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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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61 squadron badge
14/15.01.1945 61 Squadron Lancaster III LM720 QR:D Fg Off. William G. Corewyn

Operation: Leuna, Germany.

Date: 14th/15th January 1945 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit No: 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM720

Code: QR:D

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire.

Location: Bard Hill, Salthouse, Norfolk.

Pilot: Fg Off. William George Corewyn 178520 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Peter Richard Earl 1649851 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: Flt Sgt. Ronald Charles Battersby 1545932 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Bom Aimer: Flt Sgt. Edward James Boakes 1586951 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Sidney Joseph James 1583124 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. John Douglas 1373345 RAFVR Age 24. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Richard Richardson 1590833 RAFVR Age 19. KiA


Took off at 16:30 hrs from Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to bomb the synthetic oil refinery in Germany. A total of 573 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitoes took part in two raids this night. The attacks were classed as very successful causing severe damage throughout the plant. 10 Lancasters were lost on this raid.

Lancaster LM720 carried out the raid and on return to it's base weather conditions worsened and it is thought that this together with a poor wireless transmission advising the crew to divert to Carnaby airfield near Bridlington, Yorkshire are the reasons behind the accident.(built solely for the use of damaged large aircraft, with a single runway - 5 times the normal width and with a length of 9,000 metres.

This airfield also had FIDO in place to assist during fog. however for some reason the aircraft headed towards Langham airfield, Norfolk. The aircraft was descending to land in very bad visibility and low cloud when the Lancaster hit a 200 ft. radar mast at Bard Hill, Salthouse, Norfolk at 01:21 hrs. 6 the crew were killed instantly the 7th, Flt Sgt Edward Boakes died in hospital at 06:25hrs the same day.

FIDO = Fog Intense Dispersal Operation.

Lancaster LM720 Crew (Courtesy of the Earl family)

Left: Sgt. Peter Earl (courtesy of the Earl family) Right: Flt Sgt. Edward 'Teddy' Boakes (courtesy Sian Boakes)

Photographs supplied by Gerald Cubitt (Salthouse born historian)

The pylon today (courtesy of airfield exchange Note: this organisation no longer exists)

With thanks to Val Fiddian for the use of the information and some photographs in this article. She and her website have been a tremendous help and hope that we are able to assist one another in the future with other Norfolk losses / memorials.

Burial details:

Some of the crew graves (courtesy of Andy Upton)

Fg Off. William George Corewyn. Dalnottar Cemetery. Sec. K. Grave 11. Grave inscription: 'ONE OF THE BRAVE WHO ANSWERED THE CALL, FOR THOSE HE LOVED HE GAVE HIS ALL', Son of William George and Annie Leeson Corewyn, of Scotstounhill, Glasgow, Scotland.

Sgt. Peter Richard Earl. Wells-Next-The-Sea Cemetery. Grave 374. Grave inscription: ‘HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR FREEDOM. EVER REMEMBERED BY HIS LOVING SISTERS AND BROTHERS, UNCLE, FIANCEE AND PARENTS'. Son of George William and Lizzie Earl, of Mayford, Woking, Surrey, nephew of Mr. R. C. T. Earl, of Knaphill, Woking, England.

Flt Sgt. Ronald Charles Battersby. Leeds (Lawn Wood) Cemetery Sec. V. Grave 263. Grave inscription: 'LOVING MEMORIES ALWAYS OF A DEAR SON AND BROTHER'. Son of Frederick and Louisa Battersby, of Headingley, Leeds, England.

Above: private family headstone for the Boakes family (Courtesy of PCC)

Flt Sgt. Edward James Boakes. Churchdown (St. Bartholomew) Churchyard/ S.W of Church. Grave inscription: 'E'EN AS HE TROD THAT DAY TO GOD, SO WALKED HE FROM HIS BIRTH; IN SIMPLENESS AND GENTLENESS, AND HONOUR AND CLEAN MIND'. Son of John Henry and Nellie Eva Boakes, of Gloucester, England.

Flt Sgt. Sidney Joseph James. Broadway (St. Eadburgh) Churchyard. N.W. of Church. Grave inscription: 'AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER HIM'. Son of Joseph Charles and Annie Elizabeth James, of Broadway, England.

Sgt. John Douglas. Wells-Next-The-Sea Cemetery. Grave 395. Grave inscription: 'ON WHOSE SOUL SWEET JESUS, HAVE MERCY'. Son of J. Douglas and Mary A. Douglas, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Richard Richardson. Tadcaster Cemetery Sec. B.7. Row K. Grave 4. Son of James Henry and Ada Mary (née Graham) Richardson from Lancashire.

His brother Sgt. James Graham Richardson 407317 of the Royal Tank Regiment was KiA on the 16th August 1944 in France.

With thanks the Salhouse History website in Norfolk. Also thanks to the Earl family for their gracious permission to use the crew photograph together with Sian Boakes relative of Flt Sgt. Edward James Boakes. Thanks to PCC for the new image of the Boakes family headstone (Jan 2023). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 01.01.2023 - Updated images and i formation

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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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