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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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550 Squadron Crest
10/11.04.1944 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster I LL836 BQ-E Fl/Lt. Richard W. Picton DFC

Operation: Aulnoye France

Date: 10/11th April 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 550 squadron

Type: Lancaster MkI

Serial: LL836

Code: BQ-E

Base: RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire

Location: Logeast Wood, near the village of Achiet-le-Petit, France

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Richard William Picton DFC.129769 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas Henry Guest 1801227 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. John James Logan DFC. 135108 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. John Foster Potter J/23136 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Percy Charles William DFM. 908406 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. William Hugh Waycott DFM.145708 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. William Essar J/90741 RCAF Age 22. Killed


Taking off from RAF North Killingholme to bomb the railway yards at Aulnoye in France. The bomber stream consisted of 132 Lancasters from 1 Group with a further 15 Pathfinder Mosquitoes.

Reports state that the attack was a success - inspections later confirmed that 287 bombs hit the target - some landed in fields close to the railway but the engine shed was hit with 30 locomotives taken out of action. - 340 homes were either destroyed or damaged with sadly, 14 civilians killed. 7 Lancasters were lost amounting to 39 aircrew lost their lives, 4 taken PoW and 6 others evading capture. One of the Lancaster crashed shortly after take off - all crew survived uninjured.

Lancaster LL836 is reported to have been shot down at 3000 mtrs. by German Nightfighter ace Hptm. Helmut Bergmann of 8.NJG/4 1.5 km North-North-West of Achiet-le-Petit. (He claimed no less than 7 Lancasters on this night alone!) Abschuß Report: Opened fire from behind and below and fired at a range of 100 metres. The fuselage and starboard wing root burst into flames at once. Lancaster LL836 went down burning, hitting the ground at 02:43 hrs.

(1) This was the 22nd victory for the Night fighter ace. He went on to claim a total of 34 kills before he was killed on the 6/7th August 1944 when he was shot down by Fl/Lt. John Surman in a Mosquito MM449 from 604 squadron. (Information from the Kracker Archives on this website)

Essay Lake, south of Takipy Lake was named after P/O. William Essar in 1982.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Richard William Picton DFC. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 7. Son of Clement John and Lillian Maud Picton of Letchworth, Hertfordshire.

Sgt. Thomas Henry Guest. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 5. Next of kin details unavailable - are you able to assist?

F/O. John James Logan DFC. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 4. Son of George Charles and Janet Georgina Logan, of Penicuik, Midlothian.

F/O. John Foster Potter. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 3. Next of kin details unavailable - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Kenneth Percy Charles William DFM. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 2. Next of kin details unavailable - are you able to assist?

Fl/Lt. William Hugh Waycott DFM. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 1. Son of Percival Guernsey Waycott and Annie Waycott, nephew of Mr C. C. Waycott, of Whitchurch, Devon, England.

P/O. William Essar. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Grave 6. Understood to be from Winnipegosis, Manitoba, Canada. Next of kin details unavailable - are you able to assist?

Researched by Michel Beckers with some photographs kindly supplied by Jeröme Delavius, others from the Michel Beckers collection. With thanks also to Cilla Britton - relative of Fl/Lt. Richard Picton who contacted us in August 2016. Further detailed information of the nightfighter attack from the Kracker Archives on this website.

MB - 28.07.2016

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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