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F/Sgt A J 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 A J H Jefferies CGM (P) KIA
- P/O E C W Bull DFM (F/Eng)
- Sgt H Simpson (Nav) KIA
- F/Sgt D S Jeffrey (A/B) PoW
- Sgt S A Keirle (W/Op) PoW
- Sgt W G Upton (MU/AG) PoW
- Sgt J W Whitley (R/AG) KIA
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:
|Newspaper cutting noting that W/O Ruppel was "missing in action", presumed dead|
|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:
|F/Sgt Jefferies crew
|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:
- Aircrew Remembered page for F/Sgt Jefferies
- TracesOfWar: http://en.tracesofwar.com/article/12471/Memorial-Lancaster-LM425.htm
There is 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)
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.
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."
|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.
|R H Paxton
Thanks to Andrew Beattie for making the photo available
Original source: The War Graves Photographic Project:http://www.twgpp.org/
|CWGC entry for Robert Henry Paxton|
The following images from Andrew Beattie via Wilfred Burie (Rebecq Association)
|Stranraer War Memorial
Original source: Scottish Military Research Group (2007)
|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.
|The War Memorials in St Oswald's Church, Backford
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.
|Sgt S A Keirle
|Sgt S A Keirle
|The route of 76,000 British prisoners as the Russian Army advances
|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 (in PDF format).
The original is available in the 550 Squadron Museum in North Killingholme
See also : http://www.rebecq-memorial.eu/keirle.php
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.
The pictures below were kindly made available by Ed van der Pas.
|Plaque commemorating the crew members, and including details of the fate of each|
For more information about the location of the memorial see: http://en.tracesofwar.com/article/12471/Memorial-Lancaster-LM425.htm.
The following two photos were taken about 3 years ago, when the monument was under construction.
|Picture via Wilfred Burie|
|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"
550 Squadron Commemorations in Jalhay, Belgium
For information about commemorations held for the F/Sgt Jefferies crew see the Jalhay Commemorations web-page.