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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Robert Drey 103 Sqn]

P/O Robert Dey RCAF – 103 Squadron – RAF Elsham Wolds – 1944 – Navigator

Failed to Return – 25/26th July 1944 – F/O M B Dyer RCAF and crew – Avro Lancaster III – ND903 – Op Stuttgart.

103 Squadron  Dey

The following account of Dyer’s crew was sent to me in 2006 by Lt Colonel Hipkins. This covers Bob Dey and Dyer's crew perfectly well and I cannot add anything to this. A list of Dyers crew ( pictured below ) will be helpful and is shown below with their ranks at the start and finish of their tour:-

103 Squadron Maurice Dyer crew

P/O MB Dyer RCAF – Later F/O

Sgt RW Nanson RAFVR


Sgt R Dey RCAF – Later F/S

F/S L Tommie RAFVR – Later W/O

Sgt R Price RAFVR

Sgt RAO Blanchard RAFVR


Plt Off Robert Dey (J90571) RCAF

Robert Dey was born on 12 May 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (MB), Canada. The son of Polish immigrants, Frederick and Marcianne Dey (both deceased), he was educated in Winnipeg before taking a job as a Wood finisher/Painter in the town. A Lutheran by religion, he married Ruth Lillian Young on 6 Sep 1941.

He attested at the RCAF Recruitment Centre in Winnipeg on 26 March 1942 stating his firm desire to become a pilot. His medical officer described Robert as being "Short in stature - clean cut - Intelligent. Anxious to fly. Should be good material for aircrew providing all tests satisafactory". His attestation papers state that he was 5ft 5in tall with brown eyes and dark brown hair. His interests were listed as roller skating and basketball.

As R162113 AC2 Dey R, he was initially posted to 2 Manning Depot (MD) in Manitaoba on 30 March 1942, followed by a holding post at 5 Bombing and Gunnery (B&G) School at Dafoe on 25 May that year. He began his training proper as a member of 58 Course at 7 Initial Training School (ITS) in Saskatoon on 19 July 1942. Judged suitable for pilot training, he attended 19 Elemamentary Flying Training School (EFTS) in Virden, MB on 11 Oct, but after completing a total of 33.30 hours dual and 44 hours solo on Tigermoths, he was considered unsafe in a number of critical areas and washed out. Whilst his future career aspirations were being considered by the RCAF, he was posted to a holding post at Trenton, Ontario on 7 Dec. Recommended for remustering to Navigator, he was next posted to 9 Air Observer School (AOS) at St Johns in Quebec on 10 Jan 1943. He successfully passed his course and was awarded his Navigator's brevet wef 28 May 1943. After a short period of leave he travelled to 'Y' Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 12 June for embarkation to the UK.
Robert's next phase of training occurred at 9 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) RAF Llandwrog in Wales. Here he spent 5 weeks and 29.30 hours learning his craft on Avro Ansons. Graded as 'Average' his report stated that he was "Quite a satisfactory navigator. Keen and works hard". He then travelled to 83 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Peplow on 12 Dec 43, where he crewed up with his captain, Sgt Maurice Ballard Dyer RCAF, and began advanced training on Vickers Wellingtons. After 4 months the newly formed crew moved to 1662 Conversion Unit (CU) at RAF Blyton in Lincolnshire where they converted to Handley Page Halifax aircraft. A short spell with 1 Lancaster Finishing School (LFS) at RAF Hemswell followed in May before they finally moved to A Flight, 103 (Bomber) Squadron (part of 1 Group, Bomber Command) at RAF Elsham Wolds.

During his short period with the Squadron, Robert undertook operational sorties to the following locations:
Pas de Calais - Coastal Battery - 2 Jun

St Martin de Varreville - Coastal Battery - 5 Jun

Vire - Rail Bridge - 6 Jun

Flers - Luftwaffe airfield - 9 Jun

Gelsenkirchen - Synthetic oil plant - 12 Jun

Le Havre - Docks - 14 Jun

Sterkrade - Synthetic oil plant - 16 Jun - Attacked by 2 NFs over target. Evaded. No damage.

Aulnoye - Rail target - 17 Jun - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Jettisoned long delay bombs & returned to base

Mimoyecques - Flying Bomb site - 22 Jun

Saintes - Rail yards - 23 Jun

Flers - Flying Bomb site - 24 Jun

Chateau Benapre - Flying Bomb site - 27 Jun

Domleger - Flying Bomb supply facility - 29 Jun

Domleger - Flying Bomb supply facility - 2 Jul

Dijon - Flying Bomb site - 5 Jul

Caen - German Army positions - 7 Jul

Revigny - Rail target - 12 Jul

Revigny - Rail target - 14 Jul - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Jettisoned long delay bombs & returned to base

