have one green, starboard leg is down but we don’t know if it’s locked, over”. “Roger NAN Squared can you do a circuit and be number two for landing, we have another aircraft in distress” “NAN Squared, Wilco”. Blast! I guess they don’t want us doing a wheels up landing and blocking the runway. Ease over to starboard to fly up-wind with the runway lights looking very inviting down on the port side. “Pilot to Crew, hang on chaps we’re doing a circuit….we may finish up with a wheels up landing so get to your crash positions and brace yourselves when I say, OK Reargunner?” “Wilco Skipper” “Midupper OK, Skip” “Special OK Skipper” “Wireless OK Skipper” “Navigator OK Skipper” “Bombaimer coming up Skip” “Engineer Wilco”. Just past the end of the runway and a gentle turn to port holding 1000ft and on to the down-wind leg and now for the landing checks. Undercarriage is down, Trim set, Mixture rich, Pitch to 2850 RPM, Flaps we haven’t got, Fuel Booster pumps on. “ OK Engineer” and I get the thumbs up. “Woodbridge from NAN Squared down wind” “NAN Squared call finals” “NAN Squared Wilco” This is it, will that starboard undercarriage stay down? Round we go again to the left in a gentle turn with the perimeter lights sliding away underneath, reduce power to start a gradual decent at 150mph, I can sense every body holding their breath. “Engineer, I will land slightly port wing low to keep the weight on the port wheel as long as I can.. As soon as I feel the starboard leg collapsing I will shout Undercarriage Up, OK? “OK Skip, I’m holding the lever”. The runway lights slowly come round into line as though the land below is twisting and we are standing still. “NAN Squared, Finals” “NAN Squared, clear to land”. Glide path indicator showing green…….. now changing red, GETTING TOO LOW increase power…….that’s it, airspeed 130, back in the green…. runway suddenly begins to approach rapidly….end of runway coming up….”Pilot to Crew BRACE BRACE!” Back gently on the control column, left wing low, ease off power, back, back, power off……with a slight squeal the port wheel touches the ground…….. rumbling along, faster than usual, the starboard wing gently sinks and as the wheel touches, we hold our breath and…………IT HOLDS! Keep her straight and control column hard back the speed slowly drops off. “NAN Squared, clear left if you can” “NAN Squared, Roger”. With the aid of the inboard engines we steer gently to follow the van to the parking area where we come to a very gentle halt., close down the engines and the ground staff quickly chock the wheels.

Silence, everything is still while everybody digests the fact that we have survived and slowly we start to unbuckle seat belts and parachutes and gather together our bits and pieces and start to make our way down the fuselage to the exit door. The Flight Engineer stands aside to allow me to stiffly get out of my seat. “OK Stan, we made it!” “Yes Skip, I’m glad that undercarriage didn’t fold up”. The Navigator is just finishing stuffing his charts and gear into his green canvas bag. “OK Alex” he gives me a wry smile “Yep, I guess so”. Why are we all so subdued ? Mentally exhausted? We should be cheering and shouting, but we don’t, we just climb into the crew bus which takes us over to a welcome cup of coffee, a tot of rum and de-briefing. “Your eyes look very red Smithy you had better get them looked at after we’ve been de-briefed.” “OK Skip, they are bloody sore but I’ll have my rum and coffee first”. We walk to the mess where egg and bacon is on the menu and at four o’clock we fall into bed and sleep the sleep of the exhausted.

We wake in time for lunch after which we report to the Admin Office to discover that our Squadron can’t spare a crew to come and collect us and that we will have to make our way back to Ludford Magna by rail. We are a motley looking bunch in our flying boots, May-Wests and parachutes etc when we are taken to the railway station to board the train for London, where we find that we have missed our connection to Lincoln and will have to stay over night. Who’s complaining? I live in London, so does Peter, our Special and Junior the Midupper, so we make our way through the underground and on buses, six of us to my home where I can be with my wife and the other two to their homes having made arrangements to meet up again in the morning to catch the train back to Lincoln. It’s very strange, dressed as we are nobody seems to be taking any notice of us. It feels as though we are invisible and nobody knows that just a few hours ago we were over Germany in an aircraft in flames and facing instant oblivion. Oh well, we won’t tell them, we will just go on enjoying the fact that it’s good to be alive and hope that we can survive the next twelve operations.

Ron Holmes

Sgt. Lionel Hobson flight eng. 101 Sqd. (d.4th Sep 1943)

My friend Mr R Hobson of Nottingham has an uncle who was killed on 04/09/1943, Flight Engineer (Seargeant) Lionel Hobson, 576564 on ops over Germany. He is buried at Seerstrasse Berlin 1939-1945 Commonwealth Wargraves. He was stationed at Ludford Magna. He has proud family members living in Nottingham and Goole, Yorks.

The crew were:

  • W/O D.A.Tucker
  • Sgt L.Hobson
  • F/S J.S.K.Dalziel
  • Sgt D.Hopkins
  • Sgt G.Cheadle
  • Sgt J.Clarke
  • F/S J.L.R.Stubbings

Robert Andrew

P/O Sam Brooks special operator 101 Sqd.

They always say you should never go back, nor seek to renew old acquaintances - you will only be disappointed. I don't really believe it, but then a lot happens in a lifetime, and one is sometimes tempted not just to look ahead...

In the spring of 1943 I was called up and chose to join the RAF for training as aircrew. They said I could elect to be trained as a pilot and wait to join up for a year. Alternatively, they had vacancies for rear gunners - come next Monday. I was keen to get started but... ummm. There was a third choice, be a wireless operator and come in three months. That sounded like a reasonable compromise, and I took it. August Bank holiday 1943 found me reporting to the ACRC (Air Crew Reception Centre), at Lord's cricket ground for induction and training.

I joined a squad of 30 likely lads, all destined to train as wireless operators, and we started initial training. Three weeks of inoculations and square bashing to commence. We lived in commandeered luxury flats along Prince Consort Road, marching to be fed in a similarly commandeered cafe at the zoo just across the road in Regents Park.

Then to Bridgnorth to 19 ITW (Initial Training Wing), where we started the rudiments of wireless training and began to absorb Morse code. November came and we moved to Number Two Radio School at Yatesbury in Wiltshire - a huge wooden-hutted camp in the middle of nowhere but with a small grass airfield next door, from which we would be flown to do our training for wireless operating in the air. The course we were embarked upon had been of two years duration before the war. Now it had been condensed into six months because of the enormous demand for aircrew in RAF Bomber Command. Enormous? Yes, the Bomber Command strength had built up to an ability to deliver 1,000-bomber raids over Germany on a nightly basis. Losses were significant, sometimes tragically large. They needed Aircrew.

We were all desperately keen and training classes went on from 8am to 6pm, six days a week - Sundays off. Phew! During this time I became friendly with another trainee in the group, Keith Gosling. We were very alike in character and background - Grammar school boys from stable homes, imbued with an ethic for hard work. Middle class, I suppose you would have had to call us. We had similar interests and abilities. Did I say 'desperately keen'? It's worth repeating. We, and most of the other lads around us, were entirely and selflessly committed to becoming the best wireless operators ever! Neither Keith nor I had the slightest difficulty with the theoretical side of the course, but both found it extremely difficult to conquer the required speed barriers in Morse. I came from suburban London; Keith came from Frizinghall, Bradford.

The course ended in the spring and we both passed with excellent marks. My mark on the theory side was 95%, and for operating in the air it was 85%. We proudly became sergeant wireless operators and stood by for posting to OTU (Operational Training Unit), the next stage towards operational flying.

During this time, waiting to be posted, two unusual things happened. First we were both asked to go before a commissioning board with a view to becoming officers. We were not told the results and suspected that we were not selected. The second strangeness came one morning on parade when the NCO in charge called on all those who had learned German at school to step forward. After a moment's hesitation, I did so. So did Keith with two others from the group.

Within a week we four were called in and told that the remainder of our training would be cut by some months - we would be posted to a familiarisation unit to get used to flying in heavy bombers. That we would probably be flying on operations within a month! The job we were to do would be to fly in Lancasters as an extra crew member with the specific task of operating special jamming equipment designed to prevent the Luftwaffe night-fighter pilots from hearing directions from their ground controllers.

It was a very exciting time. We were sent to No.1 LFS (Lancaster Finishing School) at Hemswell, north of Lincoln, to fly for 10 hours as passengers in Lancasters, and familiarise ourselves with being carried in large four-engined bombers. This was quite necessary as our air experience previously had been in the stately Dehaviland Dominie and tiny Percival Proctors. The Lancaster was large, loud, fast, and fierce. While we were there, the second front opened with D-Day on 6 June 1944.

Very soon now we went on to No.101 Squadron at Ludford Magna on the Lincolnshire Wolds. 101 was a three-flight squadron, flying up to 24 Lancasters in the bomber stream, armed and loaded with bombs just like the other heavy bombers but with an extra crew member in each squadron aircraft to do the jamming.

Upon arrival the first thing was a few day's introduction to the equipment we were to operate. It went under the codename 'ABC', which stood for Airborne Cigar; I have no idea why they named it that. It consisted of three enormous powerful transmitters covering the radio voice bands used by the Luftwaffe.

To help identify the place to jam there was a panoramic receiver covering the same bands. The receiver scanned up and down the bands at high speed and the result of its travel was shown on a timebase calibrated across a cathode ray tube in front of the operator. If there was any traffic on the band it showed as a blip at the appropriate frequency along the line of light that was the timebase. When a 'blip' appeared, one could immediately spot tune the receiver to it and listen to the transmission. If the language was German then it only took a moment to swing the first of the transmitters to the same frequency, press a switch and leave a powerful jamming warble there to prevent the underlying voice being heard. The other two transmitters could then be brought in on other 'blips'. If 24 aircraft were flying, spread through the Bomber stream, then there were a potential 72 loud jamming transmissions blotting out the night fighters' directions.

The Germans tried all manner of devices to overcome the jamming, including having their instructions sung by Wagnerian sopranos. This was to fool our operators into thinking it was just a civilian channel and not worth jamming. I think ABC probably did a useful job, but who can say what difference it made. Anyway, it was an absorbing time for keen, fit, young men who thought only of the challenges and excitements of their task and little of the risks they were about to run.

Next step was to get "crewed up". The normal seven-man crews for Lancasters had been made up and had been flying together for months before arrival at the Squadron. We Special Duty Operators now had to tag on to established crews and it was left largely to us to find out with which pilot we, in our ignorance, might wish to fly.

Just before this process started both Keith and I were called into the Squadron Adjutant's office one morning and told that we had been commissioned as Pilot Officers. The Adjutant, a kindly, ageing Flight Lieutenant, advised us to go to Louth, the local town, see a tailor and order an officer's uniform. We were to get the tailor to remove our Sergeant's stripes and replace them with the narrow pilot officers shoulder bands on our battle-dresses. He should finally provide us with an officer's hat! The adjutant gave us vouchers to hand to the tailor to assure him he would be paid! We were told to move our kit from the NCOs' quarters to officers' accommodation and the Adjutant would see us in the Officers' Mess at 6pm to buy us each a beer.

I had imagined that becoming an officer would include some kind of OTU or training course to instruct us what sort of behaviour might be expected of us. Not so, not for newly commissioned aircrew on a Bomber station in Lincolnshire in the middle of 1944. What is described in the previous paragraph is all that happened. Looking back I can see that all the things we were experiencing at this frenetic time were tremendous shocks to our systems. They left us ill equipped to take the apocalyptic decisions we were about to make and which, as it happened, would decide whether we lived or died.

