Operation: Tergnier railway yards, France.
Date: 31 May/1 June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 625 Squadron - Motto: We Avenge
Squadron Badge: Within a circular chain of seven links, a Lancaster rose; The Lancaster rose stands for the aircraft used, the seven links the number of personnel in one such aircraft
Type: Avro Lancaster III
Base: RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire
Location: Between Nullemont and Marques, Normandy France.
Pilot: P/O. Charles Evan Raymond 'Punch' Tanner 171646 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Guilderoy/Gilroy 'Roy' West 1852405 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (2)
Nav: P/O. Francis Samuel 'Red' Brydon J/90923 (previously R153149) RCAF Age 22 - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Thomas Rupert 'Tom' Hodgson J/23974 RCAF Age 33 PoW No. 8051 Camp: Stalag Luft 3 Sagan and Belaria - L3 (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Cobban Richmond 1399781 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Noel William Wray 964639 RAFVR Age 30 PoW No. ? Camp: Stalag Luft 7 Bankau, Silesia, Germany (now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland - L7 (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. John William 'Johnny' Bradley R196176 RCAF Age 20 - PoW No. 107 Camp: Stalag Luft 7 Bankau, Silesia, Germany (now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland - L7 (7)
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Although Sir Arthur Harris had made a start as early as March 1944, 14 April was the official date when the main Bomber Command effort was transferred to pre-invasion targets in Belgium and France including the railway system, military camps, ammunition depots and explosive and ammunition factories. The purpose of the raids on the railway system was to prevent reinforcement by rail of the German forces in Normandy post invasion. In order to support the Allied deception plan that the invasion was to take place in the Pas de Calais area rather than Normandy, the railway systems leading to both areas were to be subject to similar emphasis.
Sharing the duties of the operation were heavy bombers of the American Eighth Air Force and the Allied tactical day-bomber force.
RAF Hixon in Staffordshire had served as the base for 30 Operational Training Unit (OTU) since its opening in 1942 and it is where the original five members crewed up for night bomber training on Wellingtons before being posted, in February 1944, to 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft, a satellite base of RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire, for training on the four engine Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber. To fly the larger Halifax the crew was necessarily supplemented by the addition of a flight engineer and an additional air gunner.
A posting to RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, the home of No. 1 Lancaster Finishing School, completed their training as they mastered the art of flying the famous bomber.
With effect from 17 May and now deemed ready for operational training the crew was posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern in Lincolnshire.
Like most others the crew was composed of men of diverse backgrounds, nationalities and ages.
Captain of the crew was 22-years-old Londoner, Charles Tanner. A former Police Court Clerk his nickname was Punch, perhaps a reference to a perceived resemblance to the famous seaside puppet character of that name. Flight engineer Roy West from Exeter was only just turned 20 but already married to wife Sheila. He had been training to be a Solicitor before enlisting and had learned to glide whilst a member of the Air Training Corps. He just loved flying.
The navigator was Canadian Frank Brydon from Somerset Nova Scotia. Aged 22 and a Farm Labourer before enlisting the colour of his hair inevitably ensured that he had always been known as 'Red' to his mates. He had a brother who was also in the RCAF.
Fellow Canadian Tom Hodgson was the air bomber. From Winnipeg Manitoba he was married to Kathleen and had a young son. With an agriculture degree he had worked in horticulture before joining the air force and at the age of 33 was the old man of the crew.
Norman Richmond was 22 and the wireless operator: he hailed from Glasgow, Scotland.
Another older member of the crew was 30 year old Noel Wray the mid upper gunner. He lived in Dagenham with wife Alice and their son and daughter. Before joining the RAFVR he worked as a Laundry Salesman/Driver.
Completing the crew was rear gunner Johnny Bradley. Another Canadian he was 20 and like Tom Hodgson was also from Winnipeg Manitoba.
Reverse side of the above photo written by Roy West
Ten days after arriving at RAF Kelstern the crew had their first experience of operational flying as one of the 13 Lancaster crews of 625 Squadron detailed for a raid on the Merville coastal battery in Northern France on the night of 27/28 May. Flying Lancaster LM425 they took off at 2340 and in fine weather and good visibility delivered their 13000 lb bomb load from 8000 feet at 0202. At 0346 they landed safely back at RAF Kelstern as did all 13 of the Squadron aircraft.
