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Flight Lieutenant Jack Barnes - Lancaster Bomber Pilot/Instructor

This is the story of a wartime instructor who trained pilots to fly the Lancaster Bomber, prepared for his daughter Sue from his Flight Log Books, photos from the Web and Sue’s photographs.

Unfortunately Sue is now the sole survivor of her family and apart from a few photographs and two flying log books, together with her father’s flying helmet and the knowledge that he flew Lancaster Bombers during the last war, would now like to know more about her father’s wartime activities

This is an extract from the first page of his flight log book indicating that he commenced training at RAF Staverton with the No 2 EFTS (Elementary Flight Training School on the 10th December 1940. Unfortunately Google Search has not helped with information on the No 2 EFTS and in fact has left me confused.

“No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School (No. 2 EFTS) was a Royal Australian Air Force pilot training unit that operated during World War II. It was one of twelve elementary flying training schools employed by the RAAF to provide introductory flight instruction to new pilots as part of Australia's contribution to the Empire Air Training.”

RAF Staverton:

“RAF Staverton was an airfield in Glostershire during World War Two. There were a number of units and flights based at the airfield including No. 44 Group Communication Flt which operated between 15th August 1941 and 9th August 1946, also before the war. No. 6 Air Observer & Navigation School was also based at Staverton from 1st November 1939 until 17th January 1942.” There was no other helpful information regarding the No 2 EFTS (Elementary Flight Training School.)

Returning to Jack’s Log Book he did his initial flight and advanced training on the de Havilland Tiger Moth, from the 10th December 1940 until February 11th 1941, 32 hours 20 minutes dual, 25 hours 50 minutes solo and 6 hours instrument flying. During this time his instructor was Pilot Officer Perkins. He was assessed as average upon gaining his wings as a Sergeant Pilot on February 11th 1941.

Sergeant Pilot Jack Barnes was transferred to No. 5 FTS at Ternhill to continue advanced training on the Miles Master.

RAF Ternhill:

The first based operational squadron was No. 78 Squadron RAF which flew from Ternhill as an detachment flying the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IV from June 1939 until August 1939. Ternhill then turned into a fighter airfield with Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes with the first fighter squadron arriving on the 10th October 1939. The squadron was No. 611 Squadron RAF with the Spitfire I and stayed until 13th December 1940. The next squadron was No. 46 Squadron RAF with the Hurricane I as a detachment from the main squadron, which was based at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire. The detachment arrived on the 13th June 1940 and stayed until the 1st September 1940 The next squadron in residence was No. 306 Squadron RAF with their Hurricane I's from the 7th November 1940 staying until the 3rd April 1941.

On the 30th May 1941 a new squadron arrived in the shape of No. 403 Squadron RAF with three versions of the Spitfire, the marks I, IIA and VB. The squadron moved to RAF Hornchurch on the 4th August 1941.During late March 1941 No. 605 Squadron RAF moved in with their Hurricane IIA's but only stayed for two months, leaving on 30th May 1941.

The last fighter squadron to be posted to Ternhill was No. 131 Squadron RAF which arrived on the 6th August 1941 with their Spitfire Ia and IIa’s before leaving on the 27th September 1941. The airfield then began to host training units such as the No. 5 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit which arrived on the 1st April 1942 and left on the12th April 1946.

Jack Barnes started advanced training on the Miles Master on the 21st February 1941 and completed the course on the 16th May 1941 according to his signed logbook, which doesn’t agree with any of the dates obtained from the Web.

Jack did 69 hours on the Master and on May 5th flew the Hawker Hurricane for 3 hours. On the 17th May 1941 he was assessed as average with all tests completed satisfactorily. On the 17th June 1941 Sargent Pilot Jack Barnes was transferred to CFS Upavon.

Central Flying School Upavon:

During August 1935, the Central Flying School was to return to Upavon. The CFS stayed there until April 1942. During this crucial period, the CFS.s primary role was to train and supply flight instructors to the now increasing number of military flying schools. Additionally, with the arrival of aeroplanes with more than one engine, a newly required twin-engine syllabus was added.

