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[Home] [Articles and Misc] [Billie Lancaster W4364 103 Sqn]

Billie - Lancaster - W4364 - 103 Squadron

Billie was the first Lancaster in Bomber Command to achieve 50 operations with a number of different crews. The 50th trip was on Monday 23 August 1943 to Berlin. A crew member, Jack Birbeck, recalls "We had just started to board our aircraft when there was a shout to get out quick and when we did we saw that the Lancaster in the next dispersal was on fire and we took shelter After a few minutes it blew up and the airfield was covered in smoke. We thought operations would be cancelled but the C.O. thought otherwise and we took off about an hour late and I think we were about last over the target and consequently had a rough time, getting coned in searchlights etc. However we survived and returned to base unaware of our landmark trip until next day when we were ordered to report to flights for this photo. “

103 Squadron Billie W4364 with the Annis crew

103 Squadron Billie W4364 with the Annis crew

On the platform - Station Commander Group Captain Dickens, rivet gun in hand, who has attached a dummy D.F.C. to the aircraft nose. Back row. Ground crew including Alex Gorrie 3rd from left. Front row. Aircrew L to R Eddie Edwards - Mid upper Gunner, Norman Turrell - Flight Engineer, Mac McDonald - Wireless operator, Cliff Annis - Pilot and Captain, Jack Birbeck - Bomb Aimer, Johnny Oldershaw - Rear Gunner, Johnny Renwick (Canadian) - Navigator. This Lancaster was shot down 3 days later on the 27th Aug 43. Only Annis, Birbeck and Turrell survived. Cliff Annis was badly injured in the resulting explosion.

This aircraft was amongst the first batch of 103 Squadron Lancasters delivered in late 1942 and had been flown by some prominent 103 Squadron captains including Cook, Bayliss, Temperley, Maddern, Bickers, Burton and Steel

Billie was one of the first Lancasters allocated to 103 Squadron in October 1942 and had an eventful career throughout the Battle of the Ruhr and the Battle of Hamburg with many adventures along the way.

First op

1-Nov-42 – Minelaying - Biarritz/Biscay coast - Mine laying – Lancaster – W4364 - Sgt  AS Cook RAAF

Last op

27-Aug-43 – Nuremberg - Point of Aim – W4364 – W/O CW Annis – FTR - Night fighter victim. Crashed at Durnbach, Germany.

Compiled by David Fell. Photo from my archive

 

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Also of local RAF Bomber Command interest are the

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