This month, I have carried out research work for relatives of the following airmen who served with No. 35 Squadron:
- KG McAlpine (1943)
- D McMillan (1945)
- DMD Lambert (1944)
- JI Barrie (1943)
- G Beattie (1950s)
An extract from George Beattie’s Log Book [Courtesy of Robert Beattie]
Unveiling of the memorial to the crew of Lancaster ND762 (29th September 2018)
E Holmes (SherlE) beside the newly unveiled memorial [Courtesy of David Holmes]
The following extract regarding the loss of Lancaster ND762 was read out during the unveiling of the memorial in Vessem on 29th September 2018
“On 22nd May 1944 sixteen Lancaster Bombers from 35 Pathfinder squadron of Bomber Command set off from RAF Graveley . Their task was to drop flares and incendiary bombs on Dortmund to light it up for the following waves of 345 Lancaster bombers and 14 Mosquitos who were following in behind.
They had successfully dropped their bombs on the target and were flying at 16,000 feet on their way back to Graveley when a night fighter surprised them. The first thing that SherlE knew was that the aircraft was difficult to control. It was then obvious that the number three engine on the starboard wing was on fire. He instructed his crew to bail out and continued to try to control the aircraft. He remembers Mac tapping him on the shoulder indicating that the crew were ready to leave. He turned and saw Derrick standing putting his parachute on. There was then a large explosion in the aircraft.
SherlE’s account of what happened thereafter was recorded at the time in the diary of medical student Loek Veegers who, with Willi Hasenbos (whose daughter is here today) were hiding on the nearby farm belonging to Fons van der Heijden , where SherlE was subsequently hidden.
These are his words…… “With a sudden jolt he was slung through the front window and dangled against the outside of the cabin, hanging from the bands with which he was strapped to the pilot’s seat. After a few seconds the aircraft made an enormous sudden turn and he was flung loose, into the air. He was still very dazed at first, but was just able to open his parachute in time. His lip was very swollen but that was the only minor injury he sustained.
Derrick Coleman and Frank Tudor had similar escapes, but the remaining five crew members died in the aircraft, and all the events of today are a tribute to their bravery and ultimate sacrifice”.
My thanks go to David Holmes for supplying the information and photographs.
Chievres Communal Cemetery, Belgium
Over the weekend of 17th / 18th November, the town of Chievres, in conjunction with the Musée international de l’aviation et de la base de Chièvres, will be holding an event to commemorate the liberation of the town by the Gordon Highlanders in 1918 and the anniversary of the museum.
As part of the event, a service will be held to remember the fifty-eight airmen that were concentrated (reinterred) at Chievres Communal Cemetery after the war.
Mo Frampton’s “Cyprus Years” Group raised money to purchase a wreath which will be laid during the service of remembrance to commemorate the thirteen airmen from No. 35 Squadron that were concentrated there.
Marham Aviation Heritage Centre
Mark Every has sent me copies of a couple of the No. 35 Squadron related photograph albums that are held in the Marham Aviation Heritage Centre Archives.
The albums cover the 1930’s and include the time when the squadron was detached to Sudan (1935 / 1936) during the Abyssinian Crisis.
A number of the photographs have been added to the relevant pages on the site.
My thanks go to Mark for his time and effort on this matter.
Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre Archives
During a recent visit to East Kirkby, I was pleased to see that the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre has a number of donated photographs of squadron aircraft and crews in its archive.
Sadly, the Centre has prevented me from incorporating copies of these photographs on the appropriate pages on this site. I have been advised that all I can do is annotate the relevant pages to inform readers that there is a photograph held at the Centre.
I have started to work with the archivist to update the information that the Centre holds regarding the photographs to ensure historical accuracy.
National Memorial Arboretum
My partner and I visited the National Memorial Arboretum and placed a poppy at the No. 35 Squadron Memorial Tree to commemorate all those that served with the squadron, in particular, those that lost their lives in doing so.
International Bomber Command Centre
My partner and I also visited the International Bomber Command Centre where we placed a poppy in memory of her grandfather CA Butler, who was killed in Lancaster ME334 on 4th February 1945, along with the rest of his crew.
There were a number of paving stones in the Ribbon of Remembrance relating to airmen who served with the squadron.
One of the 35 Squadron related paving stones
We are planning to commission a stone to commemorate the crew of ME334 but I thought it might be a good idea to consider installing a stone in remembrance of all No. 35 Squadron crews, which could be funded by the 35 Squadron Research Group.
Once again, Mo Frampton’s “Cyprus Years” Group has expressed an interest in contributing towards the cost of the stone and in organising / attending an unveiling event in late Spring of next year.
If anyone else is interested in contributing towards the funding, please get in touch
Blesme Memorial Booklet
Thanks to Roger Bedford for sending me copies of the twenty-one page booklet that was produced for the unveiling of the memorial to JH Marks and his crew at Blesme in 1992.
I will be sending a copy to the International Bomber Command Centre for inclusion in their digital archive.
On the subject of the archive, whilst I was at the Centre this month, I met with the archivist to explore ways of integrating or linking our projects.
IF YOU HAVE ANY COPIES OF DOCUMENTS OR PHOTOGRAPHS RELATING TO THE SQUADRON WHICH COULD BE INCORPORATED ONTO THE WEBSITE, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH