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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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625 Squadron Research Reference


In the process of researching the seventy-four Aircrew Remembered archive reports in memory of the aircraft and crews who failed to return, we are most grateful to The National Archive at Kew for making the 625 Squadron ORB document available. Without this information the content and framework for the 625 Squadron Project would be nonexistent. It is understandable that considering the wartime conditions that clerical errors were unavoidable. We have done our best to identify and rectify them with each archive report.

We are most fortunate that four Squadron vets, three aircrew and one admin, have chronicled their wartime experiences with the Squadron, providing invaluable insight into the conditions and situations they had to endure, as volunteers:

1. Flying in Defiance of the Reich: A Lancaster Pilot’s Rites of Passage, by Squadron Leader Peter Russell DFC, Published by Pen & Sword AVIATION

Above: Front cover painting by Ron Homes DFC, Lancaster pilot 101 Squadron (AGAvA):

A Lancaster begins to take evasive action from an approaching Me 110 night fighter on the aircraft’s port quarter. (The author was intrigued when it was pointed out to him that the attacking aircraft was a Ju 88 variant.)

Above left: Peter Russell. 1939, age 20. Right: 1944 (Courtesy of the Russell Collection)

In this entertaining work Peter Russell chronicles his RAFVR service from 1939, including his flying training and first tour of operations with Coastal Command’s No. 233 Squadron, patrolling the Norwegian coast, Atlantic convoys and the Bay of Biscay—in twin-engined Lockheed Hudsons. The biggest threat encountered being the horrific weather conditions, emphasizing the vital importance of low level navigation on returning safely to Base.

Following a stint as a Navigation/Observer Instructor at RAF Cranage and Bishops Court in County Down in Northern Ireland, F/L Peter Russell was posted to Bomber Command, ‘crewed up’ and following up at an OTU on Wellingtons, was introduced to the “beauties” of the Lancaster at RAF Hemswell. The three day conversion course was brief and focused, ending with a most important hour of fighter affiliation.

F/L Russell would start his second tour of ops with his novice crew, posted to join 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern on October 12, 1944. Time would prove that this crew had the survival moxie to weather the storm. Over the next seven months their mettle would be tested to the max.

Following a ‘second dickey’ trip with F/L Treherne on October 23, the crew would return unscathed from raids on Cologne and Düsseldorf. However, their next op to “Bloody” Bochum on November 4th, in Lanc, E2 Easy 2, would be anything but uneventful, highlighting the importance of teamwork in the heat of combat with the Nachtjagd. The intercom chatter before, over and departing the target, exemplify the intensity and drama of the life and death struggle Bomber Command crews encountered regularly in the darkness over Occupied Europe:

Left: Sgt Frank ‘Titch’ Aldred, rear gunner. (Courtesy of the Russell Collection)

’19 minutes to target.’ Easy 2 surged on. Suddenly, there was a shout from Titch in the tail.


Just after bomb release, with the bomb doors closed, F/L Russell was forced to make an emergency decent to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming aircraft:

‘I heard a chorus of sound from Ken and Tim and from Torry and from Derek in the astrodome. Then there was absolute silence. In the silence we heard Colin’s quiet words.’

‘Men seeing death.’

We had gone down. The other aircraft had obviously gone up. But either we or it might not have done. It didn’t bear thinking about.

But within two minutes, Titch’s shout came again.


About three quarters of an hour later and shortly after a course alteration for Orford Ness… Derek was watching his Fishpond. His call was sudden and urgent:

‘TITCH! Look port quarter down!’ Immediately we heard Titch’s excited voice.

‘Bloody Hell! There are four of them. They’re queuing up. Go! Go! Corkscrew! Corkscrew right!’…

I could not remember being so tired

This series of exchanges between the crew in the heat of combat demonstrate the importance of teamwork and coordination to ensure safe return to Base. It is apparent that F/O Twynam and his crew were not able to overcome the dual threat of the Nachtjagd and flak over the target during the same Bochum raid.

It is noteworthy and puzzling that F/L Russell does not mention the loss of this seasoned crew and Lancaster PB154 as a result of this raid. The Squadron ORB also failed to specify the identity of this crew, on the verge of completing their tour of ops.

On February 8/9 the Squadron was detailed to attack the synthetic-oil plant at Pölitz.

Of the 23 aircraft detailed to attack Pölitz, all returned to base, albeit one was significantly delayed. W/O Chalkley arrived back late, landing safely on three engines. Observers noticed parts of another aircraft caught between the leading edge of a wing and one of the engine nacelles. On inspection, serial numbers revealed this to be from the tail section of a Halifax.

In retrospect W/O Chalkley’s aircraft had collided on the return leg with the Halifax, in cloud over the Dutch coast. The fate of the other aircraft was unknown. W/O Chalkley was recommended for an immediate DFC.

It is noteworthy that the Squadron’s ORB Summary mentions: F/O Chalkley “C2” had the misfortune to collide with a Halifax over the Dutch coast, but managed to return to base…

Yet the ORB submission by the crew for this raid, notes: P/O D.E.J. Chalkley and crew, operating with Lancaster I PD376 bombed the target, Politz, at 23.14 hours from a height of 13,500 feet. No mention of a mid-air collision or return and landing on three engines!


PD376 was transferred to No. 576 Sqn.; UL-C2. S.O.C., 3-12-46.

It did not take long before the Halifax’s identity came to light. Halifax III MZ342 of No. 192 Squadron, P/O Brian Leonard Butler and crew failed the return to return to their Base at RAF Foulsham, Norfolk, following this Pölitz raid. Sadly, there were no survivors from the eight man crew of this Radio Counter Measures (RCM) aircraft. Further details:

Above: Back cover painting by S/L Jock Orr, 625 Squadron’s Gunnery Leader.

Seen from the rear gun turret, Lancasters in the stream are silhouetted by the bright light of marker flares on the ground two or three miles below as a German night fighter manoeuvres to attack. Jack Orr flew with the author on one particular occasion and presented him with this painting a few days later.

‘Dante’s Inferno’ is frequently cited as a metaphor for the cities under attack, and it’s the image that comes to Jim Roger’s mind when he recalls looking down over the target area.

It was an awesome sight and almost indescribable at times because you had the fires on the ground, the searchlights, the Flak coming up, the fighter flares over the top, and in between that you’re there and the fighters are there. The flares and streaks of light from the anti-aircraft guns were all vivid colours. You see fire on the ground, explosions on the ground, explosions in the air, aircraft going down on fire. You see an aircraft blow up, tracer bullets flying all over the sky, and the chandelier of fighter flares which lit up the sky as well. It was absolutely a picture of flame. You didn’t have a lot of time to think about that, and you knew you had to go through that, because that was your course. (Bomber Crew)

Peter Russell died on July 31, 2011, at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, nine days short of his 93rd birthday.

2. BATTLE ORDER 204: A bomber pilot’s story by Chrisobel Mattingley

Above left: Battle Order 204, Front cover. Right: David and Christobel Mattingley, circa 2007.(Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

Writing Battle Order 204: a Love Story, NOT a Grocery List

In December 2002, 49 years after our marriage, I was recovering from major surgery for cancer and wondering why I was still here. I had written 43 books. What was there still that I had not done?

Six months later, still wondering, I was sitting in Melbourne with a publisher who was suggesting that I write an autobiography. Suddenly like a Damascus road flash, I knew the story I had to write. And it was not mine. It was right beside me and had been for 55 years…

David, going through the letters I sent him while he was in hospital during his university years, smiled and showed me one I had written after I had just completed several big essay assignments. I am sick of writing. I declared with eighteen year old passion, and in future I never want to write anything but grocery lists!

I hope that Battle Order 204 is more than a grocery list. It has been a labour of love.

Christobel Mattingley

Stoneyfell, South Australia.

Since age six, David Mattingley was infatuated with aeroplanes to point that is would have a profound impact on his life. When he was thirteen he developed an interest the competitive rowing teams on the Tamar River, in particular he loved the teamwork.

With the outbreak of war in September 1939 he began to focus on the possibility of joining the Air Force. He broached the subject with his father:

‘I’ve been expecting this,’ his father replied at last. ‘And so has your mother. Of course we aren’t happy about it. But we understand. And you have our blessing.’

‘Will you tell Mum or shall I?’ he asked.

‘Let me break it to her first.’ his father said. ‘Then you can talk to her.’

After tea and the meal…

‘Dad’s told you.’ It was more of a statement than a question.

‘When?’ she asked him, holding him at arm’s length so she could gaze on him.

‘As soon as I’ve left school.’

She nodded again. ‘Your father and I expected this. After all, you’ve always loved planes and this is your chance to learn to fly.’ She smiled wanly. ‘But you’re doing it for the right reason Viddy,’ she added with pride. ‘We have to stand up to those bullies. There must always be an England and England shall be free,’ she said, referring to a song David had been playing on the sitting room piano…

On 2 December a letter arrived On His Majesty’s Service, notifying him that he had been placed on the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. Call-up was unlikely before April 1942, but he was required to commence a course of ground school subjects immediately.

Just before his 20th birthday the long-awaited summons to the Air Force came. David went straight to Hobart for a stringent medical examination, after which he was sworn in.

Australia was a participant in the Empire Air Training Scheme to provide aircrew to supplement Britain’s Royal Air Force. Recruits might eventually be sent for flying training in Canada or Rhodesia, but they all did their initial training in Australia. As one of a group of Tasmanians entering No. 1 RAAF Initial Training School of Somers, Victoria, on 19 June, David became a Blue Orchid, as RAAF personnel were dubbed in army slang. Air Force blue was the colour he would wear for the next four and a half years.

