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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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100 Squadron
30.06/01.07.1944 100 Squadron Lancaster III LM621 Plt Off. William Kay

Operation: Vierzon, France

Date: 30th June/1st July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 100 Squadron, 1 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: LM621

Code: HW:C

Base: RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England

Location: Vouzon, Central France

Pilot: Plt Off. William Kay 171099 RAFVR Age? Id No: 78400 *, PoW No: 8054 ** (1, 2 & 3)

Flt Eng: Sgt. Harry Dale 1512979 RAFVR Age 23. PoW No: 295 ***

Nav: Sgt. Frederick Harold 'Fred' Fulsher R225050 RCAF Age 27. Id No: 78418 *, PoW No: 8089 ** (1 & 2)

Bombardier: FO James Douglas Frink DFC T-223124 USAAF Age 23. Evader (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Harrop 1494660 RAFVR Age? Evader (4)

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. John Eason Sharpley 2204552 RAFVR Age 19. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William Edward Struck R197206 RCAF Age 20. Evader (1)

* Buchenwald concentration camp established on Ettersberg hill near Weimer, Germany in July 1937.

** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

*** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).

RAF Grimsby: The existing airfield on this site was taken under Air Ministry control in July 1939 and then by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in May 1940. The airfield officially opened, after it was upgraded, during November 1941 and was initially used as a satellite airfield to nearby RAF Binbrook. Although the airfield was officially designated as RAF Grimsby it was known as RAF Waltham by both the local residents and service personnel on the base. This misnomer caused some confusion as there was an active airfield at RAF White Waltham near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

On the 2nd June 1944 this crew aboard Lancaster III, ND456 took off from RAF Grimsby at 23:45 hrs, but clipped the roof of a barn and severely damaged the undercarriage. After using up fuel and jettisoning the bomb load, crashed landed at 03:36 hrs at Woodbridge airfield in Suffolk. No injuries reported.


On the 30th June 1944 LM621 took off from RAF Grimsby at 22:00 hrs to join a force of 118 Lancasters from 1 Group tasked with attacking the railway yards at Vierzon, a small town south of Orléans. Two Lancasters from 100 Sqn failed to base and nothing was heard from either aircraft.

En route to the target LM621 was claimed by Hptm. Fritz Söthe, his 12th Abschuss and first of two this night, from 4./NJG4, 15 to 50 km east of Blois at 2.700m at 01:08 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

He became Staffelkapitän of 4./NJG4 in August of 1944. On the night of the 28th September 1944 he was KiA when his Ju-88 was shot down by an 85 Sqn Mosquito flown by Flt Lt. Michael H.C. Phillips and Flt Lt. Derek V. Smith. Hptm. Söthe was credited with 18 Abschüsse. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 4).

Note: On the night of the 6th November 1944 Flt Lt. Michael H.C. Phillips DFC and Flt Lt. Derek V. Smith DFC flying Mosquito NF.XIX, MM624 on a Bomber Support mission to Koblenz were hit by ‘Friendly Fire’ from a British bomber which set one of the engines on fire after which an unidentified German night-fighter shot them down NNE of Koblenz. Both survived and became PoWs.

The aircraft crashed at Vouzon in the commune in the of Loir-et-Cher department, 5 km (3 mls) NNE from Lamotte-Beuvron and some 46¾ kms (29¼ mls) due north of the target.

The second aircraft from 100 Sqn was Lancaster I LL958, HW:H which was claimed by Oblt. Jacob Schaus, his 20th Abschuss, from 4./NJG4, 15 to 20 km east of Blois at 3,000 m. at 01:35 hrs. Plt Off. J.E. Estall and his crew of six were KiA.

Above L-R: P/O. William Kay, Sgt. Harry Dale, Fl/Sgt. Frederick Fulsher, F/O. James Frink, Fl/Sgt. John Sharpley, Sgt. William Struck. (Courtesy Mark Hanson)

(1) The following is a summary statement given by Flight Officer (FO = Warrant Officer (WO)) James D. Frink T-223124 in his Escape & Evasion Report on the 13th August 1944.

"We were shot down on the night of 30th June/1st July while on a mission to Vierzon south of Orléans. I bailed out safely, buried my parachute, harness and Mae West and spent the night hiding in the woods. Next day I asked a farmer for food and directions, which he gave me. He also took me to the nearby town of Ménestreau-en-Villette, where I made contact with the local underground organisation. They had found Plt Off. Kay, Flt Sgt. Fulsher, and Sgt. Struck of our crew.

