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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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156 Squadron Crest
24.09.1944 156 Squadron Lancaster III PB177 GT:L Flt Lt. Kenneth P.C. Doyle DFC

Operation: Calais (Day operation)

Date: 24th September 1944 (Sunday)

Unit: 156 Squadron (Pathfinder)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB177

Code: GT:L

Base: RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire

Location: English Channel - lost without trace

Pilot: Flt Lt. Kenneth Patrick Cochrane Doyle DFC 174773 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Walter James Roberts 959101 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Nav 1: Flt Lt. Harold Frederick Morrish DFC 136872 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed

Nav 2: Plt Off. Alfred Astle DFC. 177562 RAFVR Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Bomb Aimer: Flt Lt. James Albert Noble J29704 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Douglas Keller Green 657872 RAFVR Age 32. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr (Mid App): WO. William Henry Edinburgh 1379496 RAFVR Age 36. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Kenneth Steele 1492541 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

We are very keen to obtain the names of the people shown on the photographs sent into to us by the niece of Flt Sgt. David Winlow - a navigator with the squadron, some of this crew, and others served with him. Please contact us with any information and this will be forwarded.


At this time of the war the tide was turning against the axis powers - the allies were already drawing up plans on what to do with Germany once defeated.

This operation was taken in daylight such was the air superiority over this area at this stage although anti-aircraft batteries were still very much a threat. Lancaster PB177 took off at 16:45 hrs from their base in Cambridgeshire to bomb German positions in the Calais area.

Above left: Flt Lt. Kenneth Doyle DFC with Flt Sgt. Geoffrey Chapman-Smith (1) (courtesy Una McKellar) Right: Flt Lt. James Albert Noble (courtesy Dave Champion)

188 aircraft taking part, 101 Lancasters, 62 Halifaxes and 25 Mosquitoes - the target area was totally covered in cloud as low as 2.000 ft, consequently although the pathfinders dropped sky markers some went in low to obtain a visual.

The fierce anti-aircraft guns took their toll with 7 Lancasters and 1 Halifax lost to them. It is thought that PB177 was hit by the flak and crashed into the Channel. No crew bodies were recovered.

Above: Flt Sgt. David Winlow 1st left, Flt Sgt. Geoffrey Chapman-Smith (1) on crutches, Flt Lt. Kenneth Doyle next to his left - but are you able to name the others? (courtesy Una McKellar)

Above: Flt Sgt. David Winlow extreme right, Flt Sgt. Geoffrey Chapman-Smith on crutches (1), Flt Lt. Kenneth Doyle extreme left - but are you able to name the others? (courtesy Una McKellar)

On the 15th February 1944 Flt Sgt. Winlow was navigator on another operation to the heart of Germany, Berlin. They were attacked by an enemy aircraft during the approach to the target. The rear gunner, Flt Sgt. Geoffrey Chapman-Smith 424847 RAAF (1) was hit in his right leg, shattering it, but he maintained his post protecting the aircraft and crew until they managed to return and land at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk on 3 engines. The mid upper gunner, Sgt. A.C. Clark also suffered a broken left leg - both were placed on the seriously ill list with Sgt. Chapman-Smith having to have his leg amputated. Awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal for this at Buckingham Palace. Many of his crew attended.

Flt Sgt. David Winlow 1503797 RAFVR had been a navigator with the squadron and served with several (1) of this crew on previous operations. Sadly on the 7th August 1944 he was one of two aircrew killed at the base when a Mosquito KB202 of 139 Sqn flown by Flt Lt. John Henry Kenny overshot the runway and hit a house where both Flt Sgt. Winlow and 22 year old, Flt Sgt. Allan Lawson Rookes 1479035 were staying - killed both 2 crew members of the Mosquito and the boys in the house who had just returned from an operation to the Hazebrouck rail yards.

(1) Flt Lt. Kenneth Patrick Cochrane Doyle DFC, Flt Sgt. Douglas Keller Green, Plt Off. Alfred Astle DFC. on the night he was killed. Others on other operations including Sgt. G.S. Richardson, Sgt. A.C. Clark.

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Kenneth Patrick Cochrane Doyle DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 202. Born in 1st Qtr of 1923 in St. Pancras, London. Son of Harold Frederick and Ida Mary Doyle (née Brown) of St Pancras, London.

His DFC was awarded whilst with 156 Sqn. London Gazette 19th September 1944

Flt Sgt. Walter James Roberts. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 221. Son of Hebert and Alice Roberts and husband of Yvonne Mary Roberts, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England.

Flt Lt. Harold Frederick Morrish DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203. Son of George Edward and Rosina Morrish and husband of Marion Morrish, of Neasden, Middlesex, England.

His DFC was awarded whilst with 156 Sqn. London Gazette 12th February 1946

Plt Off. Alfred Astle DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Son of Arthur and Clara Kate Astle and husband of Dulcie Astle (née Seager), of Swindon, Wiltshire, England.

Fg Off. James Albert Noble. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 247. Born on the 3rd December 1918 in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. Son of John Henry and Bertha Alameda (née Searl) Noble of Detroit, Michigan, USA. His father predeceased him. Husband to Joyce Elizabeth (née Hodway) Noble of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada.

Flt Sgt. Douglas Keller Green. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 218. Son of Arthur Reginald and Gladys Evelyn Green, of Golders Green, Middlesex, England.

WO. William Henry Edinburgh. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 213. Son of William Henry and Kathleen Edinburgh and husband of Winifred Edinburgh, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Steele. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. Son of Frederick Denton Steele and Rachel Steele, of Wolstanton, Staffordshire, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) with thanks to Una McKellar - niece of Flt Lt. David Winlow. Australian Archives, 156 Squadron website. With thanks to Dave Champion for revised crew positions. Thanks to John Jones for the NoK details for Flt Lt. Doyle (Jan 2022). Other updates to NoK details by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Other sources shown below.

RS 19.01.2022 - Update to NoK details

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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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