After four months and final examinations, David’s unit completed their initial training and graduated with the rank of Leading Aircraftman.

On 15 October, those selected to be pilots were posted to their Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS). David was thrilled to be sent to No. 7 EFTS at Western Junction…

Towards the course’s conclusion David was assessed as an above-average pilot. Trainees were asked if they would prefer to continue their training in single-engined or multi-engined planes. Like most others, David dreamed of being a fighter pilot in singles…But because of the high casualty rate in bombers, RAF Bomber Command needed more pilots. So his next posting was back to Victoria to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at Point Cook to learn to fly multis.

Unlike the Tiger Moth’s tandem seating, the instructor and trainee sat side by side in the Oxford.

Night flying was another challenge. The flights lasted up to an hour, and included both instrument flying and some astro-nav. David loved the clear starry nights with the Southern Cross in different positions. But like everyone, he was deeply shocked when a fellow trainee was killed in a crash on a night flying exercise. It was a sobering realisation of the cost of pilot error.

That night boys became men.

On 21 May 1943, with a total of 182 flying hours, he was presented with his Wings at a graduation ceremony at Point Cook, which his parents attended.

Now promoted to Sergeant, David returned to Melbourne, sleeping on deck as the Nairana was overcrowd with servicemen…Then the young airmen travelled overnight by train to No. 4 Embarkation Depot at Scotch College, Adelaide. Four days later David’s group embarked on SS Umgeni…

The men were based at No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre, in one of Brighton’s largest and best hotels, the Grand, on the seafront…After eleven weeks at Brighton, David was promoted to Flight Sergeant and they all learned of their new postings. He was going to No. 3 Advanced Flying Unit at South Cerney near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

In early December came the red letter day when David made his first flight in almost seven months. It was his first in England and his first in an Avro Anson, similar to the Oxford but with slightly less powerful engines. He was sent to South Cerney’s satellite base, Southrop…Over the next three months the weather would frequently make flying impossible.

Late in February it was time for another move. The men were sent to a specialized course at Lulsgate Bottom in Somerset. BAT Flight instruction, apt acronym for Beam Approach Training, initiated pilots into the system developed to enable planes to land in all weathers.

Their next posting was to Lichfield in Staffordshire to No. 27 Operational Training Unit where they would be introduced to their first heavy bomber, the Wellington, dubbed Wimpy.

Now, as well as learning about the biggest aircraft they had yet flown, there was an enormous added pressure on the pilots. At Lichfield, men of all musterings were thrown together, and on the fifth day ‘crewing up’ was to take place. Each pilot had to select the men who would form his crew. At 21, David had to make the most important choices of his life so far. Each pilot was aware of the long-term implications of his choices — it could be a matter of life or death. It was essential for crew members to be compatible, to be able to work as a team under the most demanding conditions.

On the morning of Monday 17 April 1944, the aircrew of No. 27 OTU, predominantly Australians, gathered in an empty, echoing hangar.

David favoured maturity in his first three choices. Reg ‘Marga’ Murr, age 35 and married, a Queenslander as navigator; Drew Fisher, married, also a Queenslander as bomb aimer and Reg ‘Pop’ Watson, age 27, a Sydneysider as wireless operator. He chose his gunners for their youthful alertness, both from Newcastle, New South Wales; 19-year-old Noel ‘Boz’ Ferguson and 18-year-old Allan ‘Birdy’ Avery… The original groups were dispersing and re-forming in small clusters around pilots. It was a momentous day in all their lives. David’s crew gathered by the hanger door. They all looked at on another and the tension of the morning began to melt away. It boded well for a crew when the skipper was prepared to listen to their opinions.

David was pleased to see all the crew he had chosen waiting together for him by the hanger door. ‘Let’s eat together at lunch.’ he suggested, keen to begin their bonding.

That night he wrote in his diary: I have now decided on our crew, and listed them by name, state and function. Three have had a good deal of experience, while the gunners are young and keen, so we shall make a gen crew when training is finished.

David was well pleased. They were a good bunch. Not a clot among them. None was a heavy smoker and all were only light drinkers. It augured well for ops.

Above: Some of the ‘gen’ crew: l to r- David, Reg ‘Murga’ Murr, Allan ‘Birdy’ Avery, Reg ‘Pop’ Watson and Drew Fisher. (Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

Above: L-R - Reg Murr, Noel ‘Boz’ Ferguson, Allan Avery (1951) and Cyril Bailey, Flight Engineer, at home Birchington, Kent. (Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

After completing the course at No.1656 Heavy Conversion Unit, Lindholme where they were introduced to four-engined Halifaxes, and were pleased to welcome their flight engineer, nineteen-year old Cyril Bailey from Kent, the only Englishman among them.

‘An English rose among blue orchids,’ they joked.

‘Don’t you mean colonial thorns?’ he retaliated, and the bond was cemented.

David wrote in his diary, The engineer is an invaluable aid — in fact a necessity —for taking off and landing. Later, on a cross-country in an aircraft with dual controls, he took the opportunity to teach Cyril some flying skills.

David with a total of 381 flying hours and nine training courses over 22 months, was assessed as a proficient heavy bomber pilot.

Next day he left for London to complete the formalities for his commission, which had come through early in August. Now as Pilot Officer Mattingley he dined in the Officer’s Mess.

But David still wasn’t finished with training. A transport took him and his crew the 20 miles from Lindholme to No. 1 Lancaster Finishing School, Hemswell, and more lectures.

He was ecstatic. The Lanc is a beautiful kite, by far the best I have flown. She is remarkably manoeuvrable for her size and is light on the controls.

The following day, 3 September, marked five years since war had been declared…It was also the first anniversary of David’s arrival in Britain and he was pleased that Reg Murr had returned from London where he had received his overdue commission. Australian aircrew were often frustrated that despite their intensive training and qualifications, they seemed to be passed over in favour of English crew.

David and his crew were posted to 625 Squadron, whose stark motto was We Avenge. 625 Squadron was part of No. 1 Group of Bomber Command, based at Kelstern, which had been established only eleven months earlier.

Finally, on the afternoon of 16 September, David found his name on a battle order for the first time. Battle Order 165. This was it! At last!

As it was his first op, David would fly as second dickey and flight engineer to a more experienced crew. The pilot was another Australian, from Melbourne.

Next day, only fourteen hours after returning, David was scheduled to take-off again. He and his crew were down for their first op together, on Battle Order 166, chuffed that the aircraft allotted them was V Victor.

It was most difficult for Birdy and Boz. They were wearing bulky flying suits, padded and electrically heated to protect them against the paralysing cold they would have to endure. As rear gunner Birdy had the loneliest position in the plane. He had to climb over the spar supporting the tail plane to get to his turret through small twin doors. It was a snug fit. Once he was shut in, his only contact was the intercom. ‘Birdy’s in his cage,’ he reported.

Right: Sgt Allan ‘Birdy’ Avery, Rear Gunner, in electrically heated flying suit, and parachute harness, carrying parachute, flying helmet and Mae West life jacket, Kelstern, 1944. A tight fit in the rear turret! (Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

All crews returned safely to Kelstern and David wrote, It is a pity that the rest of our tour will not be like this. But this easy trip gave us all the more confidence for the future.


At Kelstern, 32 crews were on Battle Order 178…For the Kelstern crews the op got off to a terrible start. As they taxied round the perimeter track, they saw one of the Lancs ahead trying to return to the runway with an engine on fire. But it did not quite reach it. They saw five chutes open as it was losing height. It crashed on a nearby farm. With a horrendous explosion the bombs went up. As the other crews took off, everybody was thinking about their friends who had gone in with their burning kite.

Well into their tour, after their third consecutive op to Cologne in three days, on October 30, Reg Murr was grounded by the Medical Officer due to a respiratory ailment, and deemed unfit to fly again in winter in England. His replacement was F/L Charles Gardiner DFC on his second tour of ops. David found him to be an efficient navigator who fitted in well with the crew.

…Next morning, he was glad to have had the meal, when they were served an ordinary breakfast instead of a flying meal before setting off on a rushed op.

It was November 29. Dortmund was their destination, in the deadly, heavily defended Happy Valley.

And they were flying on Battle Order 204.

D Dog

Battle Order 204 was a rushed effort. The men were disappointed that they were given an ordinary breakfast instead of the normal flying meal of bacon and eggs. As was usual under such conditions, aircrew assisted with the exacting task of bombing up. As they worked to hoist their deadly load into place, the men found wry amusement in the messages the armourers had painted or chalked on some of the bombs.

Drew, the bomb aimer, chuckled to see Aggro for Adolf.

‘Another addled egg for Adolf.’ crowed Birdy the rear gunner.

And they all laughed at seeing the supremely confident You’re history Hitler. ‘That’s one for you, Skip,’ they joked, knowing their skipper’s passion for history.

David and the crew in D Dog waited tensely on the airfield perimeter for the go signal. At 1230 hours on 29 November, they took of with a bomb load of fourteen 500-pound clusters, two containers of sixty 4-pound incendiaries and one cookIe, a massive 4000-pound bomb. Two of the aircraft from 625 Squadron hadn’t made the noon deadline, so twenty-seven planes set off from base at Kelstern that day.

Flying across Lincolnshire, the roar of the Lancaster’s four powerful Merlin engines reverberating through them, David and his crew joined their gaggle, as the grouping was known, at the coast. A little further south, they took their place in the stream of aircraft converging from other stations and had their last glimpse of winter-sombre England. They crossed the sullen grey English Channel churning below, hoping as always they wouldn’t have to put their ditching drill to the test in its hungry waters.