The four of us spent the period from the 1st to the 12th July in a house near Ménestreau-en-Villette where we cared for by the local Maquis. There were few German around but the Maquis made us stay hidden.

On the 12th July the four of us left for Normandy, with the idea of getting back through our lines. Shortly after leaving Ménestreau-en-Villette the four of us separated with myself and Sgt. Struck heading west to Mamers, where we contacted the Resistance and stayed until the 20th July, after which we were sent on to Montmirail.

We were taken care of by a private family until the 11th August after which we sent in a cheese truck to Vibraye. There were false Resistance rumours that the Germans were going to arrest everyone in the neighbourhood, so we went at once to Saint-Mars-la-Brière and the next day, leaving Sgt. Struck there, I went on to Le Mans, where I was picked up by US troops and then sent to 80th Division Headquarters where I was were questioned.

Instead of being able to get back to Saint-Mars-la-Brière to collect Sgt. Struck I was taken on to La Ferté-Bernard where I was arrested as a straggler on the orders of a US Army Colonel. I was in the Combat operations Centre (CoC) of the 206th Engineer (Combat) Battalion at the time. I think he was in command of the outfit. I was taken to Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in La Ferté-Bernard, but I was soon released".

Sgt. William E. Struck was liberated by US forces at Montmirail on the 13th August 1944.

FO. Frink was repatriated to the USA aboard an Air Transport Command (ATC) flight from Prestwick to Washington, DC via Harmon Field, Stephenville in Newfoundland on the 9th August 1944.

(2) On the 19th July 1944 Plt Off. Kay and Flt Sgt. Fulsher were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Fresnes prison located to the south of Paris. This was were French political prisoners were held and ordinarily Allied airmen, after questioning, were moved to a PoW Camp. In the summer of 1944, with the Allies having liberated Paris and closing in, the Gestapo guards started reducing the prison population by execution, and then relocating surviving prisoners to various concentration camps east of France. On the 15th August 1944 they were amongst 169 Allied PoWs and hundreds of French men and women who were packed into a freight train and transported to Buchenwald concentration camp on a journey lasting five days. Buchenwald was located 8 km (5 mls) north of Weimar, in the German province of Thüringen.

Note: Fg Off. Joel M. Stevenson C27788 RCAF escaped from the train and successfully evaded.

Sqn Ldr. Lamason and Fg Off. Chapman succeeded in getting all but two of the Allied PoWs transferred to Stalag Luft 3. Two airmen, 1st Lt. Levitt Clinton Beck Jr. O-736945, US AAF and Fg Off. Philip Derek Hermmens, 152583, RAFVR, died in the camp hospital.


For decades the International Red Cross (IRC) had stated that there were no military personnel in Buchenwald despite the overwhelming documentary and anecdotal evidence. It was not until 1988 that the IRC eventually confirmed the airmen were illegally held at Buchenwald.

The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments also consistently denied that any of their service personnel were ever held in concentration camps and refused to investigate the claims made by a 'mere’ handful of men.

Reparations were made to the British airmen who had been illegally held at Buchenwald in 1965. Eventually in 1988 the Australian, New Zealand and it is believed the Canadian governments acknowledged that their airmen had been illegally held in concentration camps.

American airmen were among those who received compensation and the US Air force have acknowledged the Buchenwald airmen with an exhibit at the Air Force Museum, albeit the airmen are shown in uniform rather than in civilian attire. Furthermore, there is no mention of decades-long denial of their experiences by other branches of the government.

(3) Plt Off. Kay was granted a commission and promoted to Fg Off. on the 27th July 1944, whilst being a PoW. After his release he remained in the Royal Air Force. He was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) on the on the 31st May 1956 and retired from the Royal Air Force as a Sqn Ldr. on the 22nd August 1975.

(4) Sgt. Ernest Harrop returned to the UK on the 23rd August 1944.

Burial details:

Flt Sgt. John Eason Sharpley. Vouzon Communal Cemetery Mil. Plot. Grave 1. Born in the 1st Qtr of 1925 in Burnley, Lancashire. Son of Walter and Marion Nairne E (née Weir) Sharpley of Ormskirk, Lancashire, England.

Note: Vouzon is a village and commune some 54 km (33½ mls) east of Blois and 5 km (3 mls) NE of the town of Lamotte-Beuvron. The cemetery is north of the village and north of the road to Sennely. The one British airman’s grave is right on the entrance against the southern wall.

Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to Mark Hanson for the information about his grandfather, Sgt. Dale (Jan 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 25.01.2023 - Update to Buchenwald narrative and for Sgt. Dale

KTY 05-03-2023 - Crew photo added, Courtesy Mark Hanson

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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