Lancaster ND731 (04/07/1944)

Lancaster ND731 was one of fourteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Villeneuve St. Georges on the night of the 4th / 5th July 1944.

Its eight-man crew comprised:

  • George Frank Lambert (Pilot)
  • Frank Salt (Navigator)
  • David Rotely Hall (Air Bomber)
  • Patrick Moorhead (Set Operator)
  • Frank Desmond Round (Wireless Operator)
  • Francis Emanuel O’Connell (Air Gunner)
  • John Grant Cooke (Air Gunner)
  • Robert James Goode (Flight Engineer)

The route was Reading, 5030N 0020W, 4950N 0035E, 4830N 0107E, Target, 4846N 0230E, 4830N 0230E, 4832N 0108E, 4850N 0059E, 4900N 0130W, 4940N 0230W

Lancaster ND731 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 5th July 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 4th / 5th July 1944”.

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. 441 (Flight 09/11/1944) reported GF Lambert, FD Round and JG Cooke as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 530 (Flight 09/08/1945) reported GF Lambert, FD Round and JG Cooke “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 544 (Flight 25/10/1045) reported FE O’Connell “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action””

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

  • 15/09/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that RJ Goode, missing on operations on 4th / 5th July 1944, is a prisoner of war
  • 24/09/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that P Moorhead, missing on operations on 4th / 5th July 1944, had arrived in the United Kingdom
  • 15/11/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that DR Hall, missing on operations on 4th / 5th July 1944, is a prisoner of war
  • 24/11/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that GF Lambert, FD Round and two unknown, missing on operations on 4th / 5th July 1944, were killed
  • 19/12/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that F Salt, missing on operations on 4th / 5th July 1944, is a prisoner of war and that JG Cooke and FE O’Connell were killed

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.

Crew member(s) who survived the crash and evaded capture

P. Moorhead survived the crash and evaded capture as follows:

  • Landed: Nr Rambouillet
  • Evasion Route: France (Georges Broussine’s Bourgogne escape line?)
  • Repatriation: August / September 1944

Crew member(s) who survived the crash and were captured and imprisoned

DR Hall, RJ Goode and F Salt survived the crash and were captured 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:

  • DR Hall
    • Evaded: Jul-44
    • Captured: 10 miles south of Caen 12/07/1944
    • Imprisoned: Belaria (Stalag Luft III overflow camp) Aug-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RJ Goode
    • Captured: Rambouilett 05/07/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VII, Bankau Jul-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • F Salt
    • Evaded: Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Captured: Paris 07/08/1944
    • Imprisoned: Fresnes Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Buchenwald Concentration Camp Aug-44 to Oct-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan 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 show that the remains of FE O’Connell, JG Cooke, FD Round and GF Lambert were located at Emance Communal Cemetery.

It is understood that their remains were left in situ (ie they were not exhumed and formally identified as part of the MRES investigation) in the following graves:

  • O’CONNELL, FRANCIS EMANUEL Flying Officer ‘432451’ Grave 1.
  • COOKE, JOHN GRANT Flight Lieutenant ‘46790’  Grave 2.
  • ROUND, FRANK DESMOND Flight Lieutenant ‘48054’ Grave 3.
  • LAMBERT, GEORGE FRANK Squadron Leader ‘63419’ Grave 4.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Crew Memorial (Emance)

ND731 Memorial

[Source: aerosteles.net]

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Uffz Heinrich Schultz, 6./NJG2, Mantes-Rambouillet,  2500m, 01.32

WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)

Crashed 01.33 between St. Hilarion and Emance

DR Hall’s Flying Log Book Entry

Extract from DR Hall’s Flying Log Book [Courtesy of Stephen Cooke]

Shadows on the Sands of Time

The book “Shadows on the Sands of Time” by RJ Goode, has more details relating to his service career and the loss of the aircraft.