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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 crest

15/16.03.1944 No. 625 Squadron Lancaster III ND637 CF-L P/O John Bulger

Operation: Stuttgart

Date: March 15/16, 1944

Unit: No. 625 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND637

Code: CF-L

Base: Kelstern

Location: Near Waddington, 4 km NE at Branston, collision with No. 463 Squadron Lancaster ED606, JO-E

Pilot: P/O John Percy Bulger J85931 RCAF Age 26 Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt Alfred William Aiston 1532964 RAFVR Age 35 Killed (2)

Nav: W/O II Gordon Ivey R150959 RCAF Age 23 Killed (3)

Air/Bmr: F/O Robert Roy Jones RCAF J25514 Age 24 Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Dennis Hewitt 1490563 RAFVR Age 22 Killed (5)

Air/Gnr: Sgt John Douglas Dadswell 1678501 RAFVR Age 19 Killed (6)

Air/Gnr: Sgt Richard James Fettis 1126142 RAFVR Age ? Killed (7)


F/Sgt J.P. Bulger and his crew were posted from 11 Base to No. 625 Squadron, RAF Kelstern on January 25, 1944— after completing their operational training, keen to start their tour.

By February 15th, F/Sgt Bulger and his combat hungry crew had convinced senior staff that they were up to the task of their introductory op, without the cushion and benefit of the customary ‘second dickie' trip! The Battle Order had them detailed to attack the most dreaded target of all, Berlin, the ’Big City’, defended to the teeth!

They would not disappoint. The debriefing from this op indicated that this rookie crew was prepared to do battle with the enemy. Their mount for this raid was Lanc I DV278 and their crew intact with Sgt A. Bennett as flight engineer:

15.2.44 - Up 17.06 Down 00.20 BERLIN. Target bombed at 21.39 hours from a height of 20,000 feet in 10/10 th clouds lit up with red glow of fires- smoke was coming up through the clouds. A very quiet trip- like a Cross Country.

Their second trip on February 19th to Leipzig, in Lanc W4263, provided evidence that their tour would not be a piece of cake:

19.2.44 - Up 23.55 Down 07.03 LEIPZIG. Target bombed at 04.07 hours from a height of 20,000 feet. The A.S.I. became unserviceable on the last leg to the target and completely upset the bombing run. Just after crossing enemy coast on the homeward journey the Port Outer engine caught fire, but after feathering the fire went out. The remainder of the journey was completed on three engines.

The next night found them on the Battle Order for the first of a triad of visits to Stuttgart, a target feared akin to Berlin. For this mission F/Sgt Bulger and crew would find W4263 to be a dependable ‘kite’:

20.2.44 - Up 23.24 Down 07.12 STUTTGART. Target bombed at 04.14 hours from a height of 20,000 feet in 5/10 to 7/10 th cloud, with excellent visibility. A good concentration of Green and Red T.Is. Large fires on North Eastern side of town. Another area burning well on South and East side. Very quiet trip and and looked an excellent attack. Fires seen 100 miles away.

After a nine day reprieve, they would return to Stuttgart, with Lanc III, LM317, for a trip that would again test their mettle:

1.3.44 - Up 23.17 Down 06.30 STUTTGART. Target bombed at 03.00 hours from a height of 21,000 feet in 10/10 th cloud. The T.Is were seen slightly to starboard on bombing the target. Fires could be seen 100 miles away. On the return journey the Port engine caught fire and the aircraft landed at LASHAM.

It would be two weeks before F/Sgt Bulger and crew would be included on the Battle Order for their third consecutive op to Stuttgart. Third time would not be lucky for their fifth mission. For reasons unknown, their regular flight engineer, Sgt A Bennett, would be replaced by ‘spare bod’, Sgt A.W. Aiston, a 35 year old married man!


For F/Sgt Bulger and crew, the end of their operational career and Lancaster III, ND637, was sudden and tragic:

15.3.44 Up 18.58 Down - STUTTGART. The aircraft crashed near Waddington on return colliding with another aircraft in circuit. All crew were killed.


15.3.44 OPERATIONS. 19 aircraft were detailed for Operations, the target being STUTTGART. Of the aircraft detailed, 16 aircraft returned, 3 failing to return to Base. From the reports given by the crews on return to Base, the raid appears to be very successful. Heavy flak was encountered, and many searchlights, with P.F.F. in prominence. A normal bomb load was carried and several aircraft employed “Y” with great success.


