Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
William Raeburn
Service Number
Crew Position
Date of Death


Awarded the DFC

Photographed by Malcolm Brooke


49Aqn Association

New Zealand skipper, William Green and crew fresh out of HCU and now bound for operations with 49Sqn at Fiskerton.

L -R Back row:
Mid upper Gunner Sgt Allan Ansell age 20 from Bournemouth
Flight Engineer Sgt Geoff Brunton
Navigator Sgt Reg Neal age 32 from Stanmore, Middlesex
Bomb Aimer F/Sgt Mervyn Hollard age 21from Opotik, Auckland

L -R Front row:
Wireless Operator Colin Davison age 23 from Totley, Yorkshire;
Pilot F/Sgt William Raeburn Green age 28 from Pokeno, Auckland;
Rear Gunner Sgt Gordon Hands age 19 from Hendon.

18/19 July, 1944; REVIGNY:

Two railway targets at Aulnoye and Revigny in France had been selected for attack by 253 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitoes of 1,3,5 and 8 Groups.
The first crews were away from Fiskerton at 22.38hrs, ahead of 14 other Lancasters from the squadron all bound for the rail junction at Revigny.
At interrogation, crews once again reported an extremely large amount of fighter activity. A glance at Fiskerton's operation board showed 5 crews were still overdue. By 06.00hrs, news had come through that F/O Arnold and crew had safely made Woodbridge, but of the remaining four crews, nothing more was heard; 49 Squadron had received yet another sickening blow, as four crews were reported 'missing'. New Zealander, F/O William Green DFC and crew, nearing the end of a very tough tour had sadly all been killed. They lie along-side each other in Herbisse Churchyard, Aube in France.

Lancaster JB178 (EA-U)
F/L W.R. Green DFC RNZAF Pilot (Killed)
Sgt F.S. Seymour F/E (Killed)
F/S H.R. Neal NAV (Killed)
F/S C. Davison W/AG (Killed)
Sgt A.A. Ansell A/G (Killed)
P/O M.C. Hollard RNZAF B/A (Killed)
Sgt G.E.D.Hands A/G (Killed)

Crew on their 27th operation

Details of their loss researched by Colin Cripps:
Two night fighters claimed Lancasters but it cannot be ascertained who shot down which aircraft.

Ofw Herbert Altner of 8./NJG5 claimed a Lancaster as "Abschuss", his 17th kill. The Interception was at 01.25hrs in the Maillly le Camp area at a height of 2,400m. This was either PB231 or another 49 Sqn Lancaster JB178.

Fw Gunter Zimmermann of 8./NJG4 claimed a 4 motored aircraft as "Abschuss, his 2nd kill. Interception was at 01.33hrs in the Mailly le Camp area at a height of 1,800m. This was either PB231 or another 49 Sqdn Lancaster JB178.

Altner survived the war with the rank of Leutnant having 22 night victories and 1 day.
Zimmermann was posted "Missing" overnight on the 6-7th of August 1944, during a night fighter sortie in the Mortain-Avranches area.
He attained 2 victories.

Portrait from The Weekly News; 13 September 1944 (displayed with our thanks)

Additional details taken from 'The Dog at War' by John Ward.
The crew commenced operations on 10 Apr 1944 and during the following two months were to suffer fighter attacks, a smashed windscreen and engine failures. On their 22nd operation, to Wesseling, they were attacked twice by fighters, losing their rear turret and port-inner motor. For his flying skills this night, Bill Green received the DFC.

Shortly after this raid, the crew’s regular Flight Eng., Geoff Brunton, broke his leg in a motor cycle accident. His place in the crew was taken by 22 year-old Frank Seymour from Leyburn in Yorkshire. On the trip to Revigny 18/19 July 1944, their 27 op, the crew again tangled with a night fighter… this time the outcome was both tragic and fatal…. U for Uncle fell to earth at Herbisse near Arcissur-Aube in France. All of the crew perished.

Geoff Brunton, with leg repaired, carried on to complete his tour on 49 Sqn. But he has never forgotten ‘his’ crew and each year, on the anniversary of their deaths, in the company of his son Michael, Geoff attends a commemoration service conducted by the local villagers at the graves of his long lost friends. How many can say they owe their lives to a motor cycle crash.