That night a total of 208 Lancasters 49 Halifaxes and 15 Mosquitoes carried out raids on 5 coastal battery positions on the French coast in preparation for the D-day landings
The following night 181 Lancasters and 20 Mosquitoes bombed 3 coastal gun positions. Among them were 14 Lancasters and crews of 625 Squadron including the Punch Tanner crew.
Flying LM427 again, they took off at 2237 carrying another 13000lb bomb load which was duly delivered onto the target from 10000 feet at 0038. By 0211 they had landed safely home at RAF Kelstern. All the other 625 Squadron aircraft also made it back safely.
The next two nights afforded the crews of 625 Squadron a welcome respite from operations but for the night of 31 May/1 June 1944 Bomber Command ordered an attack by aircraft of 1 and 8 Groups on the railway yards at Tergnier located in the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France in northern France. In all, 111 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitoes were to make the attack.
625 Squadron detailed 19 crews for the operation: the Tanner crew was one of them.
Shortly after sunset on Wednesday 31 May 1944 19 crews of 625 Squadron were making their way to dispersal at RAF Kelstern where each of the 133 airmen commenced their pre-flight tasks and routines.
At 2335 the first Lancaster took off, followed at roughly two minute intervals by the other 18 bombers and by 0013 on 1 June all were airborne.
The Tanner crew flying Lancaster LM427 G - George took off 16th at one minute past midnight carrying a bomb load comprising 11 x 1000lb MC bombs and 4 x 500lb MC bombs.
Heading south to Reading the force then turned south east, crossed the channel into France and onwards to the target.
LM427 was designated to bomb in the first wave and reached the target successfully. Since the returning crews all reported bombing from about 10000 feet between 0217 and 0224 it is reasonable to assume that the LM427 did approximately the same.
They turned for home and according to a report by the Berwick Branch, Ortona #69, The Royal Canadian Legion, they 'were picked up by searchlights and became the target of enemy fire. The plane caught fire and three of the crew managed to bale out, but Francis [Brydon] and three of his companions were unable to escape before the plane crashed killing all four members'.
The original source of the above is not known but Theo Boiten's Volume Two of the Nachtjagd War Diaries: Page 62, 31 May- 1 June 1944 records:
Lt. Otto Keller: 12 9/NJG5. Lancaster North of Aumale: 2,200m at 02.52 - 625 Sqn Lancaster LM427.
Lt. Otto Keller survived the war becoming an ace with 12 night victories and a further day victory. (see Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)
Tom Hodgson, Noel Wray and Johnny Bradley were later reported to be prisoners of war but as the fate of their four crew mates remained unknown they were classified as missing.
In a letter of 20 July 1945 to the father of Francis Brydon the RCAF reported that the now liberated Tom Hodgson and Johnny Bradley had stated that their 'aircraft crashed approximately 20 miles south east of Dieppe near Beauvais, France'. But having baled out, they did not know what had happened to his son. Though the letter is not clear on the matter, it seems that when they baled out Francis Brydon was still on board.
The letter also informed Mr Brydon of the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit's (MREU) ongoing enquiries to locate graves of those personnel known or believed to have died and been buried in occupied areas.
A letter of 26 October 1945 from the Director of Personnel Services to MREU in Paris about the loss of Lancaster LM427 and its crew includes the following.
'Information received from IRGC states that 3 'unknowns' were killed when the aircraft crashed.
A report from HQ 84 Group quotes a statement made by a member of the FFI (French Fighters of the Interior i.e. Resistance Fighters) M. Jean P. Boucher, 2 Rue de Marais, Blangy sur Bresle, Seine Inferieux, stating that he recovered the body of P/O. Tanner from the crashed aircraft in 1 June 1944 and buried it at Aumale Cemetery, Seine Inferieux.
A statement made by Sgt. Wray, returned Prisoner of War, states that according to the Germans, the remaining members of the crew who were killed when the aircraft crashed are buried in a small Churchyard near Beauvais.
Captured German documents confirm that 3 'Unknowns' were killed when the plane crashed 15 kms South of La Noussoye [La Houssoye] and 14 kms SW of Beauvais'.