Crewing up was to follow shortly, but on our first evening in the officers' mess we had met two Canadian pilots, Messrs Meier and Hodgkinson, newly arrived on the squadron with their crews and eager to find their extra ABC wireless operators. Our decisions were made that night. I got on well with both of them, but perhaps had marginally more in common with Gordon Hodgkinson than Meier. Keith felt perhaps closer to Meier and so our choices were made, almost by the toss of a coin: me for Hodgkinson; Keith for Meier.

I started flying with Hodgkinson who, as it happened, did not find it easy to settle down to the conditions over a hostile Germany. Our first operational flight was on 30 June 1944. 'Hodge' managed seven operations, but remained unsettled and had turned back unwell on two occasions. He was finally taken off flying and went back to Canada. I was re-crewed with a succession of other crews and completed my tour of 30 operations on 6 January 1945.

Keith started flying with Meier about the same time as I started. Our other two sergeant colleagues from Yatesbury also joined crews of their choice. One of them, Englehardt, died I believe in a raid on Stettin in August and was buried where his aircraft crashed in Sweden on the way home. I am not too sure about the date here. The fourth of us, Auer, survived like me.

When we were flying on raids to the industrial Ruhr the route for the bomber stream was often from base to Reading; Reading to Beachy Head; Beachy Head to Le Treport; then East across France and into Germany. This was our route on the night of 21 July. After the raid, Meier's Lancaster did not return and the crew were posted as missing. It was less than a year since Keith and I had joined up on August Bank Holiday in 1943 at Lords Cricket Ground.

Keith's mother Florence knew that we had been friends and wrote to me. There was little I could do to help or advise her as to what had happened. For a while I hoped that we would hear that Keith had been taken prisoner but it was not to be. It was some months before I heard the story of the crew's fate that night. Strangely enough it came from Florence. Meier's Lancaster had been caught by a night fighter not long after crossing the French coast and was shot down. Apparently, the damage caused the aeroplane to lose a wing and break up. By the best of good fortune one member of the crew was flung clear and parachuted down into occupied France. A second member of the crew also managed to make a parachute descent to safety. The other six, including my pal Keith, did not escape. All this information was vouchsafed to Florence in a letter from one of the survivors who had felt obliged to write to the relatives of each member of the crew when he was released from a POW camp. Although she was wrong Florence had thought that it was Meier the pilot who had survived and she could not understand how the captain of the aircraft could have survived when six of his crew had died. She quoted the naval tradition that a captain should be the last to leave his sinking ship.

I had seen our bombers shot down in daylight raids, and knew that once an aircraft began to break up there was absolutely nothing that anyone could do except try to save himself. I tried as gently as I could to get this across to Florence. We continued to exchange letters but our correspondence petered out in mid 1945 when the German war was over and I was posted out to India to prepare for the attack on Japan. Of course the bomb in August made that un-necessary and I spent two years in various parts of the Far East, waiting to be demobilised. When I came home again I never forgot my friendship with Keith, but I did not feel inclined to re-open an old wound for Florence by trying to get in touch again. Maybe I should have done so, but I didn't.

As the years have gone by life has of course developed in many other directions but I have always been reminded of Keith when a place, or a song, or some other thing has sparked a memory of our close but brief comradeship. He is the one I think of and shed a tear for on Armistice Day. Secretly, over the intervening years, I have felt a need to find out where Keith was buried and to visit the grave to say a sombre and measured farewell.

The opportunity to follow that wish came on the 50th Anniversary of the War's end approached. I made enquiries at the Ministry of Defence as to war graves and received a very speedy and helpful response. He was buried in a cemetery near Cambrai on the road that goes in the direction of Solesmes in grave B, row 31 - all very precisely military. My wife and I crossed the channel to Calais early on the morning of 21 July 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of Keith's death. We drove to Cambrai past some of the massive military cemeteries from World War One. Through the town we found the road to Solesmes and looked for our cemetery. The only one in sight was a German World War One cemetery, well tended and stark with granite crosses. We passed it by looking for the more familiar British headstones. On to Solesmes, still no other cemetery of any nation and we re-traced our steps towards Cambrai, thinking we must have missed it.

The German cemetery was on the outskirts of Cambrai itself and in desperation we stopped there hoping to obtain directions. Inside a gardener was cutting hedges and I went to speak to him not knowing whether to try German or my more halting French. After my first words he replied to me in English. He was a Londoner, an employee of the British War Graves authorities. Apparently the gardeners did not always work in the cemeteries of their own nations. Yes, he did know where World War Two RAF graves might be found. They were in a plot set aside in the civilian cemetery next door - only about 100 yards from where we were speaking. We were quickly there, and sure enough we found a group of some 40 RAF graves. The dates on the headstones told their own sad stories. There were sets of headstones, side by side with the same date - clearly each set from the same bomber crew.

The set for 21 July 1944 had four headstones, one of them Keith's. I did not know the other names in that crew. There were two gaps in the line. I learned later that these probably represented the spots where bodies had been repatriated by relatives, probably to Canada. So that was it, two had survived, four were here, and two had moved on. The whole crew of eight were accounted for.

In my mind's eye, over the 50 years, I had imagined Keith as having been found, and his body, still in uniform, laid peacefully to rest. I looked at the headstone - carefully carved at the top was the RAF crest, and at the foot the words 'Proud and treasured memories'. That must have been Florence's wording. I read the other words, 'Pilot Officer K. Gosling. Pilot. Royal Air Force. 21st July 1944. Age 19'.

Did I say that one should never go back to renew old acquaintances? Well, as you know Keith was a Wireless Operator like me. Why should it say Pilot on the headstone? How much had they found to bury? I was strangely upset.

P/O Keith Gosling special operator 101 Sqd. (d.21st Jun 1944)

Keith Gosling was an ABC operator, he lost his life when his Lancaster was shot down by a nightfighter, returning from operations to Homburg. The crew were: P/O D.L.Meier Sgt I.H.M.Reid Sgt D.Tanuziello Sgt L.K.G.Williams WO2 J.E.McI Nixon P/O K.Gosling Sgt E.E.Boyle Sgt G.T.Douglas

Sgt. Geoffrey Haigh air gunner. 101 Sqd. (d.1st Sep 1943)

My uncle, Geoffrey Haigh (Sergeant Air Gunner) served Ludford Magna to August 1943. Failed to return from Berlin, on the 31st August 1943, Lancaster 'S' Sugar. He is remembered on Plate 151, at Runnymede. He came from Newstead, Halifax, was 19 years old and was the son of my Grandma's sister.

His crew were:

  • F/S H.G.Edis RAAF
  • Sgt C.Bardill
  • Sgt N.Corfield
  • Sgt R.D.Holdaway
  • Sgt J.Findlay
  • Sgt G.Haigh
  • Sgt W.Bennett

Peter Gledhill

Ronald Thorogood 101 Squadron

101 Squadron was a super secret squadron that provided defence for bombing raids through electonic interference of German Radio Controllers. 101 suffered more losses than any other bomber squadron. My uncle Ron Thorogood served as a rear gunner and was lost on a raid on his 4th mission over Hanover.

Ron Pratt

Jack Hewson Trobe DSO DFC CM 10 Squadron

A member of our family, Jack Hewson Trobe DSO, DFC and CM was a bomber pilot with 10 Squadron. He was RAAF on loan to the RAF. I have some information, but am seeking more.

Colin Clayton

Jack Hewson Trobe DSO DFC CM 10 Squadron

A member of our family, Jack Hewson Trobe DSO, DFC and CM was a bomber pilot with 10 Squadron. He was RAAF on loan to the RAF. I have some information, but am seeking more.

Colin Clayton

Flight Sergeant Lionel Hobson 101 Squadron (d.4th Sept 1943)

My friend has a relative who served in 101 sqd. until his death on 4th Sep 1943. Lionel Hobson, Flt. Sergeant , 576564. He is buried in Berlin at the 1939-1945 war graves site at Heerstrasse.

Robert Andrew

Charles Gordon Vicary 101 Squadron

I flew on Lancaster PA237, 23rd of Feb 1945 in the raid of Pforzheim and was shot down. When jumping out the landing looked to be a good one, but it turned out to be a ploughed field that had frozen! I was taken POW and was taken to Moosberg.

Mr B Latchem

Sgt William Stanley Ballinger (d.13th Aug 1944)

Avro Lancaster Mk1 ME617(SR-N) 101 Squadron (1 group) Ludford Magna

Billy as he was known to friends and family alike would have been my Uncle, one of 5 siblings. He was accepted by the RAFVR in March 1943 and reported to Lord's Cricket Ground on the 29th March. On the 4th June he commenced his Flight Engineers training at Torquay. On 23rd December 1943 he was promoted to Sargent, spent some time at RAF Henswell and on the 25th June 1944 found himself at Ludford Magna with a new crew (his previous crew at Hemswell had just been lost). On the 19th July 44 he wrote: “on constant standby – took part in raid on Caen to support Army breakthrough – “an awe inspiring sight to see 1000 planes around you”… His last flight was the raid on Russelsheim on the 12/13 th August from which only one of the crew returned. He was 19.

A letter from the Air Ministry dated 1 April 1946 says "Captured German Documents show aircraft shot down at Morfelden 4.5 miles from Russlesheim. Further these records show that 5 members of the aircrew are buried at Gross Gerau 1 at Morfelden. 1 missing".....

In fact it turned out that 21 Aircrew lost at that time were buried together and were later reburied in Durnback War Cemetry.

A letter dated 4.7.1946 from The Rev Erckmann, Cross-Geren Hessen to Mr Horrocks. "Son buried here with 21 other aircrew who died between the 14th and 26th August 1944....."

Billy seemed fond of the following poem:

Rear Link

Faith is a weapon Wield it

Hope is a candle Shield it

Love is a garment Share it

Life is an adventure Dare it

Research is being pieced together from letters and records in family possession, incluing some remarkable correspondence between the families of the lost airmen.

The family are also indebted to Alan Barrow who has produced the following information, which is very much ongoing research.

It makes interesting reading in conjunction with the story on this same site of P/O Ronald Homes of a Pilots record of the same raid. Night of 12/13/08/44

  • Pilot Flt Sgt 1338028 Richard Howell Jenkins RAFVR (age n/k) Newbridge Monmouthshire Killed in crash (on 12th op), re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Navigator Flt Sgt 1459233 Thomas Horrocks RAFVR (age 21) Son of Thomas and Margaret Horrocks Flixton, Lancashire Killed in crash,re- buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Flight Engineer Sgt 1836236 William Stanley Ballinger RAFVR (age 19) Son of William Stephen and Louisa Ballinger Chepstow, Monmouthshire Killed in crash, (on 10th Op) re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Bomb Aimer Flt Sgt 1232857 James Myles RAFVR (age 21) Son of George and Agnes Myles Coventry Killed in crash, re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Wireless Operator Flt Sgt 1474290 Leonard Gordon Spear RAFVR (age 21) Son of Lt Col Richard William Spear CIE CBE and Grace Spear Old Coulsden, Surrey Killed in crash, re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • ABC Specialist Sgt 2209024 Frank Thomas Edward Jones RAFVR (age 20) Son of Edward and Elisabeth May Jones Saltney, Flintshire Killed in crash, re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Mid Upper Gunner Sgt 1045216 Joseph Thorley RAFVR (age 22) Son of George and Mary Ann Thorley Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne Killed in crash, re-buried Durnbach Cemetery.
  • Rear Gunner Sgt B H Cave Baled out, survived POW No further info.

