Lancaster PB197 was one of eleven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Wanne Eickel on the night of the 18th / 19th November 1944.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Norman Charles Blackband (Pilot)
- William George Heatley (Navigator)
- Malcolm Dick Singleton (Air Bomber)
- Stanley George Watts (Wireless Operator)
- Alexander Stewart Fleming (Air Gunner)
- Ronald Henry Rudyard Grayson (Air Gunner)
- George Hossack Redford (Flight Engineer)
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Lancaster PB197, captained by NC Blackband, when carrying out an overshoot procedure on a second attempt to land, crashed in a nearby wood; only the two gunners, Grayson and Fleming survived”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) records show the following burial information:
- BLACKBAND, NORMAN CHARLES Flying Officer ‘170204’ OSCOTT COLLEGE CEMETERY, BIRMINGHAM Sec. A. Grave 1030.
- HEATLEY, WILLIAM GEORGE Flying Officer ‘169319’ NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE (WEST ROAD) CEMETERY Sec. Q. Grave 56.
- REDFORD, GEORGE HOSSACK Flight Sergeant ‘1639906’ ASHINGTON (ST. AIDAN’S) ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY South side. Row G. Grave 1.
- SINGLETON, MALCOLM DICK Flying Officer ‘153307’ SHEFFIELD (ABBEY LANE) CEMETERY Sec. G. Grave 6227.
- WATTS, STANLEY GEORGE Flight Sergeant ‘1800090’ CITY OF LONDON CEMETERY AND CREMATORIUM, MANOR PARK Screen Wall. Square 241. Coll. grave 108026.
RAF Graveley ORB
Lancaster Mk.III PB197 carried out overshoot procedure on landing but crashed 1 1/2 miles south of the aerodrome. The following members of the crew were killed as a result of multiple injuries F/O Blackband, F/O Heatley, F/O Singleton, F/S Watts and F/S Redford. The mid-upper gunner Sgt Fleming who was in the rest position sustained no physical injuries but was suffering from acute emotional stress. Sgt Grayson escaped with mild concussion and fracture of the left humerus when the tail unit broke off.
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Crashed at 21.07 into a wood near Croxton
AM Form 78
The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as FB/E and it was struck off charge on 30th November 1944
AM Form 1180
The accident card shows “Aircraft overshot, after previous overshoot due to flap trouble, climbed to 5400 feet, lost height and crashed”
AS Fleming / RHR Grayson
AS Fleming and RHR Grayson returned to the squadron for operational duties by 4th December 1944 and 5th January 1945 respectively