The Unsung Heroes
It is a regrettable fact that the constraints of time and resources have ensured that the focus of 625 Squadron archive reports has necessarily been upon the seventy-four aircraft and crews that failed to return from operational or training flights.
Of the 523 airmen involved in these losses, their fates were truly abysmal, with 389, representing 75%, being killed, whilst 59 (11%), became prisoners of war, 16 (3%) evaded captured and 59 (11%) were safe including 12 injured.
At the foot of this page can be found a full list of all 74 aircraft and crews lost by 625 Squadron. Those currently covered by Aircrew Remembered include links to their respective archive reports.
No Bomber Station could have functioned at all, had it not been for the tireless and unselfish efforts of not just the Aircrews but of ALL the Station Personnel. These include of course, the ground crews servicing and preparing the aircraft and the countless other individuals located in every nook and cranny of an operational airfield. The Medical Centre Staff, the Admin Personnel, the Catering Cooks and Waitresses, the Bomb Dump personnel, the Armourers servicing the guns and 'Bombing Up', the Electricians, the Engineers, the Parachute Packers, Drivers, Security personnel, the Station Clothing Stores and Bedding, the Laundry, Mechanical Engineers servicing all of the Station vehicles, the Barber, the Dentist, the Painters, and many other 'Forgotten' but nonetheless essential contributors that made up a Bombing Effort.
It is also little appreciated that after the war, many 'natural deaths' were in fact the direct result of contracting illnesses through extraordinary exposure of ground personnel to working all hours of the day and night, causing abnormal exhaustion. Though not confined to outdoor working conditions, it was of course more prevalent than indoors, through six bitter winters, often in freezing cold, wet, and miserable weather. Indeed, during the first years of the war, it was often impossible to get dry clothes to change into between shifts. They had to work through whatever the weather threw at them, seven days a week, twenty four hours a day!
In order to show their appreciation, it was not uncommon for Aircrew to invite their Ground Crew and others to social evenings in the local pubs in town, where they could all relax, and improve their bonding. Each relied on the other and knew that it was all a combined effort. On many an occasion, fairly inebriated airmen would often 'borrow' bicycles to ride back to camp through the lanes. Next morning the local bobby would turn up to retrieve them and the Mechanical Transport pool would provide a vehicle to transport the bicycles back to town!
Sadly, the 'unsung heroes' that these personnel certainly were, are often forgotten when the achievements of Bomber Command are voiced and filmed. Without them however, the whole effort in prosecuting the War in Bomber Aircraft would have been impossible! It is regrettable that the post war silence of these personnel suggests that the world cared little for their contribution, yet is never too late for their voices to be heard.
It is therefore the object of this page, to pay tribute to at least some of the personnel, no matter what their role, who contributed to the valuable work undertaken by 625 Squadron during the Second World War.
It is perhaps fitting that we begin with those crews that managed to successfully run the gauntlet of thirty missions to tour expire and be rewarded with a posting to a training or administrative role, after which members of the RAF were then expected to return for a second tour of operations, whilst those of the Commonwealth Air Forces could volunteer for a second tour, or elect to remain in a non-combative role in England or their home country.
Alas, aircrew who were fortunate enough to survive a tour, did so at a tremendous emotional and psychological cost as they witnessed the loss of their Squadron mates to the horrors of night combat over occupied Europe. Their chances of surviving a tour of thirty missions was less than thirty per cent - far from a comforting statistic!
The following list of pilots and crew that survived a tour may be incomplete and will be amended if additional crews are discovered.
1. P/O. Edgar Lewis Pickles DFC A413248 RAAF
2. P/O. Stanley Burton DFC 158541 RAFVR
3. W/O. Thomas Craig Cunningham 1371018
4. F/O. Cyril Roy Kroemer A416380 RAAF
5. Fl/Sgt. Robert Gordon Bowden DFM A412889 RAAF
6. P/O. Thomas Keith Magee A415342 RAAF
7. S/L. John Richard Canham DFC 40799 RAF
8. F/O.(A/F/L) Edward Sydney Ellis CGM DFC 161600 RAFVR
9. Fl/Lt. William Sydney Middlemiss DFC* J19404 RCAF
10. P/O. Reginald William Douglas Price DFC**J19829 RCAF
11. P/O. Donald Mackenzie Blackmore DFC 54183 RAF
12. S/L. John Clifford Day DFC 127331 RAFVR
13. P/O. Clarence Lewis Mins DFC J/85121 RCAF
14. P/O. Francis George Kelsey DFC 172460 RAFVR
