Kevin Kenny (Kenny or Kev) ABRAMS


ABRAMS, Kevin Kenny

Service Number: 432081
Enlisted: 5 December 1942
Last Rank: Flight Sergeant
Last Unit: 11 Base Workshops
Born: Haberfield, New South Wales, Australia, 1 January 1920
Home Town: Haberfield, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Unknown
Occupation: Secretary
Died: Aircraft Accident During Operational Training in UK, United Kingdom, 12 August 1944, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, North Yorkshire, England
Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery Section E, Row A, Grave 15 Roll of Honour Haberfield, Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, International Bomber Command Centre Memorial
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, SN 432081
5 Dec 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Sydney, New South Wales
5 Dec 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, SN 432081
12 Aug 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, SN 432081, 11 Base Workshops

Help us honour Kevin Kenny Abrams's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Stephen Diver

For G.A. - The Best Friend and the Best Teacher that I have ever Had.


Halifax Mk V EB192 (Markings on Halifax are Unknown)

Aircrew - 

Pilot - Pilot Officer William Wells RAFVR - S/N 177936 

Son of Arthur and Jessie Wells of Hexthorpe 

Aged 22

At Rest in the Doncaster (Hyde Park) Cemetery Yorkshire UK with 110 Other Service Personnel (17 Air Force). Grave Number Section TX Number 155A.

Flight Engineer - Sergeant Ernest Heath RAFVR - S/N 1590875

Son of Ernest Arthur and Dora Heath;

Husband of Dorothy Heath of Bentley, Doncaster

Aged 20

At Rest in the Owston All Saints Churchyard, Yorkshire UK with 7 Other Service Personnel (2 Air Force). Grave Number N/A - Old Part of Churchyard.

Navigator - Flight Sergeant Wallace Thompson RAAF - S/N 436136 

Son of Robert and Rose Thompson of Concord, Sydney New South Wales Australia.

Aged 22

Born 5 June 1922 At Concord, Sydney New South Wales Australia 

Enlisted in RAAF 11 November 1942, Perth Western Australia

Headstone Inscribed With - 

"The Supreme Sacrifice.

Dearly Loved, Ever Remembered"

At Rest in Harrogate  (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire UK with 1013 other Service Personnel (954 Air Force (+1 Unknown Airman) of which 97 are Australian and 664 are Canadian including Additionall Members of this Aircrew). Grave Number is Section E, Row A, Number 16.

Bomb Aimer - Flight Sergeant Allan Benjamin Talbot RAAF - S/N 417674

Son of Theopholus Benjamin and Stella May Talbot of Adelaide South Australia;

Husband Jean Mary Talbot of Upton Pontefract, West Yorkshire UK.

Aged 24

Born 20 August 1919 North Adelaide South Australia 

Enlisted With RAAF 20 June 1942 at Adelaide South Australia

Headstone Inscribed With - 

"At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember"

At Rest in the Moorthorpe Cemetery, Yorkshire UK with 30 other Service Personnel (6 Air Force). Grave Number is Section L Number 234.

Wireless Opperator/Air Gunner Flight Sergeant Kevin Kenny Abrams RAAF - S/N 432081 

Son of Reginald Orton and Eliza Logan Abrams of Cremorne, Sydney New South Wales Australia 

Aged 24

Born 1 January 1920 At Haberfield, Sydney New South Wales Australia.

Enlisted 5 December 1942, Sydney New South Wales Australia 

Member of Australian Boy Scouts, Part of 2 Ashfield Group, Sydney New South Wales Australia.

Headstone Inscribed With - 

"Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, Oh Lord"

At Rest in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire UK with 1013 other Service Personnel (954 Air Force (+1 Unknown Airman) of which 97 are Australian and 664 are Canadian including Additionall Members of this Aircrew. Grave Number is Section E, Row A, Number 15 (Next to F/Sgt Thompson RAAF - See Above).

Mid Upper Air Gunner Sergeant Alfred Gordon Monnington RAFVR - S/N 1667930

Son of Alfred Walter and Alice Gertrude Monnington of Radford Coventry UK.

Aged 19

Headstone Inscribed With - 

"In The Garden Of Memories We Meet Every Day.

Fondest Thoughts.

Mum And Dad"

At Rest in Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire UK with 1013 other Service Personnel (954 Air Force (+1 Unknown Airman) of which 97 are Australian and 664 are Canadian including Additionall Members of this Aircrew. Grave Number Section E, Row A, Number 17 (Next to F/Sgt W Thompson RAAF See Above).

Rear Air Gunner Sergeant Alexander Steedman Watt RAFVR - S/N 1824374 

Grandson Of John and Jane Watt of Cupar, Fife Scotland  (Parents Deceased).

Aged 22

At Rest in the Cupar New Cemetery, Cupar Fife Scotland With 27 Other Service Personnel  (8 Air Force). Grave Number Section O, Grave 12.

All of these Aircrew Apart from the 3 Airmen at Rest in Stonefall (2 RAAF And 1 RAFVR) were at their Next of Kins Request Returned to their Families for Burial. All have Individual Resting Places, a Clear Indication that Some Form of Positive Identification was Possible after the Crash. One of the Australians Married a Girl in England, and with His Australian Parents Blessing, He was Laid to Rest in His Wifes Home Town. After Her Death Many Years after the End of the War, She was also Laid to Rest Next to Him. Another Airman was Laid to Rest Next to His already Deceased Parents in Scotland.

Details of Loss -

On Saturday 12 August 1944, A Halifax Aircraft EB192 was Carrying Out its Training Flight after becoming Airborne from RAF Sandtoft at 0133 Hours. The Aircrew were a Mixed Group of Airmen, with 3 RAAF and 4 RAF on Board. Their Assignment was to Carry Out a Nightime Bombing Exercise using the nearby Bombing Range, and the Aircrew were Still undergoing the Usual form of Pre-Operational Training before being Posted to a Squadron in RAF Bomber Command. 

The Halifax was Sighted entering into a Hard Bank to Starboard, before being Lost to View due to Heavy Cloud Cover being present Throughout the Area. At One Point it was thought that the Aircrew had sighted a Luftwaffe Nachtjagger (Nightfighter) and was in the Process of Carrying out a hard bank to Avoid/Evade the Enemy Aircraft. Postwar Resarchers have Ruled this Out with German Nightfighter Expert Dr Theo Boiten having Proven unequivocally that No Luftwaffe Nachtjagger were in the Vicinity when the Halifax Crashed (For more see Volume 2 of Dr Boiten's Extensive and Detailed Work on Luftwaffe Nachtjagger Abschuss (Victories) of the War - The Luftwaffe Nachtjagd Diaries - An Operational History - Volume 2 April 1944 - May 1945). Equally No Other RAF Aircraft were Nearby, so some form of Mid Air Collision or Actions to Avoid One have also been Ruled Out.

When the Halifax was Next in View Observers on the Ground Reported it as now being 'Out of Control' and Diving towards the Ground. The Aircraft Crashed with No Parachutes sighted and still in One Piece and with all 4 Engines still turning at 0153 Hours. The RAF Investigation that took place afterwards was unable to Determine a Cause for either the Loss or the Aircraft becoming So out of Control so Quickly, so an Open Finding was made as to the Cause of the Loss of Halifax EB192.

The Crash Site is Near Winston Park, in North Bawtry almost right on the boarder between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, on what some have Described as High Ground - but this is Not a Mountain or anything Like it.

There were No Survivors, All the Aircrew were found to be still in the Aircraft with No Parachutes Clipped On, or any other Signs that Might Indicate that a member was trying to Abandon the Aircraft before its Loss. This Indicates that what ever it was that Occurred it was Fast and with Little to No Warning when it Happened.

The Site of the Halifaxs crash now has a small Memorial to Those Killed.

The RAF Court of Enquiry Ruled that - 

"P/O Wells Called up the Bombing Range Supervisor on R/T (Radio) and Requested Permission to Bomb from an Altitude of 2000 Feet, from which it is Presumed that the Range was Clearly in Sight and that the Aircraft was Not in  Cloud at this Time. Upon the Bombing Range Supervisor Giving P/O Wells Permission to Climb to 2200 Feet, it is believed that at this time was when the Cloud Cover started to effect the Aircrews Performance. 

P/O Wells upon Reaching His New Altitude is believed to have Found Himself in Conditions of Thick Cloud Cover, thus Preventing Him from Sighting the Range. At this Point it is Believed that P/O Wells made the Decision to Loose Altitude in an Attempt to Bring the Range into View of both Himself and His Bomb Aimer so as To Complete the Exercise as Briefed.

The Conditions were Extremely Poor, with a Darker then Normal Night and a Light Rainfall starting at around this time that was Reported by those on the Ground as being of a Drizzling type in kind.

P/O Wells would have Found Himself in Very Difficult Conditions, which in turn We believe would have made it hard for P/O Wells to Concentrate on His Instruments to the Degree Necessary. By this Time EB192 was No Longer over the Bombing Range and had Flown 3 Miles away from the Range. P/O Wells We believe at this time would have been Distracted further from His Instruments, by trying to Look for the Bombing Ranges Lights, and upon Sighting none as He was now No Longer Flying over the Range He would have Continued to Loose Altitude.