The letter goes on to request confirmation that P/O. Tanner was buried at Aumale Cemetery and establish the fate and burial particulars of the three 'unknowns'
A report of 14 September 1946 of the results and findings of his investigation into the loss of Lancaster LM427 and its crew by search officer F/O. E. J. Copping of No. 6 Section, No. 1 Missing Search and Enquiry Unit (MREU) British Forces in France states that:
'Accompanied by P/O. Tanner's brother I visited the scene of the crash. Amongst the remains no proof was found that this was LM427, but the fact that M. Boucher found P/O. Tanner's identity disc is conclusive.
The grave mentioned in your letter of 26 October 1945 is not to be found at Aumale but at the scene of the crash.
I spoke to M. Minel, whose ground the aircraft crashed on, who told me the following story. The aircraft was seen to be in flames before it crashed and when he rushed to it the Germans were also in the vicinity and in the darkness could not distinguish the number of bodies about and the next morning the Germans took coffins away, the number being uncertain.
It was only a few days later that the remains buried at the scene of the crash were found also, P/O. Tanner's identity disc, by M. Boucher, who buried them, placing a plain cross over the grave. M. Minel assured me that they were only remains of different bodies.
I then visited M. Boucher who confirmed what M. Minel had told me and mentioned there must have been some misunderstanding as no complete body was found.
After [an] intensive sweep around Aumale no trace of the crew or P/O. Tanner have been found. It is presumed they were removed to a considerable distance possible Amiens'.
The following addendum to this report by Squadron Leader Wood who accompanied F/O. Copping on the investigation, states:
'The captured German documents which state that this aircraft crashed 15 kilometres south of La Houssoye and 14 kilometres s.w. of Beauvais refer to another aircraft which has been located at Lormaison 5 kilometres south of La Houssoye which crashed at the same time and date as LM427'. [This was Lancaster LM121 LS-C of 15 Squadron shot down on an operation to bomb the railway yards at Trappes on the same night. The captain P/O. Peter Charles Lewis Dombrain RAAF and all his crew were killed. Three of the crew were originally buried at Lormaison Communal Cemetery. They and the other crew members now all lie at Beauvais Marissel National Cemetery]
It would appear that the Germans believed that Sgt. Wray was a survivor from this second aircraft and not LM427, hence he was told that those members of his crew who had been killed had been buried at the small Churchyard near Beauvais.
Further Report dated 27 September 1946 by Officer i/c No. 6 Section.
'Further to report by F/O. Copping dated 14 September 1946, a search of the records of Poix (Somme) Cemetery [Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard] has resulted in the following information
Plot A. Row E. Graves 176, 177 178. Bodies of airmen shot down at Nullemont Seine Inferieure 1 June 1944.
There can be no doubt that these are from the above crew as search has been made in all the communes in this area and there is only one known crash on 1 June 1944. Nullemont and Bacques [Marques] are adjacent communes.
Exhumation of these three graves took place in November 1945 and the graves have now been renumbered as follows
Plot A. Row C. Graves 101, 102 and 103.
... none of the bodies were identified but they were definitely identified as RAF
It is suggested that the remains in the grave at the scene of the crash be concentrated into these three graves and a common cross be inscribed with the names of all the missing members of the crew'.
In his Liberation Questionnaire Noel Wray said that he had head injuries due to his parachute jump and as a result suffered from concussion for 9 days. After landing he had hid in woods and walked cross country each night. On the third day he met Sgt. Bradley the rear gunner of his aircraft and they were both caught by German guards on the 4th night. He also says that he was captured at Beauvais on 4 May - clearly the date is an error he obviously meant 4 June and the place of capture is at odds with what Johnny Bradley recalled (see below).
Noel was held at Dulag Luft for three days in solitary confinement and threatened with being shot as a spy. He was then imprisoned at Stalag Luft 7 Upper Silesia May 1944 to January 1945 and Stalag 3A Germany January 45 to April 45.
Johnny Bradley, in his Liberation Questionnaire, says that he was captured on 2 June at Abbeville and makes no mention of having met Noel Wray nor any other details of his evasion.
