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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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50 Squadron Crest
03/04.05.1944 50 Squadron Lancaster III ED870 VN:J Plt Off. Albert Handley

Operation: Mailly-Le-Camp, France

Date: 3rd/4th May 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED870

Code: VN:J

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe

Location: Poivres, France

Pilot: Plt Off. Albert Handley 173341 RAFVR Age 28. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Charles Thomas Brown 1867213 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Theodore Edward Archard 135740 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Robert Stanley Garrod 1324243 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Cyril Whitelock 1146149 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. James Walker White R193905 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air/Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. David Bisset 650022 RAF Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. George Edward Gilpin 610020 RAF Age? KiA

Above left: Sgt. Charles T. Brown (Courtesy of Adrian Doyle), right Flt Sgt. James W. White (from his service file)


Taking off at 21:58 hrs from RAF Skellingthorpe to bomb Mailly-Le-Camp, a German military camp situated close to the French village of Mailly some 140 km east of Paris.

The bomber stream of 346 Lancasters crossed the French coast at around 23.15 hrs but control of the raid filed as although the initial low level marking made by 2 pathfinder Mosquitoes was accurate and backed up by Lancaster marker aircraft, the signal from the ‘Market Leader’ Wg Cdr. Cheshire to come in and bomb was lost when the ‘Main Force Controller’ Wg Cdr. Deane as his radio set was being drowned by American forces broadcast and his transmitter was incorrectly tuned. However, the attack eventually started with over 1,500 tons of bombs dropped on the target area - with great accuracy. 114 barrack buildings were destroyed, 47 transport sheds and some ammunition buildings also hit.

The night fighters attacked over the target and continued during the homeward bound bombers. Some 42 Lancasters were lost this night - all contributed to the Luftwaffe night fighters.

Lancaster ED870 was shot down as it approached the target, crashing at Poivres - where the crew were eventually buried.

There were three unidentified Lancasters that were claimed by German-Night fighters in the vicinity of Mailly-Le-Camp. The crash site of ED870 at Poivres is only 4 km (2½ mls) NE of the target of the Military camp at Mailly-Le-Camp.

50 Squadron lost four aircraft during this operation, the others:

Lancaster III LM437 VN:P Flown by 22 year old Plt Off. Ronald Stanley Hanson 171336 RAFVR, of South Harrow, Middlesex - KiAQ with 5 others of his crew, 1 evaded capture;
Lancaster III LM480 VN:U Flown by Flt Lt. T.H. Blackham DFC RAFVR who evaded capture with 1 other crew member, 6 others KiA;
Lancaster III ND953 VN:S Flown by Plt Off. W.F. Dobson RAFVR who also evaded capture with 1 other crew member, 1 taken PoW with the other 4 KiA.

Above: The publication ‘Battle Under the Moon’ covers the operation on Mailly-Le-Camp in great detail. Published by Crecy Publishing 1995 ISBN 978-0859791090. Author - Jack Currie.

Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour - Aircrew Remembered have offered to provide basic information for the school records. Fg Off. Theodore Edward Archard was a former pupil.

Burial Details:

Plt Off. Albert Handley. Poivres Churchyard. Grave 5. Son of Arthur Handley, and of Mary Ann Handley, of Rhyl, Flintshire, Wales.

Sgt. Charles Thomas Brown. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. Born in 1st Qtr of 1925 in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Son of Harold and Winifred (née Richards) (Deceased in 1932) Brown of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Fg Off. Theodore Archard. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. Grave inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF A VERY DEAR SON, RIP, MOTHER’. Son of Edward Francis Archard, and of Maude Elizabeth Archard, of Worcester, England

Fg Off. Theodore Edward Archard M.Sc. Poivres Churchyard. Joint Grave 22-23. Son of Edward Francis Archard, and of Maude Elizabeth Archard, of Worcester, England.

Flt Sgt. Robert Stanley Garrod. Poivres Churchyard. Grave 8. Grave Inscription: ‘YOU ARE GONE FROM ME BUT IN MY MEMORY WE ALWAYS WILL BE TOGETHER’. Son of Robert William and Florence Garrod, of Epsom, Surrey, England

Sgt. Cyril Whitelock. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. Grave Inscription: ‘IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR DEAR SON, GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. TOO DEARLY LOVED’. Son of Dennis Trainor Whitelock and Mary Russell Whitelock, of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England.

Flt Sgt. James Walker White. Poivres Churchyard. Grave 7. Grave Inscription: ‘AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER’. Born on the 27th September 1924 in Toronto, Ontario. Son of James and Elizabeth McLean (née Walker) White of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. David Bisset. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. Grave Inscription: ‘UNTIL THE DAY BREAK AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY’. Son of James F. Bisset and Jessie Bisset, of Chirnside, Berwickshire, England.

Sgt. George Edward Gilpin. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. No further details, are you able to assist?

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Jun 2015). Thanks to Christopher Whitelock, the great nephew of Sgt. Whitelock, for the grave marker and his image. (Jun 2019). Thanks to Adrian Doyle for his uncle, Sgt. Brown’s Next of Kin details and his photograph (Apr 2024). Corrections and updates to the Next of Kin details plus addition of image for Flt Sgt White. (Apr 2024).

Other sources listed below:

RS 22.04.2024 - Corrections, new information and photograph 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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