Above: The mighty Lanc outward bound, on guard. (Courtesy of the AWM)

On, on, mile after Merlin-driven mile, high above France, towards Germany. Dreading what lay ahead. Feeling the vice grip of terror. Knowing the horrors awaiting every Lancaster bomber and its crew of seven, every Mosquito and its crew of two.

Two thousand and ninety-two men going through this ordeal of fire.
For some it was the first time.
For some it would be their last time.
For some it would be their only time.

Target Dortmund

Each crew member kept silent unless addressed over the intercom by the pilot, who was concentrating on the complexity of over 100 switches, gauges, controls and dials in the cockpit. Only the wireless operator was in touch with the outside world, passing on any message to the skipper.

The Master Bomber was code-named Toby and the Main Force had the code words, more apt than usual, Press On. Their target, Dortmund, with a population of half a million, had already felt the devastating effects of previous raids. One of the most important centres of major German industry, the city was strongly defended, and the light cloud afforded little protection for the raiders.

At 17,000 feet D Dog met severe and concentrated enemy opposition. Anti-aircraft guns, both light and heavy filled the sky with tracer, which burst on impact, and shells, which exploded at a predetermined height.

‘Jerry sure is letting us have it today!’ Boz, the mid-upper gunner, thought, as from his turret he watched the fierce bursts of flak, smelling and hearing the barrage exploding perilously close on all sides. In some ways it was even more frightening by day than it had been by night. Instead of seeing quickly fading fireworks, David and his crew could see how close together were the menacing dark puffs of smoke.

The rest of the crew listened intently to the intercom exchanges between the bomb aimer and the pilot and the tension was almost unbearable as D Dog ran in towards the target.


Drew, D Dog’s bomb aimer, prone in his position forward of the cockpit, looking out through the perspex nose of the aircraft, gave the order: ‘Bomb doors open!’

‘Bomb doors open!’ the pilot repeated after he lowered the lever.

Drew concentrated on aligning his bombsight on the aiming point, ‘Bomb aimer to pilot. Right…Steady…Left Left…Steady…Steady…Steady.”

The crew waited for the aircraft to jump as the weight of the bomb load fell clear, longing to hear Drew report ‘Bombs gone!’ Then David’s ‘Bomb doors closed.’

For a few vulnerable moments the Lancaster had to fly straight and level until a photo of the target had been taken. Not until then could they feel the relief of turning away from the appalling blaze below. The blaze it had been their job to help create.

But while they were still over the target, only seconds after the bombs were released, bursting flak struck the aircraft.

D Dog was hit! A casualty!

Fuselage extensively damaged by shrapnel.
Starboard aileron torn.
No. 3 petrol tank holed.
Almost all the cockpit perplex blown out.

And David was also a casualty. Wounded in five places by flying metal. Right knee, thigh and shoulder hit. Tendons and artery in right hand severed. And shrapnel ripped through his thick leather helmet, fracturing his skull.

David lost consciousness.

Dog went into a dive.

Put on Parachutes

Coming around seconds later, revived by the rush of cold air, David realized the danger. He struggled desperately with his left hand to pull the aircraft up and get Dog on an even keel.

Then he checked that all his men were unhurt.

‘Rear gunner OK?’
‘Mid-upper gunner OK?’
‘Wireless operator OK?’
‘Navigator OK?’
‘Flight Engineer OK?’
‘ Bomb aimer OK?’

Satisfied that none of his crew was injured, David gave the order they dreaded, ‘Put on parachutes and stand by!’

From his bomb aimer’s compartment in the nose of the plane Drew could see the holes torn by the shrapnel and David’s hand dripping blood. ‘God, what if we have to bale out here!’ he thought in dismay as he put on his parachute.

David asked his flight engineer, Cyril, to bandage his hand, which was now bleeding profusely.

Cyril had just done this, when Dog was hit again.

This time Cyril was also hit. In the chest. Luckily for him the shrapnel struck his escape aids, deflecting it and saving him from a more serious wound.

David also copped it again. More in his shoulder. More in his right knee. More in his right thigh.

Resolutely, he refused to have the emergency morphine injection. Although it would ease his pain it would also slow his reflexes. He knew that he needed every atom of concentration to bring his badly damaged aircraft and his precious crew to safety.

Because of the damage, David had to drop below the main stream. This made them more vulnerable than ever.

As they crossed the Rhine, limping Dog was hit for the third time.

Take Up Crash Positions!

‘Third time unlucky!’ each crew member muttered under his breath, frigid with fear as he prayed.

‘But if anyone can get us our of this, it’s our Dave,’ Drew thought, taking comfort in his skipper’s skill and determination.

‘Pilot to wireless operator. Fire a Very light for assistance.’

‘Wireless operator to pilot. Very light going up.’

After Reg sent up the red Very light for an escort, a couple of RAF fighters checked them out. But as Dog’s engines were still functioning, the fighters left them to it.

Putting on speed, David headed for the emergency airfield at Juvincourt in France. But then even though he was weak from loss of blood, he decided to try to carry on to Woodbridge, an emergency airfield in England.

Dog’s instrument panel was badly damaged, and all the radar sets were out of commission, so Charles navigated by dead reckoning while Drew map-read. ‘Thank God it’s daylight,’ Drew thought.

Boz and Birdy in their gun turrets scanned the sky in every direction for more enemy fighters harassing the returning bomber stream. Always on the lookout for an easy kill, the deadly swift Messerschmitts and Junkers 88s would find the disabled Lancaster a ready target to down.

But the skies remained clear and Dog limped across the Channel.

‘Over England at last!’ they all breathed.

But the crew’s relief was short-lived. Despite the holed petrol tank, Cyril judged there was still enough fuel for one more leg. Summoning every atom of his rapidly dwindling strength, David set course for Lincolnshire and their home base, Kelstern. Fearing that he might not be able to land the damaged kite safely, he asked each member in turn if he wanted to bale out. Everyone opted to stay. So David gave the order no one wanted to hear.

‘Take up crash positions!’

They braced themselves and crouched through the last fateful moments as Dog descended.

A Perfect Landing

David called up control and asked for a priority landing, with fire engine and ambulance. And got them all.

In calling for the ambulance he had not mentioned himself, simply saying there was a wounded man on board.

Because the skipper’s arm was useless, Cyril operated the throttles and trims under his direction, as well as performing his own duties, monitoring engine and fuel gauges and lowering the undercarriage.

Four hours and forty-five minutes after take-off Dog made a perfect landing. David had returned from his 23rd journey to hell.

‘Cyril did a very good job throughout, as did all of the crew. I was proud of them,’ David later said.

And they were proud of their Dave too. None of them knew how seriously their skipper had also been wounded. When they saw the blood congealed around his helmet and on his ripped trousers and jacket they were shocked.

Right arm dangling helplessly, David climbed with difficulty out of the cockpit, over the main spar, along the fuselage, to be assisted down the ladder by the Medical Officer. He and Cyril were taken to sick quarters where their wounds were dressed. It was an emotional crew that came to see them after interrogation.

‘Thanks, Skipper. You’re a damn good pilot. You did a bang-on job.’
‘There’s bags of sympathy,’ Drew offered.
‘The kite’s a sieve,’ Pop reported.
‘Like me,’ their skip replied. ‘Dog’s back in its Kelsten kennel and there’s life in the two young Dogs yet.’

They grinned. No damage to their Dave’s sense of humour.

‘It was a good prang,’ they assured him. ‘And Jerry can’t claim us,’ they boasted.

David felt their love and faith in him like a shot of adrenalin, better than any painkiller. He would pull through this and come back to fly with them, he told himself with resolve. Their faces smiling encouragement were the last he saw as he was loaded into the ambulance again. And they stayed with him for the agonisng 54-mile trip to Rauceby RAF Hospital. After X-rays, he was taken immediately into theatre, where surgeons removed all except one of the pieces of metal.

By 1 am, the 10 hours since Dortmund seemed like a lifetime.

David was worried. All the shrapnel had been removed from his wounds except for one piece in his right hand. The doctors had expressed doubt as to whether he would regain full use of it. If his right hand was not fully functional, it could put an end to his flying. And that was unthinkable.

He was concerned about his crew, too. Without a pilot they were likely to be split up, especially as he was he was not going to be fit to return to active service in the near future. David, Charles and various section leaders on the squadron campaigned to circumvent the move to separate them.

But it was all to no avail. Only days after the Dortmund raid they learned that Birdy was to stay at Kelstern as a spare bod, although he was not required to fly with any crew who had done fewer ops than he had. Cyril would also return to 625 Squadron when discharged from Louth Infirmary…But Drew, Pop and Boz were to be posted to another squadron.

Outstanding Devotion to Duty

The WingCo, deeply impressed with David’s courage and superb airmanship in bringing home his crew and his aircraft, recommended David for an Immediate Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Writing to send the squadron’s love and congratulations, he said, ‘Never was one more gallantly earned.’

The official citation reads:

As pilot and captain of an aircraft, Flying Officer MATTINGLEY took part in an attack against DORTMUND in November 1944.

Whilst over the target, the aircraft was badly hit and Flying Officer MATTINGLEY was wounded about the head, arm and thigh. In spite of the hits he carried on and afterwards flew the damaged aircraft back to the United Kingdom.

His indomitable spirit, superb captaincy and outstanding devotion to duty set an example of high order.