The Lack of Recognizable Landmarks, Combined with the Lack of Sight of the Ground Below, may have lead P/O Wells into fearing that He was More Lost then He Really was. At this Point P/O Wells chose to Bank His Halifax, No Doubt to Turn onto a New Course and Return to the Range, and for unknown reasons lost Control of the Halifax and Crashed at Winston.  

It is this Courts Judgement that Night Bombing Exercises in Poor Weather Conditions No Longer be Allowed to take place at an Altitude that is under 3000 Feet over RAF Bombing Ranges. Further that the Bombing Range Controller was at Fault for Not Ordering the Aircraft to Return to its Airfield after the Weather Conditions Worsened so Noticeably to those on the Ground".

These Airmen Listed below were on Kenny Abrams Initial Training School Course at RAAF Bradfield Park Sydney New South Wales Australia.

Their Names are in the Same Order as that Shown in the Photograph attached to this Report. It was Taken at the Completion of His 2 ITS Course, 35A on 24 December 1942. Note the Slouch Hats. All Would have been Aircraftsman Class II at the Time that this Photo was Taken.


Back Row

Kingsley Talbot Easter - Survived War - S/N 432139 - Born 1924 - Final Rank Warrant Officer.

 Unknown Posib Jacobs (?)

Harry Douglas Barrowman - Survived War - S/N 424077 - Born 1920 -  Flying Officer (RAF Bomber Command)

Thomas Donovan Potter - S/N 432260 - Born 1924 - Flight Sergeant

- Killed 8 September 1944 in a Training Accident with 29 Operational Training Unit (RAF) at RAF Bruntingthorpe. Did Not Fly on Ops. Wellington Mk III BK552 F for Freddie - Airborne 2320 Hrs. Assigned to Carry Out a Cross Country Navigation Exercise - Base-Northampton-Fishguard-St. Tudwall-Skegness-Boston-Newbury-Tetbury-Northhampton-Base. 6 RAFVR and 1 RAAF on Board, Aircrew of Flying Officer Desmond De Villers Clark RAFVR - South African Serving in RAF (160076). No Survivors. 2 Hours into Flight when Contact Lost. Aircraft Loss Due to Engine Failure. 

The Aircraft Crashed Due Mainly to Heavy Icing on the Wings Making it Uncontrollable. It Also Lost an Engine. Flying Officer Clark had Logged 26 Hours on the Wellington  (7 Hours only at Night). None the less Very Experienced Pilot with 140 Hours Logged on Other Types of Aircraft  (40 at Night). Wireless Opperator F/Sgt TD Potter RAAF made Scheduled Position Check With Airfield at 0103 Hrs and Nothing Was Reported as being Wrong. Flying Officer Clark Lost Control of His Aircraft after Loosing an Engine in an Airframe that due to Heavy Icing was already making The Wellington Difficult to Control. The Aircraft Lost Altitude, then entered into an Unrecoverable Dive at an Altitude of 1500 Feet. The Crash took place at 0143 Hours, on the Maysberry Rd in Shropshire - No Civilian Injuries were Reported from the Crash.

Harry was Killed in Tragically Simmiliar Circumstances to Kenny, Less then a Month after His Own Crash had taken Place. He was Aged 19, and His Parents in Australia chose as the Inscription Under His name "Loved, Honoured And Remembered Always".

He was Laid to Rest at the Chester (Blacon) Cemetery at Cheshire in the UK. His Location is Section A, Grave Number 714, there are 557 Service Personnel at this Location, of Which there are 400 who are Air Force  (+1 Unknown Airman) from that Number 92 are Australian. He Shares His Resting Place with Two Other Members of His Own Aircrew, the Remaining Members were Returned to their Next of Kin and Laid to Rest at Seperate Locations Close to their Families Homes at their Request.

Russell John Emmett -  Survived War - S/N 432142 - Born 1924 - Final Rank Warrant Officer (RAF Bomber Command).

Roy William George Eagle - Survived War  (POW) - S/N 432138 - Born 1924 - Final Rank Flying Officer (Was an Acting F/L at One Point). Flying the Last Operation of His Second Tour when Shot Down by Luftwaffe Nachtjagger (Details Below).

467 RAAF Squadron 

Lancaster Mk I NG197 PO-G For George 

Date - 01/02 February 1945

Target Railway Marshalling Yards, Siegen, Germany (Southern Germany)

Aircrew - 

(Operated with 8 Aircrew Instead of the More Usual 7).

Pilot - Flight Leutenant James Keith Livingstone DFC RAF S/N 155465 - Failed To Survive Loss of Aircraft (Murdered After Capture by German SD - See Below) Aged 22. Laid to Rest Rheinburg War Cemetery, Section 11, Row A, Number 25. Rheinburg Holds 3183 Service Personnel (+158 Unknown Airman), of Which 2791 are Air Force and 240 are Australian, 104 are New Zealand and 516 are Canadian.  His Inscription Reads "The Dearly Loved And Only Son Of Truda and Ernest. So Sadly Missed". He was Flying The Last Operation of His Second Tour when He was Killed. The DFC was Awarded to Him in December 1943 for His Service with 9 RAF Squadron during His First Tour. He Operated on the Lancaster EE136 "Spirt of Russia" During 1943, this Famous Lancaster Completed over 100 Operations in the War with Diffrent Aircrews Flying Her.

The RAF Missing Research And Enquiry Service (MRES) in Europe had a Team Investigate this Case after the War, and that Case was then Handed to the War Crimes Tribunal Via the RAFs Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) for Further Investigation. This Ultimately Resulted in Charges being Drawn Up against those Concerned in Relation to the Murder of this Airman and Two Others. Unfortunately Airman being Killed in this Manner was Not a Rare Occurrence, With Most of Those Concerned Never being Found, but Simply Listed as "Missing" and then Later as "Missing, Presumed Dead On or Around...".

I Intend to Only Cover the Actions of the German SD in this Case in the Most General Sense, the Actions by the Germans Concerned are too Horrific to be too Detailed about them. Those Searching For Further Details can find them in the Chapter "War Crimes 1945" (Page 212) In the Highly Recommended POW History - 'Footprints on the Sands of Time - RAF Bomber Command Prisoners of War in Germany 1939-1945' By Oliver Clutton-Brock First Published 2003 Grub Street Books UK.

Flight Leutenant Livingstone stayed with the Lancaster until the Rest of His Aircrew had All Jumped safely, by this time the Lancaster had Flown Clear of the area where the Majority of His Aircrew were Already Landing and being Rapidly Rounded Up. Shortly after Abandoning the Lancaster Successfully and Landing by Parachute Himself, He was Captured by a Group of German Civilians who Proceeded to Assault Him, 'Firstly with Words, then Finally with Fists and the Butts of Their Rifles'. He was then Handed Over to an Unnamed City Offical, who Locked Him in the Cellar of a Building and Called up the Towns Burgermeister to Inform Him of a 'Terrorfligers' Capture.

At some Point in this Conversation the Decision was Reached Not to Inform the Luftwaffe, Nor to Hand Him over to them. Instead at the Instigation of the Towns Burgermeister (Town Mayor), and in 'Complete Agreement' with each Other, they Elected to Hand Him Over to the SD. A German SD Unit "Kommando Wiebens" had been in the area since Late 1944, and the Burgermeister was on Friendly Terms with its Commanding Officer, So He Reported the Airmans Capture and asked that the SD come and take Charge of Him 'As they had Done Before'.

Kommando Wiebens was Commanded by SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Wilhelm Wiebens, and the Obersturmbannfuhrer was already Well Known to this Particular Party Offical - Having earlier Handed Over a Captured USAAF Airman to Him. He was also more then Aware as to what the New Prisoners Fate Would End up Becoming, having been Present when the American was Tortured and then Shot. Kommando Wiebens was Based at a Hotel near Rengsdorf (To the North of Koblenz and around 50 Miles from their Target of Siegen), and Wilhelm Wiebens was 'More then Happy' to Assist in the 'Disposal of Another Terrorfliger' and sent one of His Men to assist the Burgermeister, 'To Rid Him of the Problem'.

The SD or Sicherheitsdienst Des Reichsfuhrers Der SS were Formed in 1931 and were both the SS and the NAZI Party's own Independent Intelligence Service. They were Only Answerable to One Man, Reichsfuhrer Der SS Heinrich Himmler, and were Part of RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt - Reichs Main Security Office). They were Commanded by Reinhard Heydrich from 1931 - 1942 and Ernst Kaltenbrunner 1942 -1945. They were More Feared in Germany by both the Military and the Civilian Population then either the SS or Gestapo, and even though part of the SS nominally,  were one of the Few Groups in Germany able to Investigate, Arrest and Execute SS Officers of the Most Senior Ranks down.

The same Night that Flight Leutenant Livingstone's Aircrew was Shot Down - 'A Limping, Beaten, Bleeding and Disheveled' Airman was Taken into Custody by Unterscharfuhrer Kornelius Kayser, who then left with the Airman to 'Carry Out His Orders'. After He was Finished with Carrying those Orders Out, the Body was left where it Fell for Several Days, before being Taken to the Local Cemetery and with 'No Service or Religious Rites', it was then dumped into an Unmarked or Numbered Grave that was already open for someone else. This Unit of the SD was by Itself Responsible for the Murder of at least 3 Aircrew, starting in December 1944 (1 USAAF and 2 RAF Bomber Command). These were the Only ones Proven in War Crimes Trials after the War. There are some Researchers that now believe that this figure is Substantially much more Higher then this.