The all NCO crew of Lancaster ME617 SR-N skippered by Flt Sgt Richard Howell Jenkins took off from Ludford Magna, to the NE of Wickenby, Lincolnshire at 2120hrs 12/08/44 as part of a total force of 297 aircraft from 1,3,4,5,6 and 8 (pathfinder) groups respectively, their target was to be the industrial/manufacturing town of Russelsheim (projected time over target 0014 to 0021 hrs). At the same time a force of 379 aircraft was detailed to attack Brunswick further to the north, (See Alan's tribute to F/O Hood at their approach was via Bremen, this two pronged attack via indirect routes was designed to confound, or at least divide the night fighter force.

ME 617 carried an extra crew member (eight rather than the usual seven) as this aircraft along with many other from 101Sqdn was fitted with top secret equipment that required a specialist crew member to operate it. ABC or “airborne cigar” as it was known was basically the infancy stages of modern airborne electronic counter measures. An ABC equipped Lanc’ was only distinguishable by the prominent (usually two) antennae mounted on the top of the fuselage. Inside the aircraft the ABC operator would sit facing a radio frequency scanner on which he would search for the variable channels that were being used by the German ground controllers to guide the night fighters into an attack position. The ABC operator would scan the airwaves using his knowledge of the German language to locate and lock on to the frequency operative that night, he would then, using the powerful onboard transmitters broadcast a strong jamming signal to block communications between the “nachtjaeger” squadrons and their ground controllers, a method which did indeed help to delay and confound the enemy to some extent. Several methods of jamming were experimented with, one of the most successful was to mount a microphone under the cowling of each engine and jam the voice of the controller with the roar of all four Merlins at once! At one stage, when it became apparent to the enemy that some sort of organized jamming was taking place it was reported that the German controllers were using Wagnerian operatic society members to sing instructions to the night fighter pilots in the hope that such broadcasts would be mistaken for music channels.

Air ministry reports for the Russelsheim raid state that on this particular night the weather on the run in to the target was light cloud with some haze and 45mph winds at 20 000 ft. On the approach to the target there was heavy searchlight activity but only a slight ground barrage increasing in intensity as the raid progressed. The night fighters operating that night found themselves on track to intercept the bombers as they were heading across Belgium because the ground controllers assumed that the target was either Frankfurt or Mannheim, and had vectored the fighters accordingly, when Russelsheim was correctly identified as the target only slight changes of course were necessary to put the fighters close to the bomber stream.Visual green target indicators were dropped promptly and on time by pathfinder Mosquitoes of 8 group for the main force to bomb on, but visual identification of the target was not possible due to haze. Reconnaissance the following day showed that despite surrounding villages sustaining damage, the primary target, the Opel engineering works had sustained major damage.

Some raid statistics;

297 aircraft took off, 280 attacked target, 17 aborted/returned, 20 aircraft failed to return,

Of the 20 aircraft lost; 12 shot down by fighters (2 on approach to target, 2 over target, and 8 on return), 5 shot down by flak, 3 lost to unknown causes

Of the aircraft that returned; 18 had suffered varying degrees of flak damage (1 of which was severe), 2 had suffered fighter damage (1 of which was serious), 1 had suffered damage due to being hit by a drop bar from an incendiary case dropped from above, 2 aircraft collided on return approach but both managed to land.

Nigel Haigh

Flt Sgt Ronald " " Hurley 101 Squadron (d.14 March 1945)

My Uncle Ronald Hurley served with 101 Squadron during WW2, his name is on the Roll of Honour in Ludford Church, which has a mention from Bomber Harris about the Squadron. Ronald was a Flight Sergeant, Rear gunner on a Lancaster and was shot down over Holland in 1945. He was buried at Vanray Cemetery. My Dad said he was a very funny man, always playing practical jokes and was the happiest man he knew.

Patricia Higgins

F/O Peter Foley Gunter 101 Squadron (d.3rd July 1945)

My uncle Peter Gunter served at Ludford Magna in 101 squadron as a bomb aimer/navigator. On completion of his ops he went to Canada to help train aircrew on Liberators and was killed when a plane taking off was put on same runway as a landing plane. His crew were all buried in abbotsford cemetery British Columbia. I would like to here from anybody who knew him in his time with the RAF VR.

G Lawrie

F/Sgt Henry Eric Wells ABC operator 101 Sqdn

I was born in Vienna in 1923 to a Polish father (Jewish) and an Austrian mother (Roman/Catholic) and came to England on a "Kindertransport" in 1939. My original name was Heinz Erich Feldstein. Although I was born in Vienna, I was never an Austrian citizen, but Polish. The Polish government in 1939 took away Polish citizenship from all Jews, wherever they where and I became "Stateless", which saved me from being interned in Britain after the outbreak of WWII. It should have been a six month stay in England, during which we trained to become farmers in Australia, but outbreak of the war stopped that.

I volunteered for the RAF in 1942 and because I was German speaking trained to become an ABC Operator. I did my tour of 30 ops from Oct 44 to Feb 45 on SR-L with F/O Andrews crew. After I left the squadron I was posted to London and received intelligence training and posted to ADCC (Air Division Control Commission) in May 1945. My job being Flak disarmament and prisoner interrogation. I am now in my 87th year and live in Oakville, Canada.

H E Wells

Flt. Sgt. John "Panda" Peyton-Lander 101 Squadron

My uncle, Jack Peyton-Lander (my father's brother) was on board 101 Squadron Lancaster LM493 which took off from Ludford Magna at 21.40hrs on the evening of 27/28th April 44 for operations to Friedrichshafen. They were shot down by a nightfighter and crashed at Oberwinden 3km SW of Elzach. Of the eight men on board five were taken pow, the other three died;
  • F/Lt B.N. Dickinson (pow)
  • Sgt L. Houlden (pow)
  • F/O K.S. Beardsall (pow)
  • F/O R.L. French (pow)
  • F/Sgt J.E. Peyton-Lander (pow)
  • F/Sgt G.E.H. Schultz, RCAF (killed)
  • F/O R.S. Campsall, RCAF (killed)
  • Sgt J.V. Bramhall (killed)
Jack was taken to Stalag Luft III, Sagan, pow number 5158. If anyone knew him, or better still have him on a picture, I would love to hear from you.

Nigel Peyton-Lander

Sgt. Ernest Elroy "Roy" Boyle 101 Sqd. (d.21st July 1944)

Roy Boyle was my uncle, he was born and raised in Grey County in the province of Ontario, Canada. He signed up for military service in January, 1941, with the Queen’s Own Rifles then transferred to the RCAF. He was sent overseas and flew on bombing raids out of Ludford Magna Airfield in Lincolnshire, as part of RAF 101 Squadron.

On July 20th/21st, 1944, he was aboard a Lancaster Mk1 (LL862) which took part in a raid on Moers/Homberg, Germany. The aircraft was on ABC duty that night (a radio-jamming device), and a half-hour into the return trip, the pilot gave the order to bail out. The plane crashed near Cambrai, France, and there were only two survivors: the pilot P/O D.L.W. Meier, and the bomb aimer, F/S L.K. Gwilliam, both of the RCAF.

Those who lost their lives that night were:

  • Sgt. Ernest Elroy Boyle – Mid/Upper Gunner, age 26, from Kimberley, Ontario, Canada.
  • Sgt. Glenn Thomas Douglas - Rear Gunner, age 19, from London, Ontario, Canada
  • P/O Keith Gosling - Special Duties Operator, age 19, from Frizinghall, Bradford, Yorkshire, UK (RAF)
  • Sgt. Dominic Ianuziello - Navigator, age 32, from St Thomas, Ontario, Canada
  • W/O2 Jack Elwin McIntosh Nixon - Wireless Operator/Gunner, from Brampton, Ontario, Canada
  • Sgt. Ian Henry Milne Reid - Flight Engineer, RAF(VR)

Arnie Boyle

Flt Sgt. John Stodd Bomb Aimer 101 Squadron

Hi. I'm friends with a wonderful Guy John.He was a Bomb Aimer 101 Squadron. He completed 3 yes & 3 Operational tours.

His first by the age of 19 with the 101,numerous missions with Cigar over Euorpe, Stettin, Dusseldorf, Etc.

He survived 3 crash landing, one on return to Ludford Magna.

A true heo as far as I'm concerned, very modest etc.

I quote "all I did was lay on my belly".

Three of the original crew are still about. The Navigator married his sister. The Upper Gunner ended up in Oz.

I read his log book over and over. What a Legend.

Ended up in Pathfinders and qualified as a Bomb Aimer Instructor.

Lee Robinson

Sgt. William George Ault Air gunner 101 Squadron (d.23rd May 1944)

I am named after my grandfather. Unfortunately my mother never knew her Dad. My grandfather was a rear gunner. He joined 101 Squadron 9/4/44. His plane Lancaster Bomber No ME619 (an ABC equipped aircraft)left Ludford Magna 22:40 22/4/44. On the return run it suffered a direct hit from German anti aircraft fire. He did not survive and is buried at the Rheiberg War cemetary with 3 other crew members.

William G Ault

Sgt. Leonard Gordon Charles Dimond Air Gunner. 101 squadron (d.30th Nov 1941)

My Uncle Len was a wireless operator and air gunner. He worked as a Hall Porter in a Hotel before the War. He joined up in August 1940 and went to Blackpool for training. His records state that he then went to Swinderby and Fettwell before joining 101 squadron in 1941. There is a record of his death along with others in the plane copied here from the internet:

On 30 November 1941 at 20.00 hrs WEL R1778 crashed in the North Sea about here due to engine trouble on its way to bomb Hamburg. AOD has details. This is one of the stories about airmen rescued by fishermen in the North Sea.

Sergeant (Co-Pilot) Roy St. C. Finch and Sergeant (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner) John W. Lamont got into the dinghy which was found on 2 December 1941 at 10.00 hrs by the Danish fishing cutter E 264 'Harmoni' of Esbjerg. On the arrival at Esbjerg they were captured by the Germans. They got to know a number of German POW Camps.

Sergeant (Pilot) Derek A. Willisson, Sergeant (Observer) Donald E. Williams, Sergeant (Wireless Operator / Air Gunner) Kenneth Naylor and Sergeant (Air Gunner) Leonard G. C. Dimond perished and disappeared in the sea. (Sources: AOD and Lost Bombers)

Sergeant Leonard Gordon Charles Dimond was from the United Kingdom. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 42, among more than 20,000 airmen, who have no known grave. (Source: CWGC)

Angela Robertson

Sgt. William James Cooper 101 Squadron (d.21st July 1944)

My brother, Jim Cooper became an ABC operator perhaps because he could speak German among other languages and, by all accounts, volunteered to do an extra flight which resulted in his death. He is buried in the cemetery in Woensel- part of Eindhoven Holland. Another crew member was named Sime.

Albert Cooper

Sgt. George Kesten 101 Sqd. (d.4th Nov 1944)

George served with the Squadron in 1944, I know that George and the rest of his crew took off from Ludford Magna at 17.38 on 4 November 1944, en route for Bochum. The aircraft was Lancaster 1 ME865 SR-K on ABC duties. Six of the crew of eight were Canadians. George was the specialist operator. All eight perished that night and are buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery.