Following the Dortmund raid, David would bedridden for nearly three weeks and it would be three months before he was transferred to a convalescent and rehabilitation unit at Loughborough in Leicestershire. On April 21, 1945, he was discharged and declared fit for flying a heavy bombe again. But in another irony of war, he was told that because of the damage to the tendons he would not be able to play the piano.

On May 4, he joined the Squadron which was now based at Scampton and took over the crew of the B Flight Commander, who had finished his tour. With 23 missions to his credit, David’s days and nights as a bomber pilot were over. On May 25 all Australians were grounded and withdrawn from crews. He had made his last flight as a Lancaster pilot.

In early September he was admitted to the Royal Doncaster Infirmary with fever and chest pain diagnosed as acute pleurisy, due to tuberculosis. Here he learned that Cyril Bailey had been awarded a DFM for his role in the Dortmund raid and Birdy a DFM after completing his tour.

Finally on January 31, 1946, David was transferred by ambulance to the hospital ship, Maunganui, arriving at Fremantle, Western Australia, on March 10, 1946.

Left: Lancaster model made by David on the voyage home, RAAF cap and badge. (Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

David was finally demobilised in January 1947, four and a half years after he enlisted. Twenty months after VE Day and seventeen months after VJ Day, his war was over. Officially. But its marks have remained for over sixty years.

During these years, David paid three more instalments of the cost of his years as a pilot. In all, his wartime participation cost him almost three years in hospitals.

David and Christobel met at the University of Tasmania in March 1948. He was a few months off 26, a Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme Student in his second year. She was a fresher, just over 16 years old. Their friendship deepened and five years later they were married.

David gave devoted service for 32 years, teaching English and Modern European history and coaching rowing at the Prince Alfred College, Adelaide. Since 1958, he was active in the Australian Institute of International Affairs and maintained his involvement with Community Aid Abroad (now Oxfam).

Together they raised their three children.

David tried to keep in touch with all of his crew at least once a year, at Christmas.

Cyril Bailey DFM, Flight Engineer, is now the only other surviving member. After the crew was disbanded, he married Dot before being sent to India with the RAF in 1945. On demobilisation he went back into engineering, finally becoming a senior quality assurance test engineer on Ministry of Defence fuse heads…They adopted two children and take great pleasure in their grandchildren…He also shared the graphic detail that some of the pages of his flight notebook are still stuck together with David’s blood.

Drew Fisher, Bomb Aimer, went back to teaching and was principal in several country primary schools in Queensland. David visited him several times before he died in 1976, age 63…

Reg Murr (Murga), Navigator, repatriated in 1945 and discharged because of ill health, returned to his wife, Mary, and her family, the McGoldricks, who ran the Empire Hotel in Toowoomba, Queensland…He went back to his job with the Toowoomba Railway Office, and also began studying to become a draftsman, hoping for a career in architecture. But he was hospitalized several times. Soon after the birth of a son, named David after his skipper, in August 1947, Reg was again in hospital when David went to visit him. He died a month later, age 37…

Reg Watson (Pop), Wireless Operator, went back to his position in a Sidney accountant’s office, and eventually set up his own business. He never married… David went to see him in Sydney several times. He died in 1999.

Noel Ferguson (Boz), Mid Upper Gunner, had put his age up to marry Ann, who had seen a whole gun crew blown up on her nineteenth birthday. He returned to his job in spare parts for the automotive industry in Newcastle, NSW, where he and his English bride made their home…They lost two of their six children as babies, but now have eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren from the surviving four…David made the trip to Newcastle to see him prior to his death in 2003.

Allan Avery DFM (Birdy), Rear Gunner, rejoined the RAAF as a permanent serving member and with his streak of daring, trained to become a fighter pilot, flying Meteors. In his last letter to David in May 1951 he was expecting to go to Korea. On service there he was mentioned in dispatches (MiD) and was killed in a flying accident in a storm over the Sea of Japan on 1 September 1952, age 27. He is buried on the island of Okinawa…He did not marry but loved his motorbike. When David visited Newcastle to see him, Allan took him for a burn, literally. There was no pillion, and seated on the luggage rack with his foot against the exhaust, David found the heel of his shoe had melted!

During David’s time with 625 Squadron he served under three Commanding Officers, all permanent RAF officers.

The first was Wing Commander Douglas Haig, DSO, DFC and Bar, at Kelstern for six months. He had unusually rapid promotions at a very young age and was very popular. After the war he worked in Norway, and on returning to England became a guard on the British Rail, to supplement his pension.

Wing Commander I.G. MacKay spent only six weeks on the Squadron. He was them promoted to Group Captain and posted elsewhere as a Station Commander.

Wing Commander John L. Barker, (shown left) who then took over, was very helpful to David. Barker eventually became an Air Vice Marshal and head of the Royal Ceylon Air Force.

Wing Commander John L Barker who in 1944/5 commanded 625 Squadron equipped with Lancasters. He was also OC Shield Force and after a distinguished career became Air Vice Marshal CB CBE DFC.


…Eric Thale’s gift in 1990 of one of only three copies of No. 625 Squadron Diary, which he researched and produced, has proved a most useful source of dates and information about operations and names of personnel…

David Mattingley died at home on June 2, 2017, Chrisobel would join him on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

D for Dog: Lancaster I PB735, CF-D was transferred to No. 1660 CU, No. 1654 CU, No. 279 Squadron and scrapped 7-5-47.

F/O Mattingley was justly rewarded for his choice of crew mates and melding them into a tight knit combat team, ready to take on any unexpected situation during their tour of operations. In particular, his dual instruction for Sgt Bailey would prove invaluable for the entire crew.

His decision to refuse narcotic analgesia for his multiple injuries was most insightful. Suffering from a head injury and shock due to blood loss from his wounds, this intervention quite likely would have rendered him unconscious and out of the decision making loop. It is most unlikely that Sgt Bailey would have been able to control and bring D Dog home to Kelstern. The crew would have been forced to bale out, becoming POWs and F/O Mattingley would not have received timely medical care.

It is noteworthy that he was awarded an immediate DFC. Under similar or less extenuating circumstances RAF Squadron mates were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM). Colonial discrimination, possibly. W/O Ellis and Sgt J. Bettany were awarded the CGM. No 625 Squadron airmen were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).
See details below for the events that resulted in the awarding of W/O Ellis's CGM.

The words of his Wing Commander suggest that he was deserving of a higher award: Never was one more gallantly earned.

During his tour of operations F/O Mattingley would lose three or his Nissin hut-mate officers to the meat-grinder of Bomber Command. They included the loss of PB531, F/O Morsehead and crew; LM731, F/L Wilson and crew and NG239, F/O Bruce and crew. In the archive report for PB531 is chronicled his personal experience with the demise of his close comrades and a vivid description of his early encounter with “F/O Jackson”, who had mental decompensated from the horrors of combat flying over the night skies of Occupied Europe.

One has to seriously consider the possibility of colonial discrimination in the awarding or the lack thereof of decorations for valour and bravery. It is noteworthy that on many occasions, members of the RAF and RAFVR were recognized for their actions, while those from Commonwealth countries were bypassed or as in the case of F/O Twynam RAAF were overlooked completely in the Squadron ORB, other than being mentioned in the Casualties section. It is hard to comprehend how a crew on the verge of completing their tour of ops is not mentioned or recognized for their contribution to the war effort. In essence the loss of this experienced crew was treated similarly to that of a rookie crew lost on their first op!

The situation that F/O Mattingley and his crew encountered over the target exemplified the double-barrelled Catch-22 faced by every Bomber Command crew on every raid: the rigid track and altitude required for an accurate bomb run, followed by the thirty second period of straight and level flight after, “Bombs Gone”, in order to obtain the target photo as the photoflash exploded on impact. This would have been nerve wracking for pilot and crew, exposed by the fiery display from the target—in the area of maximal flak and night fighter activity. Not to mention the hazard of being struck by a friendly ‘cookie’ or a bundle of incendiaries with catastrophic results. It is impossible to know how many crews failed to return as a result of running this gauntlet, as in the majority of these losses there were no survivors to recount the cause. We know for certain that F/O Mattingley and F/O Paige and crew of PB815 were waiting for a target photo when disaster struck. Fortunately, both crews managed to survive, albeit with injuries to three crew members. Other Squadron aircraft that exploded over the target but without survivors included: ED321 F/O Blackwood and crew, LM317 W/O Short and crew, LM731, F/L Wilson and crew, and PB154 F/O Twynam and crew. There may have been many more that suffered significant damage over the target and while limping home were picked off by a night fighter, flak en route or suffered catastrophic structural failure with no time to abandon the aircraft— A very similar scenario confronting F/O Mattingley and crew with steadfast Dog.

The only difference was the fickle finger of fate, and David Mattingley’s devout faith may have played a role. There can be no argument that a stabilized bomb run was essential for accuracy. However, the required target photo to ensure crew compliance for their thirty mission tour contract may have been more costly than realized, with increased loss rates. It is impossible to comprehend how these young men mentally reinforced themselves to return to this crucible repeatedly, as they witnessed the carnage over the target and the number of empty seats in the Messes. Yet the majority continued to do just that, electing to not go LMF.

3. Boys at War by Russell Margerison

Right: Boys at War, Front Cover. (Courtesy of the Mattingley Collection)

This excellent publication was authored by the mid-upper gunner of Lancaster LM513, piloted by 1st Lt Max Dowden. This aircraft and crew marked the Squadron’s 32nd loss, failing to return from the May 21/22, 1944, Duisburg raid. Sgt Margerison chronicles with graphic detail this crew’s brief but exhilarating tour with the Squadron from March 11, 1944, until their repatriation at war’s end, including the chaotic, horrific forced march west, as POWs. For them the time spent traversing no-mans land was even more hair raising than flying ops. Sadly, the Squadron would lose W/O F.T. Page during this end game of the war.

