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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Thomas Jones 103 Sqn]

P/O Thomas Ivor Jones RAFVR and crew - 103 Squadron - RAF Elsham Wolds - 1944.

Failed to Return - 21/22nd May 1944 - Avro Lancaster I - ME722 - Op Duisburg.

So Many Heroes

103 Squadron Jones T and crew

Above :- The crew of ME722 that crashed at Zwolle on the 22nd May 1944. Back row from left. Sgt C R Francis RAFVR, WOP, Evaded capture but sadly was killed flying with 357 Sq in the Far East in July 1945. Sgt M Pickles RAFVR, MUG. Killed in action. Sgt W E Jones RAFVR, RG. Killed in action. W/O T E Moran RCAF, BA. POW, Captured whilst evading. Front row from left. Sgt D Sharp RAFVR, FE. Evaded capture. P/O T I Jones RAFVR, P. Killed in action. W/O B H Davis RAAF, N. POW. Captured whilst evading.

103 Squadron - Trevor Jones                         103 Squadron - Bill Jones

Left - Thomas Jones and Right - Bill Jones. The later is an escape photo found by Leo Schotmann at the crash site.

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P/O Thomas Ivor Jones RAFVR  – Pilot – 21 - 103 Sqn - Son of W. D. and Agnes Jones, of Morriston, Glamorgan – Zwolle De Kranenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

Sgt D Sharp  RAFVR – Flight Engineer – 103 Sqn – Evader.

W/O T E Moran  RCAF – Air Bomber – 103 Sqn – POW - Camps L7 – POW No 275 - Captured whilst evading.

W/O Bruce H Davis  RAAF – Navigator – 103 Sqn - POW - Camps N/K – POW No N/K - Captured whilst evading.

Sgt C R Francis  RAFVR – Wireless Operator – 103 Sqn – Evader - Sadly was killed flying with 357 Sq in the Far East in July 1945

Sgt Maurice Pickles RAFVR  – Air Gunner – 103 Sqn - Zwolle De Kranenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

Sgt William Ernest Jones RAFVR  – Air Gunner – 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Francis Harold and Fanny Seddon Jones, of Bolton, Lancashire - Zwolle De Kranenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

This aircraft was reportedly shot down by night fighter pilot Hauptmann Martin Drewes of the Stab III./NJG 1, who had taken off from Leeuwarden airfield at 00:09 hrs, in a Bf 110 G-4 

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The story of ME722 is one of so many heroes. Maurice Pickles, Thomas Jones and William Jones who died at Zwolle. Charles Francis who evaded capture but was later killed in Burma. Sgt Sharp who evaded capture. Ted Moran and Bruce Davis who were captured whilst evading and suffered the most terrible interrogations at the hands of their captors. Bruce Davis was not discharged from hospital till 1948 and was a sick man all his life. The Dutch families who helped the evaders, some of whom were arrested and paid for it with their lives. The families left behind. In Maurice's case his father John Pickles who had lost his wife and only son and was himself so seriously injured in the war and poor Mrs Shires, Maurice's grandma. Finally Maurice's mother, young Nellie, who died in child birth. A most moving and thought provoking story I think you will agree. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Maurice Pickles and the Bradford Connection.

103 Squadron - Pickles)

During a visit to Zwolle in the Netherlands some years ago I discovered to my surprise that Maurice Pickles, ( pictured above ), mid upper gunner in ME722, came from Bradford, the city of my birth. I was not aware of this before I went. Details of Maurice's next of kin are not shown in the Commonwealth War Graves Register. It was revealed on the back of the above crew photo which was shown to me and came from the family of Trevor Jones, the pilot. Trevor or a member of his family had kindly noted the names, ages and home towns of his crew on the back.

On return to the UK I set about trying to find about young Maurice and had an article published in the local evening paper. I was amazed to receive 9 replies. 2 were from cousins, 1 from a school friend, 1 who knew him in the Home Guard before he joined the RAF and the remainder from contemporaries who knew him well and lived in the same street or thereabouts.

