Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
Service Number
Crew Position
Air Gunner
PoW Date
Lancaster NE128
PoW Camp(s)
PoW Number


Image courtesy of Neil Watson (son of Sgt Watson)

Image courtesy of Neil Watson (son of Sgt  W Watson)

The "Simpkin Crew" with Sgt Watson in the middle (in front of a Stirling at 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit, Swinderby)

Note from Neil Watson:
I think Dad was in a Stirling when it crashed on take off blocking a rail line. I seem to remember something about it clipping a hanger?
Annoyingly Dad never really spoke much about it other than the odd joke about, "I was shot doon by the Germans ye ken."
He told some stories and memories from the prison camp including his initial 'de-briefing' by a very pleasant German in a long leather coat who spoke impeccable English and wished him well.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.

Five members of F/O Les Simpkin's crew survived when their aircraft was brought down near the target. Sadly F/O Simpkin and rear gunner Sgt James Maton were killed and are both buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Lancaster NE128 (EA-J)
F/O L.N. Simpkin Pilot (Killed)
Sgt A. Ladkin F/E (P.o.W.)
F/S T.A. Wilson NAV (P.o.W.)
W/O R.S. Phillips RAAF W/AG (P.o.W.)
Sgt W. Watson A/G (P.o.W.)
W/O E. O'Reilly RCAF B/A (P.o.W.)
Sgt J.A.T. Maton A/G (Killed)

Crew on their 11th operation



"Willie" Watson at Air Gunners' School (with unknown friends)

March past of recruits on April 1st 1943 (unknown town)

Final note from Neil Watson:
William was known as Willie (being Scottish). His home town was Walkerburn in the Scottish Borders. Following release from Prison Camp and his repatriation this little village had him light the bonfire at their annual festival which was reinstated in 1945.