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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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No. 50 Squadron Crest
12/13.07.1943 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster III DV156 VN-C P/O. Ernest John Burnett

Operation: Turin, Italy

Date: 12/13 July 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron. Motto: "Sic fidem servamus" ("Thus we keep faith").

Badge: A sword in bend severing a mantle palewise. This unit formed at Dover and adopted a mantle being severed by a sword to show its connection with that town, the arms of which include St. Martin and the beggar with whom he divided his cloak. The mantle is also indicative of the protection given to this country by the Royal Air Force.

Authority: King George VI, March 1940.

Type: Avro Lancaster Mark III

Serial: DV156

Code: VN-C

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire.

Location: Not known

Pilot: P/O. Ernest John Burnett 145469 RAFVR Age 26 - Missing believed killed (1)

Fl/Eng: P/O. Thomas Stenhouse 52311 RAFVR Age 30 - Missing believed killed (2)

Nav: P/O. Francis O'Carroll 52767 RAF Age 27 - Missing believed killed (3)

Air/Bmr: P/O. Arthur John Holloway 146695 RAFVR Age 22 - Missing believed killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Edward Albert Power Manning 149484 RAFVR Age 23 - Missing believed killed (5)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Sturgess Herbert Rayner 1202331 RAFVR Age 32 - Missing believed killed (6)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jesse Thomas Wilson 1336604 RAFVR Age 21 - Missing believed killed (7)

Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. George Batey 650588 RAFVR Age 23 - Missing believed killed (8)

We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our HELPDESK

On 28 May 2017 Aircrew Remembered was contacted by Robert Spencer the grandson of Sgt. Sturgess Herbert Rayner who kindly provided from his personal collection, the photographs of Lancaster DV156 (above) and the crew (see below).


The Turin raid of 12/13 July 1943

295 Lancasters of 1, 5 and No 8 Groups to Turin. 13 Lancasters lost, 4.4 per cent of the force. The main weight of this raid fell just north of the centre of Turin in clear weather conditions. The only report obtainable from Italy stated that 792 people were killed and 914 injured. This was Turin's highest number of air-raid fatalities during the 10 raids made on the city by Bomber Command during the war.

Among the RAF casualties on this night was Wing Commander JD Nettleton, Commanding Officer of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, who had won the Victoria Cross for the low-level daylight raid on Augsburg in April 1942. Nettleton's Lancaster was shot down by a German night fighter over the Channel while returning from Turin. He and his crew all died and their names are on the Runnymede Memorial. From The Bomber Command War Diaries by Middlebrook & Everitt


Lancaster DV156 VN-C piloted by Ernest Burnett was one of twelve aircraft that took off from RAF Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire as part of the bomber force detailed to bomb Turin. The aircraft was equipped with the Gee radio navigation system (see abbreviations)

Following take-off at 22.35 nothing further was heard from the Lancaster or its crew.

According to the Bomber Command Report on Night Operations flak opposition was never intense but some activity was encountered at Poix, Amiens and Le Creusot on the outward journey and defences at several points on the Atlantic coast went into action against the bombers on the homebound leg. Over Turin, heavy and light flak were both put up in moderate strength, but with little accuracy, and there appeared to be little co-operation with the 50 searchlights that were in use.

As for night fighters, intercepted wireless traffic referred to only 2 patrols in the areas of operation and no pursuits were heard. Returning crews reported a total of 9 interceptions including 2 attacks and 5 other combats. One Ju.88 was shot down by a Lancaster and another fighter was damaged.

Of the 13 Lancasters lost on this operation 8 were lost without trace, the names of their crew members recorded on the Runnymede Memorial. DV156 was one of the eight.

German air combat reports for the night of 12/13 July show 8 unsubstantiated claims of four engine bombers shot down. In addition to the eight lost without trace LM328 was shot down and crashed in the Bay of Biscay. Three of the crew survived, the bodies of the other 4 were not recovered and are recorded on the Runnymede Memorial.

Detailed research by Andrew Arty on German Luftwaffe Night Fighter Units concludes that the most likely cause of the loss of Lancaster DV156 was due to air combat with a Focke-Wulf FW190 probably of 1/SA.Gr.128 based at Brest.

In the absence of further evidence it seems that the Lancaster probably crashed in the sea, possibly in the Bay of Biscay.


(1) P/O. Ernest John Burnett was born in 1917 at Poplar, London the son of John Ravenhill Burnett (a Stationery Salesman) and Eleanor Annie Burnett nee Renton of Ashford, London. He had a brother Douglas Francis Burnett born 1907 and a sister Hilda Eleanor Burnett born 1910.

566187 F/Sgt. Ernest John Burnett was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 28 March 1943 (London Gazette 29 June 1943)

(2) P/O. Thomas Stenhouse was born in 1913 at Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland the son of David Stenhouse and Margaret Stenhouse later of Gorebridge, Midlothian.

522975 F/Sgt. Thomas Stenhouse was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 13 May 1943 (London Gazette 20 July 1943)

He is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

(3) P/O. Francis O'Carroll born c 1916 the son of John O'Carroll and Ellen Callaghan O'Carroll of Co Kilkenny Republic of Ireland

545200 St. Francis O'Carroll was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 3 July 1943 (London Gazette 21 September 1943)

(4) P/O. Arthur John Holloway was born in 1921 at Bristol the son of Clifford Louis Holloway and Elsie Clarissa Holloway nee Long. He had an elder brother Eric C. Holloway born 1914. He married Margaret E. Hulbert at Bristol in 1943 and lived at Redland, Gloucestershire.

1315760 Sgt. Arthur John Holloway was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 19 May 1943 (London Gazette 20 July 1943)

(5) Sgt. James Edward Albert Power Manning was born in 1920 at Edmonton, Middlesex the son of James Edward Holloway Manning and Ada Manning nee Power. He had a brother Frank T. Manning born in 1922 and a sister Grace A. Manning born 1923.

He married Joyce Margaret Boot at Edmonton in 1943 and lived at Palmer's Green, Middlesex.

(6) Sgt. Sturgess Herbert Rayner was born in 1911 at Erpingham, Norfolk the son of Herbert William Rayner and Mildred Rayner nee Esgate. He had a sister Ethel L.E. Rayner born 1915 and a brother Arthur W.E. Rayner born 1917.

He married Grace Maud Ebbage at Erpingham in 1935.

He is commemorated on the Eastern Coach Works War Memorial at Lowestoft.

(7) Sgt. Jesse Thomas Wilson was born in 1922 at Blean, Kent the son of John Wilson and Maud Ethel Wilson nee Eldridge later of Chisley Kent

(8) Sgt. George Batey born c1920 the son of George Batey and Mary Batey of Liverpool.


(1) P/O. Ernest John Burnett. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 131

(2) P/O. Thomas Stenhouse. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 133

(3) P/O. Francis O'Carroll. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 132

(4) P/O. Arthur John Holloway. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 132

(5) Sgt. James Edward Albert Power Manning. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 132

(6) Sgt. Sturgess Herbert Rayner. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 162

(7) Sgt. Jesse Thomas Wilson. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial 170

(8) Sgt. George Batey. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 142

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Carol Black, Robert Spencer and all other relatives and friends of the members of this crew - May 2017

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 27.05.2017

RW 28.05.2017 Photographs of the crew and DV156 courtesy Robert Spencer added

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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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