He was held at Dulag Luft 6 June 1944 to 12 June 1944, Stalag Luft 7 Bankau 22 June 1944 to 17 January 1944 and Stalag IIIA Luckenwalde 11 February 1945 to 22 April 1945.
Despite an extensive search a Liberation Questionnaire for Tom Hodgson has not been found. He was one of the 168 men sent to Buchenwald and later held at Stalag Luft III - see http://francecrashes39-45.net/buchenwald.php (see below for further information)
Of the 625 Squadron aircraft detailed for the raid, three failed to reach the target owing to severe weather conditions on the outward journey. From reports received from the crews it would appear that the attack was a very successful one despite it being carried out under very difficult conditions.
The sidings and workshops were 'squarely hit'. 2 Lancasters failed to return. (The Bomber Command War Diaries - Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt)
The only other aircraft lost on this operation was Lancaster III NE143 GT-G of 156 Squadron piloted by Fl/Lt Ronald Hockey Samson RAAF. Hit by flak just after leaving the target the Lancaster crashed at la Neuville en [Beine] (Aisne) 20 km SW of St. Quentin Fl/Lt Samson and the two air gunners evaded capture, the wireless operator was made a prisoner of war and the other three died in the crash. The three dead lie in the Grand Serraucourt British Cemetery about 10 km south west of St Quentin.
On behalf of Aircrew Remembered Roy Wilcock would like to thank Sylvia Crawford for kindly providing photographs of her brother Roy and the crew of Lancaster LM427 together with biographical details of her brother.
Thanks also to Roy West's niece Beverley Delve and Ian Anderson for bringing this story to our attention and for his invaluable assistance.
Thanks also to our good friend and colleague, Canadian researcher Dave Champion, for providing the most interesting information concerning the fate of Tom Hodgson.
Finally, thanks to our good friend and colleague, Canadian researcher Jack Albrecht, for all his help and encouragement with the story.
In January 2020 we received further details of F/O. Thomas Rupert 'Tom' Hodgson from our friend and colleague, Canadian researcher, Dave Champion. Dave provided a news clipping from The Winnipeg Tribune of 7 March 1946 in which Tom, in order to help the Red Cross in its membership campaign had written the story of his experiences from the time he was shot down over France until liberation on May 2 1945 together with a copy of Tom's claim for maltreatment to the War Claims Commission dated 20 March 1954.
The following account of Tom Hodgson's capture and imprisonment has been compiled from those two documents.
'On the night of June 1 1944 our crew, flying Lancaster G for George was one of a number briefed for an attack on the marshalling yards at Tergnier in north-eastern France. We attacked the target successfully at an altitude of 8500 feet and headed for home. Not far from Dieppe however we were badly hit by flak, killing our navigator and wireless operator and setting the aircraft on fire. Of the remaining members of the crew only Johnny our tail gunner, Noel our mid-upper gunner and myself escaped by parachute.
I lost my boots in the descent but made my way inland before I made a contact and was put in touch with the French Resistance. "D" day broke out while I was hiding at the little village of Haute Épine [a commune in the Oise department in northern France] with a friendly Belgian family by the name of Verplanke... I moved to Beauvais and was joined here by two other escaping airmen and preparations were made for us to move further south. We were disguised in civilian clothes, provided with assumed names and appropriate identity papers.
On 12 August we departed, posing as hitch-hikers on a truck- carrying express to Paris. We arrived at the apartment of Georges Prevost and his sister Mme Rocher.'
The little group of three was joined by four more airmen; two Americans, a Canadian and an Englishman.
'We divided into two groups, our identity papers were changed, and we prepared to move south again. The cars were found at the appointed rendezvous but instead of the usual friendly greeting, we found ourselves confronted by two of the ugliest of humans menacing us with drawn revolvers.
We were well and truly trapped. In half an hour we found ourselves at Gestapo headquarters and before night, lodged in Fresnes Prison on the outskirts of Paris.
This was the beginning of an uneasy and often difficult existence for myself and 169 [sic] other Allied airmen who had been captured under similar circumstance and held in Fresnes until August 15 when the general evacuation of some 4000 inmates, men and women was carried out.
At Fresnes prison the watery cabbage soup supplied once a day was the standard Reich ration, [it] became nourishing [only] by the addition of beans and peas supplied by the French Red Cross.'
