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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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550 Squadron Crest
30/31.03.1944 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster III LM425 BQ-N Fl/Sgt. Arthu H. Jefferies CGM

Operation: Nürnberg

Date: 30/31st March 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 550 squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM425

Code: BQ-N

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


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.

Burial details:

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.

KTY/LI Updated page 14.07.2015

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), 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', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 14 July 2015, 22:50

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