One cannot read the account of the final moments of LM513 and her crew, without being moved by the courageous actions of 1st Lt Dowden and his Flight Engineer, Sgt Frank Moody, maintaining control, enabling their five crew mates to successfully bale out—in the process losing their lives. Using the actions of F/O Andrew Mynarkski as a gold standard it is impossible to argue these two brave young men were not deserving of the VC or at least the CGM.

For those unable to access Boys at War, the archive report on the loss of LM513 is a summary of the events. The author is grateful to Russell’s son, Stephen, for his permission to quote and include photos from the book.

4. No. 625 SQUADRON DIARY: OCTOBER 1943 - SEPTEMBER 1945 by Eric Thale

Left: No. 625 Squadron Diary. (Courtesy of Eric Thale via JEA and the Mattingley Collection)

As noted by Christobel Mattingley only three copies of this work ever existed. David and Christobel mailed to the author their copy to be used as a resource for the Aircrew Remembered archive reports that comprise the 625 Squadron Project, documenting the seventy-four aircraft and crews who failed to return. In essence it is an editorialized version of the Squadron’s ORB and has proved to be an invaluable research tool. It is noteworthy that new information from the Diary has been incorporated into this archive report on the loss of PB154 and her crew.

The author is open to any suggestions regarding the fate of Eric’s Diary on completion of the Project. The existence or fate of the other two copies remain unknown to him.

625 SQUADRON, We Avenge. Researched, compiled and written by Chris Ward

Above: This spiral bound gem was published in 1998. It has proven to be an invaluable research tool to provide confirmation of data from the Squadron’s ORB. It consists of six sections, unnumbered pages:

SECTION 1: A BRIEF HISTORY. 19 pages. Invaluable, succinct and concise record of Squadron operations with the serial numbers and names of Skippers who failed to return. This includes the names and duration of service of the four Squadron Commanding Officers*.


SECTION 3. AIRCRAFT LISTING. 5 pages, including the 142 Lancaster Mk I and III aircraft that served with the Squadron, including the squadron postings and those that Failed to Return (FTR) from operations or training missions, or were damaged beyond repair.





*1. Wing Commander T. Preston DFC—01.10.43 to 26.03.44.

W/C Preston DFC 33334 was posted from No. 12 Base to RAF Kelstern on October 10, 1943, tasked as 625 Squadron’s first Squadron Commanding Officer to meld its assortment of aircrews into an effective operational unit. He proved that he was more than up to the challenge. In just over a week he was able to muster a Battle Order of thirteen aircraft detailed to attack Hanover on October 18th. Four cancelled as they could not be bombed up in time for takeoff and the remaining nine succeeded in bombing the target.

By October 20th the Squadron was able to assemble fourteen Lancs for the Leipzig raid with eleven aircraft bombing the target. Sadly, JA714 manned by P/O W.P. Cameron and crew on their first op would fail to return. Sgt Desmond Aspin and crew in Lanc ED951 had a most eventful trip, managing to return to Base after four encounters with night fighters, claiming one destroyed and one damaged before bombing the target. This was their first operational op as a crew! Sgt Aspin was recommended for and awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal—the Squadron’s first of many decorations to follow over its eighteen month operational journey. P/O Aspin DFM and his crew would fail to return from the February 19, 1944 raid on Leipzig.

Within two weeks W/C Preston had melded 625 Squadron with his air and ground crews into a combat force to be reckoned with. They would never falter and continued into the fray despite aggressive night fighter and flak opposition, often in horrific weather conditions. The price would be high with the loss of seventy-four aircraft and their crews failing to return or doing so in catastrophic fashion.

During the five months of his tenure he continued to fine tune the operational capability of the Squadron, at the same time demonstrating his leadership and courage. On five occasions he placed himself on the Battle Order to introduce and lead crews on their first encounter with the grim realities of combat in the night skies over Occupied Europe. The targets were always the dreaded ones, deep in German territory—Düsseldorf, Berlin twice, Stettin and Schweinfurt. These included second ‘dickey’ trips for Sgt R.J. Cook, Sgt D.M. Blackmore and F/Sgt C.J.K. Bradshaw and their crews. One could only imagine the morale boost and confidence inspiration that these actions provided these inexperienced airmen to have the ‘Boss’ leading the way. There was hope to tour expire!

ORB Summary.



Much regret was felt by all members of the Squadron, from the “highest” to the “lowest” when it was made known that W/CDR T. PRESTON. DFC., the Squadron Commander, who came to this Squadron on its formation was due to depart that day and so relinquish a post that had been admirably filled despite many handicaps which were prevalent at the outset. Through his tenure of office he had shown great interest in all who had the good fortune to serve under his command, and his presence will be missed by all. The post of Squadron Commander was taken over by W/CDR D.D. HAIG, DFC AND BAR, and it was with the good wishes of all the Squadron that his tenure of office should be as successful as his predecessor.

2. Wing Commander D.D. Haig DSO DFC*—26.03.44 to 25.09.44.

Left: HAIG, DOUGLAS DAVID, Postwar as OC No. 207 Squadron, Vickers Valiants. (Photo courtesy of Frank Haslam)

Douglas “Douggie”, David Haig was a very distinguished airman with a stellar wartime career:

For his first tour he was posted to No. 144 Squadron RAF Hemswell, flying Handley Page Hampdens. On completion he was awarded the DFC, gazetted August 1941.

In early 1944 he was posted to No. 576 Squadron RAF Elsham Wolds as “A” Flight Commander, participating on the following operations:

15/02/44 Berlin LL748 S/L DD Haig

19/02/44 Leipzig LL748 S/L DD Haig: Attacked by night fighters. One claimed destroyed, one damaged, no damage or casualties.

24/02/44 Schweinfurt LL748 S/L DD Haig: Crew subsequently KIA, May 1944 with F/O Ernest Presland.

W/C Haig was posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern in March 1944. In September he was posted to RAF Filton.

During his six month stint at Kelstern he exemplified leadership skill and courage, leading his crews in a nine remarkable raids.

Targets included Rouen, Friedrichschafen, Merville, Les Hayons, Caen, Sannerville, Wizerns, Kiel and Le Havre. These included second ‘dickie’ trips for F/Sgt J Dudman, P/O AJ Maxwell and F/O A Jobson.

It is noteworthy that for the 9.5.44 op in LL956 to attack Merville the Battle Order for the crew included: W/C Haig as the Pilot/Captain, P/O AJ Maxwell as the 2nd pilot and F/L JC Maxwell DFC, as the 2nd Air Bomber—for a total of nine crew members! This trip was uneventful.

However, his next mission in ME733 to Les Hayons was anything but! The crew of eight included: W/C Haig as Pilot, Sgt AW Maxwell as Mid-upper Gunner and F/L JC Maxwell DFC as 2nd Air Bomber:

LES HAYONS. Target bombed at 17.37 hours from a height of 9,000 feet at position of 5002N/0106E after eventful encounter with heavy flak causing Port Inner to be feathered. Port Outer engine also throttled back and feathered, and although smoking was run at reduced speed, height being lost to 2,000 feet. S.O.S. sent out as it was thought necessary to ditch. Violent vibration ensued as P/I burnt and metal fell from cowling. Nursing was necessitated and successful landing made at Manston, port engine feathered on landing.

Coincidentally, P/O AJ Maxwell was operating on this raid with his crew in JB743. One can only surmise that W/C Haig designated himself as guardian angel of the Maxwell family, and managed to pull off a miracle!

Postwar he was promoted to Wing Commander OC No. 207 Squadron flying Vickers Valiants in April 1956. He was promoted to Group Captain on 31st December, 1957.


Acting F/L, No. 144 Squadron RAF
Awarded August 22, 1941. Details not published in London Gazette.

Acting S/L, No. 576 Squadron RAF
Awarded March 7, 1944.

This officer has completed numerous sorties on his second tour of operations and continues to show the same qualities which have earned him many successes. One night in February 1944, he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig. Early on the outward flight one of the bomber’s engines became defective but Squadron Leader Haig held his course. Some time later a fighter was encountered but it was skillfully evaded. Soon afterward the bomber was intercepted by another enemy aircraft. Once again, this Captain proved his skill by manoeuvring to a position which enabled his rear gunner to deliver a burst of machine-gun fire which struck the attacker and caused its destruction. S/L Haig then resumed his course and eventually pressed home a successful attack on his target. He set a fine example of skill, courage and resolution.
London Gazette, 7 March, 1944.

Rear Gunner, Sgt Arthur George Wright 1439962, was deservedly awarded an immediate DFM following this operation. Sadly, he was KIA on May 16, 1944, with the crew of F/O Ernest Presland DFC, in Lancaster ME726, UL-X2, during a mining sortie. Age 27, he was laid to rest in Assens (Fyn) New Cemetery, Sp. Mem., Denmark.

Left: Sgt A.G. Wright DFM.

Acting Wing Commander, No. 625 Squadron
Awarded October 24, 1944

W/C Haig has consistently displayed the highest standard of leadership, skill and gallantry. He has completed very many sorties including attacks against strongly defended targets in Germany and the occupied countries.

On a recent sortie, although his aircraft was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire, by brilliant airmanship, he flew the aircraft safely back to this country and made a skillful landing. Since assuming command of his squadron, W/C Haig has maintained a high standard of efficiency and morale. He has set a fine example. London Gazette 24 October, 1944.

