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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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No. 428 (Ghost) Squadron
13.01.1945 No. 428 (Ghost) Squadron Avro Lancaster X KB793 NA-E P/O. William "Bill" Stuart McMullen

Operation: Night cross country training exercise

Date: 13th January 1945 (Saturday)

Unit: No 428 (Ghost) Squadron

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB793

Code: NA-E

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Lingfield Farm, Nr Darlington, County Durham

Pilot: P/O. William "Bill" Stuart McMullen J/90038 RCAF Age 33 Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Tucker "Lew" Llewellin R/173742 RCAF Age 31 Safe (2)

Nav: F/O. W "Bill" A Sage J/39326 RCAF Age? Safe (3)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. H H Simms R/? RCAF Age? Safe (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. J Steve Ratsoy R/10882 RCAF Age? Safe (5)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Edward (Ted) D Dykes R/212033 RCAF Age? Injured (6)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Henry Feeley R/163474 Age? Safe (7)


Lancaster KB793 took off from RAF Middleton St. George at 17.49hrs for a night cross-country training exercise to gain further experience of this type of aircraft. The take-off was normal and the aircraft climbed to 10,000ft and levelled off. The aircraft cruised for about three hours which completed the exercise and the pilot started to descend.

Shortly after starting his descent a stream of sparks came from the exhaust of the port outer engine. These sparks were a sign of trouble, but there were no abnormal instrument readings. The engine was opened up to try and clear it but this had no effect, and then one of the crew reported that the engine was on fire. The Pilot P/O McMullen ordered that the propeller be feathered. Immediately on pressing the feathering button a sheet of flames shot out of the engine and as the fire was developing the pilot ordered the crew to bale out.

The Fl/Eng. George Tucker "Lew" Llewellin remained with the pilot and then he was ordered to bale out. He stood by the escape hatch for a moment to see if the pilot was following him, but he was not. The pilot remained with his aircraft to make sure the aircraft cleared the built up areas of Darlington. By this time it was to late for him too bale out and he died when the aircraft crashed at 20.49hrs at Lingfield Farm


                                                                          Avro Lancaster X aircraft and RAF Middleton St. George



Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery (courtesy CWGC) William Stuart McMullen headstone (courtesy Des Philippet and the memorial stone   near the crash site of Lancaster KB793 to honour P/O William S McMullen (courtesy Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Burial details:

P/O. William "Bill" Stuart McMullen. Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire. Grave Ref: Sec H. Row E. Grave 5. Son of James Henry and Ettie McMullen. Husband of Thelma McMullen of Lulu Island, British Columbia. William's funeral took place at 10.30am on Thursday 18th January 1945 at Harrogate Cemetery. The Squadron was represented by his crew and the service was conducted by Squadron Leader Clarke the Station Padre (1) William Stuart McMullen was born in Toronto in 1912 and not as he had stated on his enlistment papers 1915. William began his flying career with the RCAF on 22 December 1941 at Windsor E.F.T.S. (Elementary Flying Training School) Quebec and was awarded his "Flying Badge" on 6 November 1942



Newspaper: Northern Daily Mail, Thursday October 1945 (courtesy British Newspaper archive) McMullen Road (courtesy Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

(2) Sgt. George Tucker "Lew" Llewellin was born 7 July 1913 in Wentworth, Ontario. Before enlisting George was a clerk. Enlisted 20 July 1942 and was posted to No 428 Squadron 19 December 1944. Pilot Officer George Tucker Llewellin lost his life on an operation to Hagen 15/16 March 1945. Further details can be found (here)

(3) F/O. W "Bill" A Sage. No further information as yet. Are you able to help?

(4) Fl/Sgt. H H Simms. No further information as yet. Are you able to help?

(5) Fl/Sgt. J Steve Ratsoy was posted to No 431 Squadron 8 March 1945. No further information as yet. Are you able to help?


Lancaster KB739 "Zoomin Zombie" and crew after landing in Canada. (courtesy Bomber Command Museum, Canada) Ghost Squadron On the 5th June 1945, the crew of Lancaster KB739 "Zoomin Zombie" celebrate their successful crossing of the Atlantic from Azores on their way to Scoudouc. The members of the crew include Cliff Pratt (P), Gord Claire (FE), Jim Gunn (N),  Doug Miller (B), Archie Martin (WAG), W A Magee (WOP), Ted Dykes (AG); along for the ride home were Les Powell (PR) and Hal Baddock (RT) assigned to Tiger Force, 661 Heavy Bomber Wing, Yarmouth, NS. Lancaster KB739 was last seen in a scrapyard in Edmonton, Albertaarrives in Toronto (courtesy Canadian War Museum)

(6) Fl/Sgt Edward (Ted) D Dykes was promoted to the rank of Fl/Sgt. 12 December 1944. Ted Dykes was one of four Ghost Squadron men who flew back to Toronto in June 1945. 

No 3 Bomber and Gunner School, Portage La Prairie, McDonald, Manitoba 

(7) Fl/Sgt. John Henry Feeley. John graduated as Air Gunner at No 3 Bomber and Gunner School, Portage La Prairie, McDonald, Manitoba in March 1944

To read John Feeley's own story (click here) John Henry Feeley died 29 May 2014 aged 92

P/O. W "Bill" A Sage, Sgt. J Steve Ratsoy, Sgt. John Henry Feeley and Sgt Edward (Ted) D Dykes had to bale out of Wellington III BJ790 on the night of 16/17 August 1944. All safely landed behind Allied lines

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Bomber Command Museum, Canada, British Newspaper archive

KT. 22.11.2015

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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