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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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514 Squadron Lancaster II LL739 P/O. Argyle Bruce Cunningham

Operation: Louvain

Date: 11/12th May 1944 (Thursday Friday)

Unit: No. 514 Squadron (motto: il Obstare Potest - 'Nothing can withstand')

Type: Lancaster II

Serial: LL739

Code: JI-M

Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshir

Location: Rixensart, Belgium

Pilot: P/O. Argyle Bruce Cunningham NZ/424433 RNZAF PoW No: 5150 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Fl/Eng: P/O. Donald Albert Winterford 173829 RAFVR PoW No: 6510 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Nav: F/O. Robert John Ramsey 1324809 RAFVR PoW No: 6305 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Air/Bmr: F/O. Reginald Ford Brailsford 1350747 RAFVR Evaded

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Wallace Stone 656855 RAFVR Evaded

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Fred William Brown 1350401 RAFVR PoW No: 207 Camp: Bankan, near Kreulberg, Upper Silesia

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bleddyn Lloyd Roberts 1819401 RAFVR Evaded


Weather conditions were described as fie an sunny with good visibility. Some haze over the target

Bomb load: 5 x 1000 lb MC, 5 x 1000 lb GP5 x 500 lb MC

Taking off at around 22:30 hrs, one of 10 from the squadron tasked to bomb railway lines at Louvain in Belgium.

1 returned early due to a defective port inner engine and altimeter not working. Lancaster II DS622 JI-T flown by P/O. Douglas Austin Woods Aus/420731 RAAF. They jettisoned their bombs at 23:37 hrs - 7 minutes after taking off and returned to base, landing at 00:12 hrs. The cause of the altimeter failure was a bee in the pilot head! (killed the following month in Lancaster I LL620 JI-T with all his crew). Another aircraft (Lancaster II LL727 - flown by F/O. Louis Greenburgh returned with full bomb load but jettisoned prior to landing at 01:45 hrs) as no target indicators visible. The remaining 7 crews bombed the primary target and returned to base.

Results difficult to assess as smoke obscured vision in all cases. Flak was light. Defence of Brussels and Antwerp in action. on aircraft had two combat attacks.

P/O. Cunningham later reported that he felt that they hds been hit by tracer fire from another Lancaster. As no reports from either flak units or night fighters this may well have been the case. A fire started in the starboard inner engine and within seconds the entire wing was engulfed in flames. The pilot ordered all the crew to abandon the aircraft - all complied at 01:00 hrs. The pilot landed on a roof of a cafe in Rixensart. and taken PoW.

Sgt. Ramsey and Sgt. Brown evaded capture for a while but were eventually captured by the Gestapo on the 11th June 1944 and made PoW.

P/O. Winterford was shot in the shoulder by a German patrol who initially thought he was a saboteur and left him as dead. Another German patrol later picked him up and took him to hospital.

F/O. Reginald Brailsford evaded capture - liberated in Brussels in early September 1944. Sgt. Bleddyn Roberts evaded and returned to England in mid September 1944. Sgt. John Stone also with great help from the Belgian resistance returned to England in mis September.

P/O. Cunningham made two attempts to escape with a former Eton College prefect, Mustang pilot, Guy Edward Chaloner Pease but both attempts were thwarted.

Above L-R: F/O. Reginald Brailsford, Sgt. Fred Brown, Sgt Gordon Hay (replaced by P/O. Donald Albert Winterford on this flight), Sgt. John Stone. Front: Sgt. Bleddyn Roberts, P/O. Argyle Cunningham and F/O. Robert Ramsey.

Other details:

Argyle Bruce Cunningham passed away on the 15th July 2020, age 100.
Donald Albert Winterford passed away in 2005, buried at Coldwaltham, West Sussex.
Robert John Ramsey. Born on the 16th August 1921 in Hastings, Sussex.
Reginald Ford Brailsford passed away on the 18th February 1963 from Keighley, Yorkshire.
John Wallace Stone. Born on the 08th May 1914 in Clevedon, Somerset.
Fred William Brown. Born on the 11th April 1922 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
Bleddyn Lloyd Roberts. Born on the 21st June 1924 in Tanygrisiau, North Wales. Unusually returned to active service and killed on the 07th October 1944 on Lancaster LM735 JI-G2 whilst with 514 squadron.

Above: L-R Rear; W.R Lauder, L.J McLean, D.G.M Kilgour, D.A Leslie, E.E Peters, J. Davidson, F.E.R Noble, Cedric Charles William NZ/424453, John Milford Aitken NZ/39075, F.B Williams. (Courtesy Fred Brown)
Centre; Raymond Farmer Wilson NZ/437059, C.W Foote, Robert Weir HerronNZ/422282, Alexander Gray NZ/41882, Alan Gregory Stafford NZ/424531, John David Mouat NZ/422355, I.G Watt, R.D Gear, J.A Sanderson.
Front; Argyle Bruce Cunningham NZ/424433, M.R King, I.R Donaldson, A.C.E Broad, E.H Jarvice, D.E Belcher, Kenneth Watson Orchiston NZ/422310, Paul Thompson NZ/422333n, I.L Joiner. (Courtes Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Air-271977-13/14 National Archives, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland. The great Comet Line website.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 08-02-2023

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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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