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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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156 Squadron crest
01/02.01.1944 No. 156 squadron Lancaster III JA925 GT-L Sq/Ldr. Rowland E. Fawcett DFC

Operation: Berlin

Date: 1/2nd January 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 156 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA925

Code: GT-L

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire.

Location: Dahlem, Berlin, Germany

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Rowland Eden Fawcett DFC. 43032 RAF Age 26. Missing

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Roland John Bowen 54028 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Nav: P/O. Percy Robert Lyford DFC. 159425 RAFVR Age 21. Missing (1)

Air/Bmr: P/O. Geoffrey Vickers DFC. 158905 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Bell 1133841 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Mathew Headley 2206703 RAFVR Age 19. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Brinley Charles Hinks 1074123 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire at 00.09 hrs to bomb the heart of Germany, Berlin.

471 Lancasters taking part in this operation, one of four attacks on the capital within 10 days. The Luftwaffe night fighters intercepted the bomber stream very early, despite a diversionary raid made on Hamburg by 15 Mosquitoes.About 10 of the 28 Lancaster losses were made early en-route to the target. 2 were victims over Berlin, two were claimed by Berlin flak units, with the remainder on return from the target

Bombing was scattered in the southern parts of the city with only 21 houses and 1 industrial building destroyed.


In August 2017 Mr. Nick Carter contacted us and suggested that, according to the Accident Report Card (kindly sent to us and shown below) for this aircraft it cam down near Dahlem, South of Berlin. He is going through further records held by his mother (relative of Sgt. Hinks) and hopefully will contact us again with additional information.

April 2018: Judith Singleton (relative of Fl/Sgt. Roland John Bowen) contacted us and confirmed the crash location as per the maps.

Above left to right: Fl/Sgt. Brinley Hinks, Sgt. John Bell, Fl/Sgt. Brinley Hinks in flying gear, the two of P/O. Percy Lyford DFC, taken whilst on leave. Fl/Sgt. Roland John Bowen on extreme right.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Rowland Eden Fawcett DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 200. Further information: From Duncan, British Columbia, Canada. A Canadian who joined the RAF in 1930’s and was on his third tour having amassed 69 Sorties. In 1941 he had been shot down near Tobruk, in a Lysander, with the Army Co-operation unit, managing to find his way back to allied lines. DFC Gazetted on the 15th October 1943

Left and below right, Runnymede Memorial Panels.

Fl/Sgt. Roland John Bowen. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Roland was born on 13th July 1920 in Bridgnorth, Shropshire to Elizabeth May and Roland Ames Bowen. He was their first child, and was known by his middle name, John. He had three younger siblings; Barbara, Charles, and Elizabeth. Their father was the mayor of Bridgnorth from 1934 to 1937. John had a great love for the RAF, and was keen to be in the air force as a boy. He joined RAF Halton’s engineering college in January 1937, aged 16. He was always very enthusiastic about his 7 years of service, except perhaps for his time with the Fleet Air Arm, and was happy to get back to the RAF. John often spoke of the wonderful comradeship of this crew at 156 Squadron. He was nicknamed ‘Lofty’ because of his height. John said their pilot, Squadron Leader Rowland Fawcett was ‘a great guy and he would have gone anywhere with him’. John received a posthumous commission in February 1944, and was appointed Pilot Officer.

P/O. Percy Robert Lyford DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. DFC Gazetted on the 18th January 1944. Son of Francis Robert and Kathleen Elsie Lyford of Willesden Green, Middlesex, England. Known as “Bob” he and his twin Francis joined up on the same day. (1) His twin brother Flight Sergeant Francis Phillip Lyford RAFVR was killed on an op to Trossy on 3rd August 1944.

P/O. Geoffrey Vickers DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 212. DFC Gazetted on the 18th January 1944. Son of George and Ada Maud Vickers of Castleford, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. John Bell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 215. Son of William and Ellen Bell of Sudden, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. George Mathew Headley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Son of Ernest and Rose Headley of Hull, England.Fl/Sgt. Brinley Charles Hinks. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Further information: Son of Frederick Oswald and Irene Hinks of 3, Argyle Street, Abercynon, Glamorgan. Wales. Born 11th July 1923 and known as “Bryn” he was an only son and aged eight when his mother died, his father with the help of an aunt and grandparents raised him and his sister Doreen. Had a wonderful singing voice, winning a gold medal at the Eisteddfod in Wales. In the letters of condolence his singing voice is mentioned and how it moved all who heard him sing.


On the back of his Pathfinders certificate (shown above) is jotted down the words to Verdi’s “La Donna e Mobile” which he was possibly intending to sing at a function in the Mess. After leaving school he worked for the Co-operative Society in Pontypridd before joining the R.A.F. in October 1940 aged 17. He joined 156 Squadron in July 1943, like most of the crew being transferred from 12 Squadron. Letters home to his family relay some of his missions hair raising moments, (see below) although he wrote as if he was not part of it, as he didn’t want his grandmother to know that he was flying.” Bryn” was a much loved, considerate and talented young man who is still sadly missed by his family. He had returned home on leave with John Bell of the crew before returning to base in the New Year where he was to lose his life on his next mission.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks for photographs and information of Fl/Sgt. Hinks, Fl/Sgt. Headley, Sgt. Bell and Fl/Sgt. Bowen to Lynne Lewis (niece) and Maureen Carter (first cousin). Also to Lucinda Hannant for photographs and information of P/O. Lyford. Also to Judith Singleton for her extensive research. Further information kindly supplied by Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Touching letters sent home and to other relatives:

RS 14.10.2019 - DFC information update

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: 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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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