12/13.07.1943 No. 49 Squadron Lancaster III ED726 EA-V F/O. Millar AFM
Date: 12/13th July 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 49 Squadron
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire
Location: Unknown, lost without trace
Pilot: F/O. John Guy Millar A.F.M. 126710 RAF Age 32. Missing - believed killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Paul Albert Urquhart Goodyear 957450 RAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. James William Gillin R/89875 RCAF Age 38. Missing - believed killed (1)
Air/Bmr: F/O. George Lockie 130280 RAF Age 32. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry George John Heaps Read 1335292 RAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald William Bettinson 1235499 RAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Burnett 1550978 RAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed
The niece of Leslie Phillips. who should have been on this flight, contacted us in July 2015 - she would very much like to make contact with any relatives of the crew.
Update December 2017, Ann Firth (née Bettinson) contacted us with detailed information on Sgt. Donald Bettinson.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The Allies’ war against the Italians was going very well. With extra pressure brought to bear by Bomber Command, it was hoped that Germany's ally would soon capitulate.
Turin was selected for an attack by 295 Lancasters.
The route took them well out into the Bay of Biscay and across Southern France thus avoiding heavily defended areas. Many crews reported heavy icing over France, and encountering thunder-clouds over the Alps.
These long haul trips to Italy were not considered easy by crews and to prove the point 13 Lancasters failed to return.
Among those missing were F/O. John Millar and crew from 49 Squadron. Perhaps the raid three nights earlier had been an omen... ED726 with the Millar crew had been blasted by flak over Gelsenkirchen. It had been repaired just in time for them to take part in the Turin trip, the crew's fateful 13th operation.
Crew photo of ED726 (courtesy 49 Squadron Association, via Colin Bamford - see notes) In hatch: Sgt. John Crabb on left with Sgt. Paul Goodyear on right. In front, left to right: Sgt. Reginald Burnett, F/O. John Millar A.F.M. Sgt. Leslie Phillips and Sgt. Donald Bettinson.
John Crabb and Leslie Phillips were grounded on the night of 12/13 July 1943 due to heavy colds, and as such missed the trip to Turin. Tragically their crew failed to return leaving them to find other crews in order to complete their tours. John navigated for Sgt. Edy’s crew and finished his tour of 30 ops in October 1943.
Leslie eventually settled as bomb aimer in Fl/Sgt. Ron Greig’s crew and was on his 28th op and near to finishing his tour when fate intervened…. he was sadly killed along with rest of the Fl/Sgt. Greig crew failing to return from Frankfurt on 22/23 March 1944 on Lancaster III ND536 EA-F.
Keen Lancaster buffs will have spotted the unarmed, un-painted ventral turret under V-Victor’s belly. The only information I have on this very unusual appendage is as follows; ED726 flew her first op with 49 Squadron on 23rd May 1943.... there are no records to show she had served with any other unit.
Victor was lost on her 16th operation and all but three ops had been with the Millar crew. As far as the crew’s navigator John Crabb recalls, ‘guns were never fitted’ and he has no recollection of any internal fittings that impeded progress along the fuselage. Why it was there remains a mystery.
Fl/Sgt. Gillin replaced John Crabb on this fateful mission.
Newspaper report on Fl/Sgt. James William Gillin (courtesy Album of Honour, via Colin Bamford - see notes)
(1) Gillin Lake in Northern Ontario is named after W/O. Gillin.
F/O. John Guy Millar, Runnymede Memorial Panel 126. Son of Martin and Harriet Elizabeth Millar, husband of Betty Annie Millar, of Coulsdon, Surrey, England.
Sgt. Paul Albert Urquhart Goodyear, Runnymede Memorial Panel 151. Son of George and Catherine Grace Goodyear, of Purley, Surrey, England.
WO.2 James William Gillin, Runnymede Memorial Panel 180. Son of James Alexander Gillin and Sarah Jeanette Gillin; husband of Muriel Ewing Gillin, of Richmond, Province of Quebec, Canada.
F/O. George Lockie, Runnymede Memorial Panel 125. Son of George and Annie Lockie, husband of Lucy Lockie, of Whitley Bay, Northumberland, England.
Sgt. Harry George John Heaps Read Runnymede Memorial Panel 162. Son of Harry James Read and Hilda May Read, of Sittingbourne, Kent, England.
Sgt. Donald William Bettinson, Runnymede Memorial Panel 142. Born on the 13th April 1923 at Bicker, Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Son of Herbert and Ivy Annie Bettinson (née Limb)
Sgt. Reginald Burnett, Runnymede Memorial Panel 144. Son of Leonard Burnett and of Florence Burnett (nee Houlding).
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to The 49 Squadron Association, Album of Honour for Brant County World War II 1939 – 1945. Published in 1946 by The Brantford Kinsmen Club, Ontario, Canada and kindly reproduced with their permission. Also many thanks to Ann Firth (née Bettinson) who contacted us in December 2017.