Once again Jack commenced training, this time as an instructor, on the Miles Master beginning on the 17th June 1941, to complete the course on his last flight on the 28th July 1941. Apart from the Miles Master he flew the Avro Tutor for 11 hours and 20 minutes. It is interesting that Jack had a signed a note in his log book that read: “I hereby certify that I understand the petrol system, brakes and hydraulic system of the Master and Tutor aircraft.”

84th Flying Instructors Course (25th War Course) Central Flying School Upavon, June/July1941

Top row: Sgt. Mureek, Sgt. Tiltson, Sgt. Jack Barnes, Sgt. A.C Mew, Sgt. Derdeck, Sgt G.E. Winskell. Middle row: P/O. R.W. Bartlett, P/O. M.W. Grierson, P/O. Jackson, P/O. I.N. Stein, P/O C.B. Archer, P/O. R.S. Hobbs, P/O. H.A. Tyrrel, P/O. B.A H. Newton. Front row: P/O. W.McD. Souter, P/O. R.G. Allen, Fl/Lt. C.W. Ball, Sq/Ldr. S.C.P. Browne, W/Cdr. A.J. Holmes, Sq/Ldr. W.J. Scott, Fl/Lt. U. Rodgers, P/O. G.D. Bates, P/O. W. Bennett.

Both the Tiger Moth and Tutor were light aircraft used for initial flight training, while the Miles Master was a more modern aircraft having the characteristics of the Hurricane and Spitfire, including a more powerful engine and a retractable undercarriage.

The Miles M9 Master was a British 2-seat monoplane advanced trainer built by Miles Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War. It went through a number of variants according to engine availability and was even modified as an emergency fighter during the Battle of Britain. It was a fast, strong and a fully aerobatic aircraft and served as an excellent introduction to the high performance British fighter aircraft of the day: the Spitfire and Hurricane..

Sergeant Pilot Jack Barnes commenced training at Upavon on the 17th June 1941 flying both the Miles Master and Avro Tutor aircraft, continuing until 23rd July 1941, where he was assessed as average but with a note: “He is keen and cheerful and will make a satisfactory instructor”

During this early period of the war we were short of operational pilots and the object was to train pilots, as quickly as possible to allocate them to an operational squadron. We also needed instructors and from Jack’s log book it is not clear when it was decided that he would make a good instructor On July 30th Jack began flying from SFTS Netheravon

RAF Netheravon is in the parish of Figheldean on the other side of the Avon and to the north of Amesbury in Wiltshire:

During the First World War Netheravon was a location used to establish new Squadrons prior to their transfer to mainland Europe and after the formation of the RAF became home to a bomber squadron

The school continued to operate from Netheravon until disbandment in 1931. Rotary wing trials were undertaken at Netheravon in 1933

Flying training recommenced at RAF Netheravon in 1938, as the No. 1 Service Flying Training School and continued for four years, when the site was transferred to Army Cooperation Command and supported glider operations and glider troop training.

On July 30th Jack began flying the Miles Master aircraft and continued until completing the course on the 26th January 1942. During this time Jack had logged 183 flights including seven flying the Fairy Battle light bomber. Jack’s total flying time was now listed as 495 hours 40 minutes and he was sent to No. 17

AFU at Watton. Jack had his first flight there on the 8th February 1942 and once again it was in a Master.

Royal Air Force Station Watton:

A former Royal Air Force station located 9 miles southwest of East Denham, Norfolk, England. Opened in 1937 it was used by both the RAF and the USAAF during the Second World War, primarily as a bomber airfield, being the home of RAF Bomber Command squadrons until being used by the United Eighth Air Force as a major overhaul depot for Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers and as a weather reconnaissance base.

The 17 Advanced Flying Unit operated from RAF Watton until July 1943

From February 8th until February 16th Jack logged a further 24 flights in the Master adding 16 hours flying time. Jack was now ready for posting and was sent to Canada as a pilot/navigator instructor.

Jack’s first logged flight in Canada was on March 16th 1942 and was on a North American Harvard advanced trainer, equivalent to the British Miles Master.

Jack was posted to No. 3 SFTS at Kingston Canada -

RCAF Station Kingston:

A World air training station built in 1940 at Collins Bay near Kingston, Canada. The station was originally built by the Royal Canadian Air Force for use by the Royal Air Force Like other RAF schools in Canada; it was subject to RCAF administrative and operational control.

