550 Squadron

Sgt W Bradley and Crew

Sgt Bradley and crew were posted to 550 Sqdn from 1667 Con.Unit. w.e.f. 18/12/43:

The two air-gunners were both killed while flying with other crews on 23/24 Dec 1943.

The loss of the two gunners had a significant impact on the crew and their future operations at 550 Squadron. Sgt Bradley himself had been flying as "second dickey" with another crew on 23/24 Dec, Christmas Eve, when his two air-gunners were killed. After the Christmas Eve loss the Bradley crew flew a single operation, with substitute gunners, on 29 December 1943 to Berlin: see Berlin, LM319 for which the ORB reads "Abandoned at 18.05hrs at 20,000 ft. Navigator on wrong course and heading to NORWAY."

Thereafter all of the crew members, with the exception of the pilot Sgt Bradley, were posted to other units in mid/late January 1944.

Sgt Bradley himself flew a single further operation as the pilot with what was effectively the S/Ldr P A Nicholas crew (JE Legg (F/Eng), W Dinney (Nav), FC Wilkinson (A/B), BG Todd (W/Op), WH Ansell (MU/AG), NS Smart (R/AG)) on 28th January 1944, again to Berlin: see Berlin, ME582), where the ORB records "Returned early. No air pressure to operate Super Charger change gear. Difficult to maintain height.". After that Sgt Bradley transferred out of 550 Squadron on 5th February 1944 (transferring to 103 Squadron).

550 Crew Memorial

A memorial to two 550 crews can be found at Fulstow Bridge on the Louth Canal, Lincolnshire. The two air-gunners listed above were among the casualties that night (when they were not flying with this their transfer-in crew).

Approximately fifty people gathered for a short ceremony at noon on Christmas Eve 2023, exactly 80 years to the day since the aircraft was lost and the crew killed. The 550 Squadron Association was represented by Mike Leeman.

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A short narrative and a number of photos from the ceremony are available here.

Many thanks to everyone involved with the raising of this new memorial to 550 crews. We will remember them.