24/25 June 1944 9 Squadron Lancaster I LL970 WS:Y Plt Off. Harold Oliver Rae
Operation: V1 Flying Bomb Site, Prouville, Somme, France
Date: 24th/25th June 1944(Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 9 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire
Location: Nr. Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais, France
Pilot: Plt Off. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae J85912 RCAF Age 22 Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Lawrence Albert Dolby 945635 RAFVR Age 24 Killed
Nav: Sgt. John Elias Jones 1530697 RAFVR Age 23 Killed
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Arthur Jack Lewis 1464956 RAFVR Age 34 Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Hubert Wells 1600789 RAFVR Age 23 Killed
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Douglas Raymond Grant R210613 RCAF Age? Evader
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Francis Lawrence Rey R192969 RCAF Age 19 Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
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.
LL970 was claimed by Uffz Alois Vogler 2/NJG3 - Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise area (PE): 3,200m at 00:32. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).
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
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 7th July 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 R210613 RCAF. Evaded capture. From Comox, British Columbia, Canada.
Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery (courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
Plt Off. Rae, Sgt. Dolby, Flt Sgt. Lewis, Sgt. Wells and Sgt. 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.
Plt Off. 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.
Harry was born 1 November 1922 in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Plt Off. Harry Rae was posted to the Squadron 6 June 1944 and completed his first operational flight on 8 June 1944 as 2nd Pilot to Plt Off. H Forest, Lancaster LL901. Harry's brother Plt Off Leslie Elmer Rae, RCAF lost his life on the 16 March 1945. 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.
Flt 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.
William is remembered on the East Grinstead War Memorial.
Plt Off. 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.
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 9 Squadron 6 June 1944. The brother of Francis, Fg Off. John Joseph Rey J24014, RCAF was a PoW (No. 8571, Stalag 398 and Stalag Luft 3).
Sgt. Rey was posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off with service No. J89892 with effect 22nd June 1944.
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. Thanks to John Jones for the German night-fighter claim and details of brother of Plt Off Rey (May 2021). Other sources as indicated below.