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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
11/12.06.1943 No. 156 Squadron Lancaster III ED935 GT-C Fl/Sgt. Lay

Operation: Münster

Date: 11/12th June 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 156 Squadron (8 Group)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ED935

Code: GT-C

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire (then Huntingdonshire)

Location: Ijsselmeer, Netherlands

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Laurence William Lay AUS/408724 RAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: F/O. John Albert Cowley DFM. 120216 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald Edward Ratcliff 743397 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Robert Maxwell Bryant AUS/411748 RAAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Donald Compton Bauman 1320428 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Drake 1380012 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Richard Curtis 1483600 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Forster 1533997 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed


Taking off from RAF Warboys in Cambridgeshire at 23:38 hrs with 73 other aircraft. This was one of two operations taking place this night. The other a force of 783 other bombers left to attack Dusseldorf.

The Dusseldorf operation caused extensive damage with 1,300 people killed on the ground with 140,000 bombed out of their homes. The Munster raid was described as very accurate with the bombing lasting just 10 minutes. Railway installations were extensively damaged as well as housing. 52 people killed on the ground with 132 buildings destroyed with a further 317 seriously damaged.

No nightfighter claims for ED935, so it is probable that they were brought down by the Kriegsmarine flak.

The bodies of Sgt. William Drake and Sgt. John Curtis were washed ashore at Lemmeron the 28th June and the 30th June 1943 respectively. The body of F/O. Robert Bryant was washed ashore on the 17th June 1943 on Urk Island, the body of F/O. John Cowley washed ashore near Urk on the 21st June 1943. The remaining members of the crew , Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Lay,

Crew graves. F/O. Robert Bryant shares a grave with 21 year old, Sgt. Douglas Noel Campbell 1345600 RAFR a wireless operator with 12 Squadron Lancaster I ED357 PH-S one of 5 crew killed, 2 others made Pow. F/O. John Cowley DFM. shares his grave with 20 year old, Sgt. James Leslie Osborne 1172557 RAFVR the Flight Engineer from the same crew as Sgt. Campbell.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Laurence William Lay. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Born on the 09th August 1917 at North Carlton, Victoria, Australia, the son of William George and Agnes Marion Lay, of 82 Lang Street, North Carlton, Victoria, Australia. A timber worker prior to enlisting.

F/O. John Albert Cowley DFM. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Collective grave 20. Son of George William Samuel and May Louise Cowley, of Cam, Gloucestershire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Now Sleeps The Brave, Who Sinks To Rest, By All His Country's Wishes Blest!".

Sgt. Reginald Edward Ratcliff. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 162. Son of Frederick Robert and Marian Maud Ratcliff, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England.

F/O. Robert Maxwell Bryant. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Collective grave 19. Born on the 13th January 1921 at Cowra, New South Wales, Australia, the son of John James Bryant and Mary Estelle Bryant, of 15 Bartlett Avenue, Cowra, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That He Lay Down His Life".

Sgt. Donald Compton Bauman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 142. Son of Oscar and Isabel Bauman, of Bushey, Hertfordshire, England.

Sgt. William John Drake. Lemsterland General Cemetery (Lemmer) Plot C. Row 8. Grave 235. Son of John and Emily Drake, of Winchester, Hampshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Jesus Called Him To Heaven's Perfect Peace"

Sgt. John Richard Curtis. Lemsterland General Cemetery (Lemmer) Plot C. Row 8. Grave 234. Son of Charles Herbert and Clara Curtis, of Hull, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. William Forster. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 149. Son of Bertram and Alice Forster, of Bedlington, Northumberland, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Australian Archives and sources as shown. With thanks to Rob Wethly and Fulham Rocks for grave photographs.

KTY - 14.02.2018

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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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