The crew comprised:

  • F/O G. T. Weiss (R.C.A.F.) pilot
  • Sgt. D. F. G. Day Flt. Engr.
  • F/O W.F. Moran (R.C.A.F.) Nav.
  • F/O J. H. Quirt (R.C.A.F.) Air Bomber
  • F/O A. N. Gould (R.C.A.F.) W/Op AG
  • Sgt. G. Kesten Specialist Operator
  • P/O W. J. Cpommins R.C.A.F. Air Gnr.
  • P/O J. L. Gallant (R.C.A.F.) Air Gnr

I know that there was (and still is) a lot of secrecy about what was going on at Ludford Magna at the time, and those with obvious Jewish names were encouraged to change their names accordingly, but whether that would have anything to do with George’s name not being on the 101 list I don’t know. George was a Polish Jew born in Berlin.

I joined up with George in 1943. The Gestapo forced him and his family out of their home in Berlin at a moment’s notice. His sister got to Switzerland and George managed to get to London. His parents perished in Poland in the Holocaust.

George and I were together for 13 months, but he responded to a call for volunteers for special duties who could speak fluent German. I went on to Wellingtons and George went on to Lancasters at Ludford Magna. Six weeks after I last saw him, he was dead. I still miss him. I am 84 and I he were alive today he would be 87.

Len Jackson.

Sgt. John Henry Phillips 101 Sqn (d.23rd Aug 1943)

John Phillips is my Uncle, he walked 20 miles from Crewe to Stoke with his friends to sign up when he was told his apprenticeship would exclude him from being called up. He trained as a pilot in Winnipeg, Canada but lost his wings after a brawl and ended up as an Upper Gunner on Lancaster ED328 SR-S based at Ludford Magna flying over 20 missions.

He was Killed in Action 23/24th August 1943 over Berlin.

His Crew were:

  • F/S R.C Naffin RAAF
  • Sgt D.M Ellis RAF
  • F/S N.J Bullen RAAF
  • F/S D.J Tressider RAAF
  • Sgt J.A Currey RAF
  • Sgt J.H Phillips RAF
  • Sgt E.J Phillips RAAF
They were all buried at the time with full military honours in the local cemetery and are now buried at the Berlin War Cemetery.


I was informed on the 14th June 2013 that the LAO, a historic crash investigation team based at the Finowfurt Air Museum nr Berlin had, after weeks of searching found the crash site of my uncle's Lancaster, they have also found an eye witness who was 15 at the time.

Lancaster ED328 SR-S took off from Ludford Magna on the night of the 23rd August for a 300 strong raid on Berlin, the plane was never heard from again and the crew were buried in a local cemetery in Beisenthal, Germany before being buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. It appears from accounts that they were attacked by 2 or 3 German Nightfighters and the plane exploded mid air scattering them and the plane over a 1 kilometre area. This is amazing find as it is the 70th year anniversary of their death this year.

Ian Hill

F/O Harold Gordon Bullock DFC. 101 Squadron

My grandfather, F/O Harold Gordon Bullock, DFC known as Gordie, was a bomb aimer in 101 Squadron 101. In April of 1944 he was posted to #28 Operational Training Unit at Wymeswold in Leicestershire, England. At this time fifteen crews were formed and trained. In September 1944 he was posted to 101 Squadron RAF at Ludford Magna. This was a special duties squadron which carried a German speaking radio operator whose duty was to send messages to confuse the orders issued to enemy fighters.

My grandfather and his crew sucessfully completed an operational tour consisting of 31 sorties in a Lancaster named W2. His tour started September 15, 1944 and 31 trips were completed on December 15, 1944. Finishing a tour in 90 days set a 101 squadron record. On ten separate occasions their aircraft was hit by enemy fire. Due to the Special Operations the ABC Lancaster and Squadron 101 suffered huge casualties. Of the fifteen crews that formed up at the Operational Training Unit in April his was the only one to complete a tour. The other fourteen crews were all lost on operations, 98 out of 105 men being shot down, a few were to become prisoners of war but most were killed in the line of duty.

Three Distinguished Flying Crosses were awarded to the crew of the W2 to the pilot Lyle James, navigator Robert Irvine and my grandfather.

Debbie Ryder

W/O L. V. H. Horrigan 101 Squadron

My late father, W/O LVH Horrigan flew with 101 Squadron RAF, was held in Stalag Luft7 and was on the Death march. I am curious about the the report by Mike Alexander Laffin, 434 Sqd. RCAF about his wartime experiences and, in particular, the 'Death March', January to February 1945, because I have in my possession a map which is almost identical to the one shown in Mike Laffin's narrative. I had always assumed my father had drawn the map, which is on very thin 'air mail' type paper, but now I'm not so sure. Can anyone throw any light on this, please?

John Horrigan

P/O. Henry Montague Nelson 101 Squadron (d.9th Apr 1943)

I am trying to find out what happened to my Grandmother's two brothers who died in WW2, Henry and Sydney Nelson. I have managed to find a H.M. Nelson who flew in a Lancaster from RAF Holme on Spalding Moor but as there are only initals and Henry was recorded as being a POW I'm not sure if the H.M. is in fact Henry. I also found a S J Nelson but only going to the grave site listing did I find that it was not Sydney John Nelson. Henry I hope, was in Squadron 101, as Pilot Officer, that was hit by flak, target area but went down on 09/10th Apr 1943. Can anyone help me please?

Jill Linton

P/O. Albert Norman Gould 101 Squadron (d.4th Nov 1944)

My brother, Pilot Officer Norman Gould, was killed on a raid over Bochum Germany. His Lancaster ME865 was the plane on which George Kesten served as 'cigar' operator and who has several articles written about him posted on the internet.

I put together a book based on Norman's letters home and this is the intro page: A Collection of WW II Letters From P.O. Norman Gould to his Mother & Family. From Model T’s to Lancasters.

December 15, 2006

I was 2 years old when war broke out, and 8 when it ended. My only recollection of my brother, Norman, was a car ride in the rumble seat of his pride and joy – a Model T Ford. However, I was deeply aware of his presence in our house during the years 1943 to 1946 after he volunteered to serve his country. I watched my mother pour over each and every letter she received from Norman, write back faithfully almost every day and pray constantly for his safe return. In November 1944 when he was reported missing, my mother prayed that he had been captured. When the war ended with no further news from the government, she continued to pray that he would be found in one of the many prisoner of war camps across Europe. She was sad for most of that period but at some point she let go of the fear and placed his safe return in God’s hands. The sad news arrived from the Government almost one year after the war had ended. Norman had been killed on that fateful night of November 4, 1944 and that his remains were buried along with his crew in a cemetery near Baden-Baden Germany. My mother took a long time to recover from the news of his death and missed him until the day she passed.

In the early 1980’s, my mother went with my Aunt Winnie to Germany to visit his grave at the Rheinberg War Cemetery, a cemetery which was chosen in April 1946 by the Army Graves Service for the assembly of Commonwealth graves recovered from numerous German cemeteries in the area. The majority of those now buried in the cemetery are airmen. The journey, I think, brought her peace and closure.

Along with his Flight Log Book, I found the following letters among my mother’s precious keepsakes when she passed in 1993. Although a few are missing, the collection gives the reader a sense of the day-to-day life of an airman from the early days of his training in Canada to the lengthy training on the airfields in Britain. The letters were written on any paper Norman could get his hands on and all available space was written upon. The letters focused on ‘small talk’. The importance of things like cigarettes, leaves, the weather and food are described in great detail in many of his letters. Aside from writing to pass by the censors (security purposes), I believe Norman sent exactly what my mother needed and wanted to hear – that he was okay, the world overseas was mostly ‘normal’ and that he was going to survive the war. The letters, sent and received, served as his primary connection to the world he was fighting for and longed to come home to and I believe that the letters helped keep his hopes alive for a safe return.

In rereading the letters I was amazed at the lengthy training the flight crews received before being allowed to fly operational missions. He was assigned to a RAF squadron, Squadron 101, and his crew flew Lancaster bombers. Unfortunately, In spite of that lengthy training, it appears that Norman was killed on his second operational mission. The flight on the night of November 4, 1944 to bomb Bochum, Germany, was to be his last.

Norman never finished high school, a casualty of the Depression in the 1930’s, but he was educated in a school of reality that few since have had to face; one which I pray that our son and grandchildren will never have to experience. I know in my heart that he is in a safe place but I still miss seeing the big grin on his face as he drove in his Ford down Bowie Avenue with a rumble seat full of friends. Gone but not forgotten!

Last week (May 2012) after 68 years of being left in the dark, thanks to postings on the internet (especially Leonard Jackson) I learned some of the details of his experiences:

"On November 4th, 1944, one such raid, in which 101 Squadron was heavily involved, the weather forecast across Lincolnshire for the evening was given as being dry but cloudy to begin with. Breaks in the cloud were expected to develop later, allowing one or two mist patches to form in sheltered locations. But despite the cloud and wind, temperatures would be around 51 deg. F., average for early November. With a fresh to strong south westerly wind developing, a breezy evening was expected.

From early morning, the ground staff had been preparing twenty-five of its forty-two aircraft to take part in one of the biggest bombing raids of the Second World War – a concentrated attack on Bochum, a heavily industrialized city in the Rhur Valley, with a huge steelworks at its centre. The main bomber force would consist of 749 aircraft, including 336 Lancasters and 384 Halifaxes, preceded by twenty-nine Pathfinder Mosquitos to pinpoint and illuminate the target.

At 17.09 the first Lancaster took off, followed by the rest at two-minute intervals. Each aircraft was loaded with a 4,000 lb. high explosive bomb, a varied assortment of cluster bombs, incendiaries and target indicators. Approximately five hours later, all came home safely, except for two. Sixteen men lost their lives. One of the two was Lancaster ME865, all eight of its crew members were shot down and killed, including my friend George."

From German War Records:

ME865 was another lost that night, right? Identical loads, I assume that they were probably both flying at the same altitude as the others, especially as B was identically configured, and a Lanc I, rather than a III (my understanding is that apart from the Packard built Merlins and the different carbs, they're basically the same). Two of the claims in the KP sector, one at 19:31 and the other at 19:36, both reasonably close to 17,000, were made by one pilot, Hptm Heinz Rokker, of Stab I./NJG2. The other claim at exactly 19:30 was 13,000ft.

Of course, the assumption I'm making is that it wasn't a flak loss. If the loss was fifteen minutes later in the mission, I'd be far less comfortable making this assumption, as from what I've read, the flak was significantly worse later on.

My brother wrote the following letter to our mother the day before his final raid:

November 3. (1944)

Dear Mother. How are you and Dad and the Gould family. Fine I hope. I am well although my nerves are a bit shaken after last night's do. It was our 1st real raid and we are still a bit tense after it. I guess you read the papers and saw it was one of the biggest raids yet. It is the most interesting and scaring incident in my 21 years of life. You would have to see it to appreciate what I mean. We could see the target long time before we reached it and the moon was up and we were jittery as they were fighters about. When we turned in and ran over that hell hole I think I aged 10 years. Boy was I glad when we dropped our load and got out of there. When we left I had a look at the target. It was bright as day with all different colors and teary fix fires and flack and searchlights. It was the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sight I have ever seen. We got back without mishap except for a little piece of flack in our tail. That is one trip now mother and we have 29 to go. We are going on 7 days leave in 5 days time and we expect to have at least 3 in by then. We are definitely going this time. I'm going to London. I have written Aunty Gladys to let her know I was coming. I will send you a card from London when we arrive. We are really looking forward to this leave as this camp life is deadly.

