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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
23/24.11.1943 156 Squadron Lancaster III JB293 WO2 Gordon W. Fordyce

Operation: Berlin

Date: 23/24 November 1943

Unit: 156 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB293

Code: GT-?

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire

Location: Manor Farm, Harpley, Norfolk

Pilot: WO2 Gordon William Fordyce R/116865 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. George Johnson 1511990 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Nav: Sgt. L.J. Collins RAFVR Survived - injured

Air/Bmr: Sgt. R. Harries RAFVR Survived - injured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Albert Edward Egan 169665 RAFVR Survived - injured (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Horace Hodges 754928 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Flt.Sgt. James Steel Minogue R/69302 RCAF Survived - injured (2)

The daughter of Sgt. Harries is keen to find any further information on him and to hear from any other relatives. In the first instance contact us and details will be forwarded.


Taking off at 17:23 hrs from RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire on an operation to Berlin.

On the inbound trip the aircraft flew into the ground at Manor Farm, Harpley near Fakenham, Norfolk.

In January 2017 Mr. Trevor Sherwood contacted us with this further information:

In 2005 a Kings Lynn Newspaper reported the following meeting. “In April 2005 Beryl Wagg and her husband, Bill, met 84-year-old Lawrence Collins, from Staines, in Middlesex, (the navigator), who was badly burned after the Lancaster bomber plane crashed into High Acre House in Harpley in November 1943.

Thanks to the quick-thinking efforts by her late father, Reginald Tipple, known as Reggie, rescued an airman trapped in the burning nose of the plane and another stuck under the wing, were helped out. He also helped a third member of the crew who had been flung from the plane, and the rear-gunner trapped in the broken tail of the machine.He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the following year for his bravery.

Mr Tipple, then a 35-year-old lorry driver, Home Guard sergeant and special constable, was in his cottage in Back Street, Harpley late at night when he heard the crash and rushed out to find the plane had smashed into a house only 200 yards away.

Entering the burning building, he broke the cabin of the plane with bricks so he could rescue navigator Mr Collins, before searching the wreckage to find another survivor with his clothes on fire pinned under one of the plane wings. After putting out the flames, he moved to help two other members of the air crew, and helped the occupants of the house, Miss Marjorie Morton and her mother, escape”.

(1) Albert Edward Egan was born on the 25th December 1916 and died on the 30th January 2006 in Torquay, Devon. He is buried in Gap Road Cemetery, Wimbledon.

(Left Courtesy Drury S. Egan) Flt.Sgt. Egan’s account of the reason for the crash was that the ground was not visible, it being nighttime with poor visibility / possible fog. The crew were unaware that the aircraft's altimeter had been damaged or failed, as it was still giving a reading, but that reading told them they were flying higher than they were. They hit what Flt.Sgt. Egan said was a barn without warning (which makes sense with Manor Farm) and that sent the aircraft careening into the ground and buildings. Flt.Sgt. Egan spent 3 months in hospital in Ely, for burn injuries and broken legs, before returning to operations with 156 Squadron in March 1944.

His promotion to Plt.Off was confirmed on the 11th April 1944 and his promotion to Fg.Off. on the 14th April 1944, gazetted 26th May 1944.

He was awarded the DFC whilst with 156 Sqn, gazetted on the 10th October 1944.

He was promoted to Flt.Lt. on the 14th October 1945, gazetted 6th November 1945.

(2) Flt.Sgt. Minogue (later WO) received the DFC gazetted on 27th June 1944:

Warrant Officer Minogue has completed 32 operational sorties, fourteen of which have been with the Pathfinder Force against heavily defended targets in Germany and Italy. This Non-Commissioned Officer is a keen and determined Air Gunner who has always displayed tenacity and great coolness in the face of enemy opposition. He has always shown a marked enthusiasm for operations, and it may be mentioned that he was one of four survivors when his aircraft crashed in this country in November 1943 when returning from Berlin. After he had recovered from his severe injuries he carried on operational flying and elected to continue for the full Pathfinder Force tour. He has always shown a high example in tenacity and devotion to duty and I have no hesitation in recommending him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Burial details:

WO2 Gordon William Fordyce. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14518. Further information:

Son of Gordon William Sr. and Janet Wright Fordyce (née Marshall) Brothers George and John, and one sister Margaret (Mrs. Kenneth Buxton) of 309 Maxwell Sreet, Sarnia, Canada. Born on June 13, 1920. Employed for two years at Kingston Brothers Service Station prior to enlisting, as a clerk and as a service station attendant. Gordon Fordyce enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in London, Ontario on August 12, 1941. He received his training in Quebec (Valcartier, St. Hubert, Victoriaville and Windsor Mills), in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and in Halifax. He gained his pilot’s flying badge on September 11, 1942. He became a member of RCAF 156 Squadron attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class II, Pilot. Gordon went overseas just one year prior to his death, and participated in several raids over Germany.

Sgt. George Johnson. Leeds (Armley) Cemetery. Sec. G. Grave 59. Husband of Elsie Johnson, of Armley, Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Ronald Horace Hodges. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 14718. Next of Kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

For further details our thanks to the following, Andy Smith for bringing this loss to our attention and his contact with one of the crew. Michel Beckers for pilot photo sent August 2016. Trevor Sherwood who contacted us with new information - January 2017. Thanks to Drury S. Egan, the grandson of Flt.Sgt. Egan for his photograph and Bio. Other sources as quoted.

RS 11.12.2019 - Photograph and Bio for Flt.Sgt. Egan

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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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