625 Squadron Group No. 1.Bomber Command
Date: 16.3.44 0305 Hours Operational Night Bombing Operations
Between Coleby and Branston, Lincolnshire

Details of Airframe and Engines

Lancaster III ND637, PO PI SI SO Merlin 38 “ “ “

Total Hours Run 25, 33 32 32 27

Date Installed 9.2.44 “ “ “

Extent of Damage E, E E E E

All Occupants of Aircraft:


  • Pilot Bulger.J.P. (CAN) F/S R144034 K
  • F/Eng Aiston.A.W. SGT 1532964 K
  • A/B Jones.R.R. (CAN) F/O J25514 K
  • NAV Ivey.G. (CAN) F/S R150959 K
  • WOP/AIR Hewitt.D SGT 1490563 K
  • M/U/G Dadswell.J.D. SGT 1678501 K
  • R/Gnr Fettis.R.J. SGT 1126142 K


PART A: TOTAL SOLO (Day & Night) - Type 74.10, All types 332
PART B: SOLO NIGHT - Type 35.58, All types 20.1





Duration of flight since last take off: Hours- 7, minutes- 57.

This aircraft was detailed to proceed on Bombing Operations, the target being Stuttgart. On returning to Base, this aircraft came into collision with another aircraft and crashed as stated in Part 2, the aircraft caught on fire, all the members of the crew were dead when extricated and the aircraft Cat. E.

(Signed) R.W.H. Gray F/L
O.C. “A” Flight
for Wing Commander, Commanding,
No. 625 Squadron, RAF.


As far as is known no technical failure is involved.


On returning from Operations this aircraft collided with another aircraft as stated. No messages were received from this aircraft after take off, and it was apparently on track and time. No further details are known at this Unit to date, but a Court of Inquiry is investigating this accident at present at R.A.F. Station Waddington, the nearest Unit.

(Signed) T. Preston W/Cdr
625 Squadron


No further remarks pending the findings of the Court of Inquiry.

(Signed) R.H. Donkin G/Capt
RAF Kelstern
March 22, 1944


1. P/O John ‘Jack’ Percy Bulger (left) was born on July 31, 1917 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His father (deceased) was John Percy Bulger and his mother, Alice Silbert. It is noteworthy that he lost his father and brother to the 1919 influenza pandemic. He received his entrance education at Alexander Muir and junior matriculation at Parkdale College. His hobbies included wireless and sporting activity, extensive rowing and rugby.

Wife, Mary Margaret Bulger and daughter, Donna Hilda Bulger- DOB September 5, 1942

He signed his RCAF Attestation Papers on November 1, 1941. Medical examination revealed him to be athletic, height 69’’ and weight 157 pounds. Eyes brown, hair brown.

Assessed: Fit, Good type by A.M Crossland F/O.

M.S.B. 6.4.42: Alert, quick, in a hurry to respond, aggressive lad of better than average ability and considerable initiative. Emotional stability average. Married 2 1/2 years.
(C.G. Stogdill) F/L


Sr. matric but no examination at 17. Driver salesman seven years. No flying experience or hobbies. Fair mechanical interests, Science Subjects, had own chemistry and wireless. Athletics - - rowed 5 hours.

Average intelligence, quick responses. Personality - - above average maturity and responsibility and emotional stability. Good motivation, wants any A.C. including AG.

Keen confident, alert and fairly aggressive.
(W.K. Kerr) F/L


Toronto r/c 18/11/41
Toronto r/c 14/12/41
1 M.D. 15/12/41
1 “M” D Toronto 28/3/42
1 ITS Toronto 29/3/42
1 ITS Toronto 4/7/42
7 ENTS Windsor 5/7/42
7 EF Windsor 28/8/42
9 SF Centralia 29/8/42
9 SP Centralia 3/2/43
#1 YD Halifax 4/2/43
1 YD to RAF Trainee Pool 16/3/43


AC2 18/11/41 P or O
LAC 22/5/42 Aircrew P
T/Sgt 15/1/43 Aircrew P
T/F/Sgt 15/7/43
T/WO2 15/1/44
P/O 15/3/44


9 SFTS to 1Y Depot Halifax 3/2/43
1Y Depot to RAFTP 8/3/43
EMB 9/3/43
UK 17/3/43
(INT-42) 3 PRC 18/3/43
3 PRC 15 (P) AFU 17/5/43
15 (P) AFU No. 81 OTU 20/7/43
81 OTU 1662 HCU 19/10/43
1662 HCU 625 Sqdrn 25/1/44
No. 625 Squadron R.A.F. Killed 16/3/44


Bulger, J.

I.T.S. No. 1 Course No. 50 From 30-3-42 to 22-5-42
E.F.T.S. 7 Windsor Course No. 59 From 6-7-42 to 28-8-42
S.F.T.S. No. 9 Centralis Course No. 63 From 31 Aug/42 to 15/Jan/43


(a) I.T.S. An alert, cool, co-operative airman who applied himself quite well at this Unit.

Second Aircrew Recommendation: Air Observer.

W/C C/O No. 1 I.TS.

(b) E.F.T.S. Average pupil pilot. Will have to apply himself. Appears to have endurance but gets slightly flustered. Persistent with common sense. Ground school ability quite good. Conduct and deportment satisfactory.