No. 31 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) was the first British Service Flying Training school to be established in Canada and the first flying training school at Kingston. The school was originally No. 7 Service Flying School based in Peterborough, England. Its main intent was to train pilots of the Fleet Air Arm but in the beginning the school's first students were British trainees selected for service with the RCAF and RAF, however naval trainees made up the majority of the trainees by the end of December 1940. Pilots were trained on Fairey Battles, which were shipped from England and later Harvards. In 1942 the school formally became part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and in 1944 No. 31 SFTS was merged with the RCAF's No. 14 SFTS when this school was transferred to Kingston from RCAF Station Aylmer.

Aircraft used by No. 14 SFTS included Harvards, Yales and Ansons. No. 14 SFTS closed down in September 1945.

Jack’s first logged flight in Canada was as a qualified Sergeant Pilot on a North American Harvard and dated March 16th 1942. His log book lists a further remarkable 1862 flights, mainly on three different versions of the Harvard, but including flights on the Avro Anson, Westland Lysander and de Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth.

When Jack started flying from Canada in March 16th 1942 his log book recorded 511 hours 45 minutes, his last flight in Canada on May3rd 1944 listed a total of 2031 hours 45 minutes, an additional 1520 hours. He must have trained a lot of pilots in that time!

The Avro Anson was Jack’s first twin engined aircraft which he flew on the 10th November 1943.

Jack Dempsey, an American, was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1919 to 1926. Dempsey's aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history.

During June 1944 Jack Barnes was transferred back to the UK to continue flying with the RAF as an instructor. His first flight back in the UK was on July 25th 1944 with No 21 (P) AFU at RAF Tatenhill, 4 miles W of Burton-on-Trent.

The flights at RAF Tatenhill added a further 87 hours to his logged flying time on twin engines aircraft, the Airspeed Oxford and Avro Anson

RAF Tatenhill:

Airfield was completed in 1941 during the Second World War, using the standard RAF specification of three co-intersecting runways. From 1941 until 1942 the airfield was a satellite for RAF Lichfield (now disused) where No. 27 Operational Training Unit, Bomber Command used Vickers

Wellington aircraft:

From 1942 until 1943 No. 15 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Training Unit, Flying Training Command used the Airspeed Oxford. From 1943 until 1944 No. 5 (P) AFU used the Miles Master. From 1944 until 1945 No. 21 (P) AFU used the Airspeed Oxford; this was to be the last RAF flying unit

During 1944 No. 21 Maintenance Unit arrived after the disastrous explosion at their nearby station of RAF Fauld. The airfield finally housed the RAF School of Explosives from 1945 until 1947. The RAF had completely moved out by 1950 and the airfield became disused.

During Jack’s stay at RAF Tatenhill he completed 15 simulated flights on the Link Trainer and was assessed as above average.

Jack Barnes had his last flight at RAF Tatenhill on the 15th September 1944 and was transferred to 14 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Market Harborough.

With the introduction of new heavy bombers, the four-engined Short Stirling, Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax, the Royal Air Force introduced heavy conversion units. The heavy conversion units began forming in late 1941 to qualify crews trained on medium bombers to operate the heavy bombers, prior to an assignment to an operational training unit in order to gain experience before final posting to an operational squadron.

After the end of the Second World War, their role was taken over by the operational conversion units although the units had nominal bases, it was usual for different flights and individual aircraft to be detached nearer the operational bases. Some of the heavy conversion units were involved in bombing operations over Germany.

Royal Air Force Operational Conversion Units (OCU) are training units that prepare aircrew for operations on a particular type or type of aircraft or roles. Some OCUs have a shadow, or reserve, squadron designation which is used if the unit has a war role. In the autumn of 1942, No. 14 OTU converted to Wellingtons and remained at Cottesmore until August 1943 when it was moved to Market Harborough, where it disbanded on 24 June 1945.

Jack began flying from Market Harborough on the 22nd October 1944 flying Wellington Bombers and continued until December 31st, adding a further 61 flights on the twin engined Vickers Wellington and 88 hours to his logged flying time, with many night flights.

