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F/Sgt A H Jefferies CGM and Crew

F/Sgt Jefferies and crew were posted to 550 Sqdn on squadron start-up from 100 Sqdn "C" Flight w.e.f. 25/11/43:

F/Sgt Jefferies Crew First Operational Flight with 550 Squadron

The first operational flight the Jefferies crew made with 550 Sqdn was on 26/27 November 1943 in ED536 to Berlin. On this occasion the regular F/Eng and Nav were not flying, instead the following were flying in their place:

Sgt Denis Claridge Cornes and F/Sgt Iverson Frederick 'Bud' Ruppel (RCAF) were both 100 Squadron personnel; members of F/O Kenneth P Dunckley's crew. Dunckley had been taken off flying duties due to suffering delayed concussion following an accident in which Dunckley was struck by a bicyclist returning from the local pub in the blackout in October 1943. His crew were without a regular pilot until a replacement (F/Sgt James Ives) was posted into 100 Squadron at the end of December. Thus, Cornes and Ruppel flew with F/Sgt Jefferies on "loan" from 100 Sqdn.
The Ives crew was posted missing on the 30th January 1944 Berlin raid, the sole survivor being F/Sgt R G Fenton RNZAF (B/A). (Thanks to John Proctor for providing this information.)

Thanks to Wilfred Burie for the following photos and information:

Click image F/Sgt Ruppel
Click image Newspaper cutting noting that W/O Ruppel was "missing in action", presumed dead
Click image Mount Ruppel, named in remembrance of W/O Iverson Frederick Ruppel (RCAF), R149338

F/Sgt Jefferies Crew Last Flight

All but P/O Bull (F/Eng) of the regular Jefferies crew were lost (either KIA or PoW as above) when the Jefferies crew was downed in LM425 on 30/31 March 1944. On that flight Sgt Paxton (who was the P/O Brawn crew regular F/Eng) was standing in as the F/Engineer.

P/O Bull (F/Eng) later flew a number of operations with the P/O Brawn crew as the replacement F/Eng for Sgt Paxton.

Pictured below the F/O Jefferies crew:

Click image F/Sgt Jefferies crew
L-to-R: Sgt Jimmy Whitley, Sgt Stan Keirle, Sgt Bill Bull, F/Sgt Arthur Jefferies, Sgt George Upton, Sgt Harold Simpson
Missing from the photo Sgt Dennis Jeffery (B/A)
Sgt Bull (F/Eng) did not go on the Nuremberg raid, and it was Sgt Paxton who was killed when the aircraft was brought down
Click image F/Sgt Jefferies crew
Click image Sgt James Whitley (R/AG)
Picture from "The War Memorials in St Oswald's Church, Backford", see below

The entry on the 550 Squadron Roll of Honour is available here.

Other information about the flight and the target available here.

See also the following, external, links:

Initially there was some evidence that perhaps Oberfeldwebel Kurt Felke was the nightfighter pilot who shot down LM425. Pages from Oberfeldwebel Felke's flight log are available online here, and on 31.03.44 he claims a Lancaster that is possibly from either 467 Sqdn or 550 Sqdn. Source: 'Nachtjagd War Diaries Vol 1 & 2' by Theo E.W.Boiten.

However, more recently this has been revised (again from Nachtjagd War Diaries). A claim for this aircraft loss is recorded as "Oblt. Martin Drewes: 15 Stab III./NJG1 Lancaster NE Spa: 5.500 m. 00.03-05 550 Sqn Lancaster LM425. Note: also claimed by Flak of 3.-6./schw. Flak Abt. 514, schw. Flak Battr. z.b.V. 5780 and 3./lei. Flak Abt. 785 ('Lancaster Ulbachtalsperre 00.06 hrs'), victory Oblt Drewes confirmed on 12.7.1944". Further details can be found in the 'Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1944 series'. Source Theo Boiten.

Sgt R H Paxton (F/Eng)

Thanks to Andrew Beattie, a relative of Robert Henry Paxton, for the following information and photos.

Robert was born in George Street, Stranraer, Wigtownshire, the eldest of three children in the Paxton family. Like his father before him he was a painter and decorator (master) to trade. On 24th June, 1931 he married Agnes Campbell Thomson at the Grand Hotel, Glasgow, and they were blessed with nearly 13 years together.

Click image R H Paxton 1943/4 Group around glider
Bobby Paxton in the Other Ranks outfit third from left
There is some tentative speculation that the photo is at North Killingholme, but it could be the 1656 Conversion Unit (earlier than 43/44) or maybe even West Freugh, Stranraer, Wigtownshire where Paxton was allowed to keep a single seat glider that he and a mechanic friend (Jimmy McIntyre, who had a garage in George Street, Stranraer) built in 1937, from a kit (at the time it was one of only three such gliders in Scotland). So Paxton was experienced in flying long before joining Bomber Command.
Thanks to Andrew Beattie for locating the photo and making it available
Click image R H Paxton 1943/4 Group (rear) - photo printed post-war in London

If someone can identify who is who and where or possibly even recognise Bobby in a different photograph, using this poor reference then do please contact the web-site.