S/L Thompson
Chief Supervisory Officer
No. 7 E.F.T. Windsor, Ont.

(b) S.F.T.S. Normally displays very good judgment with two exceptions—he does not look around enough and has a tendency to drop the aircraft in when landing.

W/C Chief Instructor
No. 9 S.F.T.S.

(d) S.F.T.S. Rather slow thinking student. Requires more than average instrument instruction—this pupil is not recommended for a commission.

Commanding Officer
No. 9 S.F.T.S.


Pilot No. 81 Operation Training Unit Course No. 18 20.7.43- 22.44.43

REMARKS: An above average pilot and exceptional captain who has worked hard and well during the course. He is keen and cheerful and well disciplined. Strongly recommended for a commission.

19.10.43 R.C. Harman G/C


1. Bulger, John Percy

F/Sgt R144034/J85931 625 Squadron

16.3.44 03.05 Hours Nr. Waddington, Lincs.

2. Short statement by injured person of the circumstances of the injury.

Lancaster III ND637 was detailed for operations 15/16.3.44, the target being Stuttgart. The aircraft took off from this aerodrome but on the return journey it collided with another aircraft, burst into flames and crashed at 03.05 hours 16.3.44. The location being 5308 degrees N 0027 degrees W. All occupants being dead when extricated from the aircraft.

3. Description of injuries:-

Multiple injuries—instantaneous death.

4. Commanding Officer’s Statement:-

(a) Was the injury sustained-

(i) In the performance of flying duties? Yes

(f) Is the accident being investigated by (i) Court of Inquiry? If so, state date and place- Yes. 16.3.44. Waddington.

D.D. Haig
Commanding 625 Squadron, R.A.F.


1. Photo in leatherette case
1. Housewife in leather case
1. Blue zip wallet contg: photos
1. Mouth organ
1. Bundle, letters, cards, photos….

2. Sgt Alfred William Aiston: If you have information or photos please contact the Help Desk.

3. WO II Gordon Ivey (left) was born on November 28, 1920 in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada.

His father was farmer, Garfield Ivey and mother, Edith Minnie Crocker. He received his formal education in Colinton, Vincent, East Park and Granville to Grade X. In addition, Pre Enlistment School 1941/2, General Course. His special interests included book-keeping and athletic activity, hockey.

AIR FORCE DUTY requested, Flying Duties: Pilot or Observer.

Other information: One week to report. Will not accept General Ground Duties.

December 1, 1941.

Medical Board heard at Edmonton, Alberta1-12-41

Ht 5’9” Wt 155 lbs Eyes- brown, hair- dk. brown
1-12-41- “Tic” is rather infrequent and should not bar him.
Probably borderline re emotional stability.
12-3-42- Agree with above “tic” is rather prominent lately, seems stable.
Remarks: Fit A1B, A3B- 1-12-41, 11-3-42, June 10/42


10-6-42- Low Average Pilot Material
Average Observer Material
Wishes to be an Observer
O.K. if able to make sufficient marks.

C.F. Burt S/L



PERSONNEL OFFICER:- Done considerable physical work. Given to be sincere. This boy should make excellent aircrew member. He has energy, and apparently plenty of inherent ability.








ASSESSMENT: (General Fitness) Should make a better than average Pilot or Observer. Sincere.




Commanding Officer,
No. 3 Recruiting Centre, RCAF
Edmonton, Alberta




REMARKS: Grade X, Alta, worked in farm, average sports, average material, should be fair Navigator, but doubt ability to obtain grades for Observer. Inclined to be nervous and tense. Methodical, slow thinker. Character Assessment 86. Recommend N.C.O. Alternate- Air Bomber.

? W/C
Commanding Officer
No. 4 I.T.S.


REMARKS: Navigation- Slow but neat & conscientious although he was last in the class should be a fair Navigator with more exposure.
General- Slow in learning new ideas but works hard and a desire to do well.

Dec. 18/42
R.K. Fraser S/L
No. 2 A.O.S.
Chief Instructor

Awarded Air Navigators Badge
Dec. 18/42


3 MD Edmonton 13/3/42
3 MD Edmonton 8/5/42
RCAF Stn. Calgary 9/5/42
RCAF Stn. E. Calgary 6/6/42
4 ITS Edmonton 7/6/42
4 ITS Edmonton 29/8/42
2 AOS Edmonton 30/8/42
2 AOS 2/1/43
1 ‘Y’ Depot Halifax 3/1/43
1 Y Dep. to RAF Training Pool 25/1/43


AC2 13/3/42
LAC 14/8/42
T/Sgt 18/12/42
T/Sgt 18/12/42
T/WOII 18/12/43


Embarked Canada 26/1/43
Disembarked U.K. 4/2/43
No. 3 P.R.C. 5/2/43
No. 10 (O) AFU 21/6/43
81 OTU 20/7/43
1662 HCU 19/10/43
625 Squadron 25/1/44
Killed 16/3/44


18th March, 1944

Dear Mr. Ivey
…Unfortunately, just prior to making a landing at another aerodrome his aircraft crashed and caught fire, all members of the crew being killed instantaneously.
…Your Son was extremely popular with this Squadron and his presence is greatly missed in the Sergeants Mess where he spent many happy hours in the cheerful company of his many friends, and his loss is regretted by all…
Yours Sincerely,

T. Preston
Wing Commander, Commanding
No. 625 Squadron, R.A.F.


Not included in the LAC/ site.


