16/17.09.1944 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III LM693 KO-T Fl/Lt. Peter W. Bickford
Date: 16/17th September 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 115 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire
Location: Near the village of Strijen, Holland.
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Peter William Bickford J/25920 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O. Peter Lawrence Dooley 189628 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: F/O. Arnold Ney Johnston J/28771 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. WilfrId George Scanlan J/25351 RCAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Uriah Bernard Butters 1622660 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Douglas Dawson J/90321 RCAF Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Donald George Flood J/90719 RCAF Age 20. Killed
A memorial is planned for 2015 for these crews and others lost in the area - we hope to receive further details of this when available. This is being organised mostly by Anton de Mann who was born in the area and remembers seeing the graves of this crew in his childhood.
Ron Paglia, who submitted a great deal of information and photographs for this page of remembrance is a freelance writer living in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, USA. He has written many articles on this crew and working on a follow up story. Ron emphasised to us that he has received a great deal of assistance with this. Please see credits placed.
Angela Fox contacted us in January 2016 and placed names to these and others to be added. Angela's great Uncle, Donald S. Miller (rear gunner) also served with 115 Squadron.
Bob Scanlan - cousin of F/O. WilfrId George Scanlan also contacted us with further detailed information.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 21:28 hrs from the Cambridge airfield at RAF Witchford in support of operation ‘Market Garden’. The target for this crew were the flak positions at Moerdijk. The outcome was that the target suffered only near misses, however the supply roads were cut to the German army.
Crew photo, understood to have been taken in the summer of 1944: F/O. WilfrId Scanlan, Fl/Lt Peter Bickford, F/O. Arnold Johsnton, Fl/Sgt. Uriah Butters, P/O. Peter Dooley, P/O. Donald Flood and P/O. Douglas Dawson. (see credits)
Crew taken on the afternoon of the operation - just hours before they were sadly lost. (see credits)
During the operation catastrophe struck, when LML93 and LM169 from 90 squadron collided, with the loss of all 14 crews. Lancaster LM169 was flown by F/O. Paul William Tooley
, their aircraft crashing at S-Gravendeel, north east of Strijen, the crash area of LM693. F/O. Tooley and his crew are buried at the Dordrecht General Cemetery.
Above left: the Flight Engineer, P/O. Peter Lawrence Dooley just 19 years old and right, Pilot, Fl/Lt. Peter William Bickford at 22 years old.
The crew graves at Strijen Protestant Cemetery, beautifully looked after by the Dutch people.
Fl/Lt. Peter William Bickford. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 5. (shown left)
From Pennsylvania USA - although it is understood that the family now live in England. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
P/O. Peter Lawrence Dooley. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 8. Son of Albert and Frances Sybil Wass Dooley, of Stoneleigh, Epsom, Surrey, England.
F/O. Arnold Ney Johnston. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 6. Born on the home farm in the hamlet of Cadmus,(near Burketon) on the family farm, May 16, 1916, (28 years at time of death) son of John Alexander Johnston and Elizabeth May Johnston (née Ferguson). Arnold was preceded by an older sister Ferga Marjorie, born April 25, 1914 and followed by brother Keith Bruce, September 3, 1920 and Neil Alexander, born February 19, 1922. Arnold’s name is engraved on the memorial monument in nearby Blackstock, Ontario.
F/O. WilfrId George Scanlan. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 7. From Westport, Ontario, Canada. Son of John and Ethel Scanlan of Westport, Ontarion, Canada. Wilfrid also had (at time of death) 2 sisters and seven brothers.
Fl/Sgt. Uriah Bernard Butters. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of William Bernard and Emily Horton Butters, of Hull, England.
P/O. Douglas Dawson. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 2. From Cookstown, Ontario, Canada. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
P/O. Donald George Flood. Strijen Protestant Cemetery. Grave 3. From Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Anton de Man for bringing this loss to our attention, Ron Paglia for the many photographs and additional information. Ron also acknowledges the assistance provided to him by, the family of the pilot, including, his sister, Barbara Myers, and her son, Tony Myers, both of Bristol, England, nephew, Peter J. Bickford, and his mother, Mrs. Pat Bickford (Peter’s sister-in-law).
Right: Anton de Man by the crew graves, who is doing so much, with others in his community, to remember crews lost in his country.
Anton de Man of Strijen, Netherlands, who is spearheading the memorial project there, Jack France, DDS, a longtime dentist in Tampa, Florida. Jack is the son of the late Floyd M. France, who was managing editor of The Daily Republican newspaper in Monongahela, where Peter worked. He had the privilege of working for Floyd France in 1959-60. Leonard Dooley of Ullenhall, England. Henk Noonenboom, also of Strijen, also has sent material and photos. In September 2014 a cousin (Bob) of Wilfrid Scanlan contacted us and advised the correct spelling of his name and next of kin details. He also undertook to be the first to sponsor this page. Furthermore, Bob Scanlan sent detailed information on F/O. Arnold Ney Johnston in November 2016.
Left to right: Bill Smith, Terry Bradshaw, Doug Marsh, Peter Dooley, Wilfred Scanlon, with Peter Bickford in the foreground. All of them so very young.
Fl/Lt. Peter William Bickford - left with other pilots, Ken Gadd, Peter Anaka, extreme right - not known.
Fl/Lt. Peter William Bickford on leave. The chap in the middle on the right is thought to be Peter Anaka - other not known.
Left: Fl/Lt. Peter Bickford with his Grandmother, Elsie Chapman and a cousin, Right: With Arnold Johnson.