Before leaving Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, Jack had a further 14 flights on the Link Trainer totalling 13 hours for the course. His assessment for the 14 OTU course was Proficient, signed by his commanding officer on the 1st January 1945. It is interesting for me to note that Jack completed most of his assignments with the comment Proficient, meaning “an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession or branch of learning.”

On February 26th 1945 Jack began flying Avro Lancaster bombers with the 1660 HCU at RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire. The airfield became operational in August 1940 and closed to become a housing site in 1993.

Jack had his first flight with the 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit flying the Lancaster on the 26th February 1945 and the last one on April 5th 1945, with a total of 21 flights on the Lancaster adding a further 136 hours to his flying total. His course was assessed as Proficient.

In April 1945 F/Lt Jack Barnes joined 630 Squadron at RAF East Kirby.

The squadron was formed at RAF East Kirkby, near Spilsby in Lincolnshire, on the 15th November 1943 from 'B' Flight of No. 57 Squadron RAF, equipped with Lancaster Mk.I bombers as part of No. 5 Group RAF in Bomber Command. It re-equipped with Lancaster Mk.III bombers the same month, carrying out strategic bombing roles. Between 18/19 November 1943 and 25 April 1945, the squadron took part in many major raids, including each of the 16 big raids made by Bomber Command on Berlin during what became known as the "Battle of Berlin".

Jack’s first flight on Lancaster bombers with 630 Squadron was on April 16th 1945 and the last was on May 5th 1945, a total of 9 operational flights on Lancasters with a crew of 6, Bombing raids were carried out on Pilsen and Flensburgh in Germany. Jack was then transferred to 106 Squadron at RAF Metheringham in Lincolnshire, to commence flying with them on the 4th June 1945

During the Second World War No 106 Squadron operated on 496 nights and 46 days, flying 5,834 operational sorties. In so doing it lost 187 aircraft – a percentage loss on sorties flown of 3.21 – but on the credit side its gunners claimed 20 enemy aircraft destroyed, 3 probably destroyed and 29 damaged. A total of 267 decorations were won by the squadron, including a Victoria Cross awarded to Sergeant NC Jackson for conspicuous bravery during an attack on Schweinfurt on 26/27th April 1944.

World War 2 commenced when the UK declared war on Germany on the 3rd September 1939 and continued until Germany surrendered on the 2nd May 1945. VE day (Victory in Europe) was on the 8th May 1945 and the war ended when the Japanese finally surrendered on the 2nd September 1945.

After VE-Day, 467 Sqn RAAF arrived at RAF Metheringham to train with 106 Sqn for operations in the Far East but the end of the war overtook this plan and the squadron was used to fly POW's and troops home, principally from Italian bases until it finally disbanded at Metheringham on the 18th Feb 1946.

Jack commenced flying with 106 Squadron on the 4th June 1945 flying Lancasters and continued to fly Lancasters with the Squadron until March 7th 1946, adding a further 57 logged flights and 2 on Oxfords. His total flying time was now recorded as 2408 hours, with 202 of them flying Lancasters

From June 9th until June 14th 1946 Jack carried out 8 operations listed as Operation Firebrand, which was a code name for delivering food and essential supplies to the Continent for people in need. On March the 8th and the 11th 1946 Jack had a further two flights on the Link Trainer.

I now find Jack’s log book confusing as further flights are logged on the de Havilland DH81 Tiger Moth with the first flight logged on the 24th September 1948 with the 24RFS. The only information that I can find about 24RFS is that it was based at Rochester in September 1948 where Jack had his first flight in a Tiger Moth. l therefore presume that Jack left the RAF sometime after March continue a flying career as a reserve pilot/navigator with the 24 RFS, Reserve Flying School.

Jack’s log book lists 132 flights in the Tiger Moth finishing with a flight in November 21st 1959

Total hours booked 2506.35 minutes. During which time the flights have been recorded as being based at Rochester, Sywell, Hornchurch, Shoreham, Wolverhampton, Kenley, Southend, West Malling and Biggin Hill. That is where this log book finishes and a new one begins with the first logged flight on the 4th April 1951 in a Tiger Moth, based at Shoreham. The last flight is in a de Havilland Chipmunk and logged on the 5th February 1954

Total flights listed in this log book is 87 while flying the Tiger Moth and Chipmunk, based at Shoreham, Hornchurch, Luton, Halton, Ramsgate and Tonbridge. This logbook finishes with a total of 2643 hours flying time. The final assessment is for Fl/Lt. Jack Barnes is as a reserve pilot/navigator with an above average rating.