[As Allied air forces took control of the skies over Europe in the summer of 1944, Adolf Hitler ordered the immediate execution of allied flyers accused of committing certain acts. The most common act was to be captured in civilian clothing and/or without their dog tags by the Gestapo or Secret Police. These airmen had been shot down mainly over France, but also over Belgium and the Netherlands and were turned over to the Gestapo and Secret Police – by traitors within the French Resistance – while attempting to reach England. These captured airmen were given the name "Terrorflieger" (terror flyers), and were not given a trial. The German Foreign Office however, expressed concern about shooting prisoners of war and suggested that enemy airmen suspected of such offenses not be given the legal status of POWs. Following this advice, the Gestapo and Security Police informed these captured allied airmen that they were criminals and spies. Using this justification, 168 allied airmen from Great Britain, United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica were taken by train from Fresnes Prison outside Paris, to Buchenwald concentration camp]
Tom recalled that he was one of '89 men in [a] small boxcar, little more than room to sit in crouching position or stand. Inadequate ventilation [and] water, permitted out of [the] car only once for ablutions, stripped naked (all in car). 48 hours after 3 escaped from car, reprisals [were] threatened, 1 man (French) shot by SS guard [was] buried by naked companions beside railroad track. Filth and stench in car almost intolerable before arrival at Weimar.'
On that train journey Tom saw a sight he will never forget. During the five days, while the train was still on French soil, French Red Cross workers were on hand at several points.
'They moved quickly, distributing food and drink and gave quiet encouragement to the aged and women in distress. The way those French Red Cross workers moved quietly along the trainloads of packed humanity on its way toward the German frontier has left an indelible impression on my mind. It seems to me symbolic of the readiness of the Red Cross to aid humanity in distress wherever the need may arise.'
From Weimar the train continued along a designated line directly into Buchenwald concentration camp.
Tom summarised the terrible conditions at Buchenwald as follows:
'Inadequate billets - 36 square feet for 5 men to sleep, rations, medical treatment and clothing during entire period. Flea bites, infected and did not heal, dysentery for most of period, weight reduced by 35lbs. Typhus epidemic before departure.'
[For the first three weeks at Buchenwald, the prisoners were totally shaven, denied shoes and forced to sleep outside without shelter in one of Buchenwald's sub-camps, known as 'Little Camp']
'Air raid by USAAF Aug 21 or 22 [24 August] destroyed SS barracks and part of stores. Shoes removed on entry to camp pressed into salvage work barefooted to remove provisions from burning stores.'
[For several weeks the airmen's leader, New Zealander, Sqn Ldr. Phillip Lamason, negotiated with the camp authorities to have the airmen transferred to a POW camp, but his requests were denied. At great risk, Lamason secretly got word to the Luftwaffe of the Allied airmen's captivity and seven days before their scheduled execution, 156 of the 168 prisoners were transferred to Stalag Luft III]
The train journey of 21/22 October from Weimar to Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Poland was another horrendous experience for the airmen. Tom recalled that he was 'dressed in light summer [clothing], wet, after 3 hours standing in rain, cold, 10 or 12 in a boxcar. Contracted grippe or influenza, spent 18 days in hospital after arrival at Stalag Luft 3'
Tom was to remain at Stalag Luft III until 28 January 1945 when, 'threatened by the Russians, then on the river Oder the German command decided to evacuate, and we began the first of our forced marches in the depth of a cold winter. [I] packed all rations [and] bedding that I was able to carry - except 2 day stop Muskau [Upper Lusatia region in Germany at the border with Poland] - makeshift billet, no heat, no opportunity to dry clothes or footwear.
We took six days covering 86 kilometres to Spremberg where we entrained to Milag near Tarmstedt [Lower Saxony]. During this time we were almost completely dependent on the Red Cross food we carried.
By April 9 the British 2nd Army had approached close to Bremen and we were again on the move. We footed it from Tarmstedt to Lubec and then moved south again to a large estate at Trenthorst (no camp) suffering the same hardships as above but with no shelter, sleeping in fields and being strafed by aircraft while on the march.
We were liberated from Trenthorst on May 2 1945. [I was] hospitalised at Bournemouth on return to England on 6 May 1945.
