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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Alan A Moore and crew 103 Sqn]

P/O Alan A Moore DFC RCAF and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944.

Collision with a 460 Sqn Lancaster near target - 7th July 1944 – Lancaster I – LM124 – Op Caen.

103 Squadron Moore AA crew

Al Moore and his crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from Heavy Conversion Unit 11 Base on the 8th April 1944. They completed their tour in mid July 1944 during which they were involved in the incident noted above. See tour details etc below :-

24-Apr-44 - Karlsruhe - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

26-Apr-44 - Essen - Lancaster - JB555 - P/O AA Moore RCAF

27-Apr-44 - Friedrichshafen - Lancaster – JB555 - P/O AA Moore RCAF

30-Apr-44 - Maintenon - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

03-May-44 - Mailly-le-Camp  - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Landed at Killingholme.

07-May-44 - Rennes-St-Jacques - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

09-May-44 - Mardyck - Lancaster - ME722 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

11-May-44 - Hasselt - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF – Aborted. Returned with bombs as per instructions from Master Bomber

15-May-44 - Kiel Bay - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

19-May-44 - Orleans - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

21-May-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

22-May-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster - JB555 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

02-Jun-44 - Calais - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Returned with full bomb load

03-Jun-44 - Wimereaux - Lancaster - LM131 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

05-Jun-44 - St-Martin-de-Varreville/Crisbec  - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

06-Jun-44 - Vire - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

09-Jun-44 - Flers - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

12-Jun-44 - Gelsenkirchen - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

14-Jun-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

16-Jun-44 - Sterkrade - Lancaster – LM124 - P/O AA Moore RCAF

17-Jun-44 - Aulnoye - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Jettisoned long delay bombs & returned to base

22-Jun-44 - Mimoyecques - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

23-Jun-44 - Saintes - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

25-Jun-44 - Flers - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

04-Jul-44 - Orleans-les-Aubrais - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

07-Jul-44 - Caen - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Collision with Lancaster and fin/rudder torn away. Rear turret and Rear Gunner, Sgt F G Roberts RAFVR, missing. Landed Tangmere on 3 engines.

12-Jul-44 - Revigny - Lancaster - LM116 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Diverted due to rain and low cloud at base

17-Jul-44 - Sanneville - Lancaster - LM116 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

18-Jul-44 - Scholven Buer - Lancaster - PB147 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

On completion of their tour Al Moore was awarded a DFC

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F/S Frederick Glyn Roberts DFM RAFVR - Air Gunner - 29 - 103 Sqn - Son of Frederick Ernest and Daisy Helen Roberts of Shrewsbury, Shropshire - Runnymede Memorial

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Lancaster - LM124

02-Jun-44 - Calais - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Returned with full bomb load

05-Jun-44 - St-Martin-de-Varreville/Crisbec - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

06-Jun-44 - Vire - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

09-Jun-44 - Flers - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

12-Jun-44 - Gelsenkirchen - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

14-Jun-44 - Le Havre - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

16-Jun-44 - Sterkrade - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

17-Jun-44 - Aulnoye - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Jettisoned long delay bombs & returned to base

22-Jun-44 - Mimoyecques - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

23-Jun-44 - Saintes - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

25-Jun-44 - Flers - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

28-Jun-44 - Chateau Benapres - Lancaster -  LM124 – P/O AP Forbes RCAF

29-Jun-44 - Domleger - Lancaster -  LM124 – P/O AP Forbes RCAF

30-Jun-44 - Oisemont Neuville au Bois - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AP Forbes RCAF

02-Jul-44 - Domleger - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AP Forbes RCAF

04-Jul-44 - Orleans-les-Aubrais - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF

05-Jul-44 - Dijon - Lancaster - LM124 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

07-Jul-44 - Caen - Lancaster - LM124 – P/O AA Moore RCAF - Collision with Lancaster and fin/rudder torn away. Rear turret and Rear Gunner, Sgt F G Roberts RAFVR, missing. Landed Tangmere on 3 engines.

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Collided with a 460 Sqn Lancaster LL907 over the target killing the rear gunner instantly. The heavily damaged 103 Sqn Lancaster managed to reach UK and force landed at Tangmere. The 460 Sqn Lancaster forced to crash land in Allied occupied territory. Three baled out before the crash and the remaining four survived with minor injuries and were soon back with their squadron.

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103 Squadron Moore AA air and ground crew

COLLISION OVER CAEN

Eric Cropper's Account - Summarised

Al Moore's crew took off from Elsham Wolds shortly before eight o’clock on a fine Friday evening on the 7th July 1944. Eric Cropper was navigator in this crew and the aircraft Lancaster G-George (LM 124). Although most flights of their tour had been at night they often took off in daylight in the summer. The aircraft flew short triangular patterns around the local area while they gained height in order to set course over base for France. Many other Lancasters followed the same procedure and it was comforting to be able to see them.