Gordon Ivey



P. Harris F/O

L-R: Gordon Ivey, Unknown colleagues

Diary and Instruction Books Used By Gordon Ivey

Set Square Used In Map Exercises

4. F/O Robert Roy Jones (right) was born on August 1, 1919 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to father Samual Edward Jones (CPR Conductor) and mother Barbara Ella Winnicott. His education included Cardston Public, Medicine Hat Public and Alexander High Schools. At the time of enlistment on June 18, 1940 he was still on course with the British Institute of Science and Technology, studying radio and maintenance. His military service included the 1st South Alberta Regiment from 1937 to 1940, attaining the rank of L/Cpl (non-permanent). His sporting activities included hockey, lacrosse, basketball, track and field, baseball and swimming.

Occupational history: Dominion Government, construction of airport, operating weight scales.

His attestation papers note that he requested Flying Duties.

Letters of Reference:

1. Mayor of Medicine Hat to Commanding Officer RCAF, Calgary

Jun. 19, 1940.
Dear Sir:
This is to state that I have known Robert since boyhood. He is a young man of good character and ability, and I would heartily recommend him for any position of trust.
Yours truly, Hector Lang.

2. Minister: Rev. J.W. Bainbridge MA, BD, Fifth Avenue United Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta

June 17, 1940
To Whom it Might Concern,
I have known Robert Roy Jones for the last five years. He is a son of a highly respected family who have resided in Medicine Hat for many years. The young man himself is of unquestionable character, possessed of a good deal of personal initiative, and a good social standing. I consider he would do excellent service in the Air Force.
Sincerely, J.W. Bainbridge.

RCAF Medical Board—Calgary, AB23-7-40

Ht 67 1/2’’ Wt 124 lbs Eyes blue, hair dark.
Wt. 16 lbs below body build. Does not appear underweight.
Consider fit for flying duties as a combatant.

Re-examined fit and assess
H. Ormand Lieut.

RCAF Special Reserve Interview Report
Summary of all of the above:
Fair type. Inclined to be quiet. Will no doubt show great improvement with training.
Should qualify for any position in Air Crew.
Recommended for: Wireless or Gunner.

E.J. Christie F/O
RCAF Recruiting Centre

Feb. 24th, 1941

R77519 AC2 Jones, R.R.

Medical Category A4B

1. The marginally noted airman has been categorized A4B by the Medical Selection Board due to the fact that his visual acuity does not reach the required standard.
2. His age is 20: education- Junior Matriculation plus almost all of Senior Matriculation. Since leaving school he has been employed as a casual labourer. He has had three years in the N.P.A.M., finishing as a Sergeant. (South Alberta Regiment). This airman desires to remuster and hold his connection with the Force and try for aircrew later if his vision improves.
3. He is passed to you for disposal, and in the meantime will be transferred to “X” flight.

(J.A. Hutchinson) Squadron Leader,
O.C. School


2 MD Brandon 26/10/40
8 B and G School Paulson 7/12/40
2 MD (Amended) 7/12/40
8 B and G School Paulson 7/12/40
2 TC Winnipeg (8B and GS) 27/1/41
2 ITS Regina 28/1/41 F/O 16/10/43
2 ITS Regina 2/3/41
2 MD Brandon 3/3/41
2 MD Brandon 11/6/41
T.T.S. St. Thomas 12/6/41
T.T.S. St. Thomas 22/10/41
15 S.T.T.S. Claresholm 23/10/41
r/c 2 Calgary 27/28/4/42
15 F.T.S. Claresholm 6/6/42
4 ITS Edmonton 7/6/42
4 ITS Edmonton 12/9/42
19 EFTS Virden 12/9/42
19 EFTS 13/9/42
19 EFTS Virden 11/10/42
KTS Trenton 12/10/42
KTS Trenton 4/12/42
#8 B and GS Lethbridge 5/12/42
8 BGS Lethbridge cancelled
3 AOS Pearce 6/3/43
8 BGS 6/3/43
9 AOS St. Johns 7/3/43
9 AOS St. Johns 30/4/43
1 “Y” Depot Halifax 1/5/43
Disch. on appt. to a comm. as an officer 16/4/43


YD RAF T.P. 26/5/43
Disemb. U.K. 4/6/43
3 PRC 5/6/43
#9 (O) AFU 22/6/43
Llanwrog 3/7/43
Moreton Valence 19/7/43
81 OTU 20/7/43
30 OTU 3/8/43
1662 HCU 19/10/43
RAF Lindholme 19/12 10/11 43
625 Squadron 25/1/44
Killed from 625 Squadron 16/3/44


AC2 26/10/40
AC1 1810/41
LAC 31/7/42
T/Sgt. 16/4/43
P/O 16/4/43


No. 625 Squadron R.A.F.

