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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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7 Squadron crest
14/15.01.1944 7 Squadron Lancaster III JA935 MG:O Flt.Lt. Arthur Thomas DFC

Operation: Braunschweig (Brunswick)

Date: 14th/15th January 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 7 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JA935

Code: MG:O

Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire

Location: Not known, target area?

Pilot: Ft./Lt. David Latimer Court Thomas DFC. 121406 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Flt.Eng: Plt.Off. William Arthur Clegg 169494 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Flt.Lt. Ronald Crease DFC. 139886 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air Bmr: Flt.Lt. Ronald George Layley 129404 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

W Op/Air Gnr: WO. Ronald Haywood CGM. 649966 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Leslie H.W. Whitear 1393334 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Lawrence Charles Hartman 657578 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 16:59 hrs from RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire, part of a force of 498 aircraft targeting the aircraft component and other armament manufacturing facilities in and around the city of Brunswick.

Being an important industrial area the target was heavily defended by flak installations and Luftwaffe night fighters.

Flying almost due east, the bomber stream crossed the North Sea and entered enemy-held territory over North Holland. Turning south east toward Brunswick, in the region of Bremen, the bombers were met by many German night fighters infiltrating the stream. In all, 38 aircraft were lost during the raid which turned out to be very unsuccessful in terms of damage to the target and the loss of so many aircrews.

JA935 was one of two Lancasters. the other being 12 Sqn JB542, that was claimed at 19:10 hrs by either;

Maj. Helmut Lent, his 83rd Abschuss, from Stab NJG3, Lt. Wendelin Breukel, his 10th Abschuss, from 4./NJG2 or Oblt. Walter Riedlberger, his 4th Abschuss, from 5./NJG2. There is no location recorded for the interception. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten).


Believed to show some of the crew with Ron Haywood 3rd from right


7 Squadron lost 3 aircraft on this operation:

JA905 MG:V Lancaster III Flown by Flt.Lt. John Verdun Newton 415270 RAAF killed with all 7 other crew members.
JB398 MG:C Lancaster III Flown by Fg.Off. Reginald John Claude Croxford 150099 RAFVR killed with 4 other crew members, 2 survived as PoW.


Mr Joseph Heywood and his daughter proudly holding Ronald’s C.G.M. outside Buckingham Palace.

Burial details:

Flt.Lt. David Latimer Court Thomas DFC. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 4D.9. Born in 1922. Son of Albert Joseph and Ellen Dorothea Court (née Le Patourel) Thomas from Surrey, England. His mother predeceased him in Mar 1942. His father served as a Fg.Off. as a pilot with the RFC 199 Night Training Squadron in 1918.

His DFC was awarded whilst with 61 Sqn, Gazetted 15th October 1943

His brother Sqn.Ldr. Peter Damien Court Thomas DFC, 41081, RAFO, 55 Sqn was killed in operations on 2nd November 1942, (Baltimore III AH109).

Flying Officer Peter Damien Court Thomas (41081), No. 223 Squadron. DFC Gazetted 29th April 1941.

Citation: "This officer has been continuously employed as an operational pilot since the outbreak of war with Italy and has completed some 40 operational flights with marked success. On a recent night patrol he attacked an ammunition train by dive-bombing and when this had proved unsuccessful, he continued the attacked with incendiary ammunition eventually setting the train on fire and destroying it. His night raids have been outstanding. He has frequently remained over his target for an hour at a time, dropping his bombs singly and then attacking the ground defences with machine gun fire. Flying Officer Thomas has proved himself to be a daring pilot and has always pressed home his attacks with the greatest determination".

Plt.Off. William Arthur Clegg. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 4D.8. Son of William and Sarah Jane Clegg of Clock Face, St.Helens, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Answered The Call And Gave His All That Others Might Live In Peace. R.I.P".

Flt.Lt. Ronald Crease DFC. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 4D.7. Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

His DFC awarded (wef since deceased) whilst with 7 Sqn, Gazetted 1st June 1945

Flt.Lt. Ronald George Layley. Hanover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3B. 18-19. Further information: Son of Arthur Wilfred and Flora Victoria Layley of Kingsclere, Hampshire and husband of Joyce Layley of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Attended Patterson House school in May 1924 where he was an excellent rugby player, captaining his House Rugby team in 1931-2. Obtained a London Matriculation Certificate (first division) in 1932 and as well as being made school prefect in September 1931 was awarded the Patterson Scholarship. After leaving school he joined the Metropolitan Police Force and his work seemed to mark him out for high promotion. He captained his Divisional Rugby Team and served in the Police Force through the earlier Blitz on London, an experience that made him decide to join the RAF. He was soon commissioned and rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant, holding an important position in the Pathfinder Force. He took part in many raids on enemy territory and had called in at his old school barely a month before he was reported missing. He was the 27 year old Air Bomber of the crew.

His brother 23 year old, Geoffrey Charles Layley was killed earlier on 28th January 1943 whilst serving with 218 Squadron and is buried in Hanover War Cemetery also.

WO. Ronald Haywood CGM. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 4D.6. Further information: Son of Joseph and Eliza Haywood of 7, Longstaff Avenue, Rawnsley, Cannock, Staffordshire. One of five brothers and three sisters. Grave inscription reads: "God Eternal, Penitent We Kneel Before Thee, Forgive Us All The Past. Amen".

He attended Rawnsley council school and later the County Mining College. Employed by the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery Company and worked as a surveyors assistant. A keen musician, he joined the Territorials at an early age with whom his brother and father served, playing the clarinet in the Band and also with the Hednesford Town band. He joined the RAFVR at eighteen and by the age of twenty was serving as a Wireless operator in the Middle East. He was awarded the CGM. after he had made over ninety operational flights and had been reported as missing in action. On the 12th February 1946, his parents and sister Margaret proudly attended Buckingham Palace to receive his posthumous award. He had flown 93 ops and was flying on his 100th op when he was killed.

CGM Citation:-

“He has had an outstanding operational record (he made over ninety flights). He has served with distinction in both the European and Middle East theatres of war and has attacked some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany and Italy, including Berlin, Peenemunde and Milan. At all times his courage and resolution in the face of the enemy have been exemplary”.

Flt.Sgt. Leslie H.W. Whitear. Hanover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3B. 18-19. Son of Ernest W.H. and Alice A Whitear of Dunmow, Essex, England. One of 6 siblings, Ernest, (then Leslie), Iris, Joy (née Whitear) Reeve, Stanley and John. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends".

Flt.Sgt. Lawrence Charles Hartman. Hanover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3B. 18-19. Son of Charles Cecil Augustus and Ann Caroline Hartman of Ware, Hertfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Them".

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Katherine Garrett for family information and photo's of Flt.Lt. Layley, and also to Geoff Thacker, nephew of WO. Haywood for Family information and photo’s. Also thanks to Nicola Brown, niece of Flt.Sgt. Leslie H.W. Whitear. Recently a relative of the flight engineer, Bill Clegg, contacted us and sent us the photo of Plt.Off. William Arthur Clegg. Thanks to Tom Jones for the update to his Grandmother's details for Flt.Sgt. Whitear. Next of Kin details and family information updated for Flt.Lt. David Latimer Court Thomas and German fighter claim by Aircrew Remembered (Sep 2020).

RS 25.09.2020 - NoK and family details for Flt.Lt. Thomas updated.

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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