01/02.10.1942 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I R5703 QR-D Sq/Ldr. Weston DFC
Date: 01/02nd October 1942 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 61 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Location: North east of Gunthorpe
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. George Ernest Weston DFC. NZ/41885 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frederick George Bellchambers 1221131 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
Nav: P/O. George Alan Hawes 127491 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. John McFadyen Ramsey 1365084 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Joseph Edward Hanson DFM. 46968 RAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Machin Robinson 1057338 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Air/Gnr: Plt.Off. Lloyd George Gallaway J/16499 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Above as described - further details here.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On an operation to bomb Wismar taking off at 17:45 hrs. As the aircraft cleared the runway the immersion switch on the emergency dingy short circuited causing equipment to break away and foul the controls to the tailplane. (An accident similar to others recorded on several other occasions).
The Lancaster entered into a dive, with the aircraft crashing north east of Gunthorpe. As the aircraft was fully loaded with fuel and bomb load there would be no survivors.
The squadron also lost another crew on this operation:
Lancaster I R5759 - Flown by 25 year old Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Ernest Dale NZ/41314 RNZAF from Auckland, New Zealand killed with 5 other crew, 1 made PoW.
The family of Sq/Ldr. Weston DFC. also suffered the loss of his younger brother, Fl/Sgt. Godfrey Randal Weston (shown right) - killed on the 20th April 1944 whilst with 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit. Flying as air bomber on Stirling I R9353 tragically killed with 4 other crew, 2 injured when the aircraft after landing at 03:12 hrs the aircraft bounced into the air, pilot opening throttles to go around again but the port wing dipped, within seconds the Stirling dived into the ground. The pilot, 23 year old Fl/Sgt John Gold NZ/421847 RNZAF from Otago, New Zealand was amongst those to lose their lives from the 6 New Zealanders and 1 RAFVR crew.
Note: Also on this day the tragic event involving the former luxury liner, the 84,000 ton RMS Queen Mary, then being used as a troopship. Returning to Glasgow from New York when it collided with HMS Curacoa, a light cruiser that was tasked with escorting the the ship. HMS Curacoa, which had adapted the common practice of zig-zagging her course to avoid U-Boat detection - sank within minutes with the loss of 338 men from the crew of 439.
Sq/Ldr. George Ernest Weston DFC. Hemblington Churchyard (All Saints). Son of George and Frances Lesley Weston, of Nelson City, New Zealand. Born in England but arrived in New Zealand at an early age - selected for short service commission in the RAF and embarked for England in 1938, logged a total of 1230 flying hours, this was his 44th operation - his second tour!
Sgt. Frederick George Bellchambers. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. P. Grave 306. Son of Frederick Alfred and Ethel Bellchambers of Highbury, London, England.
P/O. George Alan Hawes. Eastbourne Cemetery (Ocklynge). Plot Z. Grave 252. Son of Alfred and Maude L. Hawes, of Polegate, East Sussex, England.
Sgt. John McFadyen Ramsey. Lasswade Cemetery. Grave 241. Son of Robert Holmes Ramsay and Isabella McFadyen Ramsay, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
F/O. Joseph Edward Hanson. DFM. Shipley Cemetery (Nab Wood). Sec. F. Grave 263. Son of John Edward and Frederica Eliza Hanson, of Bradford, husband of Mary Alice Hanson, of Girlington, Bradford, England.
Sgt. Jack Machin Robinson. Sheffield Cemetery (Darnall). Sec. E. Grave 384. Son of Joe and Annie Elizabeth Robinson, of Sheffield, England.
Plt.Off. Lloyd George Gallaway. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. P. Grave 305. Son of Edgar E. Gallaway and Gertrude E. Gallaway, of Sarnia Ontario, Canada.
Lloyd Gallaway was awarded the rank of Plt.Off. posthumously (he was listed as Flt.Sgt. at the time of his death). In a list of promotions prior to his death, the RCAF had mistakenly awarded the promotion to an L.G. Hallaway, of Sarnia in February of 1942. It was not until after his death that RCAF headquarters discovered their mistake.
Fl/Sgt. Godfrey Randal Weston. Hemblington Churchyard (All Saints). Details as brother on this crew. Had logged some 264 flying hours at the date of his death.
With thanks to Ken Ogilvie for bringing this tragic loss to our attention in March 2016. Other sources as quoted below. Also many thanks to Roger Fell for pointing out a now corrected error with Sgt. Robinson details. Thanks to John Jones for the information regarding Plt.Off. Gallaway's posthumous promotion.