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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn N to Z] [G Taylor 103 Sqn]

F/L Geoffrey Taylor RAFVR and crew – 103 Squadron - RAF Elsham Wolds  - 1945

Missing - 4th October 1945 – Avro Lancaster I – PA278 – Op Dodge.

Avro Lancaster above clouds 001

Geoffrey Taylor was posted to 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds in the later stages of WW2 and flew the following operations before VE Day with his crew:-

09-Apr-45 - Kiel - Lancaster - PD427 - P/O G Taylor

10-Apr-45 - Plauen - Lancaster - RF229 - P/O G Taylor

14-Apr-45 - Potsdam - Lancaster - RA566 - P/O G Taylor

18-Apr-45 - Heligoland - Lancaster - RF229 - P/O G Taylor

22-Apr-45 - Bremen - Lancaster - RE121 - P/O G Taylor

25-Apr-45 - Berchtesgaden - Lancaster - PD236 - P/O G Taylor

28-Apr-45 - Brussels - Lancaster - ME475 - P/O G Taylor - Evacuated British prisoners and landed at Dunsfold

30-Apr-45 - Leiden - Lancaster - ME475 - P/O G Taylor

01-May-45 - Rotterdam - Lancaster - RA579 - F/O G Taylor

02-May-45 - Rotterdam - Lancaster - RE121 - F/O G Taylor

04-May-45 - Rotterdam - Lancaster - ME475 - F/O G Taylor

They also participated in several exercises during the summer testing the effectiveness of the German radars and our jamming counter measures.

103 Squadron -  Gibson and crew

On the 3rd October they were detailed for a flight to Pomigliano Italy to ferry and party of nurses and ATA to Italy. Their aircraft was Lancaster PA278. Fred Gibson and crew ( Pictured above ) were also involved in this duty. They took off from Elsham Wolds and landed at RAF Glatton which I believe was also referred to as RAF Connington. Here they embarked their passengers and set off for Italy at 00:30 on the 4th October. Taylor's crew flew 30 minutes ahead of the Gibson aircraft and the arrangement was that they would regularly report weather conditions back to the Gibson crew en route. This procedure was followed right across France

After crossing the southern French coast near Marseille the Lancasters encountered severe electrical storms and the Gibson crew did not hear from Taylor's aircraft again. Some reports say that the Taylor aircraft had encountered mechanical problems and was heading back to Marseilles although I cannot recall Mr Gibson mentioning this when he wrote to me about this.

Taylor's aircraft did not arrive at Pomigliano or Marseilles and no trace of crew passengers or aircraft was ever found.

Fred Gibson with his crew and passengers arrived at Pomigliano and waited for the Taylor aircraft which of course never arrived. Years later David Milne, the navigator in Fred Gibson's crew, wrote to me about this tragic business.

“After almost 62 years memories are not always reliable but I remember only two Lancasters on that flight. The one which disappeared piloted by F/O Taylor and the other piloted by his friend F/O Freddie Gibson with whom I was flying as navigator. I would think we took off at the same time as we were both heading for Glatton.

My Lanc, according to my log book, “E”, took off from Elsham at 2235 hours on the 3rd October and we landed at Glatton 36 minutes later. Like F/O Taylor we were taking 17 ATS girls and nurses to Pomigliano and, once they were aboard, we took off from Glatton at 0100 hours on the 4th October. The normal routine was for each navigator to select his own course and, though each aircraft had the same turning points, courses could differ by a degree or two. Over a period of time that could make a fair difference to our flight paths. We followed our usual course after leaving Glatton southwards across France then, after crossing the southern French coast, turning east over the Mediterranean towards Italy. After passing to the north of Corsica we turned south east again flying over the sea off the west coast of Italy to Naples.

It was about there, just before we turned south for Naples, that F/O Gibson told me he had spoken to F/O Taylor on the R/T. I do not know if Freddie had seen the other Lanc or had taken a chance on it being in range.

We duly landed at Pomigliano and waited some time for the others then, assuming they had landed at another airfield, went to our billets at Portici to await them. It was there that we heard the dreadful news.

An inquest was held soon after our return. 103 Sqn as you know, was disbanded in November and I like a lot more, was posted and did not hear if any result had been reached.”