18th March, 1944

Dear Mrs. Jones,

Before you receive this letter you will have had a telegram informing you that your Son, J25514 F/O Robert Roy Jones has been killed returning from Operations on the night of 15/16 March, 1944.

It is with sincere regret that I write to you conveying as I do to Bob’s family the feelings of my entire Squadron. On the night of 15th March, 1944 at approximately 7 o’clock, Bob and his crew took off from this aerodrome to carry out a bombing attack against enemy territory, (the target, in fact, STUTTGART), and were due to return in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, just prior to making a landing at another aerodrome his aircraft crashed and caught fire, all members of the crew being killed instantaneously.

Owing to the time taken to communicate under present conditions it was not possible to ascertain your wishes regarding the funeral in the time available, and I had therefore to arrange for his burial without reference to you. You will, I am sure, understand the necessity for this action, and I sincerely trust that the arrangements we were able to make were such as you would have wished. A further letter will be sent to you as soon as full particulars of the funeral are available.

We lost one of our happiest crews when this aircraft crashed and one for which a great future had already been mapped out with the Squadron.

Your Son was extremely popular with this Squadron and his presence is greatly missed in the Officers Mess where he spent many happy hours in the cheerful company of his many friends, and his loss is regretted by all.

May I now express the great sympathy which all of us feel with you in the sad loss which you have sustained and I should like also to assure you how greatly his comrades in the Royal Air Force admire the unselfish sacrifice your son has made so far from his own country in the cause of freedom and in the service of the Empire.

Your Son’s effects have been gathered together and sent to the Royal Air Force Central Depository, from where they will be forwarded to the Administrator of Estates, Ottawa, who will be writing to you in this regard in due course.

Once more please accept my deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement.

Yours sincerely,

T. Preston
Wing Commander, Commanding
No. 625 Squadron, R.A.F.


…1. Pair blue spectacles
1. Book “Fighter Control”
1. Book “ Dreams”
1. German text book…

5. Sgt Dennis Hewitt: If you have information or photos please contact the Helpdesk.

6. Sgt John Douglas Dadswell: If you have information or photos please contact the Helpdesk.

7. Sgt Richard James Fettis: If you have information or photos please contact the Helpdesk.


1.P/O John Percy Bulger: Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Sec. F. Row D. Grave 7.

His epitaph reads:

May his reward be
As great as his sacrifice.
Goodnight, dear heart.

NOTE: A memorandum dated July 18, 1944 to W/C J.K. Young relays a request from P/O Bulger’s mother that his body be removed to the family plot at Bishopsworth. She was advised that the present location in an RAF plot was a more satisfactory arrangement and that the expense of disinterment and transfer would have to be arranged privately. The CWGC entry indicates that the family did not pursue this matter. It is also significant that P/O Bulger’s next of kin was his wife, not his mother.

Book of Remembrance, Veterans Affairs Canada

2. Sgt Alfred William Aiston: Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery, Sec. H. Grave 218 South

Son of Alfred William and Eleanor Aiston; husband of Jean Aiston, Whitburn Co. Durham. of South Africa.

His epitaph reads:

Greater love
Hath no man than this
That a man may lay down
His life for his friends

3. W/O II Gordon Ivey: Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Sec. F. Row D. Grave 8.

His epitaph reads:

Sleep on, beloved
Sleep, and take thy rest
We love thee well
But Jesus loves thee best

Original Grave Marker

4. F/O Robert Roy Jones: Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Sec. F. Row D. Grave 9.

His epitaph reads:

Sunshine passes
Shadows fall
Love and remembrance
Outlast all

5. Sgt Dennis Hewitt: Burnley Cemetery, Grave A 1861

Son of William Henry and Elizabeth Ellen Hewitt, of Melksham, Wiltshire.

His epitaph reads:

To a happy life
Came a sudden end
He died as he lived
Everyone’s friend

6. Sgt John Douglas Dadswell: South Shields (Harton) Cemetery, Sec. S. Grave 10099.

Son of Harry and Elizabeth Ann Dadswell, of South Shields.

