AR banner
Search Tips Advanced Search
Back to Top

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
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.
Check our Research databases: Database List


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the Helpdesk.

156 Squadron
31.05/01.06.1944 156 Squadron Lancaster III NE143 Flt Lt. Ronald H. Samson DFC

Operation: Tergnier railway yards, France

Date: 31st May/1st June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 156 Squadron, Path Finder Force (PPF)

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: NE143

Code: GT:G

Base: RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire

Location: La Neuvilleen-en-Beine 20 km SW of St-Quentin, France

Pilot: Flt Lt. Ronald Hockey Samson DFC 414264 RAAF Age 23. Evader (1)

Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Ronald George Burton 1801606 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: Flt Lt. Terence William Kennedy 420237 RAAF Age 30. KiA

Bomb Aimer: WO. Arnold Archibald Gilchrist 409105 RAAF Age 24. PoW No. 162/ * (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Ronald James Andrews 1314936 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Flt Sgt. Albert George Bryant 1601736 RAFVR Age? Evader (1)

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Henry Norman Corbett Whitmore DFC 1535794 RAFVR Age? Evader (1)

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


NE143 took off from RAF Upwood at 00:25 hrs on the 1st June 1994 to join a force of 111 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitoes to attack the railway yards at Tiergnier in France.

NE143 was one of two Lancasters lost and was claimed by Hptm. Paul Zorner, his 44th Abschuss from Stab III.NJG5 over Villeguines-Aumont at 3.500 m at 02:35 hrs. In his Bf110 G-4, C9+AD he fired a single burst of Schräge Musik gunfire. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

Maj. Zorner became the Kommandeur of III./NJG5 on the 16th March 1944. Awarded the Deutsche Kreuz in Gold, the Ritterkteuz and the Eichenlaub. He surrendered to American troops in may 1945 but was handed over to the Russians. Her was released on the 30th December 1949. He was credited with 58 confirmed Abschüsse from, 272 combat sorties. He died on the 27th January 2014. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 4).

The aircraft crashed at La Neuvilleen-en-Beine, in the Aisne, 20 km SW of St-Quentin.

Flt Lt. Samson stated that just after leaving the target flying at 11,000 ft the aircraft was hit, which he presumed to be light flak, setting the port inner engine ablaze. Shortly thereafter, the port outer engine also caught fire and it appeared that the port wing was burning through.

He instructed the crew to abandon the aircraft and saw each member of the crew bale out with himself leaving last at 4000 ft when the aircraft was in a steep dive. None of the crew were injured prior to abandoning the aircraft.

The crew baled out in the following order; Flt Sgt. Burton, WO. Gilchrist, Flt Lt. Kennedy, WO. Andrews, Flt Sgt. Whitmore, Flt Sgt. Bryant and Flt Lt. Samson.

The Resistance Movement told Flt Lt. Samson that two bodies had been found with parachutes either unopened or partially opened near or on the German aerodrome at Friere and two others were found similarly with parachutes unopened or partially opened at the village of Friere.

From the descriptions given to Flt Lt. Samson it was determined that Flt Lt. Kennedy’s body was one of the second two which was confirmed when he saw his watch. He also saw the identity disc and wallet belonging to WO. Andrews and he was given a good description of Flt Sgt. Burton.

Flt Lt. Samson was informed that a forth body found had black hair and from this description he assumed that this was WO. Gilchrist. It was later established WO. Gilchrist was safe as a PoW and the other three were confirmed as having lost their lives.

Note: The identity of the fourth body found is not known.

(1) The following is Flt Lt. Samson’s evader statement which describes how he, Flt Sgt. Bryant and Flt Sgt. Whitmore evaded capture:

After baling out the first person I contacted was a wood-cutter who gave me some food. A day later, two days after baling out. I contacted a girl in the woods who went to the village and brought out the Chief of the Resistance for the village. He took me to his home. His name Monsieur Chedy; Friere Faillouell; in Aisne. His daughter Jeanne Chandy took me that night to Jussy with my Mid-Upper Gunner who had also been contacted. I stayed with these people, name unknown until [the] invasion, then I went to a farm for three days - place, name unknown. Then I went back to Friere Faillouell to another house where I stayed until middle of August. Then I went into the woods with the Resistance and fought with them in clearing the woods. Eventually when the area had been cleared I contacted the Americans and went to Paris with my Mid Upper Gunner, Flt Sgt. Bryant and Tail Gunner Flt Sgt. Whitmore on the 5th September 1944. After three days in Paris we flew to England on the 8th September 1944.

Further names of people who helped me could be obtained from M. Chedy, Friere Faillouell, in Aisne. I received great help from the Resistance.”