I hope we can get our other trips in very quick. We will be sent home for a while then and that's my chief goal. I didn't finish this afternoon as I have to go to my section. I stopped in at the post office and there were 2 more parcels for me from you. The other parcel of cigarettes from you and your other parcel of food. I sure did need the cigarettes and the food is simply wonderful. The crew and myself send all our thanks. It really wonderful and you could never know how much we and especially myself appreciate it. I see by your letters you had some nice weather in October. The weather over here according to the English has been very bad this year. They say it's not always like this. I have lost my black leather gloves. Could you take some money and buy me a new pair from my bank. You can't buy them over here without coupons.

Well this is all the news for now mother. I am going to close this for now as there is something very important I have to do. Give my love to Dad and the family. I'll be home real soon.

Your loving son, Norm.

And now I know the ‘rest of the story’. (Paul Harvey reminiscence). I came across the above letter after I had published the ‘From Model T’s to Lancasters’ book. Instead of Norman being killed on his first raid, it is clear that he was killed on his second raid and he flew with one of the RAF’s most dangerous squadrons, carrying out efforts to save many other crews from being shot down by enemy fighters. The secrecy surrounding that work may have been the prime reason for the government not acknowledging his death until 1946, one year after the war had ended. It also explains the 'light' tone to the letters as the dangers he faced was not what my mother would have wanted to know.

Ted Gould

Sgt. Jack Evans 101 Squadron (d.22nd Sep 1943)

Jack Evans was my late father's cousin and died on a raid on Hannover on the 22/23rd September 1943 with 101 Squadron, Lancaster W4324 SR-M. The crew were:
  • Sgt Cyril John Green (29) - Pilot
  • Sgt Jack Evans (19) - Flight Engineer
  • Sgt William Roy Stables (22) - Navigator/Bomber
  • Sgt Blackmore Turner (24) - Air Bomber
  • Sgt George Edward Reeve (21) - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
  • Sgt Arthur Davis - Air Gunner
  • Sgt Gordon Richard Jordan RCAF (21) Air Gunner
It was the first major raid to Hannover in 2 years, 711 aircraft took part in raid: 322 Lancaster, 226 Halifax, 137 Stirling, 26 Wellington and Americans on their first night raid with 5 B17’s. 26 aircraft were lost, 7 Lancaster, 12 Halifax, 5 Stirling and 2 Wellington.

Roy Evans

F/O William "Wiggy" Wigham DFC. 102 Squadron

Memoirs of a Tail-End Charlie, William (Bill) Wigham 1910 - 1975 by his wife Olive Wigham nee Lancaster

As the war is about forgotten (1939-1945) I thought I'd try to write down some of the things Bill told me about when he was a rear-gunner in first a Wellington Bomber and then a second tour in a Halifax. He had just started to buy an insurance round (C0-0P), which was costly, and couldn't wait when war was declared to enlist and I took over his job which meant I had to lodge there and disliked the job anyway.

He had to do a lot of training & his first lot of ops were with 101 Squadron from near St. Neots in a Wellington. At that time we didn't have a big air force so they were the main planes for getting to Germany. His first pilot was a New Zealander aged about 21-22, but as all crews did they worked well together and were always doing night raids. The average life was reckoned to be about 9 weeks! So, they were lucky to survive. As I can't remember what happened on the first flights I have just put down what Bill told me between leaves. His log book just states where they went but not the details of the actual raids etc.

At first we didn't have plenty of bombs & Germans were raining bombs down on London, so they used to fly over Germany and drop empty sauce (& pop) bottles because they made the same screaming noise and they hoped to upset the Germans when thrown among the bombs. They also dropped leaflets to let ordinary Germans know exactly what was happening as they only had the propaganda that told them they were already winning the war.

The first thing that Bill found on his first posting was that all the manhole covers (drain covers) had been removed from the station and they were warned where to walk. Apparently, the Americans had eventually joined in and were flying day raids and the rear-gunners had decided protection wasn't strong enough and used the covers to sit on!

Bill liked the Wellington - he said it was covered with fabric and it still flew riddled in bullet holes. He was moved to the station and was a Flight Sergeant when he met George Snaith, having met him at home, and they were delighted to meet up on duty. When he wasn't on ops - George & he used to play darts with the locals, and if he had to land on other airfields George said the locals were very upset and he got a real welcome the next time he could play darts.

They bombed the factories in Germany that were making guns etc. but had trouble in dodging the fighters. Bill and crew had to ditch the plane anywhere they could make it and at one GI station they had the best meals since joining up! At first there weren't many planes could carry enough fuel to get to Berlin, so they bombed all the factories they could reach and were very lucky to survive the first 9 weeks over Hamburg.

On one occasion when being chased by fighters he thought he had been hit because he couldn't feel his legs and was very cold, but when they got home he found a bullet had severed the connecting wire in his flying suit that was the heating circuit, so with a sigh of relief he was mobile.

After completing the session of ops he was sent to Scotland to instruct gunnery. I joined him in a bed-sit and we felt we were really married at last and it lasted for a year, so we were both relaxed for the first time and made friends, one of whom I write to after 60 years.

He was commissioned to Pilot Officer and had to get used to being saluted. I found I was expecting a baby so on his last leave I stayed at home and he was posted to Driffield and back flying again with 102 Squadron.

At some time there he did a daylight trip and was amused to see the cars & vans with gas bags on top as fuel in Belgium. The planes always went in with incendiaries before the bombers so there was fires already burning before they arrived. The German fighters were waiting so they still lost planes. His batwoman got the telegram to him to say I'd had the baby & he had difficulty in getting leave as he was down on battle orders. He managed to swap and while he was home his crew made a trip and were very badly shot-up, the mid-upper gunner had his head shot off and they were very lucky to get back over the coast. When Bill went back his pilot said he would refuse to go if any of the regular crew were missing.

Bill got a cold with sinus trouble and the GP said he was not to fly and to Bill's amazement the crew didn't fly until he was able to carry on. The pilot was just 21 and knowing Bill had been through the worst relied on him and took any advice Bill gave when attacked from the rear. I said to him didn't he feel any pains on the Friday morning when I was in labour but at 8.00 - 8.30am he was too busy getting rid of fighters!

The worst job was mine-laying. One episode lasted long after the war was over. He was coming out of anaesthetic after an operation on his knee and started to talk. All he kept saying was "They said there would be no searchlights. You can read a Bl**** newspaper" they had to fly very low and as they got to the target the whole place lit up and they were in full view the whole time. The mid-upper gunner was panicking and Bill had to tell him to shut up and start firing at the lights and put out as many as they could. Usually when they crossed the coast on the way home they would all talk but this time no one said a word. The next morning Bill went out to see about more ammunition. He had used every bullet and the armourer remarked "you must have had a busy night Sir" and Bill said yes he would need more bullets. The armourer said "you need four new guns" - the rifling had been taken off every barrel and the guns were useless.

The new Halifax's & Lancaster's were on Special Mission and I think the pilots were on Sealed Orders, until they took off and were en-route to Berlin.

Eventually the Germans got what they had done to London, Coventry & Liverpool. He was on the first of two massive 1000 bomber raids and he never forgot the sight. Bombers of all sorts were wing-tip to wing-tip. It must have been a horrifying sight from the ground - it is always the ordinary people of either side who do most of the suffering.

There were some lighter moments too. Bill said they were flying in a large squadron and the pilot said he didn't know what was wrong but every time he tried to keep position the others either side moved away. It wasn't until the bomb-aimer went to seek the target he found they were flying with the nose-light on. Bill said maybe that's why they weren't hit - the Jerries thought it was one of theirs!

Eventually after completing another sortie he was sent to Rufforth as Assistant Adjutant and got on very well with the rest of the men. He enjoyed his time there and its in the records of a congratulation memo for the way he had organised the move of a whole squadron so efficiently. He was given the DFC which didn't actually arrive until he was home. The King was very ill and Bill & I were disappointed at not getting a trip to the palace. Bill also got the Gold Star (for Europe) and another with no note for what.

No one remembers the war now, as time goes by and we oldies are few, but sometimes I wonder if any of it was, or is, appreciated. Children are not aware it happened and its not in the history lessons at school. So many lives given but the thought of what Hitler would have done with them is beyond belief. They would have been brainwashed against the Jews and turned into proper little Nazis. There were lots of things that happened to Bill, but these are the only ones I can remember.

Olive Wigham January 2001

Wigham Howard

W/O John Studd 101 Squadron

I start by saying it is such a privilege to know the gentleman John Studd and see him regularly. He served as a bomb aimer on Lancasters with 101 Squadron based at Ludford Magna. He had the courage to complete not 1 but, yes 3, complete tours 88 missions, his logbook reads of every major city raid. He was on the first mission to use window, attacked by night fighters, crashed and the aircraft snapped in half just after mid turret, all walked out!


Leonard Gordon Charles Dimond 101 Squadron (d.Nov 1941)

My Uncle was a gunner in 101 Squadron and was killed in November 1941. Whilst on route near Norway - the plane developed engine trouble and was lost at sea. Some people survived, but my Uncle did not. As he was lost at sea and his body never recovered, he does not have a grave but he is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

The following is taken from Air War over Denmark by Søren C. Flensted

Wellington IC R1778 ditched in the North Sea 30/11-1941. The aircraft belonged to RAF 101 Sqn. Bomber Command and was coded SR-G. T/O 16:40 Oakington. OP: Hamburg. Outbound, R1778 had engine problems and had to ditch in the North Sea 70 kilometres west of Esbjerg at approx. 20:00 hours. Co.Pilot Sgt Roy ST. C. Finch and Wop/Air Gnr. Sgt John W. Lamont survived the ditching and were able to enter the aircrafts dinghy.

On 2/12 at 10:00 hours they were observed by the Danish fishingboat E264 “Harmonie” of Esbjerg. Skipper Knud Jensen took them onboard and brought them to Esbjerg where the German Wehrmacht made them prisoners of war. They were brought to Dulag Luft in Oberursel. Finch was sent on to Stalag 383 Hohenfels and later to Stalag Luft III in Sagan while Lamont was sent to Stalag 7A Moosburg and later to Stalag 383 Hohenfels to end up in Stalag Luft VII Bankau.

The rest of the crew, who were Pilot Sgt Derek A. Willisson, Observer Sgt Donald E. Williams, W/Op-Air Gnr. Sgt Kenneth Naylor and Air Gnr. Leonard G. C. Dimond have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Angie Robertson

Flt Sgt Leslie Francis Condon DFM 101 Sqn

Les Condon, my Uncle, served with 101 Sqn from Nov 1943 until June 1944 where he completed 27 missions with the same pilot and much of the same crew. Their first mission was on 22 Nov 1943 when their Lancaster crashed on take-off, and the entire crew escaped unhurt. They went on to complete their tour and flew on many of the huge night raids into Germany. Les was awarded the DFM in September 1944. He died in Sydney in October 1992 aged 69.

Peter Gibbons

Sgt. Robert Gordon "Andy" Anderson 101 Sqd.

My late father was Sergeant (later Warrant Officer) Robert G Anderson, RAF 646029> who was the Flight Engineer on DV265 SR-F & was on his 10th operational sortie with 101 Squadron.

