12.05.1940 No. 103 Squadron Fairey Battle I P2193 PM-C P/O. Edgar E. Morton
Operation: Bouillon, France
Date: 12th May 1940 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 103 Squadron
Type: Fairey Battle MkI
Base: Betheniville France
Location: Curfô, north of Bouillon France
Pilot: P/O. Edgar Elliot Morton NZ/40635 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: AC1. Alexander Strachan Ross 61376 RAF Age 19. Killed
Mr Pierre Michiels of the Cercle d'Histoire de Bouillon contacted us in January 2016. The text of this page had been prepared by him for a remembrance service in May 2015. We are grateful for this information, we have been assured that Michel Beckers who placed this page, received the information via a third party.
REASON FOR LOSS:
It had been decided that 103 Squadron would not fly with an observer to conserve crew losses (some other squadrons continued with original 3 man crews).
When the 3 aircraft from 103 squadron arrives above the village of La Chapelle at the French border, it is attacked by anti-aircraft fire from the column. Flying over the turn at the top of the Route de France at 17:15 hrs, close to the Ferme des Mouches, the first aircraft has already dropped its bombs on a tank column and takes avoiding action.
The two others turn North then right towards Curfô. As had the unfortunate crew of a 218 squadron Battle (P2183) flown by 22 year old, P/O. Frederick Sidney Bazalgette 70790 RAF from Cornwall, England (the two other crew evaded capture) shot down minutes before, Pilot Morton aimed at the end of the convoy on the ridge of Curfô as to block the truck convoy in the défilé.
At a vertical angle with the main road along which it attempts to align, the last aircraft (P2193, PM-C), piloted by the New Zealander Morton, is ripped apart by flak. The pilot does not have time to aim, releases his bomb load before the plane crashes at Curfô between the main road and the angle with the local railway track, two hundred meters away from where 24 year old, Fl/Sgt Horner’s plane ( Battle I K9353 HA-J) just crashed (580159 RAF from Bicester, Oxfordshire, England - killed with all his crew). One of its bomb exploding when hitting the trunk of one of the big pine tree bordering the road to Bouillon.
The mission report drawn up by the only surviving crew confirms that “Battle P2193, hit by convoy flak, crashes in flames at 17:20 in fields close to the main road. To its side another crew manages to drop its 4 bombs on vehicles assembled in the village of Noirefontaine before it is also hit by flak.
This second Fairey Battle (P2193 PM-L), with one dead crew member on board, turns at low altitude South. The pilot, 23 year old P/O. George Barry Morgan-Dean 40131 RAF from Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada, who is mortally wounded, manages to cross the Meuse river and land the aircraft on it’s belly close to the village of Haraucourt in France. He will die still in his seat believing he has saved the life of his gunner, 21 year old, AC1 Horace Basil Sewell 53136 RAF from Wolverhampton, England.
The unidentifiable remains of the crew were buried later in the Curfô cemetary of the Commune, Morton’s parents were not able to visit it until 1964.
P/O. Edgar Elliot Morton. Sensenruth Communal Cemetery (Curfoz), France. Joint grave 1-2. Further information: Son of William Portlock Morton and Lucy Elizabeth Morton, of Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. P/O. Morton, born in New Zealand in February 1915 at Te Aroha. Graduating from King’s College he became an employee in a lawyers firm. Having no career opportunity he left for Sydney, Australia where he a similar job. He did not seem to fancy that kind of life because he applied for a short duration contract with the RAF, and in 1937 left for the United Kingdom hoping to have a better possibilities. Beginning of January 1938 he started his pilot training in Scotland and continued in March at No 1 Depot in Uxbridge, Middlesex, before becoming qualified at the end of that year at No 10 Flying School in Ternhill, Shropshire. With his flying badge and after navigation training in Manston, Kent, he was assigned to 52 Bomber Sqn at the beginning of 1939. After that he joined 103 Sqn as a volunteer for France within the AASF.
AC1. Alexander Strachan Ross. Sensenruth Communal Cemetery (Curfoz), France. Joint grave 1-2. Further information: Son of Robert and Henrietta Ross, of Edinburgh, Scotland. AC1. Alexander Strachan Ross a qualified radio-operator. Alex born in 1921 in a flat in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland overlooking an area known as "The Meadows". This is a large area of common land where the people in this part of Edinburgh could socialise. He lives here with his mother, father and brother David, until he left to join the RAF. They are a very close family and he and his brother played for hours on the meadows with their many friends and neighbours. There is little money for expensive toys but lots of open space to practice his many sporting skills. Alex is a very clever child and gains a scholarship to a local church school where he becomes best in school at both academic subjects and his first love sport. When he moves on to secondary school he plays both football and rugby for the school teams captaining both at one stage. He is a physically strong lad and is much admired and sought after to be a member of teams. Although the school leaving age is 14 for most boys Alex cleverly stays on to achieve further qualifications before leaving school to join the RAF. His family is extremely proud of him. He always wanted to join the RAF and was particularly interested in communications. He joined as soon as he was old enough and was a regular before the war began. When war was declared he took his responsibility to fight for his king and country very seriously.
Compiled for Aircrew Remembered by Michel Beckers. Information from Mr Pierre Michiels of the Cercle d'Histoire de Bouillon. Also to Mrs Margaret Ross, niece of gunner Alexander Ross, who sent the detailed information on Alex's life to Pierre, Mrs Sarah Morton, mother of pilot Edgar Morton, whose letter from 1964 Pierre recently found, detailing her son's life, Mr Eric Urbain, Mr David Fell 103 Squadron archivist and webmaster, for the 2 pictures of Morton and Ross.
We hope to work with Pierre in the future as he has carried out extensive research into losses in his area of Belgium. He is also preparing a webpage on the loss of Lancaster DS690 of 115 Squadron on the 13/14th July 1943. We also have a basic page on the loss of Sq/Ldr. Robert Baird.