Maurice was clearly a popular young fellow and is a well remembered, even after all these years. He was an only son and his mother, Nellie, died in child birth. Maurice was brought up by his father John, an electrician, and his wife's mother, Mrs Shires. Maurice attended St Mary's Roman Catholic School.

At the outbreak of war Maurice's father, John Pickles, joined the Army, served in North Africa and was very badly burned when his tank was hit by enemy fire. He spent 3 years in hospital in Cairo. John returned to civilian life and his prewar occupation as an electrician.

As soon as he was old enough Maurice joined the RAF and loved it by all accounts. It is a tragedy his career was so short, the crew being shot down on their first operation. The daughter of the next door neighbour recalls his grandmother was devastated when notified that her only grand child was missing.

John Pickles and his mother in law visited Maurice's grave in the Netherlands after the war. A surviving member of the crew, thought to be Sgt Sharp, visited the family in 1945 and explained to them what had happened on that fateful night. He said that, when he left the aircraft, Maurice was alive and not wounded. John Pickles continued to work as an electrician, although he was a sick man due to his war time injuries and eventually died in 1967 of TB and a collapsed lung.

Mrs Shires outlived them all and passed away at the age of 90 in the 1970s. She had suffered the most cruel luck being widowed, losing her daughter, only grand child and son in law. She was a proud lady who bore her misfortunes with great fortitude throughout her life.

21-May-44 - Duisburg

103 Squadron detailed 18 aircraft for this attack on the German city of Duisburg. All aircraft took off sucessfully but the weather was rather poor throughout the route with 10/10ths cloud over the target. The marking was rather poor and hence the attack was scattered. Bombing was carried out from between 20000 ft to 22000 ft. Crews reported a few fighters seen and moderate predicted flak. Searchlights were ineffective due to the cloud. S/L Ollier was hit by flak. P/O Jones failed to return from this operation. All other aircraft returned safely landed at base.

For this attack on Duisburg Bomber Command detailed a total of 510 Lancasters and 22 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 5 and 8 Groups. This was the first large raid on Duisburg for a year. 29 Lancasters were lost, 5.5 per cent of the force. The target was covered by cloud but the Oboe skymarking was accurate and much damage was caused in the southern areas of the city.

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Lancaster - ME722

This particular aircraft is of considerable interest to me because it was flown mostly by Flight Lieutenant Bill Way RCAF and crew. My uncle, Eddie Jennings, was the Flight Engineer in this crew. The aircraft completed 14 operations, 12 with Bill Way and crew, 1 with Pilot Officer A A Moore RCAF and crew and 1 with Flight Lieutenant D Allwood and crew. At the time of its loss Bill Way and his crew were on leave and it was assigned to Trevor Jones and his crew for this operation.

10-Apr-44 – Aulnoye – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF - Combat. Successfully evaded

18-Apr-44 – Rouen – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

20-Apr-44 – Cologne – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

22-Apr-44 – Dusseldorf – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

24-Apr-44 – Karlsruhe – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF - Hit by flak

26-Apr-44 – Essen – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

27-Apr-44 – Friedrichshafen – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

30-Apr-44 – Maintenon – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

03-May-44 – Mailly-le-Camp – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

07-May-44 – Rennes-St-Jacques – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

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

11-May-44 – Hasselt – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF – ER - DR compass failure

12-May-44 - Heligoland Bight – Lancaster – ME722 – F/L D Allwood

15-May-44 - Kiel Bay – Lancaster – ME722 – F/O WH Way RCAF

21-May-44 – Duisburg – Lancaster – ME722 – P/O TI Jones – FTR - Night fighter victim. Crashed near Zwolle, Holland

Written by David Fell. Special thanks to Leo Schotman in Zwolle and the Pickles family in Bradford  for their most helpful input and co-operation in this item. Also John Jones.

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