Flight Sergeant Anthony Henry EVANS: AGE 20 was fatally wounded during the attack on the a/c & my father took control of the a/c & tried to return it to base. Subsequent attacks rendered this impossible & the surviving crew bailed out of the stricken a/c.

You may not have connected with the fact that similar events took place that night over Berlin (I am unsure if Berlin or Dusseldorf was the diversionary raid), where Bill Reid succeeded in returning his damaged Lancaster to base & was awarded the Victoria Cross. All that my Father received was burns to his left arm before/during bail-out. (In November 1945 he was finally awarded his Caterpillar Club membership & pin badge). His lost crew mates were:-

  • Sergeant George Edwin BOUCHER: AGE 23
  • Sergeant Arthur FOGG: AGE 23
  • Sergeant Cyril Terence WHELDON: AGE UNKNOWN.

From my late Mother's recollections, Arthur Fogg's widow later married Arthur's Brother. Favel's Father was a Jeweller in Hatton Garden.

I was named in honour of my father's pilot. My father spent some time at Stalag Luft III, where he got to know some of the 50. He rarely spoke of those days. He later was moved to Offlag IVB, from where he was repatriated after the Russians liberated the camp. I can confirm his P.O.W. number (261411) as I still have his last camp Dogtags which he had with him when he returned. Interestingly these are stamped Stalag IVB.

The lost crew of LM365 SR-H were:-

  • Sergeant Stanley BEEDLE: AGE 23
  • Flight Sergeant James Maurice CUMMINGS: AGE 20
  • Sergeant James Henry HARPER: AGE 21
  • Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Frank Stuart MAUNDERS: AGE 27
  • Sergeant Jack PARSONS: AGE 19
  • Sergeant Christopher Joseph POULTON: AGE 35
  • Sergeant Norman John SHAKESPEARE: AGE UNKNOWN
  • Sergeant Eric George WALL: AGE 23

My parents are no longer able to honour the memory of my Father's lost comrades, but I do not forget.

101 Squadron mounted a maximum effort that night with 26 aircraft sent out. SR-Z aborted & returned to base at 0130 hours because the Gyro went U/S.

Tony Anderson DV265 was one of 200 lancasters ordered from Metro-vick in 1941 and was transported to Woodford for final assembly and flight testing. DV265 was a Mk.111 and was delivered to No.101 Sqdn with her sister-ship DV266 on 2Oct43. DV265 also took part in the Key Operation against Hannover 18/19Oct43. When lost this aircraft was on its second operation and had a total of 38 hours. DV265 was one of two No.101 Sqdn Lancasters lost on this operation. (See also LM365) Airborne 1713 3Nov43 from Ludford Magna. Set on fire in the central fuselage area by cannon-fire from a night-fighter over the target. All intercom contact with the crew positions aft of the Nav. compartment was lost & Sgt Evans ordered his crew to bale out. Out of control, the Lancaster plunged, in flames into the NE suburbs of Dusseldorf, where those who were killed were buried in the Nordfriedhof. They have been subsequently re-interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

  • Sgt Tomachepolsky was flying as the ABC operator.
  • Sgt A.H.Evans KIA
  • Sgt R.Anderson PoW
  • Sgt R.G.Phillips PoW
  • Sgt A.Longstaff PoW
  • Sgt A.Fogg KIA
  • Sgt F.Tomachepolsky KIA
  • Sgt C.T.Wheldon KIA
  • Sgt G.E.Boucher KIA
  • Sgt R.Anderson was interned in Camp 4B. PoW No.261411 with Sgt A.Longstaff, PoW No.261467.
  • Sgt R.G.Phillips was held in the Dulag Luft Interrogation Centre. No PoW No. known

Tony Anderson

F/Lt. Neil Duncan Nimmo DFC. 101 Squadron

The Story of 101 Sqd Q-Queenie, lost on the Aulnoye-Aymeries raid 10/ 11 April 1944, of her pilot Flt/ Lt Neil Nimmo, of the crew and of the other 6 Lancasters shot down that night by Hpt Helmut Bergmann and what happened to their crews, is now told in "Perilous Moon: Occupied France, 1944 - The End Game" by Neil Nimmo's son Stuart Nimmo, published world wide by Casemate Philadelphia and Oxford, November 2012. The book covers what happened to Neil Nimmo, his experiences with the French resistance as the Occupation came to a sticky end. The book discovers who Luftwaffe pilot Hpt Helmut Bergmann Rc was, how he became what he was, and what happened to him during the same period. The book is lavishly illustrated with previously unpublished original photographs, illustrations and British and German documents. It contains much detailed information on what happened that night, is told from both sides, and contains information about Bergmann's other Lancaster victims that night. I would willingly type the information here on this important site, but it is simply too extensive, and is newly published. I simply point out that for those who wish to know more the book now exists and for those who do not wish to buy it, it will probably be available in libraries before long.

Stuart Nimmo

W/O Ivor Hexter Bond 101 Sqd. (d.7th Aug 1945)

Ivor Bond, would have been my step brother if he had survived the War. He was lost without trace on the night of the 7th August 1945 along with the rest of the crew on a raid over Dessau. I am doing the family history bit and trying to gain as much info and photos as possible. We visited the old airfield Ludford Magna last year and took some photos of the remains of the airfield and the accomodation huts. He and the rest of the crew are remembered at Runnymede.

Dave Sayce

F/O. Donald Stuart Turner 101 Squadron (d.23rd Sep 1943)

Flying Officer Donald Stuart Turner was my cousin although I never knew him personally because he died before I was born. Donald was an apprentice electrician at a colliery near Barnsley. At 6 foot 4 inches tall, he was ill-suited for both working in coal seams or the confines of a plane. He could of course have sat out the war in relative peace as a colliery worker but he had always wanted to fly. He left his reserved occupation to train as a pilot and joined 101 Squadron, eventually to be stationed at Ludford Magna.

Donald was commended for bringing his Lancaster home from Italy on just two engines. On his 13th mission, on 23rd September 1943, Donald’s plane was hit by flak during a raid on Mannheim. He nursed the plane on to Metz in France but eventually crashed in open ground near the French town. Two of the crew survived but the remainder, Donald included, were killed. They were quickly buried by the French Resistance and then after the war were re-interred together at Choloy War Cemetery near Toul in France. Donald was just 20 when he died.

Donald left a grieving family, parents Hubert and Edith, and sisters, Eileen and Gloria, both of whom are still alive. Donald was engaged to be married at the time of his death. Donald had written a letter to be given to his parents and sisters in the eventuality of him being captured or killed. Written when he was just 19 and in training in Canada, he explained with amazing clarity his preparedness for whatever lay ahead: “It is a life of my own choosing and I have no regrets. The risks I run, I run cheerfully. I bear no malice and I look forward to everlasting peace. In the event of my being unfortunate, then that is too bad. I hope that I did not die in vain......I am now a Pilot Officer with Wings, serious work ahead. Waiting patiently for a boat to take me back to the land and people I love.” Donald closes the letter with the wish: “If no news is heard of me for two months, please consider me dead and do not mourn for me. I would hate that. Just carry on your normal life. Bear up... show the world you can take it. Do your utmost to win the war. Your Loving and Devoted Son and Brother and Friend, Donald.”

I was brought up with stories of Donald’s bravery and untimely death from my mother, his aunt, but I only came to fully appreciate the tremendous courage and commitment Donald had shown as I grew older. Though genuinely remarkable, Donald’s selflessness and commitment to the cause of freedom and justice was by no means unique, as the testimonies on this website so clearly demonstrate. The courage of this generation of men and women is truly humbling and those of us who have had the good fortune to live in prosperity, never having been shot at or in real danger, must not forget the debt we owe to these young people who stepped forward and said “That’s simply not right. I’ll do something about it.” We must not squander the freedom they gave us. If anyone has any information about Donald’s life, I would love to hear it.

Don Rhodes

Sgt. James Aloysius Park 101 Squadron (d.24 May 1943)

Aged 20 years old my Uncle Jimmy Park joined the RAF as a Volunteer Reserve in 1940. In February 1942 he was posted to Ansty were he completed his Elementary Flying Training and was then posted to Paulson, Manitoba, Canada for training. In August 1942 he was taking his Air Bomber Armament Qualification and in the October his Air Bombers Navigation Course.

He returned to the UK and in early May 1943 was at Lindholme 1656 Conversion Unit before being posted to the 101 Squadron at Holme, Spading Moor. He had three flights before his first ops which was on the 23rd May 1943. After a 9-day break in operations, Bomber Command dispatched 826 aircraft to Dortmund in the Battle of the Ruhr. Uncle Jimmy was part of the crew of Lancaster W4919 which took off at 10:30pm and was later shot down by a night fighter at 02:33 at Bergen, four miles into Holland. All the crew were killed on their first ever mission. He was buried in the military cemetery at Venlo and later interred at Jonkerboos.

Tony Park

Sgt. James Wartell Williams 101 squadron (d.20th Jun 1942)

My grandfather, James Williams was killed in action. The plane he was on, Wellington X3669 SR-H, came down over Noordzee, 7km Sw of Zandvort. They were returning from a bombing raid on Emden Dockyards. One crew member survived Sgt Payne. P/O Sheppards. His body was washed ashore. My grandfather is commemorated on The Runnymede Memorial, he was an Air Gunner Wireless Operator.

Sarah Wharton

F/Sgt. Gerald Francis Geraghty 101 Squadron (d.5th Oct 1944)

Gerald Geraghty died in flying in an RAF Lancaster (Designation: LL758, Lancaster III), during an attack on Marshalling Yards in Saarbrucken, Germany. Plane came down in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Boot belonging to Gerald was identified. This appears to have been only his 2nd mission his first was on 26-27/09/1944 to Karlsruhe, Germany.

Drew Hayes

Sgt. Alan Douglas Hart 101 Sqd.

Sgt Alan Hart joined the RAF in 1941 aged 17. He trained as a wireless operator/ air gunner. In 1943 he flew with Squadron 9 which was part of 5 group. In 1943 he and his crew were targeting Berlin. They also targeted Colognes, Hamburg, Bremen, Willemshaven, Nurnberg, St.Nazaire, Pilsen, Dortmund, Duisberg, Dusseldorf, Stettin, Wuppertal, Stutgart and Hanover. Then in 1944 he was posted to 101 Squadron, no 1 group. They carried "Air born Cigars" and an "extra crew mwmber". Grandad said he never knew who they were as they boarded and disembarked the plane before and after the crew did. He joined Flight officer Knights crew on a few missions. Saddly Sgt Alan Hart passed away in February 2013,taking with him many more stories of his time with the RAF.

Imogene Fallis

Sgt. Norman Fotheringham 101 Squadron (d.24th June 1943)

War Memorial in the Johnstone Park of Alva, Clackmannanshire in Scotland

I have spent a few years researching my uncle - Sgt Norman Fotheringham (an air gunner I believe) who flew with 101 Squadron (Lancaster III W4311 SR-O) when he and the other air crew were lost over Wuppertal in Germany on night of June 23/24 1943. I believe they flew out of Ludford Magna airfield in Lincolnshire. I believe he was a mid-upper gunner on W4311. He and 4 of his crew mates are buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery in the Netherlands.
  • Sergeant J.E.W.Lane (Pilot)
  • Sergeant R.W.Ridgley
  • Sergeant T.W.Connor
  • Sergeant S.F.Barker
  • Sergeant S.E.Williams
  • Sergeant N.Fotheringham (mid upper gunner)
  • Sergeant A.Twohy
Information from This aircraft was one of 450 Manchesters ordered from A.V.Roe (Chadderton) Jan40 of which 207 were built as Lancaster Mk.1s, delivered from Jul42 to Nov42 initially fitted with merlin 20 engines.