At the Conclusion of the War Crimes Trial Held by a British Military Tribunal  at Hamburg in 1947, Wilhelm Wiebens was Found Guilty on All Counts and He was Sentenced to 15 Years Imprisonment. Additionally He was also found Guilty for His Actions in Russia over 1942-43 as a Commander of Einsatzkommando 9 (Part of Einsatzgruppen B) and Sentenced to Life Imprisonment (Case Number 606). He was Given an Early Release in 1955, and is now Deceased (1906-1990).

Kornelius Kayser (Born 1915) was Found Guilty on 30 June 1947 of All the Charges Brought Against Him, and He Was Sentenced to Death  by Hanging. The Sentence Was Carried Out at 1530 Hours on 14 November 1947 in the West Wing of Hameln Prison, near the River Wesser in Germany. The Sentence Was Carried Out by Three People, A Civilian 'Expert' Flown in From the UK and 2 Assistants Drawn from the Unit Assigned to Guard the Prison - Both were British Army Military Policemen, One was a Company Sergeant Major and the Other was a Private.

Initially Unterscharfuhrer Kayser was Laid to Rest inside the Prison Grounds, However After the Prison was Returned to German Control in 1950, the Decision was made by the New Prison Governor in 1954 to Exhume All of the Executed War Criminals from the area that they were Located in (91), and to have them Moved 'with No Ceremony or Announcement' (Including to Any Surviving Next of Kin) to the Am Whel Cemetery in Hameln where they were Laid to Rest in Individual Unmarked Graves to Prevent their being used as Any Form of Rally Point for Any Kind of 'NAZI Inspired Hero Worship' (The Area used is now badly overgrown with weeds and tall grass, it still has No Grave Markings or Signage, and Most People are Unaware that its Anything More then an Overgrown Garden Space. Neo Nazis have attempted to Hold Gatherings at the Site, and it is for this Reason that the Exact Location used on the block of Land Chosen Continues to Remain a Closely Guarded Secret).

The Sentences Commenced in December 1945 and Ended in July 1949, by the end of it All in 1950, 146 Men and 10 Women Had their Sentence Carried Out. From this Total 64 Were Found Guilty of the Charge of Murdering Aircrew, in more then One Case as Many as 5 Airmen or More were Murdered by One Person. Some of the Known Australian Victims included, William E Maloney RAAF and Jack Stewart Nott RAAF. All of the Entire West Wing of the Prison including the Gallows and the Condemned Prisoners Cells were Demolished in 1986 after the Land and the Prison were sold, and it has since been Modified and Converted into a Motel.

After the Discovery of an 'Unknown Airman' in a German Graveyard 'Lying in a Partially Filled in Grave', The RAF Incorrectly Identified the Airman - Based Primarily on the Recollections of German Civilians who Lived in the Area - as being an 'Unknown Member of an RAF Bomber's Aircrew Lost in March 1945'.The German Civilians who were Interviewed Claimed to have found the Airman in His Parachute and on the Ground 'Already Dead' after an Air Raid in March 1945.

In Effect they were Lying.

This where it May have all Ended if Not for the Perseverance and Dedication of the 'Under Appreciated' RAF Missing Research And Enquiry Service or MRES.

After the War there were Hundreds of Aircrew Still Missing from all Causes, and it was the Job of the MRES to Locate and then Identify them. The MRES was formed in 1939 as Part of the RAF's Casualty Department Inside the Air Ministry, and it was Mainly made up of Former Aircrew of All Ranks and Nationalities (Including Australian). They Covered Areas as Diverse as Burma and Malaya, Through to Norway and Italy. In essence wherever there was/had been an RAF Presence, that now had a Member Missing, an MRES Team would be Investigating their fate and if a War Crime was found to be Involved gathering Evidence to Prove their Case and Pass it onto the RAFs Special Investigation Branch. The MRES Carried Out this Unglamorous, Decidedly Grim, but Incredibly Vital Job (Especially to Next Of Kin Desperate for Information of Some Kind on their Missing Loved One) Until 1952 when they were Disbanded. Some of The Major MRES Search Areas After VE-Day and Later VJ-Day included - France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Germany (East and West), Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Italy, Austria, Sicily, Burma, Malaya, The Netherlands East Indies, Singapore and New Guinea.

In February 1946 The Pacific Units that made up the MRES (Supported in the Main by the RAAFs Australian Contact and Enquiry Service) Were Investigating - 

Missing - No News 760 Cases

Missing Belived Killed - 102 Cases

Prisoner of War (Not Accounted For) - 894 Cases

These Are the Figures for Cases Investigated by the MRES by January 1951 For Every Teams Location - 

(Airmen and Airwomen)

Missing at Cessation of Hostilities - 41 881

Accounted For Known Burials -  23 881 (In Effect Solved Cases)

Formally Lost at Sea - 9 281

No Information - 6 745

The Final Numbers For Those Still Missing are -

RAF - 15 462

WAAF (Womens Auxiliary Air Force) - 10 

RCAF - 3050

RAAF - 1397

RNZAF - 576

SAAF (South African Air Force) - 17

RIAF (Royal Indian Air Force) - 7

ATC (Air Transport Command) - 4

ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) - 8

BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) - 7

Ferry Command - 9

Total Missing Airmen and Airwomen Still - 20 547 (As of 2008).

A Large Majority of these Airmen (Not Just Aircrew) and Airwomen are Recorded on the Runnymede Memorial to Airmen and Airwomen with No Known Resting Place in the UK (Others are Recorded on their own Dedicated Memorials Such as at Singapore and on the RAAF Equivalent to Runnymede for the Pacific Campagin in Sydney New South Wales, Australia).

The MRES Team in the Area of Europe Responsible for Missing Air Force Members including F/L Livingstone had been Established in Germany since August 1945. They Operated as Part of 28 Group RAF Technical Training Command, within British Air Forces of Occupation (BAFO). Their overall Headquarters for this Area inside the MRES Structure was Referred to as Being Headquarters MRES North West Europe (BAFO - HQ MRES NWE) and they were Commanded by Group Captain Eustace Fellowes Sinclair Hawkins DSO RAF (1881-1954).

He  was Perfect for what would be an Extremely Difficult Job, a Former British Army Leutenant-Colonel who Served in the Great War with the Royal Artillery He was Awarded the DSO in 1918 and Had Been also Mentioned in Dispatches. After the Great War He Lived in France with His Wife and Family and Amongst His Business Posts in this Time He was the Manager of the Rolls Royce Motor Car Division, which was Based in Paris. In 1936 He took up a new Position as the Continental Head of Sales for the UK Aircraft Manufacturer Hawker Aircraft Ltd, and Remained in this Post until Late 1939, whereupon He and His Family Returned to the UK.

After War was Declared in September 1939 He attempted to Rejoin His Former Artillery Regiment, but when this Failed Due to His Advanced Age, He was Offered and Accepted a Commission with the RAF After Telling them that He was Younger then He Really was. He carried Out Varied Air Ministry Postings, including in the RAFs Casualty Department, before Joining the MRES in December 1944 as the Deputy Director of Missing Research. Such were His Efforts in this Posting that by the End of His Service with the MRES He was Awarded a Well Deserved OBE in 1949.

By July 1946 172 Officers had been Posted into the BAFO MRES HQ NWE, Including All of its Associated Units. Out of those Officers there were Members belonging to the RAF (106), RCAF (30), RAAF (22) and RNZAF (14). They were Supported in their Endeavours by a Pool of 300 Airmen and Airwomen from the RAF, RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF. There were Also Australians Present in the RAFs Numbers, as during the Whole War, who Served in the RAF and Not the RAAF. Additionally there were Civilian Volunteers who Assisted each Individual RAF Team by working as Translators and or Office Assistants, and these were drawn from the Local Area - in this case Germany. For Example by March 1949, 4 MREU Service Members were Outnumbered by German Civilian Volunteer Workers (Both Male and Female) and were Broken Down as being - Clerks (44), Grave-Diggers (27), Sign Writers (18 - Grave Markers), Cleaners (11), Security Guards (8 - For Open Graves when Discovered, before Military Escorts Could be Dispatched), Cooks (5) and Laundry Worker (1).

The Unit of the MRES that Carried Out the Search for F/L Livingstone  (and So Many Others Like Him) was 4 Missing Research Enquiry Unit (4 MREU) and it had one of the Hardest and Most Sensative Tasks of the Immediate Post War Period. The Main Reason behind that was that as well Covering Areas around The Ruhr (Such as where F/L Livingstone and His Aircrew came Down) and the Entire British Occupation Zone of Germany, they were also Expected to Deal with the Increasingly Difficult Russians by Covering Missing Air Force Members inside The Russian Zone of Occupation - In Particular East Berlin. In Time 4 MREU ended up Sending its Search Teams to as Far Away as Poland, still Very Firmly under Russian Control. To add to its Difficulties the Unit was Initially based in Hamburg, a City known for its Antipathy to Air Force Servicemen and Women in General, due Primarily to the Successful Series of Attacks by RAF Bomber Command upon that City during Operation Gomorrah - Culminating in the 'Firestorm' Attack of July 1943 which so Devastated both the City and its Population.

