Personnel Index - Detail
L to R: Sgt Ray Barlow, Sgt Tim O'Leary, Sgt Don Wares and, we believe, - F/O Elmer Hepburn and Australian, Sgt W Fitzgerald
7/8 October, 1943; STUTTGART:
Lancasters from 101 Squadron, Ludford Magna, operated for the first time with A.B.C. (night-fighter communications jamming equipment) on board. Over 340 Lancasters, including 11 from 49 Squadron bombed a cloud-covered target marked by H2S. Two crews from 49 were making their maiden sorties; P/O Ewens (ED999) A-Able, and the unfortunate crew captained by P/O Don Wares in P-Peter: Towards midnight a night fighter attacked ED426 as P/O Wares and crew returned home across France. Two engines were put out of action and as the aircraft lost altitude the pilot ordered the crew to jettison everything that was not needed. P-Peter was now at tree top height as they flew over the forest of Commercy. At 02.00hrs trees ripped away the wings as the Lancaster smashed into the hill of Bezimont. Of the seven crew members, four survived the crash. The pilot, and wireless operator, Raymond Barlow, who had only recently married Peggy Angus 25-9-43, succeeded in reaching Switzerland on foot and eventually returned to England. The two gunners, one of whom was slightly injured, walked to America Farm where they were cared for by local people and given civilian clothes. They were captured two days later by the Germans, and after two months in Fresnes prison, they were transferred to PoW camp in Poland.
Lancaster ED426 (EA-P)
P/O D. Wares Pilot (Evader)
Sgt A.H. Brownlie F/E (Killed)
Sgt T.T. O'Leary NAV (Killed)
Sgt J.R. Barlow W/AG (Evader)
Sgt G. Attwood A/G (P.o.W.)
F/O E.J. Hepburn RCAF B/A (Killed)
F/S W. Fitzgerald RAAF A/G (P.o.W.)
Crew on their 1st operation
On Friday 8th October 2021 a memorial stone was unveiled in the Commercy Forest near to the crashsite.
Click this link to read more about the event.