Personnel Index - Detail

Name
PRIOR
First Names
John Henry
Rank
F/Sgt
Service
RAF
Service Number
1375981
Crew Position
Navigator/Bomb Aimer
Age
27
Date of Death
06/03/1943
Cemetery

 

Photographed by Malcolm Brooke
Part of the panel at Runnymede
 

The Runnymede image was created by artist Paul Reid using photographs taken by Jo Cockburn and Malcolm Brooke



5/6 March, 1943; ESSEN:

A mixed force of 442 Lancasters, Halifaxes, Stirlings, Wellingtons and Oboe Mosquitoes was despatched to Essen, of which 56 returned early before reaching the target. At exactly 19.13hrs, the first 49 Squadron Lancaster lifted from Fiskerton's twinkling flarepath and by 19.31hrs the last of the 8 aircraft detailed, had climbed away into the dark, moonless night. High above home base navigators gave their pilots a course that headed them towards Mablethorpe, and from there to Egmong on the Dutch coast. From Egmong they flew to a point 15 miles north of Essen, where Pathfinders had placed yellow ground markers. From here the bombers began their run-up to the target. The attack was in three overlapping waves, Halifaxes first followed by Wellington/Stirlings
and then the high flying Lancasters. At the rate of 11 aircraft a minute, the main force passed over Essen within forty minutes. Shortly before midnight 49 Squadron's Lancasters started to land back at Fiskerton. The tired but eager crews clambered aboard the crew buses which ferried them to de-brief where most gave optimistic reports of a 'good show'. Meanwhile, back at the darkened airfield, to the ground-crew of M-Mother came the sad realisation that their charge would not be coming home. Their worst fears were later confirmed... Jimmy Thom DFM, the popular Scots pilot and his young crew had all perished during the operation. It is believed that they were shot down by Ltn Denzel, west of Texel and crashed into the sea. Later that morning, reconnaissance photographs showed that the returning crews’ optimism was not unfounded. 160 acres of the target had been destroyed with the main area of damage being between the Krupps works and the city centre.
But a price had to be paid; Bomber Command lost 14 aircraft and crews.

Lancaster ED431 (EA-M)
Sgt J.M. Thom DFM Pilot (Missing)
Sgt D.G. Fairlie F/E (Missing)
F/S J.H. Prior NAV (Missing)
F/S K. Bolton W/AG (Missing)
Sgt D.S. Bratt A/G (Missing)
W/O A.M. Horne B/A (Missing)
Sgt F.H.L. Vines A/G (Missing)

Crew on their 18th operation