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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database


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No 9 Squadron
24/25 June 1944 No 9 Squadron Lancaster I LL970 WS-Y P/O. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae

Operation: V1 Flying Bomb Site, Prouville, Somme, France

Date: 24/25 June 1944(Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL970

Code: WS-Y

Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire

Location: Nr. Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais, France

Pilot: P/O. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae J/85912 RCAF Age 22 Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Lawrence Albert Dolby 945635 RAFVR Age 24 Killed

Nav: Sgt. John Elias Jones 1530697 RAFVR Age 23 Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Jack Lewis 1464956 RAFVR Age 34 Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Hubert Wells 1600789 RAFVR Age 23 Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Francis Lawrence Rey J/89892 RCAF Age 19 Killed (3)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Raymond Grant R/210613 RCAF Age ? Evader


Lancaster LL970 took off from RAF Bardney at 22:50 hrs. on this operation to Prouville. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after taking off. It was a clear, moonlit night with much activity from the German night fighters. The aircraft may have been hit by flak or shot down by a German night fighter. The aircraft exploded and crashed near Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais which is situated some 7 km NE of Auxi-le-Chateau.

The crew had completed 5 operational flights together to Poitiers, Aunay Sur Odon, Chatellerault, Gelsenkirchen and Limoges before this flight to Prouville.

Map showing the area of the crash near Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais

No 9 Squadron lost three aircraft on this operation Lancaster LL970, Lancaster ND948 and Lancaster LL853 with the loss of 17 airmen, 4 became PoW and 1 evaded capture. A total of 739 aircraft took of that night on this operation to attack 7 flying bomb sites in France causing much damage at most of the sites with a total loss of 22 Lancaster's. The Squadron had arrived at RAF Bardney 14 April, 1943 from RAF Waddington and only returned to RAF Waddington on July 7, 1945.

Lancaster Mk I aircraft (courtesy Imperial War Museum. V1 flying bomb in France ready for take off (courtesy Aircrew Remembered archive).

Canadian Sgt. Grant R/210613 RCAF. Evaded capture. From Comox, British Columbia, Canada.

Burial details:

Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery (courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

P.O. Rae, Sgt. Dolby, Fl/Sgt. Lewis, Sgt. Wells and P/O. Rey were first buried in Rougefay Churchyard, Pas-de-Calais. They were all reburied in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery 25th to 29th June 1951.

P/O. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Elmer Clarke Rae and Olive Margaret Rae of Edmonton, Alberta (1) Harry was born 1 November 1922 in Grande Prairie, Alberta. P/O. Harry Rae was posted to the Squadron 6 June 1944 and completed his first operational flight on 8 June 1944 as 2nd Pilot to P/O. H Forest, Lancaster LL901. Harry's brother Pilot Officer Leslie Elmer Rae, RCAF lost his life on the 16 March 1945. For further details click (here) Brother Albert Thomas Rae also served in the Royal Canadian Navy and survived the war. Mrs Olive Rae was National Memorial (Silver) Cross (picture right) mother in 1976 and laid at wreath on the 11 November at the National War Memorial, Ottawa.

Sgt. Lawrence Albert Dolby. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Ernest Albert and Lily Rose Dolby of Derby.

Sgt. John Elias Jones. Auxi-le-Chateau New Communal Cemetery. Grave Ref: Grave 2. Son of Arthur Davis Jones and Ruth Jones of Flint, Wales.

Fl/Sgt. Arthur Jack Lewis. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Arthur and Lily Elizabeth Lewis of Lee Chapel, Laindon, Essex.

Sgt. William Hubert Wells. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of James and Florrie Wells of East Grinstead, Sussex (2) William is remembered on the East Grinstead War Memorial.

P/O. Francis Lawrence Rey. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Alexis Xavier and Elizabeth Mary Rey of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (3) Born 3 August 1924 in Duncan, British Columbia. First enlisted 14 October 1942 and as AC2 Air Gunner 9 January 1943. Arrived in the UK 1 September 1943 and posted to No 9 Squadron 6 June 1944. Appointed to Commission 22 June 1944 as Pilot Officer.

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Bruce Barrymore Halpenny - Action Stations, also to Dave Champion for further details and photo - June 2018. Other sources as indicated below.

KT. Page uploaded 11.01.2017

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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