Jack Barnes was 17 when he joined the Royal Air Force and during the 14 years that he had flown with them, from December the 10th 1940 until the last entry on February 5th 1954, he had completed 2643 hours flying 12 different aircraft. These were the de Havilland Tiger Moth, Avro Tutor, Miles Master, (three different marks), Fairy Battle, North American Harvard, Avro Anson, Westland Lysander, Airspeed Oxford, de Havilland Chipmunk. Vickers Armstrong Wellington, Hawker Hurricane and the Avro Lancaster,

Jack commenced training with the No. 2 EFTS at RAF Staverton in Gloucestershire and completed his training at this airfield on the 11th February 1941. His assessment was average after completing 32 hours 20 minutes dual instruction and 25 hours 50 minutes solo.

He was then posted to No. 5 FTS at RAF Ternhill in Shropshire, near the towns of Newport and Market Drayton, for advanced training in the Miles Master, including flying the Hawker Hurricane. He completed the course during May 1941, assessed as average with all tests satisfactorily completed. In June 1941 he was posted to CFS Upavon, near Salisbury Plain, to join the 25th Flying Instructors Course.

He completed the course on the 23rd July 1941 with the note “Will make a satisfactory instructor” His next assignment was to the No. 1 SFTS (Service Training School) at RAF Netheravon in Wiltshire. Where he had his first flight in a Miles Master on the 30th July 1941, by which time he had logged 212 hours 35 minutes. He completed the course on the 26th January 1942 adding 283 hours to his flying hours, all on the Miles Master advanced trainer. He was assessed as average for the instructor’s course. Jack was then posted to No. 17 AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) at RAF Watton in Norfolk, where he again flew the Master for a further 15 hours before being posted to the No. 31 SFTS (Service Training School) at the Royal Canadian Air Force Collins Bay, near Kingston, Ontario.

Jack was in Canada from March 1942 until June 1944 where his final Canadian assessment was above average. During his stay in Canada he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and returned to join the Royal Air Force as an instructor at the No. 21 AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) at RAF Tatenhill, near Burton on Trent. Here he flew the twin engined Airspeed Oxford, Avro Anson, Vickers Wellington and the four engined bomber the Avro Lancaster.

Fl/Lt Jack Barnes completed a further 202 flying hours instructing pilots and navigators on the Lancaster and while with 630 Squadron, first flight April 16th and the last of 9 flights ending on May 5th 1945, carried out bombing raids on Pilsen and Flensburg,

Jack was then transferred to 106 Squadron at RAF Metheringham in Lincolnshire, to commence flying Lancasters with them on the 4th June 1945.

RAF East Kirby.

Unfortunately there was no date on the pictures or names of the crew members

Sue was the only child of Jack and Sylvia Barnes and was born on the 21st September 1948. She lent her father’s two Flight Log Books, flying helmet and pictures to the Shoreham Aviation Museum, where they were exhibited in a glass cabinet.

I had been recently introduced to Sue, by a neighbour, as one interested in aviation and perhaps able to help her know more about her father’s war time experience, but first I had to see the log books. Previously she had told me that he had flown Lancasters and trained in Canada but even so, I was not prepared to see such extensive flight details and soon realised that I was looking at something special. I hope that my research, resulting in this essay, has helped Sue understand her father a little better, with the knowledge that he helped provide many of the trained pilots that were so desperately required at that period.

Among the photographs in Sue’s possession was one of her father flying a Harvard and Jack Dempsey and this picture of her father with Freddy Mills

1941 and a half dozen in the sergeants mess listens intently as Freddie Mills demonstrates his boxing technique

Jack Barnes is seated on the right. On the 26th July 1948, Freddie Mills won the world light-heavyweight boxing title. I have attempted to find out more about Freddy’s RAF career without any success, it being all about his subsequent boxing career. However I find it relevant perhaps, to recall that my brother reported that he had sparred with his RAF physical training instructor, while stationed at Oudtshoorn, a training airfield in South Africa and that he thought he could be a championship boxer, his name was Freddy Mills!

