12/13.10.1944 No. 31 Squadron Liberator KG999 P Lt. Nel
Operation: Supply Drop
Date: 12/13th October 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 31 (SAAF) Squadron
Type: Liberator Vl
Base: Celone, Foggia, Italy
Location: Ala di Stura, Italy
Pilot: Lt. Charlie P. Nel 206556V SAAF Age 21. Killed
2nd Pilot: Sgt. Jack Edward Boswell 1388279 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Obs: Lt. Coen Brits Vorster 329043V SAAF Age 29. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Ronald Walter Johnson 181135 RAFVR Age 21. Killed (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Lockey 1624864 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Foy 1684642 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harry Austin 810117 RAF (AAF) Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy Bailey 1899465 RAFVR Age 19. Killed (3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from Celone, Italy for a supply drop to Italian Partisans in Northern Italy. The weather conditions were very poor with 10/10 cloud cover and the aircraft crashed into the mountains above Ala di Stura. At the time of the crash there was no reported flak or air opposition.
Sixteen aircraft took part in this supply drop operation in Northern Italy with the loss of six Liberators:
Major S.S. Urry Liberator Vl KH158 H, Capt. L van S. Beukes Liberator VI KG875 D, Lt. A.H.R. Metelerkamp Liberator Vl KG874 J, Fl/Sgt. D.V. Watson Liberator Vl KH154 W, Fl/Sgt. G.W. Lawton Liberator Vl KH239
Left to right: Lt. C.P. Nel Milan War Cemetery
In 2002 relatives of the crew travelled to Ala di Stura where a plaque was placed in the area of the crash on the mountain side to commemorate the crew
Memorial plaque at Ala di Stura (courtesy of Giorgio Configliacco) Sgt. Roy Bailey is remembered on the WW2 memorial Mayfield School (courtesy of Kate Tame)
All the crew were first interred in the cemetery at Ala di Stura and then in the Cemetery in Cares until the end of the war when they were reinterred in Milan War Cemetery
Lt. C. P. Nel. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. Son of Louis L. and Catherine E. Nel of Oudtshoorn, Cape Province, South Africa.
Sgt. Jack Edward Boswell. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. No further information as yet.
Lt. Coen Brits Vorster. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. Son of Hendrik J. and Margaretha J. M . Vorster of Pretoria, Transaval, South Africa.
P/O. Ronald Walter Johnson. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. Son of Charles Walter and Eileen Mary Frances Johnson. (1) Ronald was born on the 2nd August 1923.
Sgt. Eric Lockey. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. Son of Ephraim and Emily Lockey of Wakefield, Yorkshire. (2) Eric was born in 1924 in Wakefield and at the time of his death his address was 86 Balne Lane, Wakefield, England. Eric Lockey had flown 4 times to drop supplies to the insurgent uprising, Warsaw in 1944
Sgt. Henry Foy. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. Son of Thomas Foy and of Ada Broster Foy of Old Trafford, Manchester, England.
Sgt. Harry Austin. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. No further information as yet
Sgt. Roy Bailey. Milan War Cemetery, Italy. Coll. Grave V. C. 1-8. No further information as yet. (3) Roy had attended Northern Grammar School (now Mayfield School) in Portsmouth, England.
Researcher Kate Tame, Aircrew Remembered, for all the relatives of the crew. With special thanks to Giorgio Configliacco for the memorial plaque photograph, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Find a Grave, Paul Owen