15/16.09.1944 405 Squadron Lancaster III PB527 LQ:K Flt Lt. Ronald W. Long DFC
Date: 15th/16th September 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 405 (Vancouver) Squadron (RCAF)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Gransden Lodge, Bedfordshire.
Location: North Sea off west coast of Denmark
Pilot: Flt Lt. Ronald Walter Long DFC J18760 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Ronald Ivor York 1819034 RAFVR Age 20. Missing
Nav: Flt Lt. Robert Brook DFC 174668 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Gordon James Edwards DFC 177700 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley 1575439 RAFVR Age 22. Missing
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): WO2 John Raike R127923 RCAF Age 24. Missing
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt 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.
Above thought to be the crew of PB527. 1st from the left: Sgt. Ronald Ivor York; 5th from the left: Flt Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley. (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. His date of burial in unknown.
Above thought to be the crew of PB527. 1st from the left: Flt Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley; 7th from the left Sgt. Ronald Ivor York. (courtesy Rod York)
Above left and centre pilot, Flt Lt. Long
Left WO2. John Raike (courtesy Mike Harrison); Right Flt Sgt. Leavesley (courtesy Rosslyn Cole)
Photograph taken during training. Sgt. Ronald Ivor York on left, next to airman by window. (courtesy Rod York)
Flt Lt. Ronald Walter Long DFC. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Grave A.13.21. Born on the 26th August 1920 in Windsor, Ontario. Son of John Walter and Alice Jane (née Smith) Long of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Husband to Anna Mary (née Ahearne) Long of Hammersmith, London, England. Enlisted in the RCAF at Windsor, Canada on the 19th August 1940.
DFC awarded whilst with 405 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette 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.”
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.
Sgt. York also had an older brother, 26 year old, Aircraftman 1st Class (AC1) Reginald York 702234 RAF. He was based at 153 Maintenance Unit (MU) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya. AC1 York was captured on the island of Java along with many RAF Ground crew on the 8th March 1942. He was held in Java, Singapore in Changi jail, and Borneo at the Jesselton and Sandakan camps. He died of Malaria in Sandakan camp on the 5th April 1945.
Above AC1 Reginald York (Courtesy of Rod York)
Flt 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)
1395885 Sgt. Brook was commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. with effect 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.”
Plt Off. Gordon James Edwards DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 211. Son of Bertram and Mary Jane Edwards, of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
DFC awarded whilst with 405 Sqn, pomulgated in the London Gazette on the 17th November 1944.
Flt Sgt. William Desmond Leavesley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 219. Son of Charles Henry and Mary Ellen Leavesley, of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England.
WO2. John Raike. Runnymede Memorial. Panel. 254. Born on the 26th February 1920 in Oshawa, Ontario. Son of Herbert Frederick and Elizabeth (née McNamara) Raike of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. His father died in December 1944.
Flt Sgt. Alan William Gowdey. Sonderho Cemetery. Grave 60. Son of James Craig Gowdey and Louisa Harriet Gowdey, of Battersea, London, England.
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. Thanks to Rosslyn Cole, 1st cousin removed, of Flt Sgt. Leavesley for his photograph. Thanks to John Jones for the additional information for AC1 York (Jan 2022). Other update and new information by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Also to the sources quoted below.