Lancaster PB684 was one of thirteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Merseburg / Leuna on the night of the 14th / 15th January 1945.
It was carrying 2 x 500lb MC and 2 x 500lb GP. Its designated Path Finder role was Primary Visual Marker
Its eight-man crew comprised:
- Daniel Bulmer Everett (Pilot)
- James Martin Aylieff (Navigator)
- Charles George Mitchell (Air Bomber)
- Clifford Owen Russell (Set Operator)
- Clarence John Taylor (Wireless Operator)
- Raymond Terence Salvoni (Air Gunner)
- Reginald Martin Weller (Air Gunner)
- Kelvin Gordon Munro (Flight Engineer)
The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Aircraft was hit by a bomb from a friendly aircraft over the target area; the rear turret was smashed and later broke away taking with it the body of the rear gunner F/O RT Salvoni who, it is believed, was probably killed by the impact of the bomb”
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 15th January 1945 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that RT Salvoni was missing.
A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to his next of kin advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 14th / 15th January 1945”.
His kit and personal belongings were removed from his locker and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch, which was responsible for investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing aircraft and airmen, subsequently published the following information:
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 511 (Flight 07/06/1945) reported RT Salvoni as “missing”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 525 (Flight 12/07/1945) corrected Casualty Communique No. 511 and reported RT Salvoni as “killed in action”
Post War search for the missing crew member(s)
After the war, an investigation officer from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was tasked with locating the remains of the missing crew member(s).
Original German documents, burial records and eye witness accounts were utilised to establish the location of the crash site, the cause of the loss and the initial fate of the crew; information was recorded in a MRES Investigation Report.
As part of the process, any remains that were located were exhumed, identified (wherever possible) and concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Cemeteries in the country that they fell, in accordance with Government policy at the time.
Graves were marked with a simple wooden cross, which was replaced by the familiar CWGC headstone during the 1950’s.
Missing airmen who could not be found, or formally identified, had their names commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, which was unveiled in 1953.
CWGC records show that the remains of RT Salvoni were not located (or could not be formally identified) and, as such, his name is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:
- SALVONI, Raymond, Flying Officer, ‘155198’, Panel 267.
AM Form 78
The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as Cat FB/AC. It was repaired on site and returned to the squadron on 27th January 1945
AM Form 1180
The accident card shows “Aircraft struck by bomb from friendly aircraft on rear turret and the turret completely broke away complete with rear gunner, whom it is thought, was killed by impact of bomb”