Following the loss of LM425 on 30/31 March 1944 The Galloway News published, on 8th April 1944, an item "On Active Service" reporting: "Official news has been received that Sergt. Robert Paxton RAF Marine Gardens, Stranraer, is posted missing. Prior to joining the services he carried on a painter's business in Queen Street."

Click image The Galloway News 8 April 1944
"On Active Service"
From Andrew Beattie via Wilfred Burie (Rebecq Association)

Sgt Paxton was not the regular F/Eng in the F/Sgt Jefferies crew, he was a stand-in (for P/O Bull, the regular F/Eng) on the day that LM425 was lost; so the Jefferies crew photo (above) does not feature him.

Sgt Paxton was posted to 550 with the P/O Brawn crew. Unfortunately there are no known photographs of the Brawn crew at this time.

At the time of the loss of LM425 Robert Paxton was the oldest airman serving in Bomber Command. He was 39 - well above the average age in 1944.

Click image R H Paxton
Thanks to Andrew Beattie for making the photo available
Original source: The War Graves Photographic Project:
Reunion 2013 Welcome Pack CWGC entry for Robert Henry Paxton

The following images from Andrew Beattie via Wilfred Burie (Rebecq Association)

Click image Stranraer War Memorial
Original source: Scottish Military Research Group (2007)
Click image Stranraer War Memorial, Robert Paxton
Original source: Scottish Military Research Group (2007)

Sgt J W Whitley (R/AG)

While researching for a local history publication on the men listed on the War Memorial in Backford Michael Richardson found the name of James Whitley who was the rear-gunner in F/Sgt Jeffries crew.

Reunion 2013 Welcome Pack The War Memorials in St Oswald's Church, Backford
James Whitley
Many thanks to Michael Richardson and the "Backford, Mollington & District Local History Society" for making this extract from the publication available

Sgt S A Keirle (W/Op)

Following material from Mike Leeman via Wilfred Burie.

Click image Sgt S A Keirle
Click image Sgt S A Keirle
Click image PoW documentation
Click image The route of 76,000 British prisoners as the Russian Army advances
Click image Map showing the route to freedom taken by Stan Keirle, May 1945
- "For you, the war is over"
The story of 550 Squadron and the crew of LM425 in the words of Sgt Keirle (PDF format).
The original is available in the 550 Squadron Museum in North Killingholme
See also:
- Letter from Stan Keirle to James Whitley's parents in 1946 (PDF format)
Thanks to Alan Whitley (brother of James Whitley) for permission to publish this letter on the web-site

Jalhay Memorial

At the July 2013 reunion in North Killingholme it was discovered, in discussion with some of the Rebecq representatives, that a memorial dedicated to the crew had been erected at Jalhay near Liege in Belgium. The memorial is located in the woods south of the lake of Gileppe.

P1020991 P1020993

The pictures below were kindly made available by Ed van der Pas.

Memorial550Sqdn Memorial
Memorial550Sqdn Plaque commemorating the crew members, and including details of the fate of each
Memorial550Sqdn Aircraft fragments

For more information about the location of the memorial see:

The following two photos were taken about 3 years ago, when the monument was under construction.

Memorial550Sqdn Picture via Wilfred Burie
Memorial550Sqdn Picture from Danny Delcambre via Wilfred Burie

Along with these photos the following information was received (via Wilfred Burie):

"Approximately 3 years ago, Jean Claude Pauly and myself taught the fall of this plane the said place "Marie's Heart" along the Lake of Gileppe. Previously nobody had mentioned it. 
We wanted to repair this forgetting (while other monuments had been set up to remember the fall of the other planes to Jalhay and in the region) and so make these young airmen 
known who had sacrificed their life for the defence of our country.

Some researches allowed us to identify the occupants of this plane.
The monument is not in the exact location of the fall of the plane. That this is situated on a ground nearby but at present covered by waters of the Lake of the Gileppe because the raising of the Dam in 1971.
We bought a stone from quarries Nelles and raised it to this location. The stone representing the plane was voluntarily cut by a local sculptor Frederic Thomson. We did not make official inauguration of this monument but we intend to plan a small ceremony on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its fall (on the night of 30/31 March 1944).
I hope that this information will be useful for you. I remain at your disposal. André Deroanne"

Additional Photos

The following photographs are from the Aircrew Remembered web-site. See Aircrew Remembered, LM425 and specifically the archive report Arthur Jefferies.

The last four photos (photos 3, 4, 5 and 6) showing the aircraft wreckage in the forest near Lac de la Gileppe are courtesy of German Researcher Horst Jeckel, via the AircrewRemembered web-site.

Photos courtesy of the web-site.

- Jefferies Crew
Arthur Harrington Jefferies in the centre (thought to be pictured with his original crew at an OTU)
- Wilfred George Upton
- Aircraft wreckage
- Aircraft wreckage
- Aircraft wreckage
- Aircraft wreckage

550 Squadron Commemorations in Jalhay, Belgium

For information about commemorations held for the F/Sgt Jefferies crew see the Jalhay Commemorations web-page.