Flt Lt. Samson was awarded the DFC whilst with 156 Sqn. London Gazette 13th April 1945.

Citation: Flight Lieutenant Samson has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty.

As a returned evader he was repatriated to Australia. He disembarked at Brisbane on the 16th January 1945. Acting Flt Lt. Samson was promoted to Flt Lt. on the 26th October 1945 and was demobilised from the RAAF on the 15th August 1946.

Ronald Hockey Samson was born on the 15th October 1920 in Bundaberg, Queensland and he passed away on the 2nd June 1965 in Cairns, Queensland aged 44. He was interred at the Pinnaroo Lawn cemetery and Crematorium, Brisbane, Queensland.

(2) WO. Gilchrist was liberated and returned to the UK. He was granted a commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. whilst a PoW.

(3) Flt Sgt. Bryant evaded with Flt Lt. Samson. See Ser 1.

(4) Flt Sgt. Whitmore evaded with Flt Lt. Samson. See Ser 1.

Flt Sgt. Whitmore was promoted to Warrant Officer (WO) before the 20th July 1945 and was later awarded the DFC for his time with 156 Sqn. London Gazette 20th July 1945.

Flt Sgt. Whitmore was the replacement Rear Gunner for this crew in place of Flt Sgt. Frederick James Wakely 425790 RAAF.

Sgt. Wakely was selected to be on Flt Sgt. Samson’s crew at 27 Operational Training unit (OTU) on the 14th April 1943 training on the Wellington. The crew flew 1 operational sortie during this time.

Whilst at 27 OTU he was promoted to Flt Sgt. on the 10th June 1943.

He and the crew were posted to 1656 Conversion Unit (CU) on the 26th July 1943 where they were joined by a Flight Engineer and Mid-Upper Gunner and converted to the Lancaster.

The crew were then posted to 460 Sqn, RAAF on the 10th September 1943. During this posting Flt Lt. Samson flew 18 operations with Flt Sgt. Wakely flying 14 with Flt Lt. Samson’s crew and 2 as a stand-in Rear Gunner on two other crews.

The crew were then posted to 156 Sqn, Pathfinder Force (PFF), on the 19th January 1944 flying the Lancaster.

After attending a PFF training course and returning to 156 Sqn on the 3rd March 1944 Flt Sgt. Wakely was posted to RAF Upwood as non-effective on the 5th March 1944.

At a young age Frederick James Wakely developed swelling in his knee joints but did not prevent him from passing the medical for aircrew. This condition caused no problems until the latter sorties flying with 460 Sqn and on the 17th March 1944 he was admitted to RAF Hospital Ely to investigate his condition. On the 9th May 1944 he was admitted to RAF Hospital Halton suffering from swelling to multiple joints. He was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis which was considered to have worsened whilst in the UK.

He was classified as medically unfit for flying duties and recommended for repatriation to Australia with the hope that the change in climatic conditions would allow him to continue flying duties.

He was promoted to Warrant Officer (WO) on the 10th June 1944. WO. Wakely was repatriated to Australia on the 15th August 1944 and disembarked at Brisbane.

Clearly his condition did not improve and he was consequently discharged from the RAAF as medically unfit for further service with effect the 14th May 1945. He had served for 3 years and 18 days.

Frederick James Wakely was born on the 26th September 1922 in Atherton, Queensland and he passed away on the 23rd February 1965 aged 42. He was interred at the Mount Thompson Memorial Gardens and Crematorium Brisbane, Queensland.

Burial details:

View of Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery

Flt Sgt. Ronald George Burton. Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery 7.G.3 Inscription: "HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE". Son of George and Ethel May Burton.

Flt Lt. Terence William Kennedy. Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery 7.G.2. Inscription: "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIEND”. Born on the 13th March 1914 in Redfern, New South Wales. Son of Selwyn and Eva Emily Kennedy; husband of Olive Mary Kennedy, of Belmore, New South Wales, Australia.

WO. Ronald James Andrews. Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery 7.G.1. Inscription: "UNSEEN, UNHEARD, BUT ALWAYS NEAR". Son of Mr. and Mrs. T. S. Andrews, of Tonyrefail, Glamorgan, Wales.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.

Other sources listed below:

RS 13.08.2022 - Initial upload

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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.
Click any image to enlarge it

Click to add your info via ticket on Helpdesk •Click to let us know via ticket on Helpdesk• Click to buy research books from Amazon •Click to explore the entire site
If you would like to comment on this page, please do so via our Helpdesk. Use the Submit a Ticket option to send your comments. After review, our Editors will publish your comment below with your first name, but not your email address.

A word from the Editor: your contribution is important. We welcome your comments and information. Thanks in advance.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2024
Last Modified: 13 August 2022, 13:25

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor