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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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408 Squadron Crest
07/08.06.1944 No. 408 Squadron Lancaster II LL643 EQ-Q Fl/Lt. Joseph W. Weis

Operation: Acheres, France. (Rail junctions)

Date: 7th/8th June 1944

Unit: 408 Squadron. (Goose)

Type: Lancaster II.

Serial: LL643

Coded: EQ-Q

Base: RAF Linton-On-Ouse, Yorkshire, England

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Joseph William Weis C/1651 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Herbert Hugill 175288 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. John Alexander Inverarity J/86381 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Derek Noel Flitton 1464806 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Raymond William Griggs 177073 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ralph William Lowrey 54943 RAF Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Douglas David Skingle J/90562 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Harold Rolph J/19174 RCAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Aircrew Remembered are indebted to the great research of Laurent Viton (France) who has researched this aircraft loss with super professionalism. The information he had found he has passed to the relatives who requested it. We would also like to thank some of the relatives: Mrs Edna Hugill, Nancy Aydon and to Barbara Weis for providing Laurent and us further superb pictures

With many thanks to Tanky Harrison for providing us with the information and the many photographs. If anyone has any further details of this loss and/or the crew we would be very interested to hear from you. In particular, can you name the others in order on the crew photo? Full credits will be given for any information that we may use. Also many thanks to Richard Flagg (Airfields and Aviation memorials) for the photo's of the 408 memorial and also to the Canadian Forces Photo Unit for the photo of Doug Skingle.

Finally a great many thanks to George McKillop for also assisting Kelvin Youngs (webmaster) in this loss research. George is a very active 408 squadron researcher and is very thorough with his work. It is a great pleasure having him working so closely with us.


Took off from Linton-On-Ouse at 23:00hrs. Part of a force of 23 Lancasters from 408 and 419 squadrons were joined by 97 Halifaxes from 420, 425, 426, 429, 431, 432, 433, and 434 squadrons in attacking the road/rail junction at Acheres and the rail yards at Versailles. The crews were over the targets at between 3,000 and 7,000 feet releasing 930,000 lbs. of high explosives.

According to reports, these targets were accurately bombed.

LL643 failed to return from the operation, all crew members were lost without trace. It is known that the squadrons encountered heavy night fighter attacks from Me-410's and Me 110's.

LL643 Crew: From left to right: Robert Rolph, Derek Flitton, Bill Griggs, Bill Weis, Ralph Lowrey, John Inverarity and Herbert Hugill. Taken beside a Lancaster Mk II (courtesy of Mrs Edna Hugill, Nancy Aydon and Barbara Weis)

Diary of events post loss:

The following excerpts are from letters on the Personal Files of RCAF members of the crew. Files for RAF personnel are not available in Canada and unfortunately access to such files in the UK is restricted. (Immediate family only)

June 8th 1944 - Wing Commander R.A. Mclernon letter of June 10th 1944: The crew of Lancaster LL643 were reported as missing from Operations over Acheres Railway Junction France on the night of 7/8th June 1944.
June 10th 1944 - Wing Commander R.A. Mclernon letter of June 10th 1944: Item 3: All necessary action has been taken and next of kin residing in Great Britain have been advised.
June 12th 1944 - Wing Commander R.A. Mclernon letter of June 12th 1944 to Mrs. Weis. Copy Mr. H. W. Weis:
Before you receive this letter, you will have received a telegram informing you that your son C/1651 Flight Lieutenant Joseph William Weis has been reported missing from air operations. The Air Ministry, Casualties Branch, will furnish you with any further news received concerning you son.

May 25th 1945 - Chief of Air Staff A.M.R. Leckie letter of May 25th 1945 to Mrs H. J. Rolph:I have learned with deep regret that your son, Flying Officer Robert Harold Rolph, is now for official purposes presumed to have died on Active Service Overseas on June 8th 1944. I wish to offer you and the members of your family my sincere and heartfelt sympathy.
August 16th 1945 - RCAF Casualty Officer letter for the Chief of the Air Staff, of August 16th 1945 to Mrs. B. F. Skingle: I wish to acknowledge your letter of August 8 concerning your son, Pilot Officer Douglas David Skingle. It is indeed regretted that despite the continued and persistent efforts, no trace of your son has, as yet been found, I wish to assure you that action to presume his death is for official purposes only and will not diminish or affect in any way, the effort being made to locate him.

Some information is available concerning a great many aircraft which crashed or were shot down in Continental Europe when practically all of it was occupied by the enemy and every possible effort on an organised basis is being put forth to secure all information available. Where no reports have been received of the existence of graves it is the function of the Royal Air Force and Dominion Air Force Missing Research Enquiry Service, which has been organised for the purpose of research and enquiry in liberated territories into the circumstances of aircrews reported as casualties, to commence a thorough investigation. This Service will also endeavour to obtain additional information to supplement that already received. It is now operating and will continue to conduct a systematic research on a chronological basis.

The civilian population in these areas is being contacted by Radio and Press and Proclamations through the various civic authorities to centralise, through this Service, any information or concrete evidence they may have about Air Force personnel or crashed aircraft. Similar instructions have been issued to all Service personnel engaged in those areas and you may rest assured that immediately any further word about your son you will at once be advised. May I again extend to you and members of your family my most sincere sympathy in this long and anxious period of waiting.

The crew of LL643 taken we understand in late 1943 with another pilot and bomb aimer - Left to right: P/O. Hugill, P/O. Inverarity, Fl/Sgt. Griggs, Sgt. Lowrey, Nobby Clarke, F/O. Rolph, Ronald Williams. (thanks to Laurent Viton and Richard Koval for this latest information) Picture taken during August 1943 whilst crew being formed.

May 21st 1948 - S. L. Baker letter for the Air Ministry letter dated 21 May 1948:
“As no news has ever been received from any other source whatsoever and no human remains were recovered for burial all eight members of the crew will now be recorded as having no known grave and will be commemorated on the memorial to the missing.”

November 17th 1949 - RCAF Casualty Officer, W/Cdr. W. R. Gunn letter for Chief of the Air Staff, dated November 17th 1949 to Mr. B. F. Skingle:It is with regret that I refer to the loss of your son, Pilot Officer Douglas David Skingle, who lost his life on air operations against the enemy on June 8th 1944, but a report has been received from our Missing Research and Enquiry Service concerning your son and members of his crew.Actually, there was very little wreckage left, the bomb load having exploded. The keeper of the of the forest stated that the crash was of such a severe nature that no remains were recovered.Unhappily, owing to the extreme hazards which accompanied air operations, there are many thousands of British aircrew boys who, like your son, do not have ‘Known’ graves and their memories will be commemorated on general memorials.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Joseph William Weis. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 244. Son of Herman William and Adela Grace Weis, of King, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. Herbert Hugill. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. Son of Albert and Nellie Hugill, of Middleton St. George, Co. Durham, England.

P/O. John Alexander Inverarity. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Son of James and Christina Inverarity, husband of Ethel I. Inverarity, of Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Derek Noel Flitton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Son of Harry Joseph and Violet Isobel Flitton, husband of May Flitton, of St. Bride's, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Fl/Sgt. Raymond William Griggs. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. No further information - are you able to assist? Believe birth is registered in the March Quarter 1922 Births, Griggs Raymond W. Mothers Maiden Surname Raymond, Croydon District, Vol. 2a, Page 759. Flight Sergeant Griggs. First Given Name Raymond and Mothers Surname Raymond.

Sgt. Ralph William Lowrey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. No further information - are you able to assist? Birth "maybe" registered in the December Quarter 1919 Births, Lowrey Ralph W. Rothbury District Vol.10b, Page 1117.

P/O. Douglas David Skingle. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 253. Son of Basil Francis and Nellie Skingle, of Humber Bay, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Robert Harold Rolph. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 248. Son of Harold J and Dorothy L Rolph, of Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.

We are indebted to the great research of George McKillop (Canada), Jimmie Dun, Laurent Viton (France), Mrs Edna Hugill, Nancy Aydon and Barbara Weis. Also many thanks to Richard Flagg (Airfields and Aviation memorials) for the photos of the 408 memorial and also to the Canadian Forces Photo Unit for the photo of Doug Skingle, Tanky Harrison for providing us with some information and many photographs. We are also very grateful for information and photographs of P/O. Douglas David Skingle by his brother Alan G. Skingle - July 2016.

KTY 13.07.2016 - New photo's added as well as new information - relative of P/O. Skingle contacted us.

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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