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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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12 Squadron Crest
16/17.06.1943 No. 12 Squadron Lancaster III ED629 PH-K Sgt. Arthur C. Aylard

Operation: Koln

Date: 16/17th June 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED629

Code: PH-K

Base: RAF Wickenby

Location: Neerpelt, Limburg, Belgium

Pilot: Sgt. Arthur Charles Aylard 657684 RAF Age 29. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joseph Scott 1094144 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Thomas Alexander 1340990 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Maurice Roy Williams 1388418 RAFVR. Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Joseph Patrick Lackey 1272458 RAFVR Age 31. Kiled

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Wilfred Noel Westlake 1206109 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Rex Swain 1389005 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Taking off at 22.57 hrs on an operation to Cologne - 202 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxes taking part. 

The bombing was scattered in the area of the target which was covered in cloud. Of this total only 100 aircraft made it to Cologne, the remainder turning back because of the bad weather.


Above, Left: the pilot Sgt. Arthur Charles Aylard, Right: Wireless Operator, Sgt. Henry Joseph Patrick Lackey (see credits)

401 Houses were destroyed with a further 13,000 suffering damage. The Kalk Chimical works was hit and burnt out. Casualties on the ground - 147 killed, 213 injured.

The allies lost 14 Lancasters - with 92 aircrew killed, 16 PoW.


The memorial at Neerpelt (see credits)

Lancaster ED629 was shot down by Hptm. Werner Baake (1) of 1./NJG1 at 0.59 hrs over Neerpelt on the outward bound leg of the operation. Strange in that it’s loss had also been credited to Major Gunther Radusch by the Luftwaffe.


(1) Hptm. Werner Baake (shown above) survived the war with a total of 41 abschüsse and became a flight captain with Lufthansa. He was killed in an car accident at Heilsbronn on Wednesday 15th July 1964. 

Dave Purvis also sent us a copy of the last letter Sgt. Aylard sent home. Reproduced as far as possible as original (date inserted):


Note:  Sgt Arthur Aylard and crew had been posted to R.A.F. Wickenby on 9th June 1943 from from 1656 H.C.U. 19 aircraft took part in the Oberhausen raid of 14th June, with two failing to return. On the 15th June (the day Arthur wrote the above letter) the Squadron was stood down from operations, but three Bullseye training sorties were arranged for the night, but these were also cancelled.



Left, the grave of the pilot Sgt. Aylard, with above the view graves. Any relative or other interested party who would like a copy of these photographs please dont hesitate to contact us. (see credits)

Burial details:

Understood to have been buried at St-Truiden, reinterred after the war to the Commonwealth Graves Commission site at Heverlee.

Sgt. Arthur Charles Aylard Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.13. Son of Frederick Thomas Aylard and Florence Lilian Aylard, husband of Winifred Constance Aylard, of Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England. Also remembered on the Village War Memorial at Shoreham-by-Sea. He had been in the British Army at Dunkirk, shortly afterwards he transferred to the RAF.

Sgt. Joseph Scott Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.16. Son of Alfred and Jemima Scott, of Deckham, Gateshead, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Thomas Alexander Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.17. Son of Hamilton Blair Alexander and Sarah Alexander, of Edinburgh, husband of Jessie Wright Alexander, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Maurice Roy Williams Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.14. Son of Robert Owen Williams and of Lily Williams (nee Such), of Surbiton, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Henry Joseph Patrick Lackey Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.19. Son of Pte. Henry Thomas Lackey, Duke of Wellington's Regt. (killed in action in Belgium, 21st September, 1917), and Hannah Sarah Lackey, husband of Lilian M. S. Lackey, of West End, Woking, Surrey, England.

Sgt. John Wilfred Noel Westlake Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.15. Son of Samuel and Annie Westlake, of Pennycomequick, Plymouth, husband of Eileen Mary(Joan) Westlake, of Marsh Mills, Plympton, Devon, England.

Sgt. Rex Swain Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.E.18. Son of Florence Swain, of Langford, Bedfordshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Dave Purvis, relative of the pilot Sgt. Aylard, Grahame Larter, relative of W/OP. Sgt. Lackey, Victoria Fifield for photographs at Heverlee War Cemetery which she visited on our behalf in November 2013, Henri Van Ham for memorial photograph, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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