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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [George C Brown and crew 103 Sqn]

F/O George C Brown RCAF and crew – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944

Crashed on Return – 7/8th August 1944 – Avro Lancaster I – LM292 – Op Fontenay-le-Marmion

103 Squadron G C Brown

George Brown ( pictured above ) and his crew were posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds from heavy Conversion Unit 11 base on the 21st July 1944. They were lost on their 3rd operation. See below :-

03-Aug-44 – Trossy-St-Maximin - Lancaster  - JA962 - F/O  GC Brown RCAF

05-Aug-44 – Blaye - Lancaster – LM116 - F/O GC Brown RCAF - Base closed due to low cloud. Diverted to Ossington.

07-Aug-44 – Fontenay-le-Marmion - Lancaster - LM292 - F/O GC Brown RCAF Crashed on return. Damaged by flak and crashed near Fenton, Lincolnshire. 5 crew members were able to bale out when the aircraft got into serious difficulties. Sgt Corless, the Flight Engineer, stayed with his pilot to help him control the machine during its final moments as the other crew members baled out 

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103 Squadron Vickery G

F/O George Chahoon Brown RCAF – Pilot – 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of George Edwin and Mary Elisabeth Brown of Grand Mere, Province of Quebec, Canada - Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire

Sgt John Corless RAF – Flight Engineer - 24 - 103 Sqn - Son of Norah Corless; husband of Ann Winifred Corless of Pemberton, Wigan, Lancashire – Runnymede Memorial

Sgt B M Sandberg RCAF – 103 Sqn - Safe

F/O R Robinson RCAF – 103 Sqn - Safe

F/S R Porter RCAF – 103 Sqn - Safe

Sgt G R Vickery RAFVR  ( pictured above ) – 103 Sqn - Safe

Sgt W G Hurley RAFVR – 103 Sqn - Safe

john and winnie032

Above - Wedding photo of John and Winnie Corless taken several days before the crash.

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07-Aug-44 - Fontenay-le-Marmion

103 Squadron detailed 16 aircraft for this attack on German troop positions at Fontenay-le-Marmion. The weather for take off was very good and this continued for the whole trip. The target was identified and the markers seen which were somewhat unusual as the artillery helped in marking this target. Bombing was very well concentrated around these but at 2324 the Master Bomber gave orders to cease bombing as the target indicators were completely lost in smoke and dust. Those aircraft that bombed did so from 7000 ft. The 6 remaining aircraft then returned with their full loads. Very little opposition of any kind was encountered. All our aircraft returned safely to this country but F/O Brown crashed near Lincoln after an engine caught fire. Five of the crew were safe having baled out but the Pilot and Engineer who remained in the Machine were killed when the aircraft blew up on impact with the ground as they had a full bomb load on board. F/L Forbes landed at Barfort St John as his wireless was unserviceable and did not want to run the risk of diversion at base. All other aircraft landed safely at base.

Bomber Command detailed a total of 1,019 aircraft - 614 Lancasters, 392 Halifaxes, 13 Mosquitos to attacked five aiming points in front of Allied ground troops in Normandy. The attacks were carefully controlled - only 660 aircraft bombed and German strong points and the roads around them were well cratered. 10 aircraft - all Lancasters - were lost, 7 to German fighters, 2 to flak and 1 to an unknown cause.

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Lancaster – LM292

This machine enjoyed a short life of just over a week and was lost on its 7th operation. See below :-

31-Jul-44 - Le Havre Lancaster - LM292 - S/L FVP Van Rolleghem

01-Aug-44 – Belle-Croix-Les-Bruyeres - Lancaster - LM292 - P/O JR Gibbons

03-Aug-44 – Trossy-St-Maximin – Lancaster - LM292 – S/L FVP Van Rolleghem

03-Aug-44 – Trossy-St-Maximin – Lancaster - LM292 - P/O LE Westcott

04-Aug-44 – Pauillac - Lancaster - LM292 - F/O JO Birch RCAF

05-Aug-44 – Blaye - Lancaster - LM292 – S/L FVP Van Rolleghem - Base closed due to low cloud. Diverted to Ossington.

07-Aug-44 – Fontenay-le-Marmion - Lancaster - LM292 - F/O GC Brown RCAF - Crashed on return. Damaged by flak and crashed near Fenton, Lincolnshire.

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George C Brown RCAF

Son of Mr and Mrs M E Brown of Grand'Mere, Quebec. Brown was educated at the Laurentide School, Grand'Mere and at the Pomfret School, Connecticut. Later he attended McGill University for one year before enlisting in the RCAF in April 1942. He trained at Victoriaville, Three Rivers and Monkton NB and was posted to the UK in August 1943. Besides his parents he was survived by one sister, Mary Elizabeth Brown

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Robert Robinson

103 Squadron Robinson R

Robert ( pictured above ) was born in 1922 and passed away at the age of 89 in December 2011

He was raised, the youngest of four, in the idyllic setting of Revelstoke, BC, where his father worked through the Great Depression painting gold lettering and design on CPR train cars. His mother ran a boarding house for local high school teachers who instilled in him his life-long love of reading and learning. From 1943 to 1945, he trained and served as a Flying Officer and Navigator on Lancaster bombers with the RCAF (RAF 103 Squadron and later 100 Squadron based in Grimsby, England). On his third operation with 103 Squadron his plane was hit by flak on return crashed in Lincolnshire a few miles from their base at Elsham Wolds. He parachuted to safety and landed on farmland near to the crashed aircraft. With 4 other survivors of this crew he was transferred to 100 Squadron at RAF Grimsby. In total he completed thirty-one operations over Europe.