His epitaph reads:

Blessed are the just
They shall rest in the Lord

7. Sgt Richard James Fettis: Sevenoaks (Greatness Park) Cemetery, Grave 13 (S.P.).


1. P/O John Percy Bulger J85931: DFC, KIA.
2. Sgt Alfred William Aiston 1532964: DFM, KIA
3. W/O II Gordon Ivey R150959: DFM, KIA
4. F/O Robert Roy Jones J25514: DFC, KIA
5. Sgt Dennis Hewitt 1490563: DFM, KIA
6. Sgt John Douglas Dadswell 1678501: DFM, KIA
7. Sgt Richard James Fettis 1126142: DFM, KIA


Lancaster III ED606, JO-E of 463 Squadron RAAF Waddington


Pilot: P/O William Alexander Graham 413988 RAAF Age 25 Killed. Buried at Cambridge City RAF Cemetery, Grave 13956

His inscription reads:

M.M. Lodge 398. U.G.L.,
New South Wales.
You shall be remembered

Son of John George and Eugenie Gertrude Graham, of Queenscliffe, New South Wales, Australia.

F/Eng: Sgt David McArthur Munro 1567515 RAFVR Age 21 Killed

Buried at Campbeltown (Kilkerran) Cemetery, Division 4. Grave 150.

His inscription reads:

He shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary him,
Nor the years condemn*

Son of Donald and Mary Munro, of Campbeltown.

?Nav: Sgt James Arthur Coates 1670149 RAFVR Age 21 Killed

Buried at Shildon (St. John’s) Churchyard, Screen wall.

His inscription reads:

His name liveth

Son of Arthur F.W. and Charlotte Coates, of Shildon.

?Air/Bmr: Sgt James Gilroy Baty Jameson 1048295 RAFVR Age 21 Killed

Buried at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (All Saints) Cemetery , Sec. M. Cons.Grave 90.

Son of William and Frances Jameson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne

W/Op/Air Gnr: Sgt Henry Alfred Baxter 1392861 RAFVR Age 22 Killed

Buried at Brookwood Cemetery St. Albans Ground, Grave 208359.

His inscription reads:

To the world
He was one of many
But to us
He was all the world

Son of Henry Thomas and Maira Catherine Baxter; husband of Lilian Baxter, of Wandsworth, London.

Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Henry Jones 1461755 RAFVR Age 22 Killed

Buried at Grove Park Cemetery, Joint Grave 4.

His inscription reads:

Your duty done
For freedom’s cause
Sleep on, great son
Until we meet again

Son of Edwin Archibald and Caroline Jones, of Deptford.

Air Gnr: F/Sgt Alfred Samuel Humphreys 428712 RAAF Age 20 Killed

Buried at Cambridge City RAF Cemetery, Grave 14156.

His inscription reads:

His duty nobly done.
Ever remembered

Son of Alfred James and Ellen Jane Humphreys, of Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia.

* Poem: For the Fallen Composed by Laurence Binyon, 10 August 1869-10 March 1943, sitting on the cliffs between Pentire Point and the Rumps, north Cornwall, UK. First published in The Times on 21 September, 1914. Fourth stanza, first written! See Poetry of Direct Personal Experience on this site.


During its eighteen months of operational and training history, 625 Squadron would have seventy-four aircraft and crews fail to return or run into grief on English soil. This is an opportune time to review the various causes of these losses:

1. Night fighter/ Intruder- NF
2. Flak- F
3. Collision- C
4. Mechanical failure/ Fire- M
5. Friendly fire- F/F
6. Landing accidents- L
7. Unknown- U
8. Lost without a trace- LWT

Cause: Aircraft Lost—% of Losses

N/F: 21— 28%
F: 5— 7%
C: 3— 4%
M: 1 —1%
F/F: 1— 1%
L: 3— 4%
U: 36— 49%
LWT: 4— 6%

It is apparent why bomber crewmen had a healthy respect for their Nachtjagd opponents. All pilots have an occult fear of mid-air collisions and disorientation. The latter was not a major consideration for bomber Skippers with their rigid instrument instruction to cope with all weather conditions and night operations. However, the risk of collision was constant and increased under certain circumstances: departing and returning to Base, course changes en route to the target, corkscrew manoeuvers to evade night fighter attack and especially on overshooting the target with an attempt to go against the flow to rejoin the bomber stream. The limited use of navigation lights during most of an op would also increase the risk of collision.

Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre

It is quite remarkable that at least on three occasions, 625 Skippers experienced ‘glancing blows’, and survived to tell the tale. Amazingly two of these occurred on the same raid to Berlin on December 2, 1943, entered one after the other in the Squadron’s ORB:

1. 2.12.43 Lancaster III LM317 P/O R.G. Bowden, CAPTAIN AND PILOT; Sgt. W. Ashurst, 2nd Pilot and Crew Up 1635 Down 2355

BERLIN. Target bombed at 2017 hrs from 19,000 ft. Several big fires could be seen on return leg North of Target. “At 2033 hrs. a Lancaster came in on port and his tail plane hit our starboard fin and rudder, taking the top of fin off.”