The work endured at Buchenwald together with carrying of heavy packs on forced marches necessitated [an] operation for varicose veins on return to Canada.'
In his interview with the Winnipeg Tribune Tom Hodgson clearly stated that Lancaster LM427 fell to flak and the report in the Berwick Branch, Ortona #69, The Royal Canadian Legion would appear to be in agreement. Theo Boiton however, attributes the loss to Lt. Otto Keller of 9/NJG5, north of Aumale in an attack timed at 02.52.
Tom Johnson's service file contains an Extract from German Document KE8795 EV5376 in which it is recorded that a Lancaster crashed at 02.45 on 1 June 1944 1km East of Nullemont - 3 unknowns buried at Poix de la Somme.
Despite the time discrepancy this would seem to corroborate Theo's contention that Lancaster LM427 was shot down by Otto Keller in an unseen attack from below perhaps using upward-firing autocannon known colloquially as Schräge Musik. This would explain Tom's belief that they had been hit by flak.
(1) P/O. Charles Evan Raymond Tanner was born on 3 May 1922 the son of William Stanley Tanner (in 1939 a Storeman at the Gillette Factory) and Gertrude Ann Tanner nee Smith (in 1939 a Certified Teacher for the Brent and Chis Education Committee)
Charles had one sibling: William Robert Murray Tanner (a Cinema Accounts Clerk) born 4 August 1919 died 5 June 1997 at Brighton Sussex.
In 1939 the family lived at 1, The Beeches, Boston Road, Ealing, London when Charles Tanner was employed as a Police Court Clerk. The family later lived at Hanwell.
131902223 Sgt. Charles Evan Raymond Tanner was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on January 1944 (London Gazette 14 March 1944)
He is commemorated on the Ealing War Memorial, Middlesex.
(2) Sgt. Guilderoy/Gilroy West known as Roy, was born on 30 January 1924 at Tiverton Devon the son of Frederick G. West (a Grocery Shop Assistant) and Lily Mary West nee Chanter. He had one sibling, a sister Sylvia J. West born in 1935 at Exeter, Devon.
In 1939 the family lived at 47 Cedars Road Exeter.
Roy West married Sheila B. Stratta at Fulham Saturday on 5 February 1944. Sheila West lived 12 Cardwell Street, Heathershaw, Oldham Lancashire .
In 2019 Roy's sister Sylvia wrote the following about her brother for Aircrew Remembered.
A choir boy at St Leonards Church Exeter he also sang at Exeter Cathedral
Passed a scholarship for St Luke's College when he was 11 years old.
While there he gained the Dagma Prize - a book called "The Complete Educator"
He played football and was presented with a silver and enamelled medal on behalf of the Meccano Club.
As a young boy Roy was always reading, painting and constructing model airplanes
After leaving school he trained to be a solicitor with Ford, Smey and Ford in the Cathedral Yard Exeter learning short-hand at night school
He joined the ATC and learned to glide at Exeter Airport. Roy loved to fly, he said it was grand skipping over the clouds.
He volunteered for the RAF starting as a Navigator, then a Flight Engineer, fast becoming an ACE Pilot (D. D. Haigh Wing Commander)
Met Sheila Stratta at a dance in the Rougemont Hotel Exeter and they were married in London. They both loved Swing and Jazz music, Begin the Beguine a favourite
On his last visit home at 47 Cedars Road - I was crying that he had to return for duty. Roy gave me his lucky Black Cat which I have kept, with sadness and regret.
Roy asked me to look after Mum and Dad for him. I was nine years old at that time Roy was just 20 years.
Sylvia Crawford nee West - Roy's sister.
(3) P/O. Francis Samuel Brydon was born on 8 April 1922 at Somerset, Nova Scotia, Canada the son of Franklin Augustine Brydon (a Farmer and Apple Inspector) and Hilda Madeline Brydon nee Reid later of Berwick, King's County, Nova Scotia, Canada. He had four siblings: Louis Arthur Brydon born 1920, Newton Reid Brydon born 27 March 1921, Norma Margaret Brydon born 1924, Madeline Hope Brydon born 1925 and a half sister Mary Francis Brydon born 1930.
