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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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166 Squadron
02/03.06.1944 166 Squadron Lancaster III ND651 Plt Off. Geoffrey D. Jones

Operation: Pas-de-Calais, France

Date: 2nd/3rd June 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 166 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND651

Code: AS:G

Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire, England

Location: Baraques, France

Pilot: Plt Off. Geoffrey David Jones RAFVR 54294 Age? Killed (1)

Flt Eng: Sgt. Henry ‘Harry’ Thomas Gregory 1065035 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Nav: Fg Off. Robert Duncan Crone J23474 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Clifford Gerald Neville J23605 RCAF Age 21. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Maguire 1538238 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air Gnr (MU): Sgt. Bertram Trevor Williams 1708161 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Cyril Edward Mayne 1601056 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

ND651 took off from RAF Kirmington at 22:55 hrs on the 2nd June 1944 on a mission to bomb gun positions on the Pas-de-Calais coast as part of the D-Day invasion deception. The raid comprised 136 Lancasters, 119 Halifaxes and 16 Mosquitoes, a total of 271 aircraft, from which only ND651 was lost.

The mission was part of the attempt to deceive the Germans into believing that the D-Day landing would take place in the Pas-de-Calais.

ND651 was hit by 4./gem Flak Abt 253, and crashed at Baraques, 3km NE of Calais at 00:37 hrs. (Note: The Lancaster was misidentified in the Flak Abschussmeldung as a Stirling) (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 – Theo Boiten).

No.3 Mobile section of the MRES in their enquires during September 1945 reported that the aircraft crashed at a Tulle factory named “Noyon” in Calais at 00:30 hrs causing a violent fire in the factory itself. Once the fire had burnt itself out the remains of the aircraft were found amongst the factory ruins but no bodies were known to have been recovered at the scene of the crash or its vicinity. A partially burned officer’s Field Service Cap, marked inside with the name Crone, was found but it is thought that it fell from the aircraft prior to it crashing.

Note: Later investigations determined that ND651 actually crashed at Plage-de- Blériot (Blériot beach also know as Baraques beach), NE of Sangatte.

It was recorded that five of the crew were initially buried in the Municipal Cemetery, Marquise, Pas-de-Calais:

Sgt. Maguire in Grave #61, Fg Off. Neville in Grave #62, Fg Off. Crone in Grave #65 and two unknowns in Grave #60 and #63. It is assumed that the other two members of the crew were also buried in this Cemetery.

(1) The brother of Plt Off. Jones was informed by the Cemetery attendants at Baraques, Pas-de-Calais that his brother and three other members of ND651 bailed out but were shot in cold blood after landing safely.

He had written to the Mayor’s of Calais, Marquise and Pas-de-Calais, and to the officer commanding (OC) of No.3 Mobile section of the MRES based in Paris for further information. He had received a response from the OC of No.3 Mobile section on the 22nd October 1945 promising further information but had heard nothing more prior to the 10th of May 1946.

No evidence has been found that corroborates the claim made by the Cemetery attendants at Baraques, Pas-de-Calais.

Burial details:

Above: Grave markers for Plt Off. Jones, Sgt. Gregory, Fg Off. Neville (Credit: Len from FindAGrave)

Above: Grave markers for Sgt. Maguire, Sgt. Williams, Sgt. Mayne (Credit: Len from FindAGrave)

Plt Off. Geoffrey David Jones. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 3. Son of George Edward Netherton and Florence Jones. His probate information records that he was living in Bristol. No further details.

Sgt. Henry ‘Harry’ Thomas Gregory. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 5. Inscription reads: “THROUGH LIGHT AND DARKNESS HIS MEMORY SHINETH BRIGHT "ONLY FOREVER"”. Born on the 1st June 1914 in Sheffield. Son of Lawrence Vincent and Anice May (née Johnson) Gregory, of Sheffield and husband of Dorothy W. (née May) Gregory, of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.

Above left Fg Off. Crone from his Service File and right Grave marker (Credit: Len from FindAGrave)

Fg Off. Robert Duncan Crone. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 6. Inscription reads: “DEARLY LOVED BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF LONDON, ONTARIO, CANADA”. Born on the 28th April 1923 in Komoka, Middlesex, Ontario. Son of Fred Ernest and Eva Pearl (née Duncan) Crone, of London, Ontario, Canada.

Fg Off. Clifford Gerald Neville. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 2, Row C, Grave 14.

Born on the 11th July 1922 in Toronto, Ontario. Son of William George and Helen (née Rowen) Neville of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Joseph Maguire. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 2, Row C, Grave 13. Inscription reads: “SO SUDDEN WAS THE CALL, WITHOUT FAREWELL HE LEFT US ALL. HIS WIFE SARAH”. Born on the 2nd February 1911 in Burnley, Lancashire. Husband of Sarah Ellen (née Robinson) Maguire, of Burnley, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Bertram Trevor Williams. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 4. Born in October 1921 in Newport, Monmouthshire. Son of Joseph Daniel and Florence Mary (née Richards) Williams from Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Sgt. Cyril Edward Mayne. Marquise Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 10. Inscription reads: “TREASURED MEMORIES. HIS LOVING WIFE AND PARENTS”. Son of Albert Edward and Amelia Mayne and husband of Irene Beryl Mayne, of Newbury, Berkshire, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives.

RS 19.08.2021 - Initial upload

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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