2. 2.12.43 Lancaster III W5009 F/L J.C. Day, CAPTAIN AND PILOT; F/O A. Bailey, 2nd Pilot and Crew Up 1640 Down 2325

BERLIN. Target bombed at 2021 hrs from a height of 20,000 ft., in condition of 5/10 cloud and ground haze. In his special reconnaissance report the Captain reports PFF well in evidence and considerable concentration of incendiaries visible around marked points. Large area of fires visible on return leg. Searchlights normal but ineffective due to cloud and ground haze. “2034 hrs. 20,000 ft. Lancaster heading S.W. crossed underneath and Mid-Upper turret hit our tail wheel and broke it.”

3. 8.2.45 Lancaster I PD376 P/O D.E.J. Chalkley and Crew Up 19.07 Down 03.50

POLITZ. Target bombed at 23.14 hours from a height of 13,500 feet.

ORB Raid Summary: Non contributory.

ORB Summary for February, 1945:-

26 aircraft were detailed for an attack on the Oil Plant at Politz. “K2” and “J2” were abortive shortly after take-off. Conditions in the target were clear and the marking was plentiful and accurate and the Master Bomber’s instructions were clear and concise. Flak at the target was moderate and heavy. F/O Chalkley, “C2” had the misfortune to collide with a Halifax over the Danish coast, but he managed to return to base with his aircraft damaged and part of the tail-plane of the Halifax wrapped around his wing. He landed on three engines and with a damaged tail unit. Photographs of this target appear to be good.

It is quite possible that this young Skipper did not comprehend that the sudden jolt was not due to turbulence or the necessity to shut down a sick engine. His ground crew may have been the first to discover, in the light of day, just how close they had flirted with death. It is not surprising that F/O Chalkley was recommended for and awarded an immediate DFC. It is interesting that the crew did not include this encounter in their sortie debriefing in the Squadron's ORB— Just another routine trip!

We are most interested if anyone can provide us with the identification of the Halifax involved in this collision and photos of PD376 post raid at Kelstern and in particular a photo of F/O D.E.J. Chalkley.

Memorial to 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern
Lest We Forget

These three encounters bring to light the indestructible design of the Avro Lancaster. It is understandable why Sir ‘Bomber’ Harris referred to the mighty Lanc as his ‘Golden Sword’!

Unfortunately, the crews of the six aircraft involved in the mid-air collisions noted above would not fare as well. From the crews of ND637, ED606, LM512, NF965, LM691 and LL599, S/L C.W.C. Hamilton, the pilot of LM691, and F/Sgt J.M. Grace, the bomb aimer of LL599 would be the sole survivors of twenty-two young airmen—LM512 had a crew of eight including F/O H.N. Cornish and P/O D.S. Tointon’s crew on their ‘second dickey’ op. A sobering 91% fatality rate!

The tragic loss of F/Sgt. Bulger and his crew was devastating for relatives and the Squadron. They were a mature crew, despite their lack of combat experience. This is signified in the fact that senior staff elected to permit them to carry out their first op without the security of a ‘second dickey’ trip—most unusual. It meant that during their two weeks of operational training at Kelstern, no weak links were detected in this crew, before they were set loose on the enemy. Judging from their post op debriefings they were up to the challenge. They worked together as a well honed team, when confronted with a multitude of emergencies.

Thanks to John Naylor we now have additional information on these two tragic losses, via the Bomber County Aviation Resource (BCAR) site:

ED606: While returning to Waddington this aircraft was destroyed when it was involved in a mid-air collision with a 625 Squadron Lancaster (ND637) whilst circling the airfield in the stack awaiting permission to land, both aircraft falling near Branston, 4 mi SE of Lincoln.

ND637: On return, this aircraft was destroyed when it was in a mid-air collision with with a 463 Squadron Lancaster (ED606) after apparently flying through the stack of aircraft circling Waddington awaiting their turn to land, both aircraft falling near Branston…

It is noteworthy that the crew listed on this site for ND637 are in error, and in fact, are the crew of 625 Lancaster DV194, that was lost on the same Stuttgart raid, exploding over Obereschach, Germany (since corrected). F/Sgt. F.G. Hodgkins and his crew lost their lives and are buried in the Durnbach War Cemetery. Three of the Squadron’s aircraft would fail to return from this raid without any survivors. W4833 with F/Sgt. D.J. Gigger and crew crashed off the French coast. During the course of the war 625 Squadron would suffer the loss of three or more (Vierzon raid: 4) aircraft and crews from six Battle Orders, amounting to a quarter of those that failed to return.

