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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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61 Squadron Crest
01/02.10.1942 61 Squadron Lancaster I R5703 QR:D Sqn Ldr. Weston DFC

Operation: Wismar

Date: 1st/2nd October 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 61 Squadron

Type: Lancaster I

Serial: R5703

Code: QR:D

Base: RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire

Location: North east of Gunthorpe

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. George Ernest Weston DFC. 41885 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Frederick George Bellchambers 1221131 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Nav: Plt Off. George Alan Hawes 127491 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. John McFadyen Ramsey 1365084 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off. Joseph Edward Hanson DFM. 46968 RAF Age 24. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Jack Machin Robinson 1057338 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Lloyd George Gallaway R69696 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 Flt Sgt. Geoffrey Ernest Dale 41314 RNZAF from Auckland, New Zealand killed with 5 other crew, 1 made PoW

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.

Burial details:

Sqn 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.

The DFC was awarded to Fg Off. George Ernest Weston whilst with 50 Sqn. Citation reads: "lying Officer George Ernest WESTON (41885), No. 50 Squadron. One night in February, 1941, Flying Officer Weston was detailed to attack an enemy vessel lying in the dock at Brest. Owing to extreme darkness and exceptional searchlight and anti-aircraft opposition, great difficulty was encountered in locating the target. Although his starboard engine failed, Flying Officer Weston persisted in his search and, in the face of an increasingly heavy and accurate barrage, eventually located his target and pressed home his attack with a full load of bombs. On the return journey, while over the English Channel his engine picked up but again failed. By skilful handling of his aircraft, however, he succeeded in reaching his base where he landed safely. He displayed outstanding gallantry, skill and determination throughout". London Gazette 14th March 1941.

His younger brother (Above) Flt Sgt. Godfrey Randal Weston was killed in a flying accident whilst aboard Stirling I R9353 from 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) on the 20th April 1944. He is buried in Hemblington Churchyard (All Saints). Had logged some 264 flying hours at the date of his death. Four other crew were also killed and two injured when the aircraft after landing at 03:12 hrs bounced into the air. The pilot opened the throttles to go around again but the port wing dipped, within seconds the Stirling dived into the ground. The pilot, 23 year old Flt Sgt. John Gold 421847 RNZAF from Otago, New Zealand was amongst those to lose their lives from the six New Zealanders and one RAFVR crew

Sgt. Frederick George Bellchambers. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. P. Grave 306. Son of Frederick Alfred and Ethel Bellchambers of Highbury, London, England.

Plt Off. 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.

Fg Off. 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.

The DFM was awarded to 549635 Flt Sgt. Joseph Edward Hanson whilst with 50 Sqn. London Gazette 18th July 1941.

Sgt. Jack Machin Robinson. Sheffield Cemetery (Darnall). Sec. E. Grave 384. Son of Joe and Annie Elizabeth Robinson, of Sheffield, England.

Above Flt Sgt. Gallaway from his service file

Plt Off. Lloyd George Gallaway. Newark-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Sec. P. Grave 305. Born on the 16th February 1917 in Sarnia, Ontario. Son of Edgar E. and Gertrude E. (née Hoare) Gallaway, of Sarnia Ontario, Canada.

Flt Sgt. Gallaway was posthumously commissioned and promoted to (J16499) Plt Off. 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.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) with thanks to Ken Ogilvie for bringing this tragic loss to our attention (Mar 2016). 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 (Aug 2019). Details of awards and updated photograph and NoK details added (Jul 2022).

Other sources below:

RS 05.07.2022 - Addition of award details and new photograph and NoK details

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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', 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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