15/16.09.1944 No 405 Squadron Lancaster III PB527 LQ-K Fl/Lt. Ronald W. Long DFC
Date: 15/16th September 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 405 Squadron (RCAF)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Gransden Lodge, Bedfordshire.
Location: North Sea off west coast of Denmark
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Ronald Walter Long DFC J/18760 RCAF Age 24. Killed (1)
Pilot 2: Sgt. Ronald Ivor York 1819034 RAFVR Age 20. Missing (2)
Nav: Fl/Lt. Robert Brook DFC 174668 RAFVR Age 23. Missing (3)
Fl/Eng: P/O. Gordon James Edwards DFC 177700 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley 1575439 RAFVR Age 22. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O II John Raike R/127923 RCAF Age 24. Missing
W/Op/Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt Alan William Gowdey 1816553 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:35 hrs from Gransden lodge. 490 Aircraft taking part (12 from 405 squadron) in what has been described as a devastating raid on the city, however only 10 deaths were recorded on the ground with a further 28 people injured.
Sgt. Ronald Ivor York on extreme left with what is thought to be the rest of the crew. (courtesy Rod York)
The allies lost 5 aircraft on this raid (2 others crashed on take off) with the loss of 28 aircrew killed.
PB527 crashed in the North Sea off the West coast of Denmark at around 02:00hrs. Hit by Flak to the South of Esbjerg and not through attacks by German night fighters as had been reported. Alan William Gowdey was buried on 17th June 1945 by the Reverend K. Voldum, Nordby, after having been buried by the Wehrmacht on the beach near Sønderho in the autumn of 1944. Ronald Walter Long seems to have drifted in on the beach at Vejers. Uncertain date of burial.
Sgt. Ronald Ivor York on extreme right with what is thought to be the rest of the crew. (courtesy Rod York)
Above left and centre pilot, Fl/Lt. Long with right W/O II. John Raike (courtesy Mike Harrison)
(1) Fl/Lt. Ronald Long - DFC awarded 12th February 1946 with effect from 4th November 1944. Citation reads:
“This officer is an outstanding pilot and captain now on his second tour of operations. The majority of the sorties carried out by Fl/Lt. Long have been directed against heavily defended enemy targets, but he has never been deterred from pressing home his attacks to the full, thereby setting a fine personal example to his crew. His airmanship and leadership are above reproach and have a salutary effect on all pilots in this squadron less experienced than himself. Strongly recommend for the non-immediate award of the DFC.”
(2) Sgt. York also had an older brother, 26 year old, A/C 1st Class Reginald York 702234 RAF. Died on the 5th April 1945 .
Reg was a PoW held at the Japanese camp in Sandakan in North Borneo. He had been captured along with many RAF ground crew in Java - imprisoned in Changi before moving to Jesselton and finally to Sandakan, Borneo where, on the 5th April 1945, he is reported to have died from Malaria.
(3) Sgt. Brook used this name during his service - 1395885 Service number used whilst a SNCO then changed to above when commissioned on 27th March 1944. DFC Citation reads:
“Acting Flight Lieutenant Brook, as navigator has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.”
Fl/Lt. Ronald Walter Long DFC. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Grave A.13.21. Son of Mr. J.W. Long, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada 1920 enlisted in Windsor, Canada on the 19th August 1940.
Sgt. Ronald Ivor York. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 241. Son of Alfred Walter and Ellen Emily York, of Wimbledon, Surrey, England. Formerly from 47 Pollard Street, Kettering, Northants, England.
Fl/Lt. Robert Brook DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 201. Son of Harry and Bayla Jeszurin of Valenciennes, France. (Sgt. Brook used this name during his service - a Belgian, living in France, escaped via Spain to UK at outbreak of war)
P/O. Gordon James Edwards DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 211. Son of Bertram and Mary Jane Edwards, of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Fl/Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 219. Son of Charles Henry and Mary Ellen Leavesley, of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England.
W/O II. John Raike. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 254. Son of Herbert and Elizabeth Raike, of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Alan William Gowdey. Sonderho Cemetery. Grave 60. Son of James Craig Gowdey and Louisa Harriet Gowdey, of Battersea, London, England.
(2) A/C 1 Reginald York. Labuan War Cemetery, Malaysia. Grave T.E.12. shown above (courtesy Rod York)
Researched for the relatives of the crew. With thanks to the nephew of Sgt. York, Mr. Rod York for further information and to several of the photographs used. Also to the sources quoted below.
Photograph taken during training. Sgt. Ronald Ivor York on left, next to airman by window. (courtesy Rod York)