28.01.1945 5 LFS Lancaster III LM308 W/O. Richard B. Rathbone
Operation: Night Training
Date: 28th January 1945
Unit: No. 5 LFS (Lancaster Finishing School)
Type: Lancaster III
Code: - ?
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Location: Hoveringham, Nottinghamshire
Pilot: W/O II Richard Barlow Rathbone R/168095 RCAF Age 28. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Albert Mercer 2218573 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Hugh Munro MacKenzie R/203166 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Emerson R/189328 RCAF Age 30. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Henry Reid R/190328 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jasper Martin 1595881 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Francis Fitzgibbon R/264756 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 00:01 hrs from Syerston, Nottinghamshire on a night cross country sortie.
Completed the operation and on returning to the base acknowledged the landing instructions from flying control. Then 2 minutes later at 02:16hrs LM308 crashed at high speed exploding on impact. Eyewitnesses claim that they saw it on fire in the air.
Above left: newspaper cutting reporting the death of Joe Fitzgibbon. Right: copy of letter (courtesy of Don Fagan)
The memorial placed to this crew, also to another crew lost on an earlier date, that of P/O. Guy Dunlop NZ/425241 RNZAF from the same LFS - lost on the 12th January: 1945 Lancaster III JB125.
W/O II Richard Barlow Rathbone. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall) Sec. G. Row F. Grave 8. Son of Gerrard Jackson Rathbone and Susan Emeline Rathbone, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Albert Mercer. Southport Cemetery (Duke Street). Sec. 28. Grave 961. Son of John and Margaret Mercer, of Southport, England.
Fl/Sgt. Hugh Munro MacKenzie. Harrogate Cemetery(Stonefall). Sec. G. Row F. Grave 9. Son of Farquhar MacKenzie, and of Catherine MacKenzie (née Munro), of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Emerson. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall) Sec. G. Row F. Grave 10. Son of John Eymundson Emerson and Jean Beatrice Emerson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, husband of Phyllis Emerson.
Fl/Sgt. John Henry Reid. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall) Sec. G. Row F. Grave 7. Son of James Henry and Mary Wilma Reid, husband of Glaidus Madelene Reid, of Marysville, New Brunswick, Canada.
Sgt. Jasper Martin Castleford Cemetery (Whitwood). Sec. N. Cons. Grave 923. Son of Samuel and Emma Louisa Martin, of Cutsyke, Castleford, England.
Sgt. Joseph Francis Fitzgibbon. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall) Sec. G. Row F. Grave 11.
Researched for Donna Johnson - niece of W/O. Richard Rathbone. Also to Lady Nail who did so much to remember this and the other crew lost in the area. For further details our thanks to sources quoted below.