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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. 98 Squadron
23.07.1944 98 Squadron American Mitchell II FW122 VO:R Flt Lt. Weeks

Operation: Railway Yards, Glos-sur-Risle, Eure, France

Date: 23rd July 1944 (Sunday)

Unit No: 98 Squadron

Type: American Mitchell Mk II

Serial: FW122

Code: VO:R

Base: RAF Dunsfold, Surrey

Location: Glos-sur-Risle, Eure, France

Pilot: Flt Lt. William Derek St.Clair Weeks 116077 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Eric Robert Mills 131825 RAFVR Age 24. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. William Taylor 1074957 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr: Sgt. Charles Walter Ernest Wilfred Eldred Thomas 1182832 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

This day 15 B-17s from 98 Sqn were detailed to attack the railway yards at Gros Montfort.

The second box of the formation was led by Sqn Ldr. Paynter. Just on bomb release his aircraft, Mitchell II FV985 VO:S, exploded due to what is thought to be the premature detonation of its bombs. FW122 was hit by shrapnel from the explosion and set on fire and was last seen diving into the cloud layer.

FL186 VO:G was also damaged and crash landed in the American sector in Normandy, wounding two of the crew with one losing a hand. FV931 VO:H was also damaged but managed to limp back to RAF Tangmere when it crashed landed wounding one of the crew.

Above: American Mitchell Mk II of 98 Squadron

Above: Flt Lt. Weeks (Courtesy of Helen Weeks)

Above: Fg Off. Eric Robert Mills (courtesy Helen Jackson niece of Fg Off. E. R Mills) Sgt. Charles E. Thomas (courtesy Rosemary Thomas)

Burial details:


Fg Off. Mills, Flt Sgt. Taylor, Sgt. Thomas and Flt Lt. Weeks. (pictures courtesy of Kate Tame)

All the crew are buried in a collective grave in Glos-Sur-Risle Churchyard, Eure, France. The grave is near the centre of the western wall.

Flt Lt. William Derek St.Clair Weeks. Grave inscription reads: “HIS LIFE WAS BEAUTIFUL, HIS MEMORY TREASURED, HIS PRESENCE WITH US ALWAYS”. Son of William Clifford St.Clair Weeks and Julia Eleanor Weeks of Leicester. William was born in 1921 in Willesdon, Oxfordshire. At the time of his death William's address was 8 Camberly Avenue, West Wimbledon, London, England.

Above: The medal collection of Fg Off. Eric Mills - on an auction website, October 2017.

Note: Auction now cancelled - details to follow!

Fg Off. Eric Robert Mills. Son of John and Clara Mills of Bingley, Yorkshire. Grave inscription reads: “TO LIVE IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE WE LOVE IS NOT TO DIE”. At the time of his death Eric's address was 11 Longwood Avenue, Bingley, Yorkshire, England.

Flt Sgt. William Taylor. Son of William and Margaret Taylor of Leyland, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Charles Walter Ernest Wilfred Eldred Thomas. Born on the 3rd June 1921, the son of Charles William and Marian Edith Thomas of Blackheath, South East London, England.

Researched by Kate Tame for Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of this crew. Special thanks to Helen Jackson niece of Fg Off. E.R. Mills and to Rosemary Thomas for photo of Sgt. C.E. Taylor (Mar 2017). Thanks to Helen Weeks for the photograph of her Great Uncle, Flt Lt. Weeks (Oct 2022)

Other sources listed below:

RS 20.10.2022 - Picture of Flt Lt. Weeks added

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Acknowledgements
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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