Sannerville - Flying Bomb site - 17 Jul

Stuttgart - Industrial targets - 25 Jul - Failed To Return

The raid on Stuttgart, from which the Dyer crew failed to return, was undertaken by 412 Lancasters and 138 Halifaxes of Bomber Command. 8 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxes were lost (2.2 per cent of the force desptached). Robert Dey had been commissioned 2 days before his death. His Lancaster, ND 903 'E - Easy' was the only aircraft from 103 Squadron to be posted missing as a result of the raid. Whatever the reason, the Lancaster came down near to the village of Ferte Saint Cyr (between Blois and Orleans in France). According to eye witnesses the bomber exploded on impact with the ground and burnt out. Those of the crew still alive and trapped in the Lancaster were killed instantly. Another witness and local resident Marius Thouvais, stated "the fight was very quick, a German fighter attacked the bomber, people saw a lightning on it and it immediately crashed, taking fire only after crashing then bombs exploded, tearing all to pieces. So, many witnesses think that it was impossible for someone to jump out, the fight had been over in a matter of few seconds. Nevertheless I cannot give you any proof that there were seven men among the casualties, only two men, only slightly injured could be identified: Nanson & Blanchard, the others were in a very poor state and it was even difficult to ascertain how many they were.....some witnesses say that the Germans took only 5 coffins away....." Only Sgt's R.A.O. 'Ray' Blanchard (Rear Gunner) and R.W. 'Reg' Nanson (Flight Engineer) could be identified. The German authorities quickly removed the dead and buried them all in the main cemetery in Orleans (in un-named graves). At the request of the RAF's Missing Research and Evaluation Unit (MREU) and in an attempt to identify individual crew members, the remains were exhumed by 79 Graves Concentration Unit (GCU) of the British Army between 18 - 20 June 1947. Unfortunately by his time only Sgt Nanson could be identified, so the rest of the crew were reinterred in a collective grave.

Ruth Dey was sent the Memorial Cross on 14 Sep 46, her husbands effects on 6 July 46 and his log book on 30 October 47. The Canadian Treasury gave her a grant of $259.48.

103 Squadron Dyer air and ground crew

F/O Maurice Ballard Dyer RCAF ( pictured below ) – Pilot – 103 Sqn – Orleans Main Cemetery, France

Sgt Reginald William Nanson RAFVR – Flight Engineer – 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Reginald James Nanson and Amy Elizabeth Maud Nanson, of Edgbaston, Birmingham; husband of Sylvia Doris Nanson, of Edgbaston – Orleans Main Cemetery, France

F/O Robert John Branch Warren RCAF ( see newspaper cutting below )Air Bomber – 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Robert Francis and Florence Jane Warren, of Montreal, Province of Quebec – Orleans Main Cemetery, France.

P/O Robert Dey RCAF ( pictured below ) – Navigator – 103 Sqn - Orleans Main Cemetery, France.

W/O Laurence Tommie RAFVR – Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of Mary Tommie, of Girvan, Ayrshire - Orleans Main Cemetery, France

Sgt Reginald Joseph Price RAFVR – Air Gunner – 103 Sqn - Son of Joseph Morgan Price and Elizabeth Price, of Aberaman, Aberdare, Glamorgan - Orleans Main Cemetery, France

Sgt Raymond Arthur Oswald Blanchard RAFVR – Air Gunner – 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of Samuel Arthur and Violet Blanchard, of Skegness, Lincolnshire - Orleans Main Cemetery, France

103 Squadron Dyer

F/O Maurice Ballard Dyer RCAF

103 Squadron Warren newspaper cutting

103 Squadron Dey Dyer

P/O Robert Dey RCAF


Footnote – It seems likely that Dyer's crew were lost as a result of a collision with a 300 Squadron Lancaster PB252 F/O Galat which crashed in the same area at the same time.

Item written by Lieutenant Colonel J R D Hipkins AGC (RMP) with several minor additions from me. The photos came from the Dey family, a French source and a former 103 Sqn ground crew I think. However it was a long time ago


Additional background information.

25-Jul-44 – Stuttgart

103 Squadron detailed 7 aircraft for this attack on the German city of Stuttgart. Weather for take off was fair with low cloud which improved along the route and in the target area. The marking was reported as somewhat scattered but it was thought it covered the target area as explosions and fires were seen and the fires were still burning when the crews were 150 miles away. Bombing took place from between 17000 ft to 18000 ft. Flak over the target was moderate to light but some fighter activity was encountered along the route. All aircraft with the exception of F/O Dyer and crew returned safely to base.

For this attack on Stuttgart Bomber Command detailed a total of 412 Lancasters and 138 Halifaxes.. 8 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxes lost, 2.2 per cent of the force. This attack was considered the most destructive of the three undertaken on this target at the end of July 44.


Lancaster - ND903

12-Jul-44 – Revigny – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF - Diverted due to rain and low cloud at base

14-Jul-44 – Revigny – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF - Aborted by Master Bomber due to cloud cover over target. Jettisoned long delay bombs & returned to base

17-Jul-44 – Sanneville – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

18-Jul-44 - Scholven Buer – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

20-Jul-44 – Wizernes – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

23-Jul-44 – Kiel – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

24-Jul-44 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O AP Forbes RCAF

25-Jul-44 – Stuttgart – Lancaster – ND903 – F/O MB Dyer RCAF  - FTR - Crashed In France. Details unknown. Probable collision with 300 Sqn Lancaster PB252.

Background information compiled by David Fell



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