W4311 was delivered to 101 Sqdn Oct42. W4311 wore the ID's SR-F/O W4311 took part in the following Key Operations:

  • As SR-F, Stuttgart 22/23Nov42;
  • Turin 28/29Nov42;
  • Frankfurt 2/3Dec4;
  • Mannheim 6/7Dec42;
  • Turin 11/12Dec42;
  • Duisberg 20/21Dec42;
  • Munich 21/22Dec43;
  • (Aircraft attacked and badly damaged by Bf110 - 180 bullet holes in the airframe).
  • As SR-O, Dortmund 23/24May43;
  • Dusseldorf 25/26May43;
  • Dusseldorf 11/12Jun43-aborted;
  • Wuppertal 24/25Jun43-Lost. When lost this aircraft had a total of 98 hours.
  • Airborne 2241 24Jun43 from Ludford Magna. Shot down by a night- fighter (Maj G_nter Radusch, 1./NJG1) and crashed 0140 25Jun43 near Grubbenvorst (Limburg), on the W bank of the Maas, 6 km NNW of Venlo, Holland, where all were buried in the town's temporary Militiary Cemetery.

They have been subsequently re-interred in the Jonkerboos War Cemetery and Sgt Williams is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. My uncle Norman is commemorated on the War Memorial in the Johnstone Park of Alva, Clackmannanshire in Scotland.

I am looking for any information, photographs of the uncle I never met, of whom I am so proud and indebted - any pictures especially of him, of W4311, the crew, the airfield, etc. Many thanks if anyone can point me in the direction.

Eric W. Fotheringham

John Cuthbert "Spike" Conoly 101 Squadron

John Conoly, Rear Gunner 101 Squadron flew with Canadian crew Jerry the pilot. All where killed on special mission except John who told me he was never the same after. He suffered from very bad head aches after crash landing several times. John died from cancer in 1999

Robert Meredith

F/O Patrick Joseph Ryan 101 Squadron (d.24th Aug 1943)

On the 24th August 1943 the 101 Squadron lost their lives on returning from a bombing raid over Berlin. The aircraft was never recovered and it is possible that it came down over the English channel.

Names of crew:

  • John Phillip Mahoney ; Captain
  • Patrick Joseph Ryan
  • Archibald Eric Thomas Hill
  • Dennis Marshall Walder
  • Frederick Edward Phillips
  • John William Lowe
  • Joseph Eric Woodgate

My uncle was Patrick Joseph Ryan he was aged 24 when he lost his life. Although he was childless when he died I wanted to record the few small details that I have in the hope that they might be of interest to any possible descendants of the other crew members. I also hoped that someone else might have other information that could be added to their story.

Patricia Calder

Sgt. Joseph Eric Goddard not known 101 Squadron (d.28th Jul 1943)

Eric Goddard was the only son of Tom and Mary Ann Goddard of Grassmoor, Derbyshire. Thought to have gone to a grammar school. His mother died of a broken heart shortly after she lost her only son. He was a navigator of Lancaster Bomber, died on July 28th 1943 age 27 years old. We are assuming he died in the Hamburg bombing navigating a Lancaster plane. Joseph Eric Goddard is buried in Hamburg War Cemetary. Any more info greatly appreciated.


Sgt. George Edward Reeve 101 Squadron (d.22nd/23rd Sep 1943)

George Reeve was my mother's fiance and lived in Birchanger near Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire. My mother's brother Bill was a very good friend of George. Bill missed George very much a and was annoyed jokingly that he had given George his sheaf-Knife for a goodluck charm and now it lies somewhere in Germany. I have a photo of George and also his last letter to my mum.

George served with the Royal Air Force 101 Squadron. His Lancaster bomber W4324 SR-M took off from Ludford Magna at 18:52 on 22nd of September 1943 on a large night raid. The Lancaster crashed at Geest Munde near Bremerhaven, Germany.


F/Lt. Leonard Walter Stewart DFC. 101 Squadron

F/Lt. Leonard Walter Stewart served with the Royal Canadian Air Force, in 101 & 582 Squadron. He completed two tours with Pathfinder Force as Navigator on Lancasters and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

David Stewart

Flt.Sgt. Henry Keith Smith 101st Sqd. (d.25-26 June 1943)

Henry Keith Smith was trained at Port Augusta in South Australia before moving to UK to be a rear gunner in 101st Squadron. On his 7th mission from Ludford Magna, he was shot(?) down over Germany. His plane was SR-Y LM318 and had:


  • RAF Sgt G Hay, Captain (Pilot)
  • RAF Sgt W A Bush, (Flight Engineer)
  • RAF Sgt F MacLeay, (Navigator)
  • RAAF 409241 Flt Sgt H K Smith, (Air Bomber)
  • RAF Sgt B L Scott, (Wireless Air Gunner)
  • RAAF 416674 Flt Sgt F L I Hill, (Mid Upper Gunner)
  • RAF Sgt T D Millns, (Rear Gunner)

The aircraft crashed at Ermen,4kms SSE of Ludwigshafen, a large town north of the Ruhr, Germany. All the crew were killed and they are buried in the Rheichswald Forest War Cemetery, Locality Kleve, Noordhein-Westfalen, Germany. The cemetery is 5kms south west of Kleve.

Geoffrey Walker

Sgt. Robert Crichton Judge DFM. 101 Sqn

We know Robert Judge served as a rear and tail gunner during 1943-1944 with the 101 Sqn and was awarded the DFM with a mention in the Gazette in February 1944. We would love to know more about him as the only information we have are two National Archive war reports showing that he trained at Morpeth and Whitchurch. We know from these reports that he was in Lancasters doing night raids.

Sgt. Hedley Maurice Hawkins 101 Squadron (d.21st Sep 1942)

Hedley Hawkins, born on 9th August 1920, was the son of Vera Hawkins and First World War veteran Samuel Hedley Hemming Hawkins, of Brisbane, Queensland. Sergeant Hawkins transferred from the Royal Australian Artillery to the Royal Australian Air Force in August 1940, and once he completed his training was posted to No. 101 Squadron of the British Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Hawkins was piloting Wellington number X.3457 when he sadly went missing during a bombing raid over the North Sea on 21st September 1942. He was 21 years old, and is commemorated on Panel 112 of Runnymede Memorial, United Kingdom.

S Flynn

Flt.Sgt. James Edward Steventon 101 Squadron

My father James Steventon was a Flight Engineer on Lancasters of 101 Sqadron, RAF, during WW2 and flew from RAF Ludford Magna. 101 Squadron were a special duties squadron who flew at intervals in the Bomber Stream as early ECM/ESM aircraft as well as a full load of weapons. They would jam radios with noise and also use their German speaking special operator to try and spoof the night-fighters into going places other than as directed by the controllers. Their aircraft were easily recognisable due to the two large aerials on the top and one on the bottom under the nose, as seen in the side view I have added. During the bomber campaign against Germany 101 Squadron flew on more raids than any other bomber squadron but suffered the highest casualties of any RAF unit in the war, losing 1176 aircrew killed in action.

I recall Dad telling me of one occasion when their "operator" was having a row with the night-fighter controller as to where the bomber stream was and he told me that their man won because he knew more German swear words than the controller!


Sgt. Robert Harry Bryan 101 Squadron (d.19th Mar 1944)

My uncle, Sergeant Robert Harry Bryan was a member of the RAF 101 Squadron stationed at Ludford Magna, Linconshire. He lost his life on 19 March 1944 as a result of air operations on his 5th mission. He was only 22 years old. Crew member of a AVRO Lancaster Bomber (rear gunner). His aircraft crashed at Fylham, near Horfam, Norfolk when returning from an operational sortie bombing Germany. He is buried at the Cambridge City Cemetery (Grave 14754). My uncle Harry (as we call him in the family) was born in London. His mother Otilia and sister Gloria Eileen Mary moved to Arequipa Peru when he was only 6 years old. Raised in Arequipa Peru (Otilia was British/Peruvian), Harry studied at an English School for boys in Chile and after graduation worked at a bank in Arequipa Peru. When the War started he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, came back to England and was assigned to the 101 Squadron. R.I. Alexander, the Wing Commander of the 101 Squadron writing the condolence letter he sent to the family described him as "a popular member of the squadron that displayed keenness and efficiency in his work which was always carried out with a splendid courage and tenacity". May he rest in Peace!

Luis Cappelleti

Flt.Sgt. George Henry Gittins DFM. 101 Squadron (d.18th Nov 1943)

George Gittins was the son of Henry and Annie Gittins of Severn Stoke, Worcestershire. He was killed in action when Lancaster LM 370 K2, flying from Ludford Magna, Leics, was shot down near Schoonbeek, Holland.

Brian Hill

Flt.Sgt. Ernest William Dodemaide 101 Sqdn.

Flight Sergeant Bill Dodemaide flew 31 missions with 101 Squadron, from Ludford Magna between the 22nd of July 1944 and 6th of November 1944.


F/Lt. David Russell Glendinning DFM. 101 Squadron

My Great Uncle, David Glendinning DFM, served as a rear gunner with 101 Squadron during WW2.

Mike Ruddick

P/O. Colin Hubert Curtis 101 Squadron (d.20th January 1942)

Colin Curtis was my father`s brother, his Wellington was shot down off the Dutch coast and the aircraft and the crew were never found. He was on his third mission. I have almost completed writing his story and expect it to be published in 2016 as part of a wider book.

Michael Curtis

Sgt. Robert Russell Roberts 101 Sqdn. (d.31st March 1944)

Bobby Roberts was the 23 year old wireless radio operator and gunner on Lancaster Bomber DV276 and is shown with his crew (third from right). He was married to my mother, Margaret Wilkins.

Robert Wenman

Sgt. Eric Harold Cooper 214 Sqdn. (d.24th July 1942)

Eric - 3rd from left middle row - Evanton

Eric Cooper was born on 14th August 1920 in a small Nottinghamshire village of East Stoke. He joined the RAF as a Volunteer Reserve on 4th January 1941, aged about 20.5 years. He did his 'square bashing' at Bournemouth before being selected for air gunner training at RAF Evanton. From graduating Evanton Eric was posted to 12OTU a Wellington OTU. At some point he would have been promoted to Sergeant AG.

Eric arrived at 101 Squadron (Wellington) on 12th of June 1942 and was crewed with P/O Angel, Sgt Gerein, Sgt Howe and Sgt Morris they completed four operational trips when Eric was posted out to 214 Sqn (Stirling).

Eric arrived at 214 Sqn on 5th July 1942 and on 11th July 1942 he found out his 'old' crew had gone 'down' at Kiel. Eric himself was killed in action just 13 days later on 24th July 1942 when his Stirling, piloted by P/O Jack D Peel, was attacked by a night fighter. All but one of the crew were killed. The wireless operator Sgt H C Fairhall was pulled out of the wreckage badly injured and was taken POW after treatment from the local Dutch doctor.

Richard Hallam

Walter Cross 101 Squadron

Walter Cross served with 101 Squadron at West Raynham between 1940 and 1945.

Julie Millington

William Smith 101 Sqdn.