Silver Star Medal (SSM)
Wing Commander
Awarded May 15, 1945
Details unavailable. The SSM is the United States armed forces third highest military decoration for valour in combat.

3. Wing Commander MacKay—25.09.44 to 18.11.44.

W/C MacKay would serve as the Squadron’s CO for seven weeks. during his tenure the Squadron would lose nine of its seventy-four aircraft and crew in its operational and training history:

14/10/44 LL956 Duisburg F/O Hannah and crew
23/10/44 PB531 Essen F/O Morshead and crew
23/10/44 PB174 Essen P/O Tweeter and crew
23/10/44 LM691 Essen S/L Hamilton and crew
4/11/44 PB154 Bochum F/O Twynam and crew
8/11/44 PB556 Training F/O Harris and crew
9/11/44 LM731 Wanne-Eickel F/L Wilson and crew
9/11/44 NG239 Wanne-Eickel F/O Bruce and crew
16/11/44 NG238 Düren F/O Copland and crew

During his seven week tenure as CO he posted his name on the Battle Order to lead his Squadron to attack two tough German targets: 30.10.44 Cologne and 2.11.44 Düsseldorf, both uneventful. For both raids his crew was identical:

Sgt G. Maynard, F/E
F/Sgt T.M. Baird RCAF R182379, A/B
F/L R.E. Gardiner DFC, Nav
Sgt J. Soule, WOP/Air
F/Sgt G.E. Way RCAF R217218, M/U/G
F/Sgt J.H. Loughran RCAF R217337, R/G

It is noteworthy that these airmen were the orphaned members of F/O Lloyd Hannah’s crew, after he and rookie bomb aimer, Sgt Lloyd Bennett, lost their lives in the crash and explosion of Lancaster LL956 noted above. Tragically, this accident occurred a mere six minutes after take off and was witnessed by many of the participating aircrews and ground personnel.

It is comforting to know that W/C Mackay, as their Skipper, would assume the role of guardian angel of this orphaned, experienced crew, ensuring that they were back on ops in two weeks. His successor, W/C Barker, would continue this role. As far as we know this crew survived the war.

ORB. November, 1944.
Kelstern. 19.11.44

ADMINISTRATION. It was with great regret that news was received to the effect that the Squadron Commander, Wing Commander I.G. MacKay was leaving the Squadron to take up the duties of Station Commander at KIRMINGTON. Although this meant that he would be promoted to Group Captain, great disappointment was felt through the entire Squadron at his loss. He has been with the Squadron for approximately two months, but in that time, he has made himself one of the most popular Squadron Commanders it has been the pleasure of the Squadron to have command it. His place has been filled by Wing Commander J.L. Barker, and it is hoped that the same co-operation will be forthcoming as in the past, and so keep the name of the Squadron well to the fore as has been the case in the past…

4. Wing Commander J L Barker 34127—18.11.44—31.4.45. Based on the text of Flying in Defiance of the Reich and ORB Summary signed by W/C. Barker. No notice of the change of command could be found in the ORB for the months of April or May, 1945.

John Lindsay Barker would fill the role of the Squadron’s last operational commander. The son of a physician, he was born on November 12, 1910, in Hull, England. He received his formal education at Trent College, Nottingham and Brasenose College, Oxford, earning his law degree and joined the University Air Squadron.

In February 1934 he enlisted with the RAF. After completing his Advanced Pilot Training, he was posted to No. 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, flying single-engine Atlas and Audax bi-planes before Lysander conversion. With war pending he was tasked with formulating the Squadron’s mobilization plans and on September 2, 1939, found himself putting them to the test, leading his flight to France to carry out photo-reconnaissance for the British Expeditionary Force. In January 1940, he was posted back to England serving as the Chief Instructor of Army Co-ordination at Old Sarum.

Barker returned to operational service in August 1941 flying Hurricanes with No. 241 Squadron, equipped as fighter-bombers in the tactical reconnaissance role. The next year he was appointed as the Commanding Officer of No. 241 and posted to Algeria. After Spitfire conversion he led his pilots on intense operations against enemy tanks and convoys with the Allied Armies advance towards Tunisia.

For most of 1944 he was a member of War Cabinet Plans team making preparations for the forthcoming Normandy invasion.

On September 16, 1944, Wing Commander Barker elected to return to operations as a bomber pilot, assuming command of No. 625 Squadron RAF Kelstern. His aircrew held him in awe when he assumed this position after an amazing one hour of dual instruction on a Lanc. Quite a feat for single-engine fighter jock!

During his time with the Squadron he placed himself on the Battle Order four times to attack tough German targets including Karlsruhe, Zeitz, Dessau and Essen. It appears that he adopted the orphaned crew of F/O Lloyd Hannah after his tragic loss due to a takeoff engine fire at the onset of the October 14, 1944, Duisburg raid. On two of these trips he had Squadron Gunnery Leader, F/L JRW Orr, manning the rear turret.

On April 29, 1945, Wing Commander Barker with the Station Commander, W/C D. Villiers as 2nd pilot, led the Squadron in the first food drop of Operation Manna to the starving Dutch citizens of The Hague—payload dropped at 13.23 hours from a height of 450 feet!

Shortly afterwards W/C Barker was awarded the DFC for “his keenness to operate and setting an inspiring example to all under his command”.

As the war in Europe was drawing to a close, he joined the staff of Tiger Force and was promoted to Group Captain, tasked to command Shield Force in operations against the Japanese. Sailing en route he was diverted to Hong Kong and on August 29, 1945, took the surrender from the Japanese forces at Kai Tak Airfield. For his services in the Far East he was appointed CBE.

On returning from the Far East in 1946 John Barker received appointments that would have him serving overseas for the next seventeen years.

He served on the Staff of Air HQ Levant, Jerusalem, at the height of the Palestinian conflict, responsible for personnel matters and preparation of withdrawal plans. Mentioned in Dispatches.

In August 1950 he assumed command RAF Ismailia in the Suez Canal Zone when Anglo-Egyptian relations were tense. Despite the loss of most of his large Egyptian civil labour force, his boundless energy and resourcefulness minimized the impact until reinforcements arrived from England.

After three challenging years in Egypt, Barker was posted to the tranquility of Rome as Air Attaché. His success was rewarded by the Italian government appointing him a Cavaliere of the Italian Order of Merit.

In 1958 he was appointed to command the embryonic Royal Ceylon Air Force. During this time he was able to quell a coup de état by two senior Army officers.

A disciplinarian, though also an understanding man, Barker acquired the moniker, “Bouncer”, because of his energy. Before retiring from the RAF, in four years he was able to steer the Royal Ceylon Air Force into the jet age as an effective element. For this service he was appointed CB.

He worked in the city of London before retiring to Dartmouth. He enjoyed sailing and golf. Never forgetting his formative years he served as No. 26 Squadron Association’s President.

John Barker died suddenly on May 7, 2004, age 93.


  1. W/O Edward ‘Ted’ Sydney Ellis CGM 1292427/ F/L E.S. Ellis CGM DFC MiD 161600

No. 625 Squadron ORB:
13.10.43 10.57 hours

The first of the Squadron’s aircraft with F/L. Attwater as Captain and Pilot landed to-day. The aircraft being “H” Lancaster III, JB122. Followed at short intervals by other aircraft from “C” Flight of 100 Squadron, Grimsby, from which Flight the nucleus of 625 Squadron was formed. Ground personnel from “C” Flight, 100 Squadron commencing to arrive in the afternoon.

Between October 13 and 23 the full complement of thirty Lancasters I and III and crews, had settled in at RAF Kelstern, prepared for an accelerated gearing up for their tours of operations. These included eighteen crews with some degree of combat experience and twelve rookie crews from a variety of locations:

100 Squadron- 12 crews
101 Squadron- 3 crews
12 Squadron- 3 crews
1667 Heavy Conversion Unit- 6 crews
1662 Heavy Conversion Unit- 3 crews
1656 Heavy Conversion Unit- 2 crews
1556 Heavy Conversion Unit- 1crew.

F/L J.C. Maxwell 134155, Bomb Leader arrived on October 10, 1943. He is mentioned in several of W/C Haig’s ops.

It is noteworthy that the contingent from No. 12 Squadron included W/O Edward ‘Ted’ Sydney Ellis 1292427 and crew, who would prove to be a stalwart combat team, making a significant contribution to the Squadron’s war effort—without an aborted mission or absent crew member, with the exception of second ‘dickey’ trips. An extraordinary achievement:

W/O E.S. Ellis, Pilot - Captain
Sgt W. Mortimer, Flight Engineer
F/Sgt G. Cattiny RCAF, Air Bomber
Sgt A.G. Boud, Navigator
Sgt G.W. Tebbs, Wireless Operator
Sgt F.M. Kennedy, Mid-upper Gunner
Sgt R.J. Coxhead, Rear Gunner

Remarkably, within a week W/O Ellis and his crew noted their names on the Battle Order and they were back into the thick of it, adding to their nine ops flown with No. 12 Squadron:


20.10.43 Lanc III JB122, W/O Ellis and crew, Target- LEIPZIG, attacked…in cloud conditions of 10/10ths, clearing. Rather a disappointing trip.
22.10.43 Lanc I W4833, W/O Ellis and crew, Target- KASSEL, …Landed at FALDINGWORTH.
10.11.43 Lanc III ???, W/O Ellis and crew, Target- MODANE. Only previously attacked by Russians. Attack primary in conditions of good bright moonlight some small fires visible. “Raid a definite success”
18.11.43 Lanc III W999, W/O Ellis with F/Sgt A.J. Lynch, 2nd pilot and his crew, Target- BERLIN. Target bombed on E.T.A. owing to conditions of 10/10 the cloud. A scattered raid with some fires and a larger red explosion seen at 21.13 hours.

