Failed to Return

F/Lt R W Picton DFC and Crew

The F/Lt R W Picton crew were posted to 550 Sqdn on squadron start-up from 100 Sqdn "C" Flight w.e.f. 25/11/43:

Click image F/Lt R W "Dickie" Picton DFC
Click image F/O John James Logan DFC

Lancaster LL836 was flown by the F/Lt Picton crew when it was lost on the 10/11 April 1944 on an operation to Aulnoye. On this occasion two different A/Gs were flying with the crew (one of them, F/Lt Waycott DFM, being the Squadron Senior Gunnery Officer). All of the crew were killed.

Other information about the flight and the target available here.

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

The following summary information is available on the lostaircraft.com web-site:

"Serial Range LL617 - LM296: This aircraft was one of 450 Lancasters ordered from Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft 
Apr 42 and built as 100 Mk.IIs with Hercules XV1 engines delivered from Oct 43 to Mar 44 and 350 Mk.Is with 
Merlin 24 engines initially installed and delivered from Nov 43 to Aug 44. LL836 was a Mk.I and was delivered to 
550 Sqdn Feb 44. Also took part in the Key Operation against Stuttgart 15/16 Mar 44. 
When lost this aircraft had a total of 44 hours. Airborne 2325 10 Apr 44 from North Killingholme tasked to bomb 
the railway yards. 
Shot down by a night-fighter and crashed less than a kilometre NNW of Achiet-le-Petit in the Pas-de-Calais, 
7 km NW of Bapaume. 
All are buried in Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery.
Sgt Williams had won an immediate DFM, Gazetted 2 May 44, for showing selfless disregard for his own safety 
while aiding an injured comrade while on recent operations over Berlin. 
F/Lt Waycott had previously served with 101 Sqdn and details of his award were Gazetted 13 Jul 43. 
F/L R.W.Picton DFC KIA, Sgt T.H.Guest KIA, F/O J.J.Logan DFC KIA, F/O J.F.Potter KIA, Sgt K.P.C. Williams DFM KIA, 
F/L W.H.Waycott DFM KIA, Sgt W.Essar RCAF KIA"

Station Narrative No. 3

This narrative, included in the Station Operational Record Book, is the report of the interrogation of Sgt Williams following the Berlin operation of 24/25th March 1944. Sgt Williams had won an immediate DFM, Gazetted 2 May 44, for showing selfless disregard for his own safety while aiding an injured comrade during this operation over Berlin.

Click image Interrogation of Sgt Williams, of F/Lt Picton crew, from Berlin op of 24/25 March 1944, detailing attack by enemy aircraft and the wounding MU/AG and R/AG

In all probability the events recorded in this narrative explain why the two original crew gunners are replaced on later flights. Thus, the crew's next operation was 30th March 1944 and Sgts Keen and Porteous had been replaced by F/Lt Waycott and Sgt Essar. Finally, on the next, and last, flight of the Picton crew: 10th April the two original gunners are again out-of-action; which proves to be fatal for the stand-ins.

Commemorations in Achiet-le-Petit, France

For photographs, records of the speeches and other information see the Achiet-le-Petit Commemorations web-page.