Lancaster ND701 (09/04/1944)

Lancaster ND701 was one of four No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Lille on the night of the 9th / 10th April 1944.

The aircraft was equipped with SAA, IFF, Gee, Nav. Aid Y (H2S), GTI and Fishpond and was carrying 12 x 1000lb MC and 2 x 500lb MC bombs. Its designated Path Finder role was Supporter

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • RJ Bordiss (Pilot)
  • LM Talbot (Navigator)
  • W Severs (Air Bomber)
  • PA O’Brien (Wireless Operator)
  • TM Holder (Air Gunner)
  • FB James (Air Gunner)
  • J Robertson (Flight Engineer)

Bordiss Crew

O’Brien, Talbot, Jackson (replaced by Holder on this sortie), Bordiss, James, Robertson, Severs [Courtesy of John Robertson]

The route was Selsey Bill, 4758N 0110E, 4935N 0220E, Target, 5050N 0300E, 5140N 0200E, Orfordness, Base

ND701 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after take-off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 10th April 1944 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.

A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 9th / 10th April 1944”.

An example of the telegram that was sent

The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers 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 regarding the crew:

  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 405 (Flight 20/07/1944) reported RJ Bordiss and LM Talbot as “missing believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 531 (Flight 16/08/1945) reported RJ Bordiss and LM Talbot “previously reported missing believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”

Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to next of kin, along with any monies due.

No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:

  • 05/05/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that PA O’Brien, missing on 9th / 10th April 1944, is safe in neutral territory (Switzerland)
  • 02/06/1944:  Information received from Air Ministry that W Severs and TM Holder, missing on 9th / 10th April 1944, are prisoners of war; also that two unknown were killed
  • 18/10/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that PA O’Brien, missing on 9th / 10th April 1944, arrived in the UK on 8th October 1944
  • 04/01/1945: Information received from Air Ministry that J Robertson, missing on 9th / 10th April 1944, is a prisoner of war; also that two unknown, assumed to be RJ Bordiss and LM Talbot, were killed
  • 11/01/1945: Information received from Air Ministry that FB James, missing on 9th / 10th April 1944, is a prisoner of war

Crew members who survived the crash and evaded capture

PA O’Brien survived the crash and evaded capture as follows:

  • Evasion Route: France / Switzerland (Interned)
  • Repatriated: October 1944

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

W Severs and TM Holder survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following details:

  • W Severs
    • Captured: Nr Amiens 10/04/1944
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Obereusel, Frankfurt Apr-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Apr-44 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • TM Holder
    • Captured: Nr Amiens 10/04/1944
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Obereusel, Frankfurt Apr-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Apr-44 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

FB James and J Robertson evaded for several months before being captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following details:

  • FB James
    • Evaded: Apr-44 to Aug-44
    • Captured: Flixecourt, Picardy (29/08/1944)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Obereusel, Frankfurt Aug-44 to Sep-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Sep-44 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • J Robertson
    • Evaded: Apr-44 to Sep-44
    • Captured: Amiens 30/09/1944 (Note: His POW Card shows 29/08/1944 Abbeville)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VII, Bankau Oct-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

Post War search for the missing crew members

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 do not show where the remains of RJ Bordiss and LM Talbot were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at ABBEVILLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION as follows:

  •  BORDISS, RONALD JOHN Flying Officer ‘136427’  Plot 6. Row H. Grave 2.
  • TALBOT, LIONEL MOORE Flight Sergeant ‘1392407’ Plot 6. Row H. Grave 1.

 

 

 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Cause / Location of Loss

No details are currently available

Extract from J Robertson’s POW Records

POW document 1 (Cropped)

[Courtesy of John Robertson]