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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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161 crest
161 Squadron Lysander IIIa V9822 F/O. John Walter McDonald

Operation: Special Operations Executive

Date: 11th February 1944 (Friday)

Unit: No. 161 Squadron (motto: 'Liberate'). 3 Group

Type: Lysander IIIa

Serial: V9822

Code: MA-E

Base: RAF Tempsford, Bedfordshire

Location: near Farges-en-Septaine, Cher, France

Pilot: F/O. John Walter McDonald Aus/414419 RAAF Age 26. Killed


Taking off at 21:40 hrs detailed to carry out a Secret Intelligence Service mission Operation Serbie, and set course for France.

N9822 overshot the landing strip twice and on the third approach, touched down at high speed and overturned, bursting into flames killing the Australian pilot.

The two agents, Willy Josset and Jean Lacroix escaped with their lives although Jean Lacroix was badly burnt but, after medical treatment returned to England within weeks.

Above: Corgi produced a die-cast model of V9822.

The performance of the Lysander made it the ideal aircraft to undertake clandestine nocturnal operations into enemy-occupied France and a number of aircraft were specially modified to transport and recover agents and people of interest, working with the Special Operations Executive and the French resistance. Unarmed and using nothing more than maps, compass and the moonlight for navigation, these dangerous missions were flown at a low level to avoid detection and landing in fields that were marked by the French resistance. Knowing that the Germans would show them no mercy if they were captured during one of these missions, they helped to provide essential intelligence to Allied military planners in advance of the D-Day landings and required levels of flying skill, bravery and tenacity which were only found in a small number of special airmen.

Burial details:

F/O. John Walter McDonald. Farges-En-Septaine Communal Cemetery. Plot 3. Row 8. Grave 8. Born on the 29th March 1917 at Mareeba, Queensland. Enlisted on the 14th of September 1941. Son of John and Rosina McDonald, husband of Daphne Hazel McDonald, of Holland Park, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription: 'You Live Forever In Our Hearts'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to AIR 27/1068 National Archives, NAA, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 16-04-2022

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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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