Bertie Towner ('Toby") FOXLEE DFC, DFM

FOXLEE, Bertie Towner

Service Number: 404595
Enlisted: 11 October 1940
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: No. 617 Squadron (RAF)
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 8 March 1920
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Natural causes, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, England, 8 March 1985, aged 65 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

11 Oct 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 404595, Aircrew Training Units
16 May 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 404595, No. 617 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
25 Jun 1948: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, SN 404595

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Bertie Towner 'Toby' FOXLEE (1920-1985)

'Toby' Foxlee enlisted in the RAAF on 11 October 1940.  After Initial Training, he progressed through the training continuum as an Air Gunner and after operational service he was transferred to No.617 Squadron and 'crewed up' with Mick Martin, one of the legendary pilots of No. 617 Squadron and Bomber Command more broadly.  Other Australians in the crew included Navigator Jack Leggo DFC, Bomb Aimer, Bob Hay DFC (later KIA) and Rear Gunner Thomas 'Tammie' Simpson.

Toby Foxlee went on to fly a total of 50 sorties with Martin.  Their last mission was against the Antheor Viaduct in southern France on 12 Feb 1944, ended badly for the crew, with Bob Hay being mortally wounded and the aircraft only just making it to Sardinia.  Mick Martin, Toby Foxlee and Tammie Simpson left the squadron shortly afterwards, 'Tour Expired'.

After a short break in Canada, Toby Foxlee returned to Australia and was posted to New Guinea. He served out the war and continued until discharge in 1948, when he returned to the UK to pick up the threads of a broken romance with Thelma Peacock to whom he had been engaged before his return to Australia.  They were duly married and Toby joined the RAF with which he served for 15 years in England and Germany, as an air traffic contoller.

After a brief period farming in the UK they returned to Australian in 1962.  Toby ran a couple of service stations in Brisbane until he and Thelma separated in 1973.  He then bought the Commercial Hotel Motel in Chinchilla Queensland which was very successful and in which he ultimately involved his son Simon.  He retired in 1977 and the following year re-located back to the UK, settling in the village of Keyworth in Nottinghamshire.  He died there on 8 March 1985 after a short illness.



BURGESS Colin, 'Australian Dambusters' 2021, Simon and Schuster 2021 ISBN  9781760859237


Compiled by Steve Larkins Feb 2022