A Brief Breakdown of 4 MREU's Overall Efforts and Make up is below - 


August 1945 - Covered British And Russian Zones of Germany and Later Poland. Unit HQ Hamburg, Germany. Searched from North to South of Area. HQ Moved with Search Teams throughout Duty. HQ at Wesendorf During Search of Central and South Eastern Area. HQ at Sudern for Search of South Western Area, including Ruhr Zone.

October 1946 - A Search Section Only (Not a Full Unit) is Given Permission by Russia to Enter into the Russian Zone of Occupation - Under Russian Army Escort at all Times. HQ Moves to Berlin.

1947 - Russian Search Section Renamed as Berlin Detachment. Now under Direct Control of BAFO - MRES HQ NWE and No Longer 4 MREU.

April 1948 - Search Section Begins in Poland - Under Russian Army Escort.

1 September 1948 - All Liaison Officers, Motor Transport and Staff belonging to MRES are Transferred to 4 MREU HQ at Sundern.

December 1948 - Polish Section withdrawn and returns to main unit HQ 4 MREU.

30 September 1949 - HQ MRES and 4 MREU Offically Disbanded.

Establishement of 4 MREU - 

HQ + 8 Search Sections 

1 Wing Commander OC (Officer Commanding) 4 MREU HQ

1 Squadron Leader  (Second in Command) 4 MREU HQ

1 Flying Officer Unit Adjutant 4 MREU HQ

8 Squadron Leaders,  One for each 4 MREU Search Section, as Section OC.

35 Flight Lieutenants - Section Search Officers 

40 Air Force Drivers - Motor Transport Unit

35 Airmen and Airwomen  - General Duites  (Clerks)

Motor Transport Pool - 

1 Car - 4 MREU HQ OC

40 Cars - Search Officers 

1 Motor Cycle - 4 MREU HQ Dispatch Rider

2 Vans 15 CWT attached to 4 MREU HQ

1 Tender 3 Ton Attached to 4 MREU HQ

Establishement of Each Search Section in 4 MREU - 

1 Squadron Leader - OC

4 Flight Leutenants - Search Officers 

5 Drivers - Motorised Transport 

5 Cars - For use by Search Officers, Supplied with Own Driver.

The Officer in Command of the Section that Found Out the Identity of the 'Unknown Airman' was in Reality the still Missing F/L Livingstone, was S/L WH Armstrong RAF, from Section 20, 4 MREU. S/L Bill Armstrong Joined the RAF in 1941 and After Completing His Training as a Navigator He was Posted to Malta Flying Beauforts on Anti-Shipping Operations with 39 RAF Squadron in 1942. By the End of His Double Tour with the Squadron in July 1944 He was Flying on Beaufighters Out of Italy. He was then Posted to Scotland as an Instructor, and was Carrying Out His Duites there when the news Came through about VE-Day. Bill was a Good Fit for the Role of a Section Leader with the MRES, being fluent in German and having Extensive Operational Expierence. He carried this Role Out until 1949 when He Retired from the RAF.

The Investigating Officer was F/L Colin Albert Mitchell RAF and His Driver in Germany was Driver Ron Moody RAF and His Main Interpreter was a German Woman known as "Gisela". Colin Mitchell Enlisted with the RAF in 1941 and after Completing His Training as a Wireless Opperator/Air Gunner Operated with Various Squadrons in RAF Coastal Command from Late 1941 to Late 1944. He Worked His Way through the Ranks, and was Part of An Aircrew who attacked a Kriegsmarine U-Boat during a Successful Depth Charge Attack on 13 August 1944.

He was Posted from His Squadron directly to the MRES in late 1944, Working Firstly in France before eventually Joining 4 MREU in Germany in 1945. He was Sent from Hamburg with His Section to Investigate Cases of Missing Air Force Members in and Around the Ruhr, and was Based at Iserlohn in the Northern Zone of the River Rhine (About 60 Miles Away from Siegen the Target of the Aircrew of F/L Livingstone and around 100 Miles from Rengsdorf where the SD Unit Responsible for the Murder were Based). He Remained with His Team in Germany as Part of 4 MREU until Early 1947, whereupon He Retired from the RAF Shortly After being Posted back to England.

He was best known in the MRES for His Stubborn Insistence that Every Case Assigned to Him was to Always Receive the same Degree of Effort from He and His Team - More Often then Not Ending with Himself and Others in that Team acting as Pallbearers for 'His' Airmens Funeral. He carried Out this Solem Task on Several Occasions at Various War Cemeteries in France, Germany and Elsewhere. He was also known for Allways being a Stickler for Details, even going so far as to Always ensure (Where Necessary) that Each Burial Party was Represented by Some Kind of Air Force Member from the Deceased Airmen or Aircrews Home Country or where Possibile Home County or State.

For Example if a Scottish Member was Involved Not Only Did He Organise Bagpipes He also Made Sure that there were Scottish Airmen Present to Assist Him in Carrying the Coffin. During An RAAF Aircrews Burial after Identification into a Shared or Joint Grave, He Organised for 1 Airman to be Present from each of the Aircrews Home States back in Australia. He did the same for "Newzies" (His Personal Nickname for New Zealand Members) and Canadians as well, even Tracking Down some South Africans for a Pilot from the SAAF who Failed to Return from a Mosquito Operation.

Most Importantly, He sent Individual Hand Written and Signed Letters to All the Next of Kin of Those Located, informing them of what had Happened and Where they were Now Located should they Wish to Visit them in the Future. He also Told them about their Family Members Burial Service and Included at least One Photo from that Service, and on Some Occasions More then One Photo was Included. For those from Overseas Locations such as Australia or Canada, He also made it a Point to Describe what it was Like where they Now Rested, and if Part of an Aircrew where the Other Members of that Aircrew now also Rested or if they had Survived.

In Cases where the RAF was Unable to Organise a Photographer F/L Mitchell Often made Sure that there was Still One at the Service, be it Sourced from a Civilian or Different Branch of the Armed Services (For Example The British Army Graves Registration Unit). If a Civilian Photographer was Involved it was More Often then Not Funded by the Section 'Passing the Hat Around for Donations' or More Usually, without Anyone Knowing, by being Paid for by F/L Mitchell 'Out of His Own Pocket'. Another thing F/L Mitchell did, As in the Case of F/L Livingstone, was to also Inform the Family if their Members Death was now being Investigated by the RAFs SIB or if Charges had been Laid by the War Crimes Tribunal - but Not always the Names of those Charged. On more then a Few Occasions He also Received Heartfelt Letters of Greatful Thanks for His Efforts from Families All Over the World. 

As He Put it Himself During an Interview in 1995 with the Imperial War Museum in the UK - 

"Every Search Officer had to have been Former Aircrew, because due to that Kind of Training they would have Learned the Value of being Obstinate and Most Importantly in a Job such as this Pedantic - With an Eye for Detail of the Smallest Kind. The 'Quick Flick' attiude as Held by Many After the War was Never Going to be Good Enough in a Job such as This".

Such were the Airmen and Airwomen that made up the MRES. F/L Mitchell was Not Alone in Acting in this way nor with this Level of Dedication, Compassion and Humanity for People that were Almost Always Unknown to Him Personally.

After the Initial Burial of F/L Livingstone took Place after the Discovery of His Body as an Unknown Airman at Immerath, His Body was then Exhumed by F/L Mitchell and His Team and an Examination of the Remains was Carried Out, which Included a 'Detailed and Thorough' Autopsy. At the End of this Examination, they knew that they had yet Another Case for the Equally Hard Pressed RAF SIB to also Investigate. Primarily this was as a Result of the self evident damage to the Skeleton, in Particular the 'Skull, Ribs, Spine, Neck and Legs' and the 'Recovery of Pieces of a Bullet from inside the Skull'.

However, Other then Now Confirming their Worst Fears, they still had No Identification.

The Body had been Stripped, and when Found their were No Personal Items on it at all, such as what was Standard Kitt with all Aircrew but Especially Pilots and Navigators some form of Wristwatch. The Airmans ID Tags were also Missing. They knew from the Uniform that He was a Pilot and an Officer, and had a good Idea of His Size and Build Thanks to the Condition of the Remains. They made up a Dental Chart of his Teeth to Send back to England, and then Started to Study Reports of Missing Pilots Shot Down Over that area in March 1945. When Nothing Matched 'purely on Gut Instinct', F/L Mitchell went backwards and Not Forwards to February 1945 and Almost at once had a Tentative Match to F/L Livingstone. As the Squadron involved was Australian a Request was made for 'Urgent Interviews' with Any Survivors from the Aircrew still in England or Back in Australia to both the RAAF and RAF.