I cannot remember when my brother wrote this but it was sometime between 1941 and 1945.

Sue explained to me that she deeply regretted not asking her dad about his wartime experiences but, like most children, never got round to it until it was too late.

In Sue’s own s words:

“Mum and dad both grew up in Dartford, as I did. He went to school at Dartford Grammar and had joined the Air Cadets while at School. After leaving the RAF in 1954, aged 31, dad joined the Prudential Insurance Company. He was in fact very like the original man from the ‘Pru. He started as an agent riding his little green bike with his collection of books. He had a little seat for me on the back of his bike, before we had our first car. He finished his career with the ‘Pru when he retired in 1983 as a District Manager.

Unfortunately he only enjoyed four years of retirement before he suddenly died from a heart attack.

Dad had so many interests in life and was a perfectionist in everything he undertook. He was an accomplished pianist and organist and loved jazz and big band music. One of his favourite musicians was Fats Waller. We played Fats music at his funeral.

I remember my father as kind and tolerant, I never heard him raise his voice to anyone. He also had a sense of humour that I have never encountered since His presence brightened so many lives and I will always remember our home being filled with friends and laughter.

My father was also interested in golf and had joined the Dartford Golf Club with his school friend Kevin Muncer. (see below link) They joined the RAF together in 1940 as Volunteer Reserves and both became officers in the RAF flying Lancaster bombers. I remember Kevin because he had lost his arm when his plane had crashed just before the end of the war. Nevertheless I understood that he played a good game of golf!

My mother Sylvia died suddenly from a heart attack in 1978 and my father re-married 2 years later.

Unfortunately I would be lying if I said it didn’t cause a rift between my father and me, to my constant regret. As a result I temporarily lost contact with my father and then he too suffered a heart attack and died in 1988 aged only 65.

My stepmother had made her own daughter the executor of her will, which, when she died in 1993, left me in the strange position of not being given the chance to sort through my parent’s things in the home that I was brought up in and knew so well. That was a terrible injustice, which I still feel to this day.

Our lovely home was at 178 Princes Road, Dartford and when I sometimes drive past it I still feel such a sense of loss in so many ways. My dad was an absolute joy to everyone who knew him and I miss him so very much.”

When my neighbour first introduced me to Sue Barnes, hoping that I could through some light on her father’s wartime career, I never thought this was going to be so special. My initial search of the Web under “Flight Lieutenant Jack Barnes, Lancaster Pilot” yielded nothing and. apart from a few photographs in Sue’s possession there was little to get me started.

Sue said she had lent his Flight Log Books to the Shoreham Aviation Museum and would now attempt to retrieve them, which subsequently took over a year! However now that I had his two log books I could start to bring some life to the yellowing pages. Sue insisted that her father’s wartime career was something special and, as I started to make sense of the scribbled entries I began to agree. Here was a story worth telling and I hope that I have done it justice.

Sue’s memories of her mother and father, with some relevant photographs, have helped in the writing of this story. Sue said that her father had a school friend who was also a pilot during the war and had crashed losing his left arm, his name was Kevin Muncer. She showed me a picture of Kevin and her father, both district managers, at a Prudential dinner and then searching the Web for further information produced some surprising results!

Alan Mann with Sue

“Flying Officer Kevin Muncer was a member of 166 Squadron RAF when he piloted a Mk.1 Lancaster from RAF Kirmington on March 16th 1945, just a few months before Germany surrendered on the 7th May. He and his navigator, F/O Gerrard were the only survivors from the aircraft which flipped on its back after a night fighter attack. Muncer lost an arm in the combat and had his life saved by a German farmer’s family on whose land his parachute had brought him down.”

I feel privileged to have been asked and able to tell the story of a remarkable man whose exploits would have faded with the yellowing pages of his log book.

Alan Mann April 2016.

Read the full story on the loss of 166 Squadron Lancaster on March 16th 1945.

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