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Lest We Forget
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The Royal British Legion


World War 2 - Roll of Honour with detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Dione Venables 2009

The Memorial Plaque, which is made of white Italian Aura stone and worked by Richard Klose, Master Stone Mason, has the 617 Squadron insignia (motto: Apres Moi le Deluge) and the chevron of The 27th Transport Group, USAC painted and fired in enamel on steel and set into the stone by enamellist Gillie Hoyte Byrom.

On Saturday 22nd August 2009 the Memorial Plaque was unveiled by Mrs Gillian Knowles, niece of the late Flying Officer John McBride Dempster DFM, RCAF, rear gunner of Lancaster DV382. It was blessed by Canon Christopher Biddell and the Reverend Adrian Gatrill RAE. Annalee Pogue, daughter of 1st Lieutenant Richard Pogue, pilot of the C-47 was also present, having come over from California, USA for the occasion. Sue de Cseuz and Dr. Kim van de Rijt, nieces of Pilot Officer Johnnie Gordon RAAF, travelled from New South Wales, Australia. Also present were descendants of Phillip Chapman, the four men who did their best to save the Lancaster crew in 1944 and many of the families of the Upwaltham community still living in the valley. Representing the Four Nations involved were Wing Commander D. Cooper, Officer Commanding today's 617 Squadron, Colonel Jeffrey Hosken USAF, Air Attache to the American Embassy, Colonel Doug Neill RCAF, Canadian Air Attache and Flight Lieutenant Jamie Piszczuk RAAF, representing the Australian Air Attache.

The cover of the book detailing the memorial
Photograph copyright © Dione Venables 2009


13 FEBRUARY 1944
Aprés moi le deluge

Avro Lancaster DV382 KC-J, No. 617 Squadron RAF

617 Squadron occupies a unique place in the history of the Royal Air Force. It was the only squadron formed to undertake one specific operation - the breaching of the Ruhr dams in Germany. The Squadron was formed on the 21st March 1943 at Scampton, Lincolnshire, under the command of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, a distinguished and outstanding bomber and night-fighter pilot during the early war years. The Dams Raid on the 16th May 1943 was known as Operation Chastise and consisted of 19 Lancasters. They took off in groups and Gibson's aircraft was the first to attack the Mohne Dam. The dam was breached shortly before lam and Gibson radioed back to Base the code-word 'Nigger', which meant that they were successful. That particular name had been selected in memory of Gibson's beloved labrador, and the Squadron's mascot, who had been killed by a car the day before this Operation. The remaining three aircraft flew on to attack the Eder Dam. The first two bombs failed to breach the dam but just before 2am it was successfully targeted and Gibson was able to signal the code word 'Dinghy', indicating success with their second target. Of the 19 Lancasters that took off for the Dams Raid, eight did not return. For his gallantry in this epic raid, Wing Commander Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross and 33 other members of the Squadron were also decorated.

On the 12th February 1944 eleven bombers set out from Ford and ten returned the following morning. One of those ten was Lancaster DV382 of 617 Squadron, then based at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. They had landed at Royal Naval Air Station, Ford, on return from a bombing raid against the Antheor Viaduct in Southern France. The squadron was led by Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire who, later the same year, was awarded the Victoria Cross for continual outstanding courage and leadership.

After making a three hour stopover for de-briefing and a meal, the crew of DV382 took off from RNAS Ford at 8.15am on the 13th February 1944 to continue back to base at Woodhall Spa. The Lancaster took off in very poor morning visibility, having waited for their passenger, Intelligence Officer Squadron Leader Thomas Williams Lloyd to complete his business. Within five minutes, in low cloud, they flew into trees at at Waltham Down, near Chichester, where the Lancaster broke up and burst into flames, scattering wreckage over a wide area.

The impact and explosion was heard at Littleton and Upwaltham Farms, and farmer Philip Chapman ran to help, together with Fred Denyer (cowman), Henry Privett (brick layer), George Scutt (tractor driver), John Chapman (tractor diver) and Leading Seaman R.J. Boyd DSM of Bournemouth who joined them. The first man they saw was Squadron Leader Suggitt, the pilot. They found him still strapped in his seat. He was alive, though very badly burned. The five men pulled him out of the cockpit and, with oil and ammunition exploding all round them, dragged him to safety on a stretcher made from his parachute. He died in St. Richard's Hospital, Chichester on the 15th February from his wounds.

Mr Chapman and the men from the valley farms could see several of the crew but they were already dead and the flames and exploding oil and fuel prevented them from getting nearer to the shattered fuselage. The burning fuel had sprayed round the wreckage and they had no idea whether or not there were still bombs among the widespread devastation. They recovered the body of one crew member before being finally beaten back and forced to withdraw by the extreme danger all round them. Mr Chapman and his team, including Able Seaman Boyd, all of whom suffered burns, were later commended for brave conduct by His Majesty King George VI.


William Reid

Squadron Leader J/15131, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Canadian Air Force. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Died 15 February 1944. Aged 23. Son of Thomas and Grace Reid Suggitt, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Buried in Chichester Cemetery, Sussex. Square 159. C of E. Plot. Grave 2.

Of Toronto, Canada was the son of Thomas and Grace Reid Suggitt of Toronto, Canada. He enlisted in the RCAF in October 1940, was commissioned in 1942 and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in January 1943. The Antheor Viaduct attack was his 64th operation and his 9th with 617 Squadron. He is buried in the Chichester Cemetery, Chichester, West Sussex.


Norman James

Flying Officer (Navigator) J/22514, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Canadian Air Force. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 23. Son of James and Henrietta Elizabeth Davidson, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Buried in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire. Row 64. Grave 1253.

Of Ontario, was the Lancaster's bomb aimer. He was the son of James and Henrietta Davidson of Toronto, Canada. He died on impact and is buried, together with Flying Officer Dempster RCAF, and Pilot Officer Gordon, in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire, close to Woodhall Spa, the airfield where 617 Squadron was based.


John Irvine

[Listed as Pilot Officer on memorial] Flying Officer 412218, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Australian Air Force. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 31. Son of David Irvine Gordon and Mildred Gordon, of Cessnock, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Mary V. S. Gordon, of London, England. B.A., Dip. Ed. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Buried in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire. Row 64. Grave 1252.

Was the navigator. He was the son of David and Mildred Gordon of Cessnock, NSW, Australia and the husband of Mary Gordon of London, England. He completed 27 operations against targets in Germany and Italy. The Antheor raid was his 6th operation with 617 Squadron. He died on impact and is buried in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire.


John McBride

Flying Officer (Air Gunner) J/17206, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Canadian Air Force. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 20. Son of John Gass Dempster and Margaret Dempster, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). Buried in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire. Row 64. Grave 1254.

Son of John & Margaret Dempster of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was the rear gunner of DV382. He enlisted in the RCAF in June . He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal after claiming two enemy fighters shot down during the raids of December 1942 - January 1943. He joined 617 Squadron, and Squadron Leader Suggitt's crew in November 1943 and, despite being the youngest member of the crew, had completed nine operations with 617 Squadron. He died on impact and is buried in Coningsby Cemetery, Lincolnshire


Stanley George

[Listed Sydney George Hall on memorial] Flying Officer 411775, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Australian Air Force. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 23. Son of Edith Hall, of Wickham Market. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). Buried in Wickham Market Cemetery, Suffolk. Row Q. Grave 31. Se also Wickham Market Memorial

Was DV 382's Wireless