While these Interviews took Place F/L Mitchell Re-Examined the Body and the Uniform for Clues, And in the Process of doing so He Found a Partial Serial Number inside the Airmans Pants in the Form of some kind of ripped Laundry Tag. The Number Matched the last 3 Numerals of F/L Livingstone's own Serial Number. His Boots were Missing, but His Socks were Still in Place and Upon Examination they were also found to have Inside them Tags with JKL on each of them. Then the Dental Chart Results Came back from London and the Identity was Confirmed. The Unknown Airman was who they Believed Him to Be, F/L JK Livingstone DFC RAF, and Now the Investigation was handed to the RAFs SIB as they Worked to Find Out how His Death had taken Place. F/L Mitchell wrote a Letter to F/L Livingstone's Parents, while the Casualty Department of the Air Ministry Dispatched the Offical Confirmation that their Son was now No Longer Missing. His Former Aircrew, some of whom were now back in Australia were also Informed by Telegram from the RAAF Casualty Department that their 'Skipper' had been found as well.

F/L Livingstone was Laid to Rest after the Identification had been Confirmed by a Mixed RAAF and RAF Burial Party in 1946, Commanded by F/L Mitchell, who was also one of the Pallbearers. The Photographs were Taken and Copies were sent to both the Parents of F/L Livingstone and at their Request Via the RAAF to His Surviving Aircrew in Australia and Via the RAF to His Surviving Aircrew in England. This Interment took Plact at the Rengsdorf Cemetery - Very near in all Likelihood to the Location of where He was Murdered in 1945.

He was Exhumed one Last Time when He was Moved in 1948 from Rengsdorf to the Rheinburg War Cemetery, where He is Now. This Movement or "Concentration" as its known, was due to the Extra Cost it took to Monitor and Maintain Singular Graves at Widespread Locations by the War Graves Commission. His was Not the Only One to be Moved for this Reason, and unlike France or Other 'Friendly' Countries, the Local Population in Germany  were Unlikely to Protest such Moves or Assist in the Upkeep of Such Graves. It was at Rheinburg that He Received His Offical RAF Gravestone, with His Parents Inscription Inscribed on it. This took Place around 1958.

The Remaining RAF and RAAF Aircrew who Abandoned their Aircraft Safely that Night in February 1945 by Parachute, were All Captured Allmost Immediately or Shortly After Landing Safely on the Ground. They were All Prisoners of War for the Remaining Duration of the War. All Took Part in and Survived "The Long March" during Winter 1945 which Involved over 10 000 POWs being Forced Marched through Winter Snow in Atrocious

Conditions. Some of the POWs walked as much as 950 Miles by the time of VE-Day.

To this Day there is no Accurate Casualty Figure for the March, due Mainly to the Large Number of POWs left to Either Freeze to Death beside the Road after they were Unable to Walk Any Further or Shot in the Back of the Head and Left to be Buried by the Snow beside the Road they were Walking on. Some were Beaten to Death using Rocks or Pieces of Wood. The base Figure Most Agree on is 3500 US and British (Including Commonwealth Members), Post War Numbers by the YMCA put the Figure at 8348 British, Commonwealth and American. These Airmen Derserve Just as Much Respect in Australia for what they went through, as those who Survived the Worst Depredations that the Japanese Could Come Up With. 

The Aircrew and The Camps that They were sent too are Below -

Flying Officer RWG Eagle RAAF - Second Pilot

He was About to begin His Second Tour when He was Shot Down.

This was His 'Second Dicky' Flight with a More Experienced Pilot to Get Him Ready for Operational Conditions Once Again. This was a Standard Procedure used in All Heavy Bomber Squadrons throughout the War. His Regular Aircrew were Returned to Training, Matched Up with a New Pilot and Returned to a Diffrent Operational Squadron. They were Shot Down in April 1945 returning from an Operation Over the North Sea with No Survivors.

F/O Eagle was Captured on Landing and Immediately Handed Over to the Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed F/O Eagle was Issued with His POW Number and Shipped to an Army Controlled POW Camp Stalag XIII D, Which was Located at Nurnberg-Langwasser (A District of Nuremberg), in Northern Bavaria. Ironically, The POW Camp was Constructed on the Very Same Parade Grounds Used by the NAZI Party Pre 1939, after their Successfull Seizure of Power, to hold their now Infamous Nuremberg Party Rallies on Every Year.

While a POW F/O Eagle RAAF was Promoted to a Acting Flight Leutenant. 

On 12 April 1945, After Receiving Direct Orders from the SS in Nuremberg, the Occupants of the Camp - Many of whom Included the Exhausted Survivors of the First Series of 'Long Marchers' such as those Marched in from Sagan (Stalag Luft III - Home of the 'Great Escape' of 1944) - were Ordered to begin Yet Another 'Long March'. This time their Destination was to be Another Camp in  Bavaria - Stalag VII-A (Moosburg) - Around 90 Miles Away, and all of it on Foot with Minimal Clothing and No Transport at all. When the American Army Arived to Liberate the Camp, they Found it to be Almost Empty and the Area all but Deserted.

After Managing to Reach Moosburg, F/O Eagle said He was 'All Done In', and that His Weight was down to under 7 Stone (Around Less then 45 kg or 98 lbs). Thankfully unlike Other POWs He was Not put through Multiple Marches (such as in the Case of the POWs from Sagan) and was Present but in Poor Health when the Camp was Liberated by the American 14 Armoured Division on 29 April 1945.

Shortly Afterwards He was flown out with Other POWs by a Lancaster from His Old Squadron 467 RAAF, and when Crossing the English Coast He Started to Shake and Tremble, before He then began to 'Cry Like a Newborn'.

He hade made it back.

Acting F/L Eagle RAAF Wrote this Report of His being Shot Down in England for the RAAF Sometime before He was Discharged in October 1945, Most Likely at the Request of the MRES (See Above) - 

"We had Dropped Our Bombs on Target and We Were Just Leaving the Target Area when the Starboard Wing was Suddenly being Peppered with a series of Small Explosions, before Hitting Our Starboard Inner Engine and Blowing it off the Wings Engine Mount with an even Louder Explosion, turning the whole of the Starboard Wing into a Mass of Flames. The Order was Given by F/L JK Livingstone DFC RAF to Put on Parachutes, and All the Aircrew Acknowledged the Order. Fire Drill was Carried Out by Both Pilots, but it was Unsuccessful. The Navagator S/L DO Sands RAF, Gave us a Fix and Told F/L Livingstone how Far Away We were from the Front (Allied Front Lines).

F/L Livingstone Informed the Aircrew We Could Not Make that Distance and He gave the Order to Abandon the Aircraft. Before I Abandoned the Lancaster, I Heard and Saw the Bomb Aimer F/O WD McMahon RAAF, Flight Engineer F/O EG Parsons RAF, Rear Air Gunner F/L EC Ellis RAAF and Wireless Opperator P/O J Prendergast RAF All Report in that they were Abandoning Aircraft before Jumping. When I Jumped through the Nose Escape Hatch the Pilot F/L Livingstone was still at the Controls, and the Mid Upper Air Gunner F/O RN Bronne RAF and Navigator S/L DO Sands RAF were Still on board the Aircraft and Preparing to Jump.

While I was a POW, I Met both F/O Bronne and S/L Sands, but I Never Saw the Pilot F/L Livingstone Alive or Dead again After Jumping that Night. When I Left the Lancaster we were down to 6-7000 Feet, but it Still Appeared to be Flying Under Control, but Loosing Altitude. Nobody was Wounded or Injured during the Attack. While Coming Down in My Parachute, I saw the Lancaster Crash near Moschheim (Approx 30 Miles from Target). The whole of the Aircrew Landed Safely and We were All POWs apart from Pilot who is Missing".

Squadron Leader DO Sands DSO DFC RAF - Navigator

S/L Des Sands was Captured on Landing and Immediately Handed Over to The Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed S/L Sands was Issued with His POW Number and Shipped to an Unrecorded POW Camp.

Based on the Above Statement by Acting F/L Eagle RAAF where He stated Meeting Him and the Mid Upper Air Gunner F/O Bronne RAF in the same Camp as F/O Bronne who was also sent to Stalag XIII D at Nurnberg-Langwasser as well, I think there is a Pretty Good Chance that He went there too. However as yet I have No Independent Confirmation of this fact, and this is Just an Educated Guess based on the Available Evidence.

S/L Sands was an Australian serving in the RAF, he was Born in Albany Western Australia and both He and His Sister Left for England in 1936 to 'Further their Studies and Gain Wider Experience'. He Graduated from the Royal British Institute of Architects in London in the first half of 1940, and then Joined the RAF in July 1940. He underwent the Usual Observer and Navigation Training in Canada, and in an unusual Move, He was Commsioned in Canada Indicating that He did Extremely Well in All His Courses. 

He Returned back to England in Early 1942 and was Posted without Further Training to Fly in the Newest RAF Bomber Command Heavy Bomber Type, the Avro Lancaster. He Joined One of the First RAF Squadrons to go Operational on it, 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron based at RAF Waddington (Waddo) as part of 5 RAF Group. Their Squadron Commander had been Operational with the Squadron since 1941 Flying Hampdens and had been Mentioned In Dispatches in December 1941.