The account in the BCAR text suggests that ND637 was en route to Kelstern and unintentionally entered Waddington’s airspace. However, it is possible that other factors were at play, dictating that F/Sgt. Bulger, with advice from his flight engineer, decided that an emergency landing at Waddington was the lesser of two evils. A multitude of scenarios resulting from battle damage come to mind: including the loss of two or more engines, critical fuel situation, severely injured crew members with deteriorating vital signs—in particular to the pilot, navigator or wireless operator, and radio or communication equipment. A nighttime forced landing short of Kelstern would have been a risky endeavour for any pilot, compared to the beckoning flare path at RAF Waddington.

Unfortunately, we do not have access to the findings of the Court of Inquiry. As this accident occurred in conditions of darkness and there were no survivors from either crew, we will never know the circumstances aboard ND637 that resulted in this airspace incursion. Eyewitness accounts of other crews in the stack would have been noncontributory—temporarily blinded by the impact explosion. Wartime conditions would have prevented post crash investigation analysis and crew postmortems to determine if crew members were predeceased or critically injured prior to the collision. We will never know, if and why, ND637 was in the process of landing at RAF Waddington, when home Base was a scant twenty-two miles to the northeast or ten minutes, to a well deserved, post op breakfast and bed—not to be. It is possible that a critically injured crew member or flight threatening, mechanical failure dictated an expedited landing at RAF Waddington. Fatigue after a tension filled eight hour flight over enemy territory and ‘gethomeitis’ may also have been contributing factors.

After writing up this revision, I am even more convinced that the crew of ND637 was exceptional and was most likely returning on a wing and a prayer, with pilot and flight engineer doing everything possible to stay alive, for their crew and families. I suspect that this crew had the potential of S/L 'Baz' Bazalgette VC DFC and G/C Leonard Cheshire VC...

The loss of this keen young crew left two widows, and a least one little girl fatherless, as well as a farming family in rural Alberta, without the helping hands of their eldest son. In retrospect, his war gratuity would never fill the void.

Doug Ivey recounts that his father and grandparents, lived on a farm, some distance from the hamlet of Ellscott, Alberta and it would take about fives days before the family received the preliminary telegram notifying them of the death of F/Sgt. Gordon Ivey. Doug’s father later commented that: “For our family, that was the day the war started”.

Doug also mentioned that he was in possession of a handwritten letter to Gordon Ivey’s father, his Grandfather, from the Squadron Commander referring to the crew’s regular Flight Engineer, Sgt. Bennett, having been ill and unable to fly that evening, and that he did attend the funerals of his comrades.

It is noteworthy that Sgt. Alfred Aiston ‘volunteered’ as the ‘spare bod’ for the crew’s regular flight engineer, Sgt. Bennett. The latter’s reprieve would be short lived— one month. He would lose his life on April 18, 1944, when Lancaster, ME734 returning from Rouen, was bounced on short final by an intruder. There were no survivors from P/O J.P Cosgrove’s crew. Such was war’s fickle finger of fate.

Aerial Photos used during Training Exercises in Canada


Family Collection of W/O II Gordon Ivey
625 Squadron ORB
Library and Archives Canada/
Bomber County Aviation Resource website
Wikipedia: Laurence Binyon


Family Collection of W/O II Gordon Ivey:

1. Headstones: Ivey x2, Bulger and Ainston
2. Gordon Ivey Photos, alone
3. Medals and Mother’s Silver Cross
4. 1st casket, John Percy Bulger; 2nd casket, Gordon Ivey; 3rd casket, Robert Roy Jones, Arrival
5. “ Salute
6. “ Last Respects
7. Gordon Ivey- Comrade, Ivey on left,?
8. Gordon Ivey- Comrades, Ivey on left, 2 ? Crew members, ? Kelstern
9. Map from training*
10. Navigation triangle*
11. Sympathy card from Buckingham Palace
12. P/O J.P. Bulger headstone (1. above)
13. P/O Bulger newspaper clipping
14. Newspaper clipping of F/O R.R. Jones
15. Photo and information for F/O Jones
16. Photo headstone for Sgt. Aiston (1. above)
17. Photo from G. Ivey’s personal file (28. below)-via SY
18. No. 4 I.T.S., 1st anniversary*
19. Note book for Air Observers*
20. Air Force Personal Diary*
21. Air Navigator- Manual*
22. Observer’s Flying Log Book*
23. Hal o’ the Fen- Book*
24. Let the Brave Speak- Book*
25. BCTP*
26. ND637 Loss Card, courtesy John Naylor
27. ND637 Loss Card, reverse.
28 and 29 LAC/ Photos of W/O Ivey and F/O Jones
* Personal Effects


John Naylor
Maureen Hicks
Reg Price
Mike Edwards

Submission by Doug Ivey, WO II Gordon Ivey’s nephew and Jack Albrecht.

Further Archive Reports for 625 Squadron
Allied Losses & Incidents Database
Paradie Canadian Archive

JA/SY 2021-10-04

JA 2021-10-08 Photo: Robert Roy Jones deleted.

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'
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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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