2.12.43 Lanc III DV362, W/O Ellis, Sgt R. Gallop 2nd Pilot, Sgt P. Rawlings B/A, Sgt F. Rawston F/E, Sgt A.G. Boud Nav., F/Sgt D. Moylan W/Op/AG, Sgt W.G. Jones M/U/G, Sgt D.G. Wightman R/G, BERLIN. Target bombed at 2022 hours from a height of 20,000 ft. Several fires were seen. Flak damage on bombing run and after this, enemy fighter shot up Mid-Upper and Rear Turrets. Both Gunners being wounded. Aircraft landed at BARDNEY.—no flaps, no tyres, no R/T, no W/T, no fuel. Excellent crew co-operation all round in emergency. Both gunners taken to Rauceby Hospital.

2.12.43 OPERATIONS. 15 aircraft were detailed for Operations, the target being BERLIN. Of these aircraft 12 successfully attacked Target in conditions varying from 8/10 ths thin cloud to an almost clear sky. A number of enemy fighters sighted and two JU 88 planes damaged. Aircraft A/625 and D/625 abandoned tasks owing to engine trouble. A large area of fires was left behind after this raid.

The captain and pilot of aircraft B/625, W.O Ellis, was initiating a new crew on their first operational sortie. During the initial bombing run, his aircraft was hit in the rear turret by heavy flak, injuring the R/Gunner, Sgt. Wightman. D.G. and rendering the turret unserviceable. The bombing run was continued and the bombs were released in a long stick. An enemy fighter then attacked from below raking the aircraft from stem to stern, the rear gunner being further wounded and the M/U gunner, Sgt. Jones. W.G. also being wounded. The bombing run was continued, the delay between the high explosives and incendiary bombs being carefully timed, and although the fighter put in another long burst during this time, the bombing run was made exactly as briefed. It was only after the bombs had been accurately aimed at the target that W/O ELLIS took evasive action which lost the enemy fighter. After leaving the target area it was found the intercom was unserviceable, bomb doors could not be closed, turrets were unserviceable and the main plane and fuselage were damaged, all of which affected the handling of the aircraft considerably. Height was lost to 10/12,000 on the route home and just before crossing the DUTCH coast the aircraft was once again hit by flak. As fuel was short a landing was made at Bardney, using the emergency method of lowering the undercarriage, without flaps and on flat tyres. The aircraft nosed over on landing but tipped back again and no further injuries were sustained by the crew. Both gunners were taken to RAF Station Hospital RAUCEBY. For his complete disregard of enemy opposition, his skill and superb captaincy and airmanship, pursuing his task to the end in the face of intense fire, and having done so, bringing his damaged aircraft home safely W/O Ellis was recommended for and awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.

CGM Citation London Gazette No. 36299

1943-12-24 CGM(F) Actg WO Edward Sydney ELLIS (1292427) 625 Sqdn

One night in December, 1943, Warrant Officer Ellis was the pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Berlin. During the initial bombing run the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, which injured the rear gunner and rendered his turret unserviceable. Warrant Officer Ellis maintained a steady run, however, and made his first attack. Just as the first bombs had been released the aircraft was raked by bullets from a fighter and the rear gunner sustained a further injury; the mid-upper gunner was also wounded. Although the enemy delivered another long burst of fire, Warrant Officer Ellis continued his run and attacked the target exactly as planned. On leaving the target area it was discovered that much damage had been sustained. The inter-communication and hydraulic systems and the turrets were all unserviceable. The mainplane and fuselage had been damaged, while the bomb doors could not be closed. In spite of this, Warrant Officer Ellis flew on and eventually reached an airfield in this country, landing his aircraft safely without the aid of flaps and in spite of punctured tyres. In harassing circumstances, this pilot displayed skill, courage and devotion to duty beyond praise.

Navigator’s Log Book Entry:
2.12.43 Lancaster III Berlin - Ted and I took a sprog crew for first op. Attacked by fighters over target on bombing run. Both gunners badly injured. Navigational aids shot away. Crashed on landing. Great welcome back at squadron. Felt a hero.
(Distinguished Flying Medal awarded for this mission - at Palace)
Sgt AG Boud (Courtesy of Arthur Boud’s nephew, Steve Bell)

Lancaster III DV342, CF-B, was repaired and fittingly put out to pasture with No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School, S.O.C., 23-9-46.

Above: Testimony to the indestructible Lanc!

The rear section of Lancaster B Mk I DV305 ‘BQ-O’, No. 550 Sqn. RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire, seen at Woodbridge Emergency Landing Ground, Suffolk, after the severely-damaged aircraft was crash-landed there following an attack by a night fighter over Berlin on the night of 30/31 January 1944, killing both rear and mid-upper gunners. The bomb aimer baled out having misunderstood orders. The pilot, F/O G.A. Morrison, managed to bring the crippled bomber back without any navigation aids—DV305 was damaged beyond repair. Mid-upper gunner, Sgt J. McKenzie, and rear gunner, Sgt J.M. Cantor, both KIA, Bomb aimer, F/O Warren POW.

16.12.43 Lanc III W4933 W/O Ellis and crew, Berlin, uneventful trip.


5.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Stettin, uneventful trip.
14.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Brunswick, uneventful trip.
20.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Berlin, uneventful trip.
21.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Magdeburg… Bombed on ETA as no markers or flares visible…spoof attacks on Berlin clearly seen.
27.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Berlin. Target bombed on ETA…Heavy flak and red and green flares went down behind.
28.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Berlin…red and green flares went down and T.I’s immediately after we bombed…
30.1.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Berlin…Ring of fighter flares round the target area.
15.2.44 Lanc III LM427, P/O Ellis CGM and crew, Berlin…Nearly had a collision in the bomber stream.
19.2.44 Lanc III LM427, F/L Ellis CGM and crew, Leipzig…Starboard outer engine had to be stopped owing to coolant leak five minutes before the target was reached otherwise an uneventful trip.
24.2.44 Lanc III LM427, F/L Ellis CGM and crew, F/O N.A.W. Clarke 2nd Pilot, Schweinfurt, uneventful trip.
25.2.44 Lanc I ME594, F/L Ellis CGM and crew, Augsburg, uneventful trip.
1.3.44 Lanc III ND958, F/L Ellis CGM and crew, Stuttgart…Aircraft landed at RAF Grimsby on return.
24.3.44 Lanc III LM426, F/L Ellis CGM, P/O W.M. Knowles 2nd Pilot, Nav. P/O A.G. Boud, R/G P/O R.J. Coxhead, Berlin, uneventful trip.
6.4.44 A/F/L E.S. Ellis CGM 161600 and crew posted to No. 1667 HCU.

Above: W/O Ellis CGM, now commissioned. (Courtesy of In Action with the Enemy by Alan Cooper)

Above: F/L ELLIS AND CREW, with IDs by John Naylor. (Courtesy of the Eileen Edge/Ken Ball Collection)

Here is my best prediction on the crew photo!

Left to right: F/S Cattiny, Sgt Coxhead, Sgt Mortimer, Sgt Kennedy, Sgt Tebbs, W/O Ellis,Sgt Boud.

Now my reasoning!

F/S Cattiny - B/A by elimination
Sgt Coxhead - R/G. Smallest of the two gunners,( the only ones wearing full Sidcot Suits.)
Sgt Mortimer - F/E wearing shoes as he would be in the heated part of the cockpit. He is carrying a Mascot in his left hand that they may have hung in the cockpit?
Sgt Kennedy - The Mid Upper gunner in full Sidcot Suit.
Sgt Tebbs - Wop/AG - His helmet seems to be attached to his left shoulder as if he would always have it ready? Also wearing shoes in the heated part of his station.
W/O Ellis - without doubt, looking at his larger picture.
Sgt Boud - Nav - carrying his sextant case and maps folder.

Hope this helps in the absence of any other information. JN

It is noteworthy that this crew was tour expired after twenty-eight ops without explanation in the ORB. We are grateful to John Proctor for sharing his research and possible rationale for this:

I've re-capped on Ted Ellis at 12 Squadron - he was posted in with crew to Wickenby on 5th September from 1656CU. He flew his first op as 2nd Dickie to F/Lt Rowland and most of his own crew - Hanover 22nd/23rd September, followed by Mannheim on 23rd/24th, Hanover 27th/28th, Bochum 29th/30th, Hagen 1st/2nd October, Munich 2nd/3rd, Frankfurt 4th/5th, Stuttgart 7th/8th, Hanover 8th/9th - nine operations before posting to Kelstern.

I had tentatively started research on Ted Ellis as he was born and lived not far from here in Luton, Bedfordshire so has a local history interest for me. I believe that he did some of his pilot training in the USA, however there is the Edward Sidney Ellis signature on a pilots' graduation photo featuring another one of my targets Roy Fennell of 166 Squadron, which I need to unravel. I have a photo from the relevant US cadet year-book which certainly seems to be the same man - I'll look it out and send it.

Above: No. 2 SFTS Brandon, Manitoba. E.S. Ellis, back row, fourth on the left?

Above: E.S. Ellis's signature on photo back.

