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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 No. 50 Squadron Lancaster III ED870 VN-J P/O. Albert Handley

Operation: Mailly-Le-Camp

Date: 03/04th May 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED870

Code: VN-J

Base: RAF Skellingthorpe

Location: Poivres, France

Pilot: P/O. Albert Handley 173341 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Thomas Brown 1867213 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. Theodore Edward Archard 135740 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Stanley Garrod 1324243 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril Whitelock 1146149 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Walker White R/193905 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Bisset 650022 RAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Edward Gilpin 610020 RAF Age ? Killed


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’ W/Cdr. Cheshire to come in and bomb was lost when the ‘Main Force Controller’ W/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. 50 Squadron lost four aircraft during this operation, the others:

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

Right: 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. F/O. Theodore Edward Archard was a former pupil.

Burial details:

Left: Grave of F/O. Theodore Archard. Son of Edward Francis Archard, and of Maude Elizabeth Archard, of Worcester. Inscription reads: ‘In Memory Of A Very Dear Son, RIP, Mother.’

P/O. 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. No further details, are you able to assist?

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

Fl/Sgt. Robert Stanley Garrod. Poivres Churchyard. Grave 8. Son of Robert William and Florence Garrod, of Epsom, Surrey.

Right: Sgt. Cyril Whitelock. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. Son of Dennis Trainor Whitelock and Mary Russell Whitelock, of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England.

Fl/Sgt. James Walker White. Poivres Churchyard. Grave 7. Son of James and Elizabeth White. of Toronto. Ontario. Canada.

Sgt. David Bisset. Poivres Churchyard. Coll. Grave 24-34. 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?

Thanks to Christopher Whitelock, the great nephew of Sgt. Whitelock, for the grave marker and his image.

RS 05.06.2019 - Inclusion of Sgt. Whitelock's image and grave marker

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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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