His Name was John Dering Nettleton, and like S/L Sands He was Born Overseas too, Only in His Case it was South Africa and He had Joined the RAF in 1938. He had been the Squadron Commander ever Since He was Promoted to Squadron Leader in July 1941. S/L Sands joined the Squadron Commanders Aircrew as their Navigator after Ariving Just in Time to Fly on the First Ever Lancaster Operation of the War, when the Squadron 'Planted' Air Dropped Sea Mines in the Heligoland Bight (Soon to be known as 'Gardening', With the Mines called Vegetables) while flying L7546. The Aircrew on this Operation was Recorded in this way S/L JD Nettleton (South African), P/O PA Dorehill (Rhodesian), P/O DO Sands (Australian), P/O KW McGrail (English), Sgt C Churchill (South African), Sgt D Huntly (Rhodesian) and F/Sgt L Mutter (English).

Squadron Leader DO Sands is based on Available Evidence the First Australian to Ever Operate on the Lancaster in World War Two (and yet His Almost Completely Unknown in Australia!!)

He Continued to Fly Operations with John Nettleton, but they also now Started to Fly Daylight Long Range Navigation Exercises as well, the first taking Place in Lancaster KM-B for Beer L7578. The Young Aussie Navigator Noted in his Diary 'That Most Intrestingley they were now Flying the Exercises in Tight Formation and at Ultra Low Level. Something is Clearly up....'

On 15 April 1942 they Completed another Five and a Half Hour Navigation Exercise 'Chasing Cows' all Over England, during which the Australian Navigator heard Their Rear Air Gunner Dryly ask His Skipper if he Could alter Course a Tad to Starboard and Chop His Lawn down a bit! 

On the Morning of the Operation 17 April 1942, a brand new Lancaster was Delivered to the Squadron from the Manufacturers, and S/L Nettleton decided to fly this on the Operation instead of the Lancaster they had been Training in. So the Groundcrew Quickly Painted the Necessary Markings on the Fuselage of KM-B for Beer and Lancaster Mk I R5508 with its Paintjob still Drying went to War.

The Target was in Southern Germany and it was one of the Earliest Cases of a High Precision Attack, a method of Attack to be later Perfected in 1944 by both 617 and 9 RAF Squadrons using 'Tallboy' Bombs. On 17 April 1942 the Target was the MAN Diesel Engine Factory at Augsburg - A Flight of Over 1000 Miles across Occupied France and Into Germany and back again with No Fighter Escort. None of the Fighters had the Necessary Range needed for an Escort of that type at this Stage in the War.

For this Operation the Attack would be in Two Waves of 6 Lancasters each, with both Squadrons Involved armed with Four 1000lb Bombs fitted with 11 Second Delay Fuses. The Other Squadron Involved was the Second Squadron to Convert to the Lancaster, 97 (Straits Settlement) RAF Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa. The Overall Commander of the Attack was John Nettleton, while the Commander of 97 was S/L JS "Flaps" Sherwood DFC RAF. NB Some Aircrews Operated with 8 Airmen, Carrying an Extra Air Gunner to man the Nose Gun Turret, instead of the More Usual 7.

The Operational Results of the Attack (Briefly) were - 

44 (Rhodesia) RAF Squadron - RAF Waddington.

KM-B R5508 S/L JD Nettleton RAF and Aircrew - Bombed Target and Returned. Damaged By Luftwaffe Fighters from II Grupen JG2 'Von Richthofen' and FLAK  over Target. Aircrew Only One from Squadron to Return from Operation. Pilot Awarded Victoria Cross. Aircrew also Decorated - 3 Awarded DFC and 4 Awarded DFM. DFCs were Awarded to P/O PA Dorehill RAF (Rhodesian), P/O DO Sands RAF (Australian) and F/L CSC McClure RAF (Rhodesian). The DFM went to Sgt CF Churchill RAF (South African), Sgt DN Huntly RAF (Rhodesian),  F/Sgt L Mutter RAF (British) and F/Sgt FH Harrison (British). 

KM-A R5510 F/O AJ Garwell DFM RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Failed to Reach Target. Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters from JG2 and Crashed On Way to Target. Rear Air Gunner and Mid Upper Air Gunner Trapped in Rear of Aircraft by Fire and Despite Best of Efforts by F/O Garwell  (Burnt by Fire) and other Survivors to Free both Air Gunners using Aircraft Fire Axe they were Burnt to Death inside Aircraft. Wireless Operator was also killed after His Neck was Broken when He was Thrown Clear through the Lancasters Cockpit Canopy by the Force of the Impact on Landing. Remaining Aircrew Survived, POWs for the Duration of the War. Killed were F/Sgt DH McAlpine RCAF (Canadian), Sgt I Edwards RAF (British) and F/Sgt RJ Flux DFM RAF (British). POWs were 1 Each from New Zealand and Rhodesia and 2 from The UK. For His Efforts F/O Garwell was Awarded the DFC, while His New Zealand Crewmember F/Sgt FS Kirke DFM RNZAF was Awarded the Highly Rare Bar to the DFM (In effect the Same Award Twice). The DFM was also Awarded to Sgt J Watson RAF (British) and Sgt L Dando RAF (Rhodesian).

KM-H L7536 Sgt GT Rhodes RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Failed to Reach Target. Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters from JG2, Major Walter Oesau a Luftwaffe 'Experten' (Ace) Shot this Lancaster Down. He closed to 'Point Blank Range' then opened fire with both His 20mm Cannon and His Machine Guns Raking both the Cockpit and the Wings with his Bursts of 'Devastatingly Effective' Gunfire. Its Likely that either Sgt 'Dusty' Rhodes was wounded or Killed Outright in this Attack as almost at once the 'Lancaster Reared up like a Startled Horse, Stalled, then Nosed Over with Flames Pouring Out of its Wings to Crash Nose First with No Survivors'. Six of the Aircrew were RAF and Came from the UK, One was from the RNZAF and came from New Zealand.

KM-P R5506 F/L RR Sandford DFC RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Failed to Reach Target. Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters from JG2, Aircraft 'Crashed in a Ball of Flame' with No Survivors. Aircrew are All RAF, However Two of the Aircrew were Rhodesian and not UK.

KM-T L7548 W/O HV Crum DFM RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Failed to Reach Target. Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters from JG2. Both Mid Upper and Rear Air Gunner Wounded in Attacks, also Only had Two functioning Engines, Engines on Port Side and all of Wing on Fire. Aircrew Dumped Bomb Load to Try and Stay Airborne, but the Fighters were already Tearing into them again. Harry Crum Screamed out a Warning to Prepare for a Crash Landing and to get Clear as Soon as the Lancaster Stopped Moving. Then Aiming for a Wheat Field Dead Ahead, He quite Literally Flew His Lancaster on to the Ground in a Superb Display of Airmanship which Never Received the Credit it Deserved. Harry's Nose Air Gunner was Trapped in His Turret, so He Returned to the Lancaster and Grabbed the Fire Axe, Hacking Away with it until He was Free. Against All Odds, Every Member of Warrant Officer Crum's Aircrew Survived the Crash and Despite His Air Gunners being Wounded 'The Redoubtable Harry Crum' and His Aircrew Evaded Capture by German Search Teams for 14 Days before Finally being Captured. They all Survived, Spending the Duration of the War as POWs. The Aircrew were all RAF, However One of the Airmen in it Came from Rhodesia and the Remainder came from the UK.

KM-V LM7565 W/O JF Beckett DFM RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Failed to Reach Target. Damaged by FLAK on Way to Target, Rear Turret Damaged Continued on With Operation Electing Not to Make an Early Return. Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters from JG2, with No Rear Turret Functioning, Aircraft went Down Quickly 'Crashing in a Mass of Flames' with No  Survivors. The Aircrew had One Canadian Member of the RCAF, the Remainder were all RAF, However One of the RAF Members Came from Rhodesia.

 97 (Straits Settlements) RAF Squadron - RAF Woodhall Spa.

All Aircrews From this Squadron are From the UK, Serving in the RAF unless otherwise stated.

OF-K L7573 S/L JS Sherwood DFC RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Reached Target and Bombed, Shot Down by FLAK on Bomb Run. S/L Sherwood blown out of Aircraft by Explosion after Crash. Sole Survivor. POW for Duration of War and Survived. Recommended for Victoria Cross, Awarded DSO. Three of His Aircrew Also Mentioned In Dispatches (P/O AT Webb RAF, Sgt RS Page RAF and F/Sgt DW Harrington RAF). One of his Aircrew was RCAF and From Canada. Remainder RAF. 

OF-B R5537 F/O BRW Hallows RAF and Aircrew - Attacked and Dropped Bombs on Target. Damaged by FLAK on Bomb Run over Target. Returned to Base. F/O Hallows Awarded DFC and Rear Air Gunner Sgt TH Goacher RAF DFM for Operation.

OF-F R5488 F/O EE Rodley RAF and Aircrew - Attacked and Dropped Bombs on Target. Damaged by FLAK on Bomb Run over Target. Returned to Base. F/O Rodley Awarded DFC and Mid Upper Air Gunner Sgt JT Ratcliffe RCAF Awarded DFM.

OF-U R5496 F/L WM Penman DFC RAF and Aircrew - Attacked and Dropped Bombs on Target. Damaged  by FLAK on Bomb Run over Target. Returned to Base. F/L Penman Awarded DSO, P/O GC Hooey RAF and P/O EL Ifould RAAF Awarded DFC and DFM Awarded to Sgt DL Overton RAF. Last Aircraft to Return from Operation and Last to Leave Target.

