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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 9 Squadron
24/25 June 1944 9 Squadron Lancaster I LL970 WS:Y Plt Off. Harold Oliver Rae

Operation: V1 Flying Bomb Site, Prouville, Somme, France

Date: 24th/25th June 1944(Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: 9 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: LL970

Code: WS:Y

Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire

Location: Nr. Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais, France

Pilot: Plt Off. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae J85912 RCAF Age 22 Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Lawrence Albert Dolby 945635 RAFVR Age 24 Killed

Nav: Sgt. John Elias Jones 1530697 RAFVR Age 23 Killed

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Arthur Jack Lewis 1464956 RAFVR Age 34 Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Hubert Wells 1600789 RAFVR Age 23 Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Douglas Raymond Grant R210613 RCAF Age? Evader

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Francis Lawrence Rey R192969 RCAF Age 19 Killed


Lancaster LL970 took off from RAF Bardney at 22:50 hrs. on this operation to Prouville. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after taking off. It was a clear, moonlit night with much activity from the German night fighters. The aircraft may have been hit by flak or shot down by a German night fighter. The aircraft exploded and crashed near Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais which is situated some 7 km NE of Auxi-le-Chateau.

LL970 was claimed by Uffz Alois Vogler 2/NJG3 - Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise area (PE): 3,200m at 00:32. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

The crew had completed 5 operational flights together to Poitiers, Aunay Sur Odon, Chatellerault, Gelsenkirchen and Limoges before this flight to Prouville.

Map showing the area of the crash near Rougefay, Pas-de-Calais

9 Squadron lost three aircraft on this operation Lancaster LL970, Lancaster ND948 and Lancaster LL853 with the loss of 17 airmen, 4 became PoW and 1 evaded capture. A total of 739 aircraft took of that night on this operation to attack 7 flying bomb sites in France causing much damage at most of the sites with a total loss of 22 Lancaster's. The Squadron had arrived at RAF Bardney 14 April, 1943 from RAF Waddington and only returned to RAF Waddington on 7th July 1945.

Lancaster Mk I aircraft (courtesy Imperial War Museum. V1 flying bomb in France ready for take off (courtesy Aircrew Remembered archive).

Canadian Sgt. Grant R210613 RCAF. Evaded capture. From Comox, British Columbia, Canada.

Burial details:

Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery (courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Plt Off. Rae, Sgt. Dolby, Flt Sgt. Lewis, Sgt. Wells and Sgt. Rey were first buried in Rougefay Churchyard, Pas-de-Calais. They were all reburied in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery 25th to 29th June 1951.

Plt Off. Harold (Harry) Oliver Rae. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Elmer Clarke Rae and Olive Margaret Rae of Edmonton, Alberta.

Harry was born 1 November 1922 in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Plt Off. Harry Rae was posted to the Squadron 6 June 1944 and completed his first operational flight on 8 June 1944 as 2nd Pilot to Plt Off. H Forest, Lancaster LL901. Harry's brother Plt Off Leslie Elmer Rae, RCAF lost his life on the 16 March 1945. Brother Albert Thomas Rae also served in the Royal Canadian Navy and survived the war. Mrs Olive Rae was National Memorial (Silver) Cross (picture right) mother in 1976 and laid at wreath on the 11 November at the National War Memorial, Ottawa.

Sgt. Lawrence Albert Dolby. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Ernest Albert and Lily Rose Dolby of Derby.

Sgt. John Elias Jones. Auxi-le-Chateau New Communal Cemetery. Grave Ref: Grave 2. Son of Arthur Davis Jones and Ruth Jones of Flint, Wales.

Flt Sgt. Arthur Jack Lewis. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Arthur and Lily Elizabeth Lewis of Lee Chapel, Laindon, Essex.

Sgt. William Hubert Wells. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of James and Florrie Wells of East Grinstead, Sussex.

William is remembered on the East Grinstead War Memorial.

Plt Off. Francis Lawrence Rey. Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. Grave Ref: Plot 8. Row B. Coll. Grave 12 - 15. Son of Alexis Xavier and Elizabeth Mary Rey of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Born 3 August 1924 in Duncan, British Columbia. First enlisted 14 October 1942 and as AC2 Air Gunner 9 January 1943. Arrived in the UK 1 September 1943 and posted to 9 Squadron 6 June 1944. The brother of Francis, Fg Off. John Joseph Rey J24014, RCAF was a PoW (No. 8571, Stalag 398 and Stalag Luft 3).

Sgt. Rey was posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off with service No. J89892 with effect 22nd June 1944.

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Bruce Barrymore Halpenny - Action Stations, also to Dave Champion for further details and photo - June 2018. Thanks to John Jones for the German night-fighter claim and details of brother of Plt Off Rey (May 2021). Other sources as indicated below.

RS 05.05.2021 - German night-fighter claim added

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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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