Their mother, Hilda Madeline Brydon, died in childbirth in 1925
Francis Brydon was educated at Somerset Public School (1928-1936) and Somerset High School (1936-1940). After leaving school he worked as a Farm Labourer for Fred Illsley of Somerset until joining the air force.
His hobbies were fishing, swimming, reading, skating and hunting and he occasionally participated in baseball, badminton and boxing.
He attended a 3 month pre entry aircrew educational course at Truro, Nova Scotia until 12 March 1942 under the Dominion Provincial Youth Training Programme and two days later enlisted in the RCAF at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
6'2" weighing 174lbs with a ruddy complexion, hazel eyes and red hair he was posted to 5 Manning Depot at RCAF Lachine on 30 March, to 4 Manning Depot RCAF Quebec City on 14 May and back 5 Manning Depot on 27 June.
After pilot training at 3 Initial Training School RCAF Victoriaville, Quebec, 4 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Windsor Mills Quebec he was posted to KTS (Combined Training School) at RCAF Trenton Ontario on 18 November and remustered as an air navigator on 11 December 1942
On 29 December he was posted to 1 Service Flying Training School RCAF Camp Borden Ontario and on 24 January 1943 to 1 Central Navigation School at RCAF Rivers Manitoba where he was awarded his Navigators Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 9 July 1943.
Following 14 days embarkation leave he reported to 1 YD Halifax on 24 July 1943 and was posted to the RAF Training Pool on 2 August 1943.
Details of his training in the UK are unknown except for those referred to in the introduction above.
He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 9 April 1944
His brother Flight Lieutenant Newton Reid Brydon J.17141 / 19897 also served in the RCAF and became Bombing Leader of No. 408 (Goose) Squadron. He was Mentioned in Despatches on 1 January 1945, the recommendation reads:
'Flight Lieutenant Brydon has been with this squadron for several months during which time he has proven himself to be an extremely capable and efficient section commander. He has completed one tour of operations with an excellent record and his service career as a whole has been an admirable one. His cheerfulness and untiring energy have greatly contributed to the excellence of his section.'
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 23 March 1945, the recommendation reads:
'Flight Lieutenant Brydon has completed one tour of operations and is well on his way to completing his second tour. He has bombed many heavily defended targets in Germany, many of which being in the Ruhr. No matter how intense the defences which were encountered, Flight Lieutenant Brydon by his exemplary conduct and devotion to duty, proved to be a definite asset to his crew. His bombing record is superior and at present he holds the position of Bombing Leader for the squadron. Here again his devotion to ground training and operational flying is beyond reproach.'
Newton Reid Brydon died on 29 June 2007 at Hope, British Columbia, Canada.
Details - Air Force Association of Canada
(4) F/O. Thomas Rupert Hodgson was born on 16 October 1910 at Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, the son of Peter Elder Hodgson and Clara Jean Hodgson nee Phipps. He had two siblings: John Gordon Hodgson (1913-1939) and Peter Raymond Hodgson (1914-2006)
He was educated at St. John’s Technical High School and in 1932 graduated from the University of Manitoba with an agriculture degree specializing in agronomy and agricultural economics.
From 1933 to 1940 he assisted Frank L. Skinner in his horticultural work at Dropmore.
On 22 October 1938 he married Kathleen Helen Boulton (1913-1991) with whom he had three children: John Allan Hodgson (1940 - 2000), Brian Thomas Hodgson and Rosemary Elaine Hodgson.
After the war he served as a vocational training supervisor for returning veterans from 1946 to 1947, Assistant Park Superintendent for the City of Winnipeg from 1947 to 1950, and Parks Board Superintendent from 1950 until his death in 1962. In the latter capacity, he was instrumental in setting up Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage.
He was a member of the Logan Neighbourhood House Board, Norquay Neighbourhood House Board, Welfare Council of Greater Winnipeg Board, city representative on the Greater Winnipeg Mosquito Abatement Board, Manitoba Greenkeepers Association Board, Winnipeg Summer Theatre Association Board, Canadian Legion, American Institute of Park Executives, American Association of Zoological Parks, Rotary Club, Westminster United Church, and Masons (Northern Light Lodge No. 10).
He died of cancer at Winnipeg on 1 February 1962 aged 51 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery Plot Ash Blk 1-0076-0
He is commemorated by T. R. Hodgson Park in Winnipeg.
