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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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RAF Coastal Command Crest
17.09.1939 No. 22 Squadron Beaufort I L4508 OA-K P/O. Thomas Atherton

Operation: Cherbourg Harbour, France

Date: 17th September 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 22 Squadron (Coastal Command)

Type: Bristol Beaufort MkI

Serial: L4508

Code: OA-K

Base: RAF Thorney Island, Sussex, England

Location: Digosville, France

Pilot: P/O. Thomas Atherton 43763 RAF Age 28. Killed

Nav: P/O. Ruthven Arnold MacFarlane 33546 RAF Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Leslie Feather 641705 RAF Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril James Harvey 751693 RAFVR Age 24. Killed


After take off at 13:30 hrs from RAF Thorney Island in Sussex L4508 together with 5 others from the Squadron and 12 Blenheims from 53 and 59 Squadrons proceeded to take part in a night torpedo attack against shipping in the outer Harbour of Cherbourg.

Understood to have crashed into a house at Digosville in France - killing all the crew, a further 7 civilians killed on the ground.

Digosville Memorial to the crew (see credits)

Burial details:

P/O. Thomas Atherton. Bayeux War Cemetery, Basse-Normandie, France. Grave XXIX.J.4. Son of Thomas Atherton and of Nellie Atherton (née Standish), husband of May Edie Atherton, of Rosyth, Fife, Scotland.

P/O. Ruthven Arnold MacFarlane. Bayeux War Cemetery, Basse-Normandie, France Grave XXIX.J.1. Son of W/Cdr. Ruthven Montgomerie Chase Macfarlane, 05073 MC., RAF (died on active service through illness - 10th March, 1943), and of Muriel Macfarlane (née Atkinson), of South Kensington, London. Scholar of Haileybury College and of RAF College, Cranwell. Grave memorial inscribed: “Sursum Corda.” (Lift up your hearts)

Sgt. John Leslie Feather. Bayeux War Cemetery, Basse-Normandie, France. Grave XXIX.J.3. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Feather, of Liverpool, England. Grave memorial inscribed: “In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son Les. Sadly Missed Mum And Dad. Duty Well Done.”

Sgt. Cyril James Harvey. Bayeux War Cemetery, Basse-Normandie, France. Grave XXIX.J.2. Son of Thomas John and Alice Emily Harvey, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.

Researcher: Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - August 2016. With thanks to Régis Beaux for memorial at Digosville, Woose for grave photographs - others from the Michel Beckers collection.

MB 07.08.2016

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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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