OF-Y L7575 F/O EA Deverill DFM RAF and Aircrew - Attacked and Dropped Bombs on Target. Damaged by FLAK on Bomb Run over Target, Aircraft on Fire. Returned to Base on 3 Engines. F/O Deverill Awarded DFC and DFM Awarded to Sgt RP Irons RAF and Sgt KO Mackay RAF. Last Aircraft to Return from Operation and Last to Leave Target. Flew in Formation with F/L Penman and Attacked/Landed Together.

OF-P R5513 W/O TJ Mycock DFC RAF and Aircrew - Failed To Return from Operation. Reached Target and Bombed, Shot Down by FLAK over Target with No Survivors. Damaged in Port Wing, Stayed with Formation until Bombs Dropped, Fire Reached Port Wing Main Fuel Tank and Aircraft Exploded. Last Aircraft to be Shot Down on Operation. Aircrew All RAF and From UK apart from Rear Air Gunner F/Sgt JG Donoghue RCAF who was an 'American Volunteer' Serving in the RCAF. 

Des Sands Completed His First Tour with 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, Still Flying with John Nettleton and His Aircrew from July 1942.  He was then Posted Out of the Squadron to 5 RAF Group HQ as a Navigational Instructor later that Year. John Nettleton Took some time off to Get Married on 17 July 1942 to a WAAF He met and Fell in Love with at the Airfield. After a Brief Rest at the End of His Tour and Promotion to Wing Commander, He then Returned to Operations with 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron as its Commander once more, in January 1943. John Chose a New Aircrew which, Once More Included an Australian in it.

On 12/13 July 1943,  Returning from an Operation to Turin in Italy His Lancaster KM-Z ED331 was Attacked and Shot Down by Luftwaffe Fighters while Crossing The Bay of Biscay. They were Not Luftwaffe Nachtjagger as is Often Claimed, but were in Fact FW 190 Single Engine Fighters. Ironically Enough, the Attack Involved the same Grupen of Fighters (JG2) that Tried so Hard to Shoot Him Down Attacking Augsburg in 1942.

On 13 July 1943, in the Early Hours of the Morning, a Force of 249 Lancasters was Detected by Luftwaffe Radar Operators returning From a Raid on Turin, Italy. Orders were Given for an Immediate Alarm Raus!! (Like a Fighter 'Scramble' Order) to the Luftwaffe Units Based at Brest in France. FW 190 Fighters from Costal Defence Squadron (Staffel) 1./S.A.Gr.128 and 8./JG2 'Von Richthofen' - 'Alarm Start' (Squadron Go).

The Bomber Stream was Reported as Having been Located at 0630 Hours (All times German Not British).

Attacks Commenced by Oberleutnant Heinz Wurm, Staffelkapitan 1./S.A.Gr.128.(KIA with 9/JG7 (ME 262 Fighter Jet) Prignitz, Germany in Airbattle with USAAF Mustang, 14 January 1945).

Oberleutnant Wurm Destroyed the First Lancaster which was Shot Down and Crashed into the Water at 0627, by 0635 He Had Already Shot Down A Second.

Another Aircrew was Shot Down by 8./JG2, when Oberfeldwebel Friedrich May Destroyed Another Lancaster at 0630  (KIA 22 October 1943 with 3./JG2).

The Fourth and Fifth Lancaster were Also Shot Down while Flying at Low Altitude 'Wave Hopping' in an Desperate Attempt to Escape the Carnage by 8./JG2, both Aircraft Crashing into the Water Together at 0636. They were Brought Down by Unteroffizier Schuler and Gefreiter Hess.

At 0640 the FW 190s being Flown by Two Pilots from 1./S.A.Gr.128 Shot Down another Pair of Desperately Weaving Lancasters, Six and Seven. Oberfeldwebel Hans Gryz Located His Aircraft at a Height of 2300 feet and Chased it down until it Broke Up above the Water, Pouring Cannon and Machine Gun Fire into it the Whole Time. Oberfeldwebel Friedrich Jost Found His Weaving Along Port to Starboard and Starboard to Port at 3200 Feet. He Slid in behind the Unaware Aircraft from Astern, matched His Movements to the Pilot above Him pulled Up his Nose and Fired all along the Lancasters Belly Nose to Tail. The Bomber Rolled Over Slowly, while the FW 190 Broke Clear, Then the Lancaster Leveled off Before Finally Rolling Over again and entering into a Dive from which it Crashed into the Water below. Hans Gryz was Killed in Action on 15 August 1943, with the same Unit.

The Final Lancaster Fell at 0643, and this was  Oberleutnant Wurm's Last Victory in this Short, Sharp and Decidedly Savage and Very One Sided Air Battle. No Luftwaffe Casulties Resulted and None of the FW 190s were Damaged.

One Lancaster from 106 RAF Squadron Transmitted a Morse Code Message that they were Under Attack by Fighters and Ditching. All the Other Aircrews were Lost Without Trace, 'Failed To Return from Operation - Nothing Heard After Take Off'. Among their Number was Wing Commander JD Nettleton VC MID Twice. He was Aged 26 and along with His Aircrew is Recorded on The Runnymede Memorial in the UK , as are Almost All Those Missing from this Operation.

Aircrew List (RAAF or Known Australian Members will Also be Highlighted).

GZ-F Squared (2) LM328 - 12 RAF Squadron.

F/Sgt TB Forbes RAF and Aircrew. All RAF.

Crashed Into Bay of Biscay, due to Fighter Attack, Lancaster Broke into 2 Pieces before Sinking. 4 Aircrew Failed to Survive Loss of Aircraft including Pilot. 3 Airmen Recovered from Water by a French Fishing Boat. POWs for Duration of War.

KM-Z ED331 44 (Rhodesia) RAF Squadron.

W/C JD Nettleton VC RAF and Aircrew. NB Aircrew Not the Usual 7 but 8, flying with 2 Pilots, Posib Second Dicky Training Flight for New Pilot. 1 South African and 1 Australian. Remainder RAF.

The Australian was F/L IM Wood RAAF and He was their Rear Air Gunner . He was the Squadron Gunnery Officer and had been with them for 12 Months, He was Flying His 28th Operation on His First Tour when Killed. He was Trained as a  WOP/AG in Australia and Canada and was the Regular Rear Gunner for this Aircrew.

F/L Ian Milne Wood RAAF - 403704 - Born 1919 Qld - Enlisted 1941 NSW - Bank Clerk Prewar. Recorded Runnymede Memorial UK Panel 187.

John Nettleton said He Was "A Thoroughly Competent Gunnery Leader"  12.07.42

Crashed into Bay of Biscay Due to Luftwaffe Fighter Attack by FW 190. Nothing Further Known. No Survivors.

EA-V ED726 49 RAF Squadron 

F/O  JG Millar AFM RAF and Aircrew. 6 RAF and 1 RCAF.

Crashed Into Bay of Biscay Due to Luftwaffe Fighter Attack by FW 190. Nothing Further Known. No Survivors.

Markings Unknown DV156 50 RAF Squadron

P/O ER Burnette RAF and Aircrew. All RAF.

Crashed  Into Bay of Biscay Due to Luftwaffe Fighter Attack by FW 190. Nothing Further Known. No Survivors.

Markings Unknown ED861 - 57 RAF Squadron 

F/Sgt J Pickett RNZAF and Aircrew. 1 Australian Serving in RAF. 1 New Zealander in RNZAF. Remainder RAF.

The Australian was F/Sgt William Henry Charles Doran RAF, S/N 1345599 - Born Victoria Australia to Caroline Doran of Garden City, Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. Aged 21 when Killed. Nothing Else Known at this Time. Researching Still (2017).

HW-F ED561 100 RAF Squadron 

F/Sgt WR Caldwell RAF and Aircrew. All RAF Apart from Rear Air Gunner who is RCAF.

After being Chased Out Of the Bomber Stream and Back Over the French Coastline  by a Pair of  Luftwaffe FW 190s, the Already Damaged Lancaster with One Engine Dead was in No Position to Evade Attacks for Very Long . It is thought that the Aircrew by this Point May have Been Looking for Somewhere to make an Emergency Landing, when the FW 190 made a Beam Attack and Raked the Rear Fuselage with its Guns. The Lancaster Side Slipped into the Ground after this Attack, crashing into the Banks of the River Seine and Exploding with No Survivors around 19 Miles from Troyes in France (almost 100 Miles Inland from Brest). The end of the Battle is Detailed in a Luftwaffe FLAK Report, but Unfortunately the Identity of Neither of the FW 190 Pilots Nor the Gruppen Concerned are Recorded. The Cause of the Earlier Damage that knocked the Engine Out on the Lancaster will Most Likely Never be known with 100% Certainty, it Could have been due to FLAK over Italy or FLAK Ships when Crossing the Coast. Equally it Could also have been Luftwaffe Fighter Damage. I have Confirmed Via Dr Theo Boiten that No Luftwaffe Nachtjagger Aircrews on this date or at this time could have been Responsible for Aircraft in this area or over the Water being Destroyed, as their were none in the area and No Air Combat Reports or Claims for Aircraft Destroyed have been found in Luftwaffe Records upto 2017.

