10/11.06.1944 No. 100 Squadron Lancaster III ND594 HW-P P/O. Douglas T.G. Fairbairn
Date: 10/11th June 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 100 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England.
Location: Serazereux, France
Pilot: P/O. Douglas Thomas George Fairbairn 173760 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Pilot 2: P/O. Kenneth Arthur Wells 172480 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Russell Scott Millar 1343965 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: F/O. Frank Tovery 151163 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Phillip Alaric Kemp 1335126 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Sedgewick 1800349 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jesse Hancock 2206033 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert William Gee 1517079 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire at 22:53 hrs to bomb the rail facilities at Archeres. 432 aircraft taking part in the operation on this night bombing, Archeres, Dreux, Orleans and Versailles with all targets believed to have been hit.
Pilot, P/O. Douglas Thomas George Fairbairn (courtesy Doug Douglas)
Left: Major Paul Semrau (archives)
There are two possible claims by night fighters for this aircraft Oblt. Jakob Schaus (1) of 4./NJG4 and Maj. Paul Semrau (2) of Stab II./NJG2. Oblt. Schaus records show a positive claim on a Lancaster 1-15 km. South East of Dreux at 00.58 hrs. Maj Semrau’s claim 5-20 km South of Dreux at 01.00 hrs is probable as it is closer to the crash site than that of Oblt. Schaus. However we are unable to make a positive claim of the two
One other Lancaster from 100 Squadron was also lost on this operation:
Lancaster III LM321 HW-K Flown by P/O. H.W.L. Skinner who survived, along with 3 other crew, 3 were killed.
(1) This was the 17 abschüsse for Oblt. Jakob Schaus who went on to have a total of 23 during the war which he survived. On the 2/3rd February 1945 he was wounded in a crash at Rockenhausen near Bad Kreuznach after being shot down by what is thought to have been a Mosquito from 239 Squadron.
(2) This was his 19 abschüsse. On the 7/8th February 1945, Maj. Paul Semrau died with the rest of his crew when his ju88G-6, Wnr. 620562 from Stab/NjG2 was shot down at airfield 1128. Major. Paul Semrau was buried with his crew with full military honours. His final score as a night-fighter ace stood at 46 victories
Further information on F/O. Frank Tovery submitted to Aircrew Remembered by Doug Douglas, who has researched this loss a great deal - his cousin P/O. Fairbairn had been the pilot:
‘Frank Tovery grew up in Ilford, son of Frank and Sarah Tovery. On 22nd May 1939 Frank joined the Metropolitan Police. His warrant number was 127763 and he was posted to L Division from training school. Shoulder number was PC494L.
PC Tovery left the Met Police to join the R.A.F. on 30th July 1941. The Police Order to join aircrew had only come out on the 13th March 1941 so he must have been amongst the first to volunteer. Although now in the R.A.F. under the terms of the police order he remained a police officer. The Met Police would have subsidised Cadet Officer Tovery’s pay until it was the equivalent or more than he was earning as a P.C.
In 1944 he was a Flying Officer and navigator in 100 Squadron RAF based at Grimsby. For most of 1944 the squadron had been flying night ops bombing France and Germany.
On the night of the 10th June F/O Tovery was navigator in a Lancaster Mk III bomber (ND.594 ‘P’) flown by Pilot Officer Fairbairn with a crew of 8. The aircraft took off from Grimsby at 22.55 in good weather with 19 other Lancasters from 100 squadron.
The crews had been placed on standby for the mission early in the day. Orders identifying the target had not been received until 16.00 hrs.
Their mission was to bomb the railway near Archeres. To the west of Archeres towards Paris was a marshalling yard and nearby were twin junction switches on the rail network. The operations log for 100 squadron records the junction was “already a much bombed tactical objective but still passing German military traffic to the Western front”. Indeed F/O Tovery had navigated four days earlier with P/O. Fairbairn and bombed the target on the night of the 6/7th June landing back at Grimsby at 03.05 hrs.
As F/O. Toverey navigated across southern England the aircraft encountered low cloud that continued over the Channel and then the weather cleared. 17 planes reached Archeres and dropped 68 tons of high explosive. 1 aircraft arrived too late over the target and was forced to jettison its bomb load into the sea on the return.
It was later discovered that P/O. Tovery’s aircraft had crashed at Serazereux 20 kilometres north-north-west of Chartres and about 15 kilometres south-south-east of Dreux. All 8 crew died. They were buried in a communal grave in Serazereuz cemetery and are the only service personnel in the cemetery. The cemetery is east of the village on the road to the neighbouring village of Ormoy.
Frank Tovery (service number 151163) was 24 when his aircraft crashed in France. His death was announced in the roll of honour via the Police Notice of 24/04/1945.
Left and above: The beautifully kept crew grave at Serazereux Communal Cemetery (courtesy Doug Douglas)
P/O. Douglas Thomas George Fairbairn. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Thomas Francis and Georgina Margaret Fairbairn, of Holloway, London, England.
P/O. Kenneth Arthur Wells. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Russell Scott Millar. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Born during 1922 in Kirkden, Forfarshire (now Angus). Son to Isabella E. S. and James A. L. Millar of Glenfarg, Perthshire, Scotland.
F/O. Frank Tovery. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Frank and Sarah Tovery, of Ilford, Essex, England.
Sgt. Phillip Alaric Kemp. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Frederick Sedgewick. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William John Sedgwick, of Rotherhithe, London, England.
Sgt. Jesse Hancock. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Jesse and Lily Hancock, of Congleton, Cheshire, England.
Sgt. Herbert William Gee. Serazereux Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Son of Arthur Fredrick and Alberta Gee, of Brotton, Yorkshire, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Doug Douglas, cousin of the pilot, P/O. Fairbairn, Mrs Gail Jones, the niece Sgt. Millar, for his Next of Kin details. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.