Details courtesy Manitoba Historical Society
(5) Sgt. Norman Cobban Richmond was born in 1922 at Govanhill, Glasgow, Scotland the son of Robert Richmond and Annie Richmond nee Cobban later of 77 Warham Road, Harrow Weald, Middlesex.
He is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
(6) Sgt. Noel William Wray was born on 26 December 1913 at Bucklow, Cheshire the son of Frederick William Wray (his mother's name was Turner).
In 1937 he married Alice Maud Hawkins at South Manchester and they went on to have two children: David William Frederick Wray (1939-2002) and Diane Wray born 1942.
In 1939 the family lived at 11 Laneside Avenue, Dagenham, London. At that time Noel Wray was employed as a Laundry Salesman/Driver and Alice Wray was a Wireless Assembler. The family later moved to 62 Dene Road, Didsbury, Manchester.
Noel Wray enlisted in the RAFVR on 24 April 1940.
On 11 September 1958 Noel, Alice and Diane Wray sailed from Southampton on the SS Southern Cross for New Zealand where they were to settle. Their last address in the UK was at 341, Lay Street, Ilford, Essex. Their son David Wray also settled in New Zealand where he died in 2002.
Noel William Wray died in New Zealand in 1973 at the age of 60. Alice Maud Wray also died in New Zealand in 2004 aged 91.
(7) Sgt. John William Bradley was born on 16 June 1923 at Fort William, Ontario Canada the son of Thomas Bristol Bradley and Rita Isabel Bradley nee Fitzgerald.
Address 280 Alfred Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba
He enlisted in the RCAF on 4 November 1942
He married Tackla Annie Stemkoski (Stimboski?) (date unknown) with whom he had one child (? Thomas Bradley). Tackla Stenkoski lived at 608 Thud Street, North Kinosa, Ontario.
His obituary published in the Winnipeg Free Press on 2 December 2003 reads:
On Saturday, November 29, 2003 at the Deer Lodge Centre, John William Bradley passed away at the age of 80 years. John is survived by his wife Elizabeth (Betty) son Thomas and his wife Jo of Winlaw, BC; stepson Ken Schwabe; stepdaughter Barbara Juskow; two grandsons, Lawson and Nolan and one great-granddaughter. John was employed with the Canadian Grain Commission for 35 years. He served with the Royal Canadian Airforce in the Second World War and was a POW in Germany. John enjoyed his cottage and fishing in Kenora. Many thanks to the doctors, nurses, staff, and caregivers at Deer Lodge Centre for all of your care. In accordance with Johns wishes, cremation has taken place and there will be no service. BARDAL FUNERAL HOME 843 Sherbrook Street, 774-7474
(1) P/O. Charles Evan Raymond Tanner was buried at Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard, Somme, France - Row C. Coll. grave 6-8.
His epitaph reads
So young, so brave,
So gay, so free;
Grant him, O Lord
Joy eternal with Thee
(2) Sgt. Guilderoy/Gilroy West was buried at Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard, Somme, France - Row C. Coll. grave 6-8.
His epitaph reads
Not just today but every day
In silence we remember.
Mum, dad & Sylvia
(3) P/O. Francis Samuel Brydon was buried at Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard, Somme, France - Row C. Coll. grave 6-8.
His epitaph reads
We hope to meet again,
To clasp his hand
In the better land,
Never to part again
(5) Sgt. Norman Cobban Richmond was buried at Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard, Somme, France - Row C. Coll. grave 6-8.
His epitaph reads
Tranquil you lie...
Your memory hallowed
In the land you loved
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Sylvia Crawford (sister of the Flight Engineer Sgt. Roy West) and all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2020
With thanks to the sources quoted below.
RW 31.01.2020 - Details of Tom Hodgson's escape and later imprisonment added - courtesy Dave Champion.
JA 28.10.2021 - Reader comment added.
Dear Roy Wilcock, Jack Albrecht and Ian Anderson,
I am deeply grateful for the interest and research shown in the Archive Report
Aircrew Remembered Allied Forces LM427 625 Squadron. All the lovely aircrew, who
gave their lives for freedom, of their counties, will now be available on line for the
whole world to see.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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