Lancaster PB612 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Cologne on the afternoon of 28th October 1944.
It was equipped with H2S, GPI and Fishpond and was carrying 1 x 4000lbs HC (NI), 2 x 1000lbs ANM59 and various target indicators. Its designated Path Finder role was Deputy Master Bomber
Its eight-man crew comprised:
- Svein Johannes Hausvik (Pilot)
- Leslie Roberts (Navigator)
- Ernest Daley (Air Bomber)
- Finn Haagensen (Set Operator)
- Othmar Lorentz Flaaten (Wireless Operator)
- Arthur Bevin (Air Gunner)
- Leslie Jackson (Air Gunner)
- Jeffrey Francis Pryce Harper (Flight Engineer)
The route was Base, Orfordness, 5110N 0240E, 5020N 0615E, Target, 5058N 0715E, 5035N 0720E, 5020N 0615E, 5110N 0240E, Orfordness, Base
PB612 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing; was last heard of at 16.28 hours giving “Attack unsuccessful”
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 28th October 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 28th October 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.576 (Flight 02/05/1946) reported L Jackson and JFP Harper “previously reported missing” 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.
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 the crew were not located, or could not be formally identified and, as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:
- DALEY ERNEST Sergeant ‘1622390’ RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Panel 228.
- HARPER JEFFREY FRANCIS PRYCE Flight Sergeant ‘1817318’ RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Panel 218.
- ROBERTS LESLIE Flight Lieutenant ‘157625’ RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Panel 203.
- JACKSON LESLIE Flight Sergeant ‘1589176’ RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Panel 219.
- BEVIN ARTHUR Flight Sergeant ‘1685716’ RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Panel 215.
[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]
The names of the three non-commonwealth members of the crew Svein Johannes Hausvik, Finn Haagensen and Othmar Lorentz Flaaten are recorded on the memorial at Akerhus Festning, Oslo