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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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115 Squadron Crest
19/20.05.1944 115 Squadron Lancaster I HK547 KO:F Plt.Off. Atkin

Operation: Le Mans

Date: 19/20th May 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 115 Squadron (C Flight)

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: HK547

Code: KO:F/A4

Base: RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire.

Location: South Lisieux, France

Pilot: Plt.Off. Samuel Stephen Atkin 172115 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Pilot 2: Fg.Off. John Victor Hayward 139986 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Ivor Collins Plumb 1804691 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Plt.Off. Kenneth Richard Mather 173890 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Bmr: Sgt. Joseph Rafferty 955666 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Reginald Frederick Arthur Giles 1317796 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air Gnr: Plt.Off. Rhys Webb Jones 410064 RAAF Age 25. Killed

Air Gnr: Plt.Off. Leonard Eugene Mehden 423152 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Update February 2019: French researchers are planning a memorial to the crew in 2020 - please contact us for further details.


Took off from RAF Witchford in Cambridgeshire at 22:28 hrs to bomb the railway yards at Le Mans.

The operation is described as being a success with major damage to the target with locomotive sheds destroyed, an ammunition train was also blown up, 2 main lines were totally destroyed with all the other lines blocked due to the overhead power lines coming down.

There were three Lancaster claims by Flak 6/gem Flak Abt 596 and 2 & 4/gem Flak Abt 955 at 00:25/00:30 and 00:40. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

Thought to be some of the crew with who we now know are L-R Rear: Plt.Off. Samuel Atkin, Cpl. Ashby (ground crew), Plt.Off. Kenneth Richard Mather, 'Mack' described as bomb aimer, Sgt. Jock Stevenson - ground crew, Flt.Sgt. Reginald Giles, Sgt. Joseph Rafferty, Plt.Off. Leonard Eugene Mehden. Front: Sgt. Dick Dewer, Sgt. Bodd - ground crew and two other ground crew not named. (courtesy Janet McWee).

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Samuel Stephen Atkin. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 24. Son of George and Catherine Atkin of Dronfield, Derbyshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Remember. Mum, Dad, Bill And Les".

Fg.Off. John Victor Hayward. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 25. Born on the 2nd August 1911. Son to William & Katherine Hayward, brother to Molly and Reginald. Husband to Margaret (née Smart) Hayward and father to daughters, Margaret, Patricia, Angela & Elizabeth.

Left: Fg.Off. John Victor Hayward (courtesy Roger Carew)

Sgt. Ivor Collins Plumb. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 27. Son of Thomas William and Doreen Jean Plumb of Bromley, Kent, England. Grave inscription reads: "To The World You Were But One, To Us You Were The World".

Plt.Off. Kenneth Richard Mather. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 26. Son of Sydney and Kathleen Mather of Plymouth and husband of Blanche R.E.Mather of Mannamead, Plymouth, England. Grave inscription reads: "Gone To Heaven Before Us, He Turns And Points To The Glories In The Happy Spirit Land".

Sgt. Joseph Rafferty. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 28. No further details available as yet, are you able to add information?

Flt.Sgt. Reginald Frederick Arthur Giles. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 14. Son of Frederick Richard Arthur and Dorothy Elizabeth Giles of Brixham, Devon, England. Also remembered on the Brixham War Memorial. Grave inscription reads: "For His Loved Ones He Lived, For His Loved Ones He Died. Now In God's Good Care".

Plt.Off. Rhys Webb Jones. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 21. Born on the 16th March 1919, the son of Lloyd Britton and Rachel Jones and husband of Jessie Nimmo Tulloch of Edinburgh, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Nobly Done. Ever Remembered".

Right: Plt.Off. Rhys Webb Jones. (courtesy George Evans)

Plt.Off. Leonard Eugene Mehden. Le Mans West Cemetery. Plot 38. 1939-1945. Row C. Grave 15. Born on the 2nd September 1918 in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia. Son of Carl and Letitia Mehden and husband of Jocelyne Marjorie Mehden of Kings Cross, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Ave Maria" I Shall Always Remember My Darling. Your Wife Jocelyne".

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to George Evans, for photo of Plt.Off. Jones. Also to Diana Gourley for photo correction - June 2016. Also to Janet McWee, niece of Flt.Sgt. Reginald Giles who contacted us in Aug 2018 and supplied corrected details of address and the crew photograph. Thanks to Roger Carew, grandson of Fg.Off. John Victor Hayward, for his Next of Kin details and photograph. Thanks to John Jones for the correction to Abschuss German claim (Sep 2020). Further information supplied by sources as shown.

RS 30.09.2020 - Correction to German Abschuss claim

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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', 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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