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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Ron Boyd 103 Sqn]

W/O Ronald H Boyd RAAF - 103 Squadron - RAF Elsham Wolds - 1944 - Air Bomber.

Failed to Return - 3/4th May 1944 - S/L H Swanston RAFVR and crew - Avro Lancaster III - ND905 - Op Mailly-Le-Camp.

103 Squadron - Ron Boyd

Ronald Howard Boyd was born in Knightsbridge ( now Leabrook ), Adelaide, South Australia on the 11th November 1911. His parents were Mr and Mrs Edward James Boyd.

Educated at Norwood High School from 1925-29 he attended Adelaide University in 1929 to study as a teacher, gaining degrees in Chemistry 1, Geology 1, Geography 1, and Education. In addition he was also a qualified woodwork teacher.

Ron undertook compulsory 6 months military training and was also a member of the 10th Battalion Senior Cadets for 2 years from 1927 to 1929.

After completing his University studies he was appointed as a teacher at Wilkawatt in the South East of the State.

On the 2nd July 1940 Ron applied for enlistment to the Royal Australian Air Force. On the 3rd March 1941 he was accepted and was posted to the No 4 Initial Training School at Mount Breckan, Victor Harbour with the rank of Aircraftsman II.

He married his fiancee on the 24th April 1941 and on the 26th April he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman.

After completion of  2 months basic training he was posted to No 2 Air Observers School at Mount Gambier and then, on the 24th August, was posted  to No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at Port Pirie where he gained his Air Observers Badge on the 18th October 1941.

Ron was then posted to No 2 Air Navigation School on the 20th October and successfully completed an Astro Navigation Course and was promoted to Temporary Sergeant on the 13th November.

On the 21st November he returned to Adelaide to await further orders and on the 1st February 1942 underwent further training at No 5 SFTS, at Uranquinty NSW securing a promotion to Flight Sergeant on the 13th May 1942.

From the 22nd May to the 29th May Ron was to spend some time at home with his wife and was able to visit his family.

In August 1942 Ron embarked for Britain and, on arrival was posted to RAF Bournemouth. On the 29th March 1943 he was posted to 1 Advanced Flying Unit and on the 27th April 1943 to 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wigtown in Scotland. It was here that he was promoted to Warrant Officer on the 13th May 1943.

After 8 months he was posted again to 30 Operational Training Unit at Lichfield in Staffordshire, England and, on the 15th February 1944, to 11 Base at RAF Lindholme.

On the 12th April 1944 Ron and the rest of the crew of which he was a part were posted to 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds.

The crew consisted of :-

Pilot - Squadron Leader H Swanston RAFVR Age 32

Flight Engineer - Sergeant D A Hadden RAFVR Age 22

Navigator - Flying Officer E J Dane RAFVR Age 23

Air Gunner - Sergeant G F Casey RCAF Age 32

Air Bomber - Warrant Officer R H Boyd RAAF Age 32

Wireless Operator - Warrant Officer J C Smith RAFVR Age 23

Air Gunner - Sergeant H Rankin RCAF

441 Swanston and crew web site

Above - Swanston crew - Front Row L to R - Dane, Swanston and Boyd. Back Row L to R - Hadden, Casey, Rankin and Smith.

441 George Casey web site

George Casey RCAF

441 Rankin web site

Jack Rankin RCAF

Squadron Leader Swanston was the new commander of A Flight of 103 Squadron. This crew participated in a raid on the railway yards at Rouen, France on the night of the 18/19th April 1944. They did not fly again until the night of the 3/4th May 1944 when they took part in an attack on an important German military base  at Mailly-le-Camp in France. This proved to be a very costly attack for Bomber Command. A serious and unforeseen communication problem meant the Main Force Controller was unable to give the bombers the orders to commence their attack after the target had been precisely marked by the Pathfinders. Whilst the bombers orbited their holding point the German night fighters made contact in strength. Many Lancasters were shot down during this period and after the order to attack was finally given. The target was, however, accurately bombed and much damage was caused to the German base.

42 Lancasters were lost out of a total of 346 taking part in the raid amongst them Lancaster ND905 flown by Squadron Leader Swanston and crew. The Lancaster was almost certainly a night fighter victim and crashed near Chalons-sur-Marne in the area of Villers-le-Chateau.

Ron Boyd is buried, along with the rest of this crew, in the churchyard at Villers-le-Chateau.

S/L Harold Swanston RAFVR - Pilot - 32 – 103 Sqn - Son of George and Jessie Swanston; husband of Edith Swanston, of Little Testwood, Hampshire - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

Sgt Dennis Allen Hadden RAFVR – Flight Engineer - 22 - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

F/O Eric John Dane RAFVR – Navigator - 23 – 103 Sqn - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

Sgt George Francis Casey RCAF - Air Gunner – 32 – 103 Sqn - Son of Patrick A. Casey and Matilda Casey; husband of Dora Casey, of Pembroke. Ontario, Canada - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

W/O Ronald Howard Boyd RAAF - Air Bomber - Age 32 – 103 Sqn - Son of Edward James Boyd and Ada Louisa Boyd; husband of Esma Madge Boyd, of Hackney, South Australia – Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

W/O John Coates Smith RAFVR – Wireless Operator / Air Gunner - 23 – 103 Sqn - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

Sgt Jack Raymond Rankin RCAF – Air Gunner – 103 Sqn - Villers-le-Chateau Churchyard, France.

Keith Bailey.


Jack Rankin.

The Rankin family kindly submitted a number of excellent family photos relating to Jack and I have set up a sub page with brief bio for these. See link below.

Jack Rankin RCAF - Bio and Photo Page


03-May-44 - Mailly-le-Camp

This attack is described the Mailly-Le-Camp Article in the relevant section here.


Lancaster - ND905

This machine was lost on its 4th operation. See below :-

26-Apr-44 – Essen – Lancaster – ND905 – F/L D Allwood

27-Apr-44 – Friedrichshafen – Lancaster – ND905 – F/L D Allwood

01-May-44 – Lyons – Lancaster – ND905 – F/L D Allwood

03-May-44 – Mailly-le-Camp – Lancaster – ND905 – S/L H Swanston – FTR - Night fighter victim. Crashed at Villers le Chateau, France.

I am very grateful to Mr Keith Bailey of Kadina, South Australia for given his permission to use information  from his excellent research project on Ron Boyd.



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