Funny how you build an impression of some subjects and I've found myself not entirely taking to Ted Ellis - I found some of his comments in the 12 Squadron post op summaries a bit bumptious for a 'rookie' pilot and have wondered a little about his handling of things with the Gallop incident... however that may just be me...

Ted Ellis was certainly a 625 Squadron icon and I saved somewhere a quote from a pilot who wanted a posting to 625 Squadron because of Ted Ellis's reputation. As to why he did not complete the full 30 ops I can only guess that there may have been a morale issue. I haven't yet examined the timing of his completion but wonder whether there was a wish to preserve him rather than risk losing a squadron hero right at the end of his tour? - just a thought… JP


1944-06-06 DFC Flt Lt Edward Sydney ELLIS 161600 625 Sqn Notification Only
London Gazette No. 36550 Dated 1944-06-06

1946-01-01 MiD Flt Lt Edward Sydney ELLIS 161600 Notification Only London
Gazette No. 370407 Dated 1946-01-01

2. F/O Douglas Charles Cameron DFM MiD, 146616, Rear Gunner

Left: F/O Douglas Cameron, the early years with Bomber Command. (Courtesy of Made in Perth Website)

F/O Doug Cameron was not a member of 625 Squadron but deserves special mention as one of the most under decorated airmen who served with Bomber Command.

He was born in Kenmore, Scotland, in 1909. Prewar he was employed as a Perthshire gamekeeper, living with his wife and father at the Kennels, Feddal Estates, Braco.

In 1939 he enlisted, volunteering for flying duties and underwent training as an air gunner.

F/O Cameron completed four operational tours of duty, including 122 bombing missions over enemy territory as a Rear Gunner. In the process he flew with three Victoria Cross recipients and baled out of two aircraft. Two of these VCs were awarded posthumously after they were shot down.

His first tour of ops was with No. 58 Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse flying Armstrong Whitley bombers. The second was with RAF Coastal Command at RAF St. Eval Cornwall.

During his third tour with No. 149 Squadron RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk he was credited with destroying a FW 190 aircraft.

On the evening of November 28/29, 1942, he was the rear gunner of F/Sgt Rawdon Hume Middleton’s crew detailed to attack Torino, Italy, in Short Sterling I BF372. Both pilots were wounded by anti-aircraft fire on the bomb run. On the return leg F/Sgt Middleton, due to fuel shortage, gave the order to bale our over the English Channel.

Five of the crew were successful in abandoning the aircraft. F/Sgt Middleton and two crew members who stayed behind to help him, perished in the ditching.

F/Sgt Middleton was awarded the VC posthumously for his actions during this mission and the DFM was awarded to 2nd Pilot, F/Sgt Leslie Hyder and Air Gunners, Sgt Doug Cameron and Sgt Harold Gough.

While serving as a gunnery instructor at No. 20 OTU RAF Lossiemouth, F/O Cameron was handpicked by S/L Ian Willoughby ‘Baz’ Bazalgette to serve as his rear gunner to start his fourth tour of ops.

On August 4, 1944, S/L Bazalgette, at the last minute, volunteered to delay his scheduled leave to participate in a daylight raid to attack the V-1 storage caves at Trossy St. Maximin. On the bomb run, first the Deputy Master Bomber was shot down and then the Master Bomber was severely disabled by the intense flak. S/L Bazalgette was next in line to mark the target. On the bomb run his aircraft sustained multiple flak hits that severely wounded the bomb aimer and started extensive fires in the starboard wing. Despite this S/L Bazalgette managed to accurately mark the target.

Shortly after leaving the target, with three engines shut down, he ordered a low level bale out. Four of the crew including F/O Cameron landed safely. S/L Bazalgette managed to carry out a successful forced landing but the aircraft caught fire and exploded before he or the wounded Bomb Aimer and Mid-Upper Gunner could escape.

S/L Bazalgette was awarded the VC posthumously for his actions.

Three of the crew elected to evade capture with the aid of the French Underground until liberated. On the other hand, F/O Cameron decided to join the French Resistance and fight the retreating Germans as a civilian until overrun by the Allies. During this time he carried a cyanide tablet to use in the event of capture.

Taking into account the recommended criteria for decorations proposed by the 625 Squadron Project for airmen serving in Bomber Command (Noted in the Aircrew Remembered archive report on the loss of Lancaster ME684, Addendum: Criteria for Decorations) F/O Cameron would have qualified for a Bar to his DFM, DFC and Bar and the VC considering that he completed four tours of ops. He deserved no less.

Postwar, he joined the Royal Observer Corps, before returning home to resume his life as a gamekeeper, living with his wife and widowed sister in the house where he was born.

Douglas Cameron DFM MiD died on February 16, 1994, age 84.

3. W/C Ralph Viril Manning DFC CD

Ralph Manning was neither a member of No. 625 Squadron nor served with Bomber Command. He was a relatively unknown and unrecognized RCAF pilot serving with Coastal Command with No. 42 Squadron in the UK and Mediterranean theatres.

He made his mark in the latter. Following a sortie that he was the only pilot to return to base with his torpedo, he was forced to weather the disdain of his ground crew and squadron mates. On the very next op he displayed combat moxie and wisdom that resulted in his, the last remaining ‘torp’, to be the one that resulted in the sinking the tanker, Proserpina. This action resulted in Rommel’s counter-offensive failing within days of its launching—due to fuel starvation of his panzer divisions and air support.

P/O Manning was overlooked for decoration while several RAF squadron mates were awarded immediate DFCs for their actions during this attack.

In retrospect his actions were also deserving of an immediate DFC or even a DSO.


Of all the Bomber Command Squadron crests and mottos, those of 625 Squadron were arguably the most succinct and appropriate for the task at hand.

The crest depicts an interlocking seven link gold chain, encircling a Lancaster rose, above the motto: WE AVENGE.

The gold chain is symbolic of the seven airmen of each crew, bound together by a common bond of camaraderie and teamwork, critical for successful completion of their tour of operations. This was a product of the ‘crewing up’ process allowing crew members to chose who they would fly into combat with. Almost without exception, airmen were a superstitious lot and feared in particular a ‘spare bod’ replacing a regular crew mate for medical reasons or their rookie Skipper and selected crew members joining an experienced crew, or their seasoned Skipper with his nav and rear gunner taking a rookie crew on their ‘second dickey’ op. Under these circumstances the protective chain was stretched to the breaking point.

The Lancaster rose denoted the Avro Lancasters Mk I and III the crews of 625 Squadron flew into battle during its entire operational history. The Lanc was noted for its speed, high operational ceiling, incredible bomb capacity and nearly indestructible design—returning crews to home Base with unbelievable battle damage. On occasion it appeared that this aircraft had innate survival skills, to the point of force landing itself with an incapacitated Skipper unable to perform his duties.

If the Lanc had one design fault, it was the bottleneck created by the nose escape hatch, that served as the main escape route for the five crew members fore of the main spar, to bale out in the event of an emergency.

During its eighteen month operational career, 625 Squadron would have on strength a total of one hundred and forty-two Lancs MK I and III. Seventy-four would fail to return or do so with battle damage that would deem the majority unfit to fly again. The remainder would be transferred to other squadrons, Heavy Conversion Units or Lancaster Finishing Schools. Without exception they served above and beyond the call of duty— they were Bomber Harris’s Golden Sword.

WE AVENGE represented Bomber Command’s credo of retribution for the Blitz of London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Coventry, Southhampton, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Bristol, Newcastle on Tyne in England, in addition Swansea in Wales, Belfast in Northern Ireland and Clydeside in Scotland. Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris was relentless in fulfilling his infamous quote: They have sown the wind, and so they shall reap the whirlwind. As the leader of Bomber Command from February 1942 until VE Day, he strove to see this prophecy fulfilled. There can be no doubt that his leadership and determination would shorten the course of the war and save the lives of many allied combatants. Despite detractors criticizing the policy of area bombing cities and their civilian population, it is important to remember the young airmen flying on operations were volunteers, who had given their oath on joining up, to serve as directed for the duration of the war. Other than completing their tour of thirty ops, serious injury or death, their only option was to abandon their crew mates, refuse to fly and be deemed Lack of Moral Fibre (LMF). Taking into account the horrendous odds of surviving a tour of operations, it is remarkable that so few chose this option. This was the kingpin of the ‘crewing up’ concept. The allegiance and camaraderie of the RAF bomber crews melded them into inseparable combat teams. They had a common purpose and were prepared to sacrifice their lives for their crew mates—night after night.

Perhaps one of the greatest oversights of the war was Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s failure to pay tribute to only one of the armed forces in his victory speech on VE Day—the courageous young airmen of Bomber Command, Sir Arthur Harris’s 'Old Lags’ and those who failed to return.

For this omission he would pay the ultimate political price. JEA


625 Squadron ORB
Flying in Defiance of the Reich by S/L Peter Russell, with thanks to Harriet Fielding,Production Editor, Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
Credit of the front and back jacket design to Jon Wilkinson
Battle Order 204 by Christobel Mattingley, with thanks to the publisher, Allen & Unwin.
Boys at War by Russell Margerison
No. 625 Squadron Diary by Eric Thale
625 SQUADRON, We Avenge. Researched, compiled and written by Chris Ward
They Were There:
Bomber Crew by James Taylor & Martin Davidson, pages 282-3

John Naylor
Maureen Hicks
Roy Wilcock
Jack Albrecht

Submission by Chris and Amanda Russell, and Patrick Barker in memory of their parents and in respect for those who ‘failed to return’, and families left to grieve. Special mention, in memory to Christobel and David Mattingley for their remarkable contribution of Battle Order 204.

JA 25-05-2023

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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