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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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15 Squadron Crest
16/17.01.1945 15 Squadron Lancaster I PB802 LS:F Fg Off. John H. Crone

Operation: Training

Date: 16th/17th January 1945 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: 15 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: PB802

Code: LS:F

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk.

Location: Harling, Norfolk, England

Pilot: Fg Off. John Henry Crone 419521 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Richard Devlin 1881244 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Nav: Sgt. George Russell Lake 1183934 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Leonard Richard Wilkins 1801112 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Lex Maitland Riordan 426468 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Fg Off. William Ernest Fuller 176263 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. Harry Harold Freedman 176265 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


At Aircrew Remembered we are trying to record as many training losses as possible - many of these incidents simply go unrecorded.

Took off from Mildenhall at 16:03 hrs on a bombing and cross-country exercise. At 21:30 hrs. it dived into the ground at Harling, 8 miles east north east of Thetford in Norfolk.

Also whilst with 15 Squadron on an operation to Calais on the 24th September 1944 Lancaster I LM109 LS:E Flown by Flt Lt. Philip Bonington Smith 102151 RAFVR from Asuncion, Paraguay who was killed along with 2 other crew. Plt Off. Lex Maitland Riordan escaped by baling out, along with 3 others and landed in allied held territory. Returned to England on the 26th September.

Above: Sadly the family of Plt Off. Riordan also lost another son, 20 year old, FltSgt Alan Douglas Riordan 420489 RAAF, No. 1 Torpedo Training Unit, RAF, was also killed in an accident, in Scotland, earlier on 16th August 1943.

Burial details:

Above: Initial grave markers for three of the crew (Credit: Jeffrey Devlin)

Fg Off. John Henry Crone. Cambridge City Cemetery. Coll. Grave 15951-15955. His grave inscription reads: “He Shall Be Remembered For His Deeds.” Son of Clifford and Agnes Crone of Donald, Victoria, Australia. Born 08th December 1923 at St. Arnold, Victoria, Australia - Enlisted at Melbourne.

Sgt. Richard Devlin. Cambridge City Cemetery. Coll. Grave 15951-15955. His grave inscription reads: “When You Go Home Tell Them Of Us And Say For Your Tomorrow We Gave Our Today.” Son of Henry and Sarah Devlin of Northern Ireland and husband of Millicent Emma Devlin of Northampton, England.

Sgt. George Russell Lake. Cambridge City Cemetery. Coll. Grave 15951-15955. His grave inscription reads: “Leaves Its Blessings Memories Of Days Gone By.” Husband of Olive Lillian Lake of Oulton broad, Lowestoft, Suffolk, England.

Flt Sgt. Leonard Richard Wilkins. Cambridge City Cemetery. Coll. Grave 15951-15955. His grave inscription reads: “Dearer To Us Than Words Can Tell Was The One We Lost But Loved So Well.” Son of Frederick and Edith Wilkins and husband of Olive Queenie Wilkins of Falconwood, Welling, Kent, England.

Plt Off. Lex Maitland Riordan. Cambridge City Cemetery. Coll. Grave 15951-15955. His grave inscription reads: “He Has Done His Duty.” Son of Guy Maitland and Emma Elizabeth Riordan of Goolmanger, New South Wales, Australia. Born 4th March - Lismore, NSW, Australia - Enlisted at Brisbane.

Fg Off. William Ernest Fuller. Sketty (St. Paul) Churchyard, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales New Part, Row A . Grave 7.

The following NoK details have not been corroborated. Born 3rd Qtr 1925 in Swansea, Glamorganshire. Mothers maiden name Webb. A record for the marriage of an Earnest G. Fuller and an Elizabeth Webb has been found for 1st Quarter 1917 in Swansea, Glamorganshire. His record of burial records that he was living on Gower Road, Sketty, Glamorganshire, Wales

Fg Off. Harry Harold Freedman. East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish cemetery. Block U. Grave 27. Son of Alfred and Hannah Freedman and husband of Debbe Freedman of Upper Clapton, London, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered volunteer, researcher and genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits to G.H.B. McBurney (nephew of Richard Devlin) Dot Andison for photo of pilot John Crone. Tentative NoK details for Fg Off. Fuller added by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Thanks to Jeffrey Devlin, a nephew of Sgt Devlin for the initial grave marker photograph. (Jan 2022).

RS 29.01.2022 - Initial grave marker and NoK details for Fg Off. Fuller 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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