On this occasion they took off two minutes late and set course (nearly an hour later) at eight thousand feet, one minute late.

Al Moore, usually addressed as “Skipper”, was a shortish, stocky Canadian, dour at times but with an impish sense of humour. He was a strict disciplinarian in the air and his crew had implicit faith in his flying abilities. The crew were all in the early twenties and had now completed 26 trips together. The exception was the rear-gunner, “Robbie” Roberts, who was flying as an replacement crew member since the original rear-gunner, Pat Wade, had completed his second tour on their twentieth trip.

Pat, occasionally called “Dad” in recognition of his advanced age (24), was an experienced and competent gunner and they were very sorry to lose him. The DFC awarded at the end of his second tour was well earned. Robbie was also an experienced gunner and liked by the crew although they did not know him well.

As they flew south, descending to six thousand feet to avoid heavy cumulo-nimbus cloud, the pilot was discussing with the flight engineer, Ken Grosse, a problem with the starboard outer engine, which had started losing power. They decided not to shut it down as it was not greatly overheating, but to keep a close eye on it. There was no thought of turning back but it did mean that if they lost any further time we might be unable to increase speed.

They crossed the English coast just west of Worthing and soon were able to see the extraordinary sight of the Mulberry Harbour just off the French coast. There were heavy bombers everywhere, with the occasional friendly fighter over the top which the gunners kept a close eye on.

The target, German tank and troop concentrations at Caen was just ten miles inland and they could see the tremendous flak barrage being put up around it. It appeared quite alarming as it looked almost solid. However they realised that most of what we were seeing was smoke. Usually over the target at night they would see just the moments of shell-burst but here the smoke puffs lingered for some minutes and in daylight appeared to form an impenetrable barrier. As they were flying at less than half the usual height they knew that the flak would be much more accurate.

They had a five minute spread for time on target, 2150 - 2155, and the estimated time on target was now 2155. At 2151 they started our bombing run. Mickey Bartlett, the bomb-aimer, was down in the nose giving the usual directions and he at last said “Bombs gone” at 2153 and a half. Almost immediately there was a shuddering crash somewhere aft and the aircraft was thrown into a steep banking dive.

Al Moore was battling with the controls and they lost nearly 3000 feet before he was able to level out and assess the situation. He checked each crew member on the intercom and got responses from all except the rear gunner. The aircraft was hard to steer, and the Canadian mid-upper gunner, Tex Savard, told us that the starboard fin and rudder and part of the tailplane were missing. What he could see of the rear turret appeared to be damaged.

The aircraft was now more or less on an even keel although Al Moore was having to exert great force on the rudder bar to keep it straight with only one rudder taking effect. It occurred to them afterwards that the loss of power on the starboard outer engine might have worked slightly in their favour here.

Tex Savard reported that them he had not seen what happened to the rear of the aircraft as, at the moment of impact, he had his turret turned forward to follow a fighter aircraft which had flown overhead. This turned out to be a friendly Mustang

Al Moore called Willy Williams, the wireless operator, and asked him to go down to the rear of the aircraft and report. After a minute or two he came back and plugged in his intercom again to report  “You’ve had your rear gunner, Skipper, and a lot of the turret as well.”

They realised then that another aircraft had collided with them from behind and presumably from above. They never knew why the rear gunner did not alert them and he may have been checking on fighters overhead.

Some four minutes after the collision they turned north west on their briefed track but at only 3000 feet. Al Moore managed to gain a little height, but the rudder became increasingly heavy and he did not think that he would be able to fly the aircraft back to base. Eric Cropper gave him a course for Tangmere, on the south coast near Portland, an active fighter base often used for emergency landings, and they called them on the emergency frequency and asked permission to land. They were told to stand by as there were other damaged aircraft in the circuit but were soon given clearance for landing. Al Moore gave them the option of baling out but they all had complete faith in him and took up their crash positions in the body of the aircraft aft of the main spar.

Al Moore put G-George down on the grass with the undercarriage up and they ground and screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust and the crew scrambled out as quickly as possible. The crash wagon and the ambulance were there waiting for them and they were driven to the sick quarters for a check up. The MO looked them over and prescribed medicine which he gave them on the spot - Scotch or Bourbon. Finally they were allocated quarters and had a meal.

Next day they went down to the airfield and had a look at G-George. There had been no fire, and she lay forlornly on her belly like a stranded whale with a single black fin standing upright. Eric comments that the aircraft was a write-off and before they dragged her away he unscrewed the navigator’s clock from his desk as a small memento.

Alan Moore was awarded a DFC which at that time most bomber captains received at the end of their tour but which the crew felt was particularly well deserved in his case as there is no doubt that they owed our lives to him.

Item compiled by David Fell with sincere thans to the late Eric Cropper for the photos and his account of their collision which I have edited slightly

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