15. F/O. David Heath Murray DFC J28171 RCAF
16. F/O. Harvey John Hewetson DFC J27629 RCAF
17. P/O. Ronald Charles Lake DFC 173335 RAFVR
18. P/O. Thomas Henry Burford DFC 175499 RAFVR
19. S/L. Grahame Robert Ross DFC 80830 RAFVR
20 P/O. Philip Arthur Clough DFC 178457 RAFVR
21. P/O. (A/F/O) Stanley Hubert Beetham 172473 RAFVR
22. F/O. William Ewan Burdett Mason DFC J26408 RCAF
23. P/O. (A/F/L) John Henry Marks DFC 173616 RAFVR
24. P/O. (A/F/O) Frank Vernon Nancarrow DFC 173056 RAFVR
25. 1st Lt. Frank G. Marvin DFC USAAF ASN 0886267
26. P/O. (A/F/O) Raman Arthur Torgrimson DFC J85108 RCAF
27 Ft/Offr. T C Slade USAAF ASN T223139
28. P/O. Alexander James Maxwell DFC 174545 RAFVR
29. P/O. Frank Gerald Parker DFC 171097 RAFVR
30. F/O. Thomas Graham Wilson 139379 RAFVR
31. Fl/Lt. Arthur William Avery DFC 117668 RAFVR
32. P/O. Allan George Sheffield DFC 176663 RAFVR
33. Fl/Lt. Frederick Ronald Davy DFC 66557 RAFVR
34. P/O. Frederick Moses Henry Mowday A427011 RAAF
35. F/O. D.R. Ward DFC A423808 or A424808 Son of Mr and Mrs B Ward of Windsor NSW
36. P/O. (A/F/O) John Norman Harvey A423998 RAAF
37. F/O. Wiliam James Bulman DFC 170199 RAFVR
38. Fl/Lt. William John Treharne DFC 127348 RAFVR
39. F/O. Clements Koder DFC 158106 RAFVR
40. F/O. Geoffrey Alfred Perrott DFC 148112 RAFVR
41. Fl/Lt. James Kinnard Jardine DFC J11572 RCAF
42. P/O. (A/F/L) Keith Ernest Bailey DFC 156694 RAFVR
43. F/O. Arthur John Ball DFC 179079 RAFVR
44. P/O. Alfred Sydney Phillips DFC 178793 RAFVR
45. F/L. George Henry Reynolds DFC 131143 RAFVR
*F/L Middlemiss was the first pilot posted to the Squadron from a Conversion Unit to tour expire without an aborted mission. This would be the result of a tight knit crew coupled with an impeccable ground crew. Not to mention a tincture of good fortune from Lady Luck considering that the targets that this crew confronted were located in the heart of enemy territory—including the Ruhr Valley and many to the dreaded ‘Big City’, Berlin. In his list of targets there were no milk runs: Berlin 12 ops, Düsseldorf 2, Frankfurt 2, Stuttgart 2, and Nuremburg raid of 30 March 1944. His first lucky steed for ten ops was Lancaster LM384 until she failed to return from the 19 February 1944 Leipzig raid with the loss of F/Sgt. Charles Ernest Pearson and crew. The last eleven missions were carried out in lucky Lancaster ND639. She was lost when a pilot of No. 1667 Conversion Unit lost control in cloud on an exercise and crashed at Crowle, Lincolnshire on 5 April 1945
**P/O Price DFC and his crew were second to tour expire of the ‘rookies’ from a conversion unit. As relative neophytes they were most fortunate to survive their second op to Düsseldorf of 3 November 1943 in Lancaster W4833.
We are most privileged to have Reg as a co-author and technical adviser of our team at this time (25 August 2020). His input and feedback have been invaluable as a contribution to many of our 625 Squadron archive reports. REG WE SALUTE YOU!
PHOTOGRAPHS OF TOUR EXPIRED CREWS
The following photographs are of some of the above crews known to have completed operational tours. If you can identify any of the crew members please contact our helpdesk.
OTHER UNIDENTIFIED CREWS
The following photographs are of 625 Squadron crews for whom we have no details whatsoever. If you have any information please contact our helpdesk
The above photographs courtesy Kevin Ball/Eileen Edge Collection
THE 48 MEMBERS OF A LANCASTER CREW
The pages of all Operations Record Books are littered with details of pilots, flight engineers, navigators, air bombers, wireless ops, air gunners and their deeds. And whilst even their steeds merit inclusion there is a yawning void when it comes to any reference to the teeming body of humanity that worked tirelessly, often in horrendous conditions, to enable the aircrews to sally forth, night after night to perform their deadly, deathly duty.
Yet these 'Erks' as they were affectionately known, received nothing but the utmost praise, gratitude and respect from the aircrews whose lives depended on their skill, expertise and attention to detail in maintaining and repairing their trusty mounts
An unequivocal pride in their work, born of a will to be the best, was such that each ground crew came to look upon their particular aircraft as their very own property, the aircrew being merely allowed to borrow it from time to time. They took a dim view of the crew that returned their pride and joy in anything other than the condition in which it left their safekeeping.
And it did not end there, multitudes of others, engaged in performing important tasks, essential to the well-being of the crews and the efficient running of the base cannot, and should not be, overlooked: cooks, drivers, stores personnel, mess orderlies and admin personnel to name but a few.
To put it in perspective, of the 2500 personnel needed to run a bomber base, a mere 10% were aircrew.