At the Airforce Museum in New Zealand some letters have been left to us from William Smith, who served as a navigator in a Lancaster with 101 Squadron, RAF. He was shot down and captured after Christmas 1943 and was sent to Stalag IVB. While there he wrote to a young Polish woman by the name of Barbara Rawicz-Nowicka who had been captured after the Warsaw uprising. Does anyone have any information about Barbara?

Karen Shephard

F/Sgt. Thomas Handley Duff 101 Sqdn. (d.22nd June 1944)

On 22nd June 1944 Flight Sergeant T.H. Duff 1562929 (Airbomber) from 101th Squadron was killed in the sky above Holland. He is buried in a little town, named Werkendam.

Update: From Chorley's Bomber Command Losses: 101 Sqdn Lancaster III LM508 SR-P Target Wesserling. took off at 2317 from Ludford Magna on ABC duties. On home leg, shot down by night-fighter and crashed in the Biesbosch estuary near Werkendam (Noord-Brabant), 20km NNE of Oosterhout. Of the two who died, F/S Duff rests in Werkendam Protestant Cemetery but Sgt Keogh has no known grave.

W B Sluis

Sgt. John Edward Keogh 101 Sqdn. (d.22nd June 1944)

On 22nd June 1944 Lancaster III LM508 SR-P (Target Wesserling) was shot down over the Biesbosch Estuary in Holland by a nightfighter. Sgt Keogh was killed and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The other member of the crew who died that night was F/Sgt Thomas Handley Duff. He is buried in Werkendam Protestant Cemetery.

F/Sgt. Clifford Ernest Smith 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

I am trying to trace the families of Flt. Sgt. Clifford Ernest Smith, only son of Mr and Mrs A.E. Smith of Miland, Ilsham Road, Torquay; navigator of ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna shot down and buried in Rebrechien, near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944 and the Flight Engineer John Hodgson, son of George and Ivy Hodgson; husband of Constance Emily Hodgson, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.


All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • Ian Ellis

    Sgt. Eric Ronald Brown 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • Sgt. Thomas Crane 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • Sgt. Wolf Herman Englehardt 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • P/O Peter Joseph Hyland 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • Sgt. John Thomas Victor Moore 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • P/O Albert William Tuuri 101 Sqdn. (d.29th July 1944)

    ABC Lancaster SR-V2 (LM462) from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna was shot down near Orleans, France 28/29th July 1944.

    All the crew were killed in action on this mission and are buried in Rebrechien Communal Cemetery. The crew were:

  • F/Sgt C.E. Smith - navigator
  • Sgt J. Hodgson - flight engineer
  • Sgt E.R. Brown - airgunner
  • Sgt T. Crane - airbomber
  • Sgt W.H. Engelhardt - wop
  • P/O P.J. Hyland - pilot
  • Sgt J.T.V. Moore - wop
  • P/O A.W. Turri - airbomber

  • Flt.Sgt. Alexander Brace 101 Sqdn. (d.9th July 1942)

    2nd photo of sandy

    canadian book of remembrance

    Name plaque at St. Johns International Airport, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canda

    Sandys name is on memorial located in Bonavista, Newfoundland, Canada

    Alexander Brace (my cousin) served in the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve as a Flight Sergeant and from what I understand, he served as a rear gunner on a Wellington Bomber. Sandy was killed in action on 9th July 1942, over 18 years before I was born. During this time, as stated in the brief history of the 101st Squadron, the squadron had been equipped with Wellington Bombers and did not receive the bigger and more robust Lancaster Bomber until a little while after Sandy was killed in action.

    It has been a curiosity as to how Sandy was killed. Not specifics (as in how his plane was shot down) but more to the point of what he would have been doing in the war at the time of his death. Although I don't have concrete answers, I think I have reached some reasonable conclusions, given the information I was able to obtain on the net.

    On July 9th, there were two missions involving Wellingtons. The first would have left England on July 8th to return in the early hours of July 9th. Their mission was to bomb the dock area in the town of Wilhelmshaven. Wilhelmshaven is a North Sea coastal town located in the North Western portion of Germany. This mission involved approximately 285 bombers of which 137 were Wellingtons. The mission resulted in five bombers being lost, three of which were Wellingtons.

    The second mission left England on 9th July to return in the early morning hours of July 10th. This was a minelaying mission in the Heligoland and Frisian Island area of the North Sea. This area is close to Wilhelmshaven and, perhaps more importantly from a mine perspective, is located relatively close to the mouth of the Elbe River. fifty-nine aircraft were involved in this attack, of which one Wellington was lost. Although I don't have the official record, I would think that there is a better than average chance that Sandy would have been on one of the bombers lost on the Wilhelmshaven mission. Of course I have nothing to substantiate that (yet). My reasoning for thinking this is that this mission left England on 8th July and returned on 9th July. The Battle of Britain was two years prior, and although the Luftwaffe was far from finished, their resources were stretched rather thinly by this time. In 1942 there would still have been a chance to encounter enemy fighter activity early in the mission, but the odds were that the bombers would have been over Continental Europe by the time they had met any stiff resistance. As these were night missions, it also stands to reason that the clock would have rolled past midnight by the time the bombers would have been in the thick of things. Past midnight would have dated Sandy's death as 9th July.

    There is a somewhat less chance that he would have been a crew member killed on the Wellington lost on the mine-laying mission. I say 'less of a chance' because by the time they would have been over the target area it likely would have been well past midnight and into 10th July. Of course this is all supposition.

    Glenn Brace

    Samual Charles Humphry 101 Squadron

    I am looking for help in fulfilling the wish of a war hero from RAF 101 Lancaster squadron. Recently I watched the 80th anniversary flight of the Spitfire from Southampton airport. Living local to the Solent it seemed a great opportunity to try my new zoom lens out. After taking a few photos and feeling happy for seeing the iconic aircraft manoeuvring up and down Southampton water I thought I'd head home and look at the pictures. I was just about to turn and leave when I heard an elderly gent that I didn't realise was standing next to me make comment "what are you going to do with that? Shoot the bloody thing down?" referring to the 300 mm lens attached to my camera. It brought a smile to my face to look down and see this elderly gent standing next to me with a smile on his face , I replied "no I'm only taking a few pictures" He looked at me and said "you should be taking pictures of Lancasters son , that's what I flew in during the war" , I was not sure what to make of him at first as he didn't quite look old enough to have done such a thing" really" I replied, "tell me more ", with this he continued to tell me about his time as a radio operator with 101 squadron, he looked at me and said " you don't believe me do you? come with me to my car" , I was surprised to see that he had driven himself to the marina that I was viewing the spitfire from. He showed me photographs of his time in the war. He then told me things about his time with the squadron and the missions that they flew. "It's not that I don't believe you sir" I said "I'm actually quite taken aback to be listening to your story " He continued to tell me how in previous years he had attended the 101 squadron reunions , but last year his wife of 68 years had passed away and he feels it's now too far for him to drive alone , he continued to describe the reunions and how in the 1980's he had been at a reunion in Ludford Magna, where he saw a picture on the wall of 101 squadron, just the crew members, as he remembers approximately 70-80 airmen gathered from the wing towards the rear of the aircraft, with the code letters SR on the side of the aircraft , he recognised himself in the picture, and he recalled the picture being taken in the years 1945-1946. The following year the picture was missing from the reunion , and from that day he has wondered where the picture had gone, it was the only picture that he can recall of seeing with just the aircrew in the picture. Well after describing this to me he looked at me and said , "I'm not up to all this internet stuff, could you possibly do something for me? It would absolutely make my day if I could see this picture ,or a copy of it again". After meeting this man and listening to a short description of his RAF career, and seeing how humble he is about being a war hero that lost many friends, and hearing him say that he thought he was about to lose his own life on more than one occasion, how could I not offer to help find his picture? He gave me his details and looked at me and said "it would mean the world to me if you could just look for me, and now son you are holding me up with my morning walk, and I cannot stand around talking to you all day" this was said with the same wit that he had shown during our chat, and off he went smiling at me as he walked away. I stood for a while smiling and thinking "did this just happen?". It's not every day a war hero approaches you and catches your attention the way he did , and leaves you thinking how special these men are and were. If you know of anywhere that I could search for this picture, or any websites that I could look, I would be very grateful.

    Brian Mehlin

    Sgt. Kenneth Naylor 101 Squadron (d.30th Nov 1941)

    I understand that Ken Naylor, who was 21, was in a flight over the North Sea when there was engine trouble causing the plane to ditch. His mother states two crew members were picked up by fisherman and became German prisoners of war. Ken and at least two others died.

    In a documentary shown in England in 2011 an ex Wellington pilot called 'Tiny' Cooling spoke about Ken as a young flyer who everybody liked but nobody took any notice of because he looked like he was 'just out of his pram'. Cooling commented that he once found Ken weeping like a child because his best friend hadn't returned. Three weeks later Cooling was clearing out Ken's room because he hadn't returned.

    Rosalie Maher

    Sgt. Arthur S. Thomson ED660 101 Squadron (d.26th May 1943)

    At home in Canada before leaving for England. Probably 1942-43 with his neice.

    Uden Cemetary, Holland

    My Great Uncle, Sgt. Authur S. Thompson From Newcastle Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada served with 101 Squadron. His crew flew out of Holme on Spalding Moore on the night of 25th of May 1943 and crashed/was shot down?? near Cromvoirt, Holland on a Dusseldorf bombing run. Six 6 of the crew lost. They included all of those listed below. His death was listed as 26th of May 1943. I would like to find out more about what happened as my Father thought the crew may have been captured after crashing/bailing out and then shot by the Germans. Any information would be of great interest.

    Records state: 101 Sqd Lancaster III ED660 SR-U took off from Holme on Spalding Moor on Ops to Dusseldorf, crashed near Cromvoirt Holland, those killed are buried in Uden War Cemetery, Holland.

    • Sgt. Ainsworth B C. 1079641
    • Sgt. Bates C W. 1586116
    • Sgt. Berresford D L. 1211846
    • Sgt. Shackleton E. 1507344
    • Sgt. Thomson A S. R112455
    • Sgt. Tindale V J S. 1480799

    Robert. L. Matchett

    Flt.Sgt. James Frederick "Pop" Lander 101 Squadron

    James Lander served with 101 Squadron Royal Air Force.

    N A Lander

    Sgt. Victor Chevalier DFM 101 Squadron

    I am trying to contact relatives of the following crew members of 101 Squadron: Sergeant Victor Ainsley Chevalier, DFM (RAFVR 954100) Navigator Sgt. J M Gill (W/OP) F/O G A Gilboy (F/Engineer) F/Sgt John Noel Castle, DFM (RAFVR 13943990) A/Gunner Sgt G. Machin (A/Gunner) Sgt. W. Boardman (A/Gunner) P/O J. S. Scott (Special Operator)

    Adriano Silva Baumgartner

    AC1. Edwin Orchard 101 Squadron

    It would appear that Eddy Orchard tried to join up six mounths early, as his record shows he was signed up in December 1941 but was released until July 1942. He has two neptune certificates so I assume that he crossed the equator twice. I would love to hear about him some more. Sadly, he has passed over now, but as his son-in-law I found him to be a quiet man. He leaves three daughters and is sadly missed.

    John Wareham

    Earnest Gordon Robinson 101 Squadron

    My Grandad Earnest Robinson served as a rear gunner, he told me many stories but never boasted. What brave men!


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