11/12.06.1943 No. 156 Squadron Lancaster III ED935 GT-C Fl/Sgt. Lay
Date: 11/12th June 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 156 Squadron (8 Group)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire (then Huntingdonshire)
Location: Ijsselmeer, Netherlands
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Laurence William Lay AUS/408724 RAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed
Pilot: F/O. John Albert Cowley DFM. 120216 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald Edward Ratcliff 743397 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed
Nav: F/O. Robert Maxwell Bryant AUS/411748 RAAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Donald Compton Bauman 1320428 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Drake 1380012 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Richard Curtis 1483600 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Forster 1533997 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Warboys in Cambridgeshire at 23:38 hrs with 73 other aircraft. This was one of two operations taking place this night. The other a force of 783 other bombers left to attack Dusseldorf.
The Dusseldorf operation caused extensive damage with 1,300 people killed on the ground with 140,000 bombed out of their homes. The Munster raid was described as very accurate with the bombing lasting just 10 minutes. Railway installations were extensively damaged as well as housing. 52 people killed on the ground with 132 buildings destroyed with a further 317 seriously damaged.
No nightfighter claims for ED935, so it is probable that they were brought down by the Kriegsmarine flak.
The bodies of Sgt. William Drake and Sgt. John Curtis were washed ashore at Lemmeron the 28th June and the 30th June 1943 respectively. The body of F/O. Robert Bryant was washed ashore on the 17th June 1943 on Urk Island, the body of F/O. John Cowley washed ashore near Urk on the 21st June 1943. The remaining members of the crew , Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Lay,
Crew graves. F/O. Robert Bryant shares a grave with 21 year old, Sgt. Douglas Noel Campbell 1345600 RAFR a wireless operator with 12 Squadron Lancaster I ED357 PH-S one of 5 crew killed, 2 others made Pow. F/O. John Cowley DFM. shares his grave with 20 year old, Sgt. James Leslie Osborne 1172557 RAFVR the Flight Engineer from the same crew as Sgt. Campbell.
Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Laurence William Lay. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 09th August 1917 at North Carlton, Victoria, Australia, the son of William George and Agnes Marion Lay, of 82 Lang Street, North Carlton, Victoria, Australia. A timber worker prior to enlisting.
F/O. John Albert Cowley DFM. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Collective grave 20. Son of George William Samuel and May Louise Cowley, of Cam, Gloucestershire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Now Sleeps The Brave, Who Sinks To Rest, By All His Country's Wishes Blest!".
Sgt. Reginald Edward Ratcliff. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 162. Son of Frederick Robert and Marian Maud Ratcliff, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England.
F/O. Robert Maxwell Bryant. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Collective grave 19. Born on the 13th January 1921 at Cowra, New South Wales, Australia, the son of John James Bryant and Mary Estelle Bryant, of 15 Bartlett Avenue, Cowra, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That He Lay Down His Life".
Sgt. Donald Compton Bauman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 142. Son of Oscar and Isabel Bauman, of Bushey, Hertfordshire, England.
Sgt. William John Drake. Lemsterland General Cemetery (Lemmer) Plot C. Row 8. Grave 235. Son of John and Emily Drake, of Winchester, Hampshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Jesus Called Him To Heaven's Perfect Peace"
Sgt. John Richard Curtis. Lemsterland General Cemetery (Lemmer) Plot C. Row 8. Grave 234. Son of Charles Herbert and Clara Curtis, of Hull, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. William Forster. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 149. Son of Bertram and Alice Forster, of Bedlington, Northumberland, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Australian Archives and sources as shown. With thanks to Rob Wethly and Fulham Rocks for grave photographs.