HW-P EE183 100 RAF Squadron

F/Sgt AG Sadler RAF and Aircrew. 6 RAF and 1 RAAF. 

The Australian was the Rear Air Gunner Sgt A Burton RAAF.

Trained in Australia Only as a WOP/AG at 2 WAGS Parkes NSW 1941-1942, sent Directly to England. This was Only His 5th Operation of His First Tour - 35 Hours Flown on Ops.

 He underwent Treatment for His Burns and Wounds at Clichy Hospital July-September 1943 in France, before being Moved back into Germany and Entering the POW System. He was Wounded in Both Hands and His Upper Legs by the Fighters, Wounded Again in both Arms, Back and Shoulders by FLAK and Burnt badly when Trapped in His Turret after the Crash Landing to the Face, Hands, Arms and Back. He was Unconscious Due to Blood Loss when the Lancaster Crashed, and woke up unable to move, Surrounded by Fire with the Mid Upper Air Gunner using the Aircrafts Fire Axe to Hack a way into the Turret to set Him Free. He was Incapable of Moving Himself and had to be Dragged Clear. He was also suffering from a Concussion after His Head Smacked Hard against the Gun Turret's Reflector Gunsight with enough force to Break His Cheekbone and Give Him a Black Eye. After Reaching Germany He was Taken to the Luftwaffe Dulag Luft Air Force POW Interrogation Center (Spending Only 24 Hours There) and in that Camp He was Issued with His POW Number (222673) and Moved onto His POW Camp. He was sent to an Army Run Camp Stalag IVB at Muhlberg in Germany (Near the River Elbe in Brandenburg) and was there from September 1943 to April 1945. The Camp had a Larger then Average Group of Australians Inside it, as well Aircrew there were AIF POWs Captured after Greece Surrendered and More AIF POWs from when Crete Surrendered. There were Even Some AIF POWs captured in North Africa. There was also a Large Group of New Zealanders due to Simmiliar Reasons. The Camp was Liberated on 23 April 1945 by Russian Armoured Units. He was back in England by May1945, and back in Australia by October 1945. He was Discharged from the RAAF as Medically Unfit for Further Duty in March 1946.

Warrant Officer Alexander Burton RAAF - S/N 413527 - Born 1914 England - Enlisted 1941 Sydney New South Wales Australia - Worked as a Miner Prewar - POW.

Also Chased by Luftwaffe FW 190s Inland. Already Damaged by Fighters with Two Engines Out on Same Side and Rear Air Gunner Only Able to Rotate Gun Turret Manually by Hand. Only 1 Browning Machine Gun still able to fire. Other 3 Guns knocked out. FW 190s broke off Attack as Lancaster Trailing Smoke Crossed over Brest Harbour. Fired on by both Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine FLAK Gun Crews, including Warships and FLAK Ships. Bracketed by Well Aimed Light and Heavy FLAK on Several Occasions. Numerous Near Misses Caused More Damage including Large hole in Wing, Damage to Perspex in Gun Turrets and Cockpit and Just as Clearing Harbour Started to Loose third Engine. All of Aircrew by now Wounded in Some Way. Pilot told Aircrew to Prepare for Crash Landing, no one in Rear of Lancaster Heard as Aircrafts Intercom was knocked out by now. Pilot headed for Luftwaffe Airfield to Land on, So wounded could get treatment and because He had No Choice as Aircraft was Falling Out of the Sky now and they were at too low a Height to Jump. On aproach to Airfield, Luftwaffe Light FLAK Opened Fire and Lancaster Lost its Last Engine. Aircraft Hit ground hard and Aircraft broke apart while skidding along, wings ripped off first, then Aircraft split apart just behind Mainspa and Wing Root. Aircrew all Escaped safely, however Rear Air Gunner was Trapped in Turret and Suffered Serious Burns to Face and Hands before being set free by W/OP and Mid Upper Air Gunner. Aircrew unable to Escape due to Injuries and all after Medical Treatment spent War as POWs for the duration and Survived War. Aircrew Visited in Airfield Hospital before going off for Treatment in French Hospitals by Luftwaffe Staffelkapitan Oberleutenant Heinz Wurm. 

S/L Sands was Flying his 50th Operation of the War when He Was Shot Down and had been awarded the DFC in April 1942 for taking part in the Daylight Augsburg Operation with 44  (Rhodesia) Squadron (Part of Aircrew (R5508) of W/C JD Nettleton (South African) who was Awarded the Victoria Cross for this Operation (Only Aircrew to Return from the Operation in His Squadron). W/C Nettleton was the Squadron Commander, and He Was Killed on a Later Operation with the same Squadron in 1943 (He had an Australian in His Aircrew when Shot Down, and Several Australians took part in the Augsburg Operation) and DSO April 1945 with 467 RAAF Squadron. Married with 1 Daughter when Posted Missing.

Flying Officer WD McMahon RAAF - Bomb Aimer - Captured on Landing, Handed Over to Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed F/O McMahon RAAF was Issued with His POW Number and Shipped to the same POW Camp as F/L Eagle RAAF and Suffered an Identical Fate to His (See Above). After He was in England He also Wrote a Report for the RAAF about the Loss of their Aircraft. Flying Last Operation of Second Tour when Captured.

"Lancaster NG197 was Struck in the Starboard Wing Several Times by Luftwaffe Cannon Fire, Setting Wing on Fire after Destroying Fuel Tanks. All Signals from Aircraft Captain F/L JK Livingstone DFC RAF to Abandon Aircraft Received Clearly and in a Timely Manner. Order Acknowledged, then Lancaster Abandoned at 8000 Feet of Altitude. When Leaving Lancaster, Aircraft was still Flying Straight and Level, but Starboard Wing was badly on Fire and in Danger of being Burnt Through. Aircraft seen to Crash around 20 Miles from Bonn on the River Rhine (Around 40 Miles from Target). All Aircrew OK, apart from Pilot F/L Livingstone RAF who is Missing. Captured and Interned for Just under 16 Weeks".

Pilot Officer J Prendergast DFM RAF - Wireless Opperator - Captured on Landing, Handed Over to Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed P/O Prendergast RAF was Issued with His POW Number and was then Shipped to the Same Camp and Suffered the Same Experience as F/L Eagle RAAF and F/O McMahon RAAF. Awarded DFM with 9 RAF Squadron December 1943.

Flying Officer EG Parsons RAF - Flight Engineer - Captured on Landing, Handed Over to Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed F/O Parsons RAF was Issued with His POW Number and was then Shipped to the same Camp and Suffered the Same Experience as F/L Eagle RAAF, F/O McMahon RAAF and P/O Prendergast RAF. Nothing More Known.

Flying Officer RN Bronne RAF - Mid Upper Air Gunner - Captured on Landing, Handed Over to Luftwaffe for Interrogation at the Dulag Luft Air Force POW Center. After this was Completed F/O Bronne RAF was Issued with His POW Number and was then Shipped to 

RAF Sandtoft is in Yorkshire, North/North West of London, 11 Miles North East of Doncaster. The Airfield was Opened in January 1944, and Closed Down in November 1945. RAF Sandtoft was a Satellite Airfield to the Much Larger RAF Lindholme, which was Aprox 3 Miles to the West of it. It was Mainly used as a Halifax Heavy Conversion Unit Airfield for the duration of the War.

The Airfield was Nicknamed by the Locals living in its Area "Prangtoft" because of the Unusually High Number of Aircraft that had a 'Prang' (Crash) either on the Airfield or in the Immediate vicinity of it. Its Main Role was to Train Aircrew in Preparation for Operations as Part of 1 RAF Group, RAF Bomber Command. The Only Aircrews that ever Flew from this Airfield belonged to the 3 Flight (A/B/C) 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit. In July 1944 another Flight was added to the HCU, it was called The Flying Instructors Flight, and was for the Training of Instructors Only. All Flights were Using the Halifax at the time of this Loss, 34 Aircraft in total being based here then.

RAF Sandtoft 

Constructed 1942-1944 

Opened February 1944

Closed November 1945

Taken Over by USAF 1954 (Never Occupied)

Sold 1955 (No Longer needed by Either AF)

Airfield  Code SF

Airfield Callsign Queensarm

Units Based Here 

1667 Heavy Conversion Unit February 1944 - November 1945

35 Maintenance Unit (Element Only) December 1945 - February 1946 (Non Flying)

61 Maintenance Unit (Element Only) February 1946 - August 1947 (Non Flying)


1667 Heavy Conversion Unit 

Formed 1 June 1943

Disbanded 10 November 1945

Squadron Codes on Aircraft GG or LR

Based At 

RAF Lindholme 01 June 1943 - 08 October 1943

RAF Faldingworth 08 October 1943 - 18 February 1944

RAF Sandtoft 18 February 1944 -10 November 1945

Aircraft Operated

Halifax Mk II, Halifax Mk V and Lancaster 

Memorial Located at Former RAF Faldingworth, on what was Once the Eastern End of Runway 26. Dedicated 2004.

"300 Squadron Polish Air Force 1944 - 1947 

1667 HCU RAF 1943

To Those Who Flew When Tyranny Threatened 

Who Flew From This Runway

Some Never To Return 

And Those Who Supported

Them On The Ground