Front row (left to right): Flying Control Officer, WAAF Parachute Packer, Meteorological Officer, seven aircrew (Pilot and Captain, Navigator, Air Bomber, Flight Engineer, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and two Air Gunners)
Second row. Twelve flight maintenance crew (left to right): NCO Fitter, Flight Maintenance Mechanic, NCO Fitter, five flight maintenance mechanics, Electrical Mechanic, Instrument Repairer, and two Radio Mechanics)
Third row. Bombing up team: WAAF Tractor Driver with a bomb train of 16 Small Bomb Containers (SBC), each loaded with 236 x 4-lb No. 15 incendiaries. Behind: three bombing-up crew
Fourth row: Seventeen ground servicing crew (left to right): Corporal Mechanic, four Aircraft Mechanics, Engineer Officer, Fitter/Armourer, three Armourers, Radio Mechanic, two Instrument Repairers, three Bomb Handlers, Machine Gun Belt Fitter.
Back row (left to right): AEC Matador Petrol Tender and two crew, Avro Lancaster B Mark I heavy bomber, Mobile Workshop and three crew.
PENGUINS AND GROUND WALLAHS
And last, but far from least, a section dedicated to all the Erks, Stores Bashers, Chair Force, Chain Gang, Cabbage Mechanics, Sky Pilots, Bluebirds, Passenger Pilots, Water Rats, Scab Lifters, Scuffers, Rock Apes and all the other indispensable Penguins and Ground Wallahs of 625 Squadron.
Sgt. Stan Snaith (back row right) and ground crew on the wing of a Lancaster. Photo: Courtesy Pete Snaith
Eileen Edge (third from left) with the Administration Section. Photo: Courtesy Kevin Ball.
Bessie Farey (back row, fourth from left) with the Motor Transport Section in front of a crew bus. Photo: Courtesy Adria Law.
Bessie Farey. Photo: Courtesy Adria Law.
Winter scene at RAF Kelstern. Photo: Courtesy Pete Snaith
The 74 aircraft of 625 Squadron lost during World War Two
* Denotes those losses covered by an Aircrew Remembered archive report. Click on the name to read the report.
1. JA714 20 Oct. Leipzig P/O. Cameron
2. ED321 3 Nov. Düsseldorf Fl/Sgt. Blackwood
3. ED809 26 Nov. Berlin F/O. McSorley
4. W4999 2 Dec. Berlin WO. Aslett
5. DV392 3 Dec. Leipzig Sqn Ldr. Moody
7. ED951 16 Dec. Berlin 2nd Lt. Wooley
8. LM421 23 Dec. Berlin Sgt. Clark
12. R5702 15 Feb. Berlin Sgt. Ashurst
14. ME588 19 Feb. Leipzig P/O. Aspin DFM
16. DV194 15 Mch. Stuttgart Fl/Sgt. Hodgkins
17. W4833 15 Mch. Stuttgart Fl/Sgt. Gigger
18. ND637 15 Mch. Stuttgart Fl/Sgt. Bulger
19. ND596 18 Mch. Frankfurt F/O. MacMaster
24. ND407 9 Apl. Training P/O. Winder
25. ND636 10 Apl. Aulnoye Fl/Sgt. Green
27. ME731 20 Apl. Cologne Fl/Sgt. Bishop
30. LM317 3 May Mailly-le-Camp WO. Short
31. LL894 15 May Kiel P/O. Beadle
34. ND742 10 Jun Achères P/O. Dudman
35. LM139 10 Jne. Achères F/O. Geeson
36. LL897 10 Jne. AchèresF/O. Malin
37. ED938 12 Jne. Gelsenkirchen P/O. Scott
39. JB743 30 Jne. Vierzon P/O. Hale
40. ND459 30 Jne. Vierzon F/O. Wright DFC
42. LM174 23 Jly. Kiel Fl/Lt. Harrison DFC
45. LM163 3 Aug. Trossy-St-Maximim F/O. Jobson
46. ME733 12 Aug. Brunswick WO. Percy
47. LM674 16 Aug. Stettin P/O. Charlick
48. LM168 26 Aug. Kiel P/O. Curless
49. ME676 31 Aug. Raimbert F/O. Reynolds
50. LM103 12 Sep. Frankfurt Fl/Lt. Banks
53. PB531 23 Oct. Essen F/O. Morshead
54. PA174 23 Oct. Essen P/O. Tweter
55. LM691 23 Oct. Essen Sqn Ldr. Hamilton
56. PB154 4 Nov. Bochum F/O. Twynam
57. PB556 8 Nov. Training P/O. Harris
58. LM731 9 Nov. Wanne-Eickel Fl/Lt. Wilson
59. NG239 9 Nov. Wanne-Eickel F/O. Bruce
61. NN699 3 Dec. Urft Dam F/O. Naylor
62. NG294 15 Dec. Ludwigshafen P/O. Fletcher
66. PB815 23 Feb. Pforzheim F/O Paige
67. PB158 2 Feb. Cologne F/O Downes
68. PD375 5 Feb. Chemnitz F/L Cook
69. NG324 7 Feb. Dessau F/L Chapman
73. NG237 3 Apl. Nordhausen F/S Collier