The post-war benefits for WWII veterans allowed him to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer and he graduated from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law in 1949. He articled in Kelowna and in 1952 moved his young family to the growing community of Kamloops, joining a small firm (Black, Stubbs and Millward) that through several iterations now exists as the well-known firm, Morelli Chertkow. He enjoyed a diverse practice and was a keen barrister in the courtroom. He founded the Kamloops Bar Association, served on both the School Board and Royal Inland Hospital Board and was an early supporter of the Kamloops Golf Club, Kamloops Tennis Club and Tod Mountain Ski Resort. In 1977, he took a sabbatical from his practice and studied American history at the venerable College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He left his position as senior partner in 1982 to join the bench of the County Court; in 1990 he was elevated to the BC Supreme Court when it merged with the County Court. Upon becoming a judge, he said that his plan was to keep his ears open and his mouth shut. He took advantage of the training offered to federal court judges and travelled annually to Quebec for several summers to learn the French language.

He was a very keen racket sports player, tennis, badminton and squash, and won a seniors squash tournament in his mid 70s ( Author's note – Impressive )

Edited version of Robert's obit from the Inmemoriam, Canada website

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The Demise of a Lancaster.

8th August 1944.

Edited version of David Willey's 2 articles relating his research into this tragic crash which appeared in the Trentside Link Magazine some years ago

Whilst on his post round way back in 1993 David Willey turned the corner on to the lane leading to  Poplar Farm, Fenton and was met by Geoff Lidgett, the farmer. He was carrying a large piece of twisted aluminium sheet which he has removed from some farm machinery. He told David it came from a bomber which had crashed and blown up next to his land on Trentside Marshes. David had always been interested in local history and aviation and he decided to find out more about this incident.

In the following weeks during his research he met several people who recalled the bomber falling out of the sky in flames and the huge explosion as it hit the ground. As a result of his investigations locally David was able to identify the exact location.

On visiting the crash site with Ian Gourley he met another local farmer, Andrew Arden, whose land adjoined the crash site. He told David he often found aircraft fragments when working his land. They did not have to look long before finding other fragments which appeared to be pieces of engine casting.

David took these to the Lincolnshire Air Museum at East Kirkby where they were inspected by Ian Hickling, the Chief Engineer. He confirmed these were parts from the cylinder head of a 20 Series Merlin engine. David and his friend Keith searched through the documentation of all the 7000 Lancasters and came up with LM292 as the most likely candidate. This was confirmed later from the accident crash card held at Hendon

The circumstances of the operation are described above.

Hit by flak the starboard engine caught fire on return and was eventually shut down. At 18000 ft the wing was ablaze and the aircraft went into a spiral dive. It was still carrying its full bomb load. The pilot managed to get the Lancaster straight and level for a short time at about 9000ft one mile short of Saxilby and gave the order for the crew to bale out.

Robinson, Sandberg, Porter, Hurley and Vickery left from the rear door. F/O Robinson ended up suspended from the roof of of a barn at Highfield Farm, Hardwick with a bull in the pen below.

Moments later the Lancaster plunged into the ground killing George Brown and John Corless. The large crater and wide scattering of the wreckage hampered the recovery teams and it was days later that the body of George Brown was found in a hedge some distance away from the impact. He was laid to rest at Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery. The remains of John Corless were not found and he is commemorated on the Runneymede Memorial.

In early 1994 David set about finding the survivors of this crew. Amazingly he was able to make contact with George Vickery through an appeal on Channel 4 Teletext. George was living in Emsworth, Portsmouth and was in touch with Robert Robinson who was now the Honorable Mr Robert Robinson, a Supreme Court Judge in Kamloops, Canada. Robert was able to locate Elizabeth Heney, his pilot's older sister and also Stan Porter and Bert Sandberg. Robert and George were able to attend the dedication of the Trentside Memorial in July 1994 at Laugherton together with Trevor Heney, the pilot's nephew.

Brown G C Crashsite 1994

Above - L to R - George Vickery, Robert Robinson and David Willey pictured at the crash site of LM292 in 1994

Sgt W George “ Taffy “ Hurley.

George Vickery, Robert Robinson, Stan Porter and Bert Sandberg stayed together and joined 100 Squadron to complete their tours in the same crew. Taffy Hurley was posted elsewhere and the crew they never heard from him again and no trace could be found post war. This despite considerable research by David Willey in the last 30 years. As his nickname suggests he came from  Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

If any members of the Hurley family read this and wish to make contact I will pass your details on to David Willey.

Compiled by David Fell

Many thanks to David Willey for his permission to use an edited version of his 2 excellent articles in the Trentside Link and grateful acknowledgment to all those who contributed to this project some years ago.

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