30/31.03.1944 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster III LM425 BQ-N Fl/Sgt. Arthu H. Jefferies CGM
Date: 30/31st March 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 550 squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire
Location: Barrage de la Gileppe, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Harrington Jefferies CGM. 1313283 RAFVR Age 21. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Henry Paxton 1329560 RAFVR Age 39. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Harold Simpson 1549784 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. D.S. Jeffrey 1339840 RAFVR PoW No: 3447 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley A. Keirle 1335551 RAFVR PoW No: 119. Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg. hospitalised. (2)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. W. George Upton 961931 RAFVR PoW No: 3451. Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug and Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Woodburn Whitley 978030 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:45hrs. from North Killingholme. During the outbound flight, hit by flak from batteries near Liege and crashed at the Barrage de la Gileppe, 8km East of Verviers in Belgium. The three survivors were thrown out as the Lancaster blew up.
Above - area of loss with insert Fl/Sgt. Arthur Harrington Jefferies CGM
(1) Fl/Sgt. Jefferies had flown 25 sorties with 184 flying hours, having joined the RAF in 1940 he started flying as a pilot in May 1943 with 101 Squadron. After a raid on Stuttgart on 15th March 1944 he was recommended for the CGM. He was posthumously awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (Flying) – London Gazette 21st December 1945. His recommendation states:
“During his tour of ops, this airman has attacked many important and heavily defended objectives in Germany. Eight of these have been against Berlin in the face of intense opposition and others against centres in the Ruhr. His coolness and deliberation have been most praiseworthy and he has always displayed high courage and determination.”
(2) Sgt. Kierle was blown from the plane sustaining injuries to his spine and left leg and found by a German soldier who obtained medical assistance for him.
After being re-united with Sgt. Jeffrey and Sgt. Upton of the crew, Stanley Keirle was taken to Bankau, with the Russian advancement on January 19th 1945 joined the many POW’s beginning the long march from the camp in heavy snow. Owing to his injuries walking was very difficult and he got detached from the main Bankau group, his injuries preventing him from keeping up and was diverted to Sagan by the medical officer. From there he and others were sent to Luckenwalde by goods train the following day. He is believed to have arrived at RAF Benson between the eighth and eleventh of May 1945.
Initially the Luftwaffe at St-Truiden buried the dead in the area, but their graves are now in Heverlee War cemetery.
Fl/Sgt. Arthur Harrington Jefferies CGM. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5B.19. Son of George Cornelius and Bertha Jefferies of Grove, Wantage. Oxfordshire, England.
Sgt. Robert Henry Paxton. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5B.17. Son of Robert and Annie (nee Brooke) Paxton of Stranraer, Wigtownshire and husband of Agnes Campbell and father to Robert, Catherine and Eva Paxton of Stranraer. Further information: Born on May 1st 1904, he was well over the average age normally associated with operative aircrew and was among the oldest airman to be killed in Bomber Command in 1944. He was a house painter, living with his family at 75 George Street, Stranraer, Scotland.
Sgt. Harold Simpson. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5B.16. Son of Henry James and Mary Alice Simpson of Higher Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. James Woodburn Whitley. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 5B.18. Son of Joseph Erie and Constance Mary Whitley of Mollington, Cheshire, England
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. For additional info on Sergeant Paxton thanks to Andrew Beattie, also a special thanks to Malcolm Wilson and also Harry Stack of the Oddbods on whose website is a more detailed account of Sergeant Keirle’s PoW experiences.