30.06.1944 No. 514 Squadron Lancaster III PB178 JI-P P/O. Jack E.K. Hannesson
Operation: Villiers-Bockage ( Friday)
Date: 30th June 1944
Unit: No. 514 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Location: Pittsham Farm, Nr. Midhurst, Sussex
Pilot: P/O. Jack Edward Kristjan Hannesson J/87269 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kenneth Edward Arthur Fox 2201592 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Beverley Gordon Lee AUS/426753 RAAF Age 31. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Thomas C. Colbeck RCAF Age 21. Survived - injured
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bert A. Brown RAFVR Survived - injured
Air/Gnr: P/O. Andrew Lorne George J/89894 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry James Morgan 646041 RAF Age 24. Killed
We are indebted to Grant Workman for sending us details of Thomas Colbeck in November 2014. Grant had been a family friend of Thomas - see credits.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 18:18 hrs from RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to join 266 heavy bombers (29 from 514 Squadron) attacking a large formation of enemy armour at Villers Bocage (Normandy Landings).
The operation was considered very successful and bombing (carried out at low level) classed as very accurate. 1,100 tons were dropped, with the effect that the German attack failed to take place.
Left: Sgt. Thomas Colbeck RCAF (courtesy Grant Workman)
The formation was scheduled to assemble over Luton but they arrived late, with no there aircraft visible P/O Hannesson headed south to catch up and join the formation at another designated point. The rear gunner Sgt. Morgan spotted a group of Lancasters approaching from the rear so the pilot turned to formate on the group to identify them approaching from starboard.
Tom, reported that another aircraft was closing in, so the pilot dived to avoid a collision. A further aircraft (understood to be a Halifax ME695 from 15 squadron) was slightly below this one, the pilot dived at a steeper angle.
As they passed under the 2nd aircraft the tailplane crashed into PB178, killing P/O. Hannesson along with Sgt. Fox instantly. This was timed at 19:25 hrs.
Tom Colbeck managed to bale out, together with Bert Brown and they landed in apple trees. Tom suffered minor scratches and bruises but Bert received a large cut both of whom were treated at the King Edward VII Sanitoreum and released shortly afterwards.
Right: Tom Colbeck during his retirement (courtesy Grant Workman)
All the other crew were lost as the aircraft crashed at Pittsham Farm, Nr. Midhurst, Sussex.
Although the rear gunner 22 year old Fl/Sgt. Andrew Pawlyk R/178830 RCAF from Calmar, Alberta, Canada was killed during the collision on the Halifax, the crew managed to land and repairs were subsequently carried out with the aircraft returning to service.
Note: Tom Colbeck married Mary Davies in 1950, they had 3 sons, 3 daughters and 2 daughters. After leaving the RCAF Tom joined the Vancouver Fire Department, retiring as the District chief after 36 years of service in 1982. Sadly, Tom passed away on the 13th November 2013 age 91. At the time he had been living at the George Derby Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. He had 3 sons, 2 daughters and 15 grandchildren.
P/O. Jack Edward Kristjan Hannesson. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 54.A.3. Son of Kari Oscar Hannesson and Dorothy Constance Hannesson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sgt. Kenneth Edward Arthur Fox. Acomb (St. Stephen Churchyard. Row G. Grave 31. Son of George Edward and Amy Fox, of Acomb, York, England.
Fl/Sgt. Beverley Gordon Lee. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 4.L.13. Son of Albert Y Gordon and Maude Catherine Lee, husband of G. Madge Sylvester Lee, of Cairns, Queensland, 6 Australia.
P/O. Andrew Lorne George. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 54.A.2. Son of Frank T. George and Martha George, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Harry James Morgan. West Alvington (All Saints) Churchyard. Near North Boundary. Son of Henry Heath Morgan and Kathleen Maria Morgan, of Kingsbridge, husband of Dorothy May Morgan, of Kingsbridge, Devon, England.
Note: Fl/Sgt. Andrew Pawlyk. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 54.J.10. Son of William and Efrusina Pawlyk, of Calmar, Alberta, Canada.
Right: Fl/Sgt. Andrew Pawlyk and grave at Brookwood.
F/O. Douglas Austin Woods. Coulvain Churchyard. Coll. Grave 3. Son of Rupert Austin Woods, and Edna Victoria Finlay Woods, of Wollstonecraft, New South Wales, Australia.
For further details our thanks to the following, Grant Workman, (Grant’s website). Tara Colbeck - relative of Tom Colbeck. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page. Also thanks to “Critical Moments” Profiles of Members of the Greater Vancouver Branch of the Aircrew Association.
StrikingThrough Clouds - The war diaries of 514 Squadron Written by Simon Hepworth and Andrew Porelli. ISBN: 978-1495440489 546 Pages.
Formed on 1st September 1943 as part of the expansion of Bomber Command's No. 3 Group, 514 Squadron specialised in blind bombing techniques in the drawn out and bloody campaign against Nazi Germany. For the vast majority of its war, 514 Squadron was stationed at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, operating Lancaster bombers. Aircrew members were drawn not just from Britain but also Canada, Australia and New Zealand amongst others. Over four hundred members of the squadron were to lose their lives in the two years of the squadron's existence, which saw the loss on operations of 66 aircraft, with another 14 being written off in accidents. Thrown into the Battle of Berlin in the winter of 1943/4, 514 Squadron also played a pivotal role in supporting the Allied bridgehead in Normandy after D-Day, before reverting to attacks on German infrastructure, including transport facilities and oil production plants. Drawing on the squadron's Operational Record Book, previously only available as microfiche or poor quality print, Simon Hepworth and Andrew Porrelli have produced the first comprehensive record of 514 Squadron's war.