Full casualty list: 

Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey TAYLOR RAFVR – Pilot – 103 Sqn – Runnymede Memorial

Sergeant William John KENNEDY RAFVR - Air Gunner – 103 Sqn – Runnymede Memorial

Flight Sergeant Jack Anthony REARDON RAFVR - Navigator – 103 Sqn – Runnymede Memorial

Flight Sergeant Norman Reginald ROBBINS RAFVR - Wireless Operator – 20 - 103 Sqn - Son of Harold and Lily Violet Martha Robbins, of Wembley, Middlesex – Runnymede Memorial

Sergeant Richard George STEEL RAFVR - Flight Engineer – 20 - 103 Sqn - Son of Leonard J. and Doris A. Steel, of Crowle, Worcestershire – Runnymede Memorial

Flight Lieutenant John Percy WHYMARK DSO DFC - Air Gunner – 103 Sqn - Runnymede Memorial

Senior Matron GI SADLER – 41 South African Military Nursing Service - Daughter of William G. N. and Sarah J. Sadler – Cassino Memorial, Italy

Lance Corporal Williamena ALLAN - 37 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of William and Anne Allan – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Phyllis Kathleen Doris BACON - 34 - Auxiliary Territorial Service attd HQ 600 Coy CMF - Daughter of Mrs. F. Bacon of Catford, London – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Corporal Heather C COSENS - 25 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Albert Olliver Cosens and Angelina Cosens of Worthing, Sussex – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Stefania COURTMAN - Auxiliary Territorial Service – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Barbara Diana CULLEN MID - 30 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of James Roy and Nellie Dora Shillito Cullen of Nottingham – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Sister Jane Simpson Annand CURRAN - Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Agnes EDWARDS - 28 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Joseph and Sarah J. Edwards of Rhyl, Flintshire – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Rhoda Alice FRASER - 24 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of John and Georgina Fraser of Oyne, Aberdeenshire -

Private Bessie GOODMAN - 25 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Elizabeth Goodman, of Oldham, Lancashire – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Corporal Jill GORING - 23 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of John Goring, and of Dorothy G. Goring of St. John's Wood, London – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Joan LARKIN - 24 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Son of George Edward Larkin, and of Alma Larkin of Long Eaton, Derbyshire – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Alice LILLYMAN - 22 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Alice Lillyman, and the late William Lillyman, of Northampton – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Lance Corporal Sheila MACLEOD - Auxiliary Territorial Service – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Lance Corporal May Eleanor MANN - 23 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Albert Edward and Ann Mann – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Betty Evelyn PRECIOUS - 24 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Alan Montagu Precious and Lydia Elizabeth Precious of Eaglescliffe, Co. Durham – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Lance Corporal Enid Dacia RICE - 24 - Auxiliary Territorial Service – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Staff Sergeant Jessie Ellen SEMARK MID - 29 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Frank and Ruby Ellen Semark – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial

Private Marion TAYLOR - 22 - Auxiliary Territorial Service - Daughter of Roland and Dorothy Oakley Taylor, of Egham, Surrey – Brookwood 1939-1945 Memorial


F/L John P Whymark DSO DFC RAFVR

103 Squadron - Whymark

John Whymark ( Pictured above ) was Gunnery Leader with 103 Sqn and a very distinguished RAF airman who was one of the few Air Gunners to be awarded a DSO. He had flown bomber operations in the Middle East and over Europe and his log book shows he completed nearly 100 operations and there are some suggestions that it was more which were not officially recorded and that is quite possible.

NEW BOOK - "The Air Ministry Regrets" by Bob Whymark.

Recently published this excellent book describes the distinguished wartime RAF career of Bob Whymark's father, F/L John P Whymark DSO DFC RAFVR.

Also the circumstances of his disappearance in the tragic loss of Lancaster PA278 which cost so many lives in October 1945 whilst on a flight from the UK to Naples. For more details and information as to how to order this book see the Sources and Book Section here.


Lancaster - PA278

103 Squadron Slee and crew with Lancaster PA278

Above - P/O G W Slee with air and ground crew and WAAF driver pictured with Lancaster PA278

This machine completed 15 operations  before VE Day without mishap. It was first flown by F/L J K Wilson and crew. See below :-

15-Mar-45 – Misburg – Lancaster – PA278 – F/L JK Wilson

Written by David Fell with photos from the Purves family and Robert Whymark and contributions from David Milne, Robert Whymark and Fred Gibson.


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