Personnel Index - Detail
Part of the panel at Runnymede
Dennis Palmer is 2nd from the left, rear row
Image courtesy of Don and Roy Palmer
L to R: As an AC2 in Blackpool (showing his landlady one of his models) in South Africa as a Cpl Towed Target Operator and attached to the South African Airforce at 44 Air School Grahamstown.
21/22 June, 1944; WESSELING:
There was nothing unusual about Wednesday 21 June, 1944; the weather, as with previous days remained dull and the slight northerly wind kept temperatures a little chilly. For aircrew the morning passed slowly, whilst activity on the airfield indicated that ops were on the menu for that evening. There had been no operations for the past five days so just after lunch a small crowd had gathered as an airman pinned up the Battle Order; twenty aircraft were detailed with the main briefing at 20.00hrs. For those crews listed, the usual pre-operational routine began, then later, after a noisy meal in the Sgts' Mess and with coffee flasks filled, crews walked or were ferried over to the main site for specialist briefings and then the main briefing. The tape on the wall map showed a route ending just below the Ruhr... Germany for a change.
A force of over 130 Lancasters from 5 Group was to attack the synthetic-oil plant at Wesseling, 15 miles south of Cologne - marking would be by 5 Group Mosquitoes using the 'Newhaven' method.
At 03.32hrs, combat exhausted 49 Squadron crews began landing back at Fiskerton. Their opening remarks gave the first hints of the disaster that had befallen the aircrew of 5 Group.
P/O Alex Ross and crew have no known grave, but are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial. The circumstances of their loss have yet to be established, but it is thought they came down in the North Sea after combat with a night fighter.
Lancaster ND695 (EA-B)
P/O A.R. Ross Pilot (Missing)
Sgt D.W. Palmer F/E (Missing)
F/S C.G. Morton NAV (Missing)
Sgt C.C. Holden W/AG (Missing)
Sgt A.D. Griffin A/G (Missing)
P/O G.F. MacGregor RCAF B/A (Missing)
Sgt D.W.E. Hardy A/G (Missing)
Crew on their 8th operation
The following history is provided by Don Palmer (brother of Sgt Dennis Palmer)
Dennis joined the RAF in the volunteer reserve at the age of 18 years being a lover of aeroplanes from an early age and a very keen model maker.
He reported to Cardington on the 22nd April 1940 and after kitting out was sent to Blackpool for Basic Training and was billeted on the seafront in a boarding house.
On the 31st June 1940 he went to three schools of technical training to be an Airframe Rigger.
On the 15t October 1940 he was posted to 74 Fighter Squadron in Kent and worked on Hurricane fighters until the end of November 1940.
He then trained to be an Airframe Fitter and returned to 74Sqn at Manston to work on Spitfires before moving to Gravesend with the same Squadron.
During his time he worked on the aircraft of several well known pilots, one being "Sailor" Malan.
These airfields were being heavily bombed at the time and when he went home on leave to Coventry the same thing was happening there!
In August 1941 he was posted to the South African Air Force. He went to 44 Air School Grahamstown and was attached to the "Battle Flight". He trained to be a towed target operator which involved operating a drogue from the back of the Fairey Battle for training pilots to fire at. During his time in South Africa he flew a total of 140 hours as a drogue operator.
In July 1943 he was recommended for training as a Flight Engineer and returned to the UK. He was posted to RAF Lindley which was near his home in Coventry. This was 105 Transport OUT and he worked on Wellingtons while he waited for his Flight Engineer training to commence.
On November 3rd 1943 he went to No:4 Technical Training School at St Athens to begin training as a Flight Engineer. He passed out as a Sergeant Flight Engineer on February 14th 1944.
He was posted on the 23rd February 1944 to 51 Base Scampton……..from where on a few occasions he was sent to Fiskerton to clear snow from the runways.
On the 23rd March 1944 he went to 1661 Conversion Unit Winthorpe flying in the Sterling III. It was there that he met up with Flight Sergeant Ross (pilot) and the rest of his crew.
He went to 5 LFS Syerston on the 8th May 1944. A note in his diary said, "Lancasters at last!". His pilot was now Pilot Officer Ross.
On the 18th May 1944 they joined 49Sqn at RAF Fiskerton. Their first operation took place on 22/5/44 against "Naval Guns at Morsalines". There then followed another six operations to various targets.
On the 21st -22nd June 1944 they took part in the raid on Wesseling and failed to return (their 8th Operation). It was a bad night for 49Sqn with six aircraft failing to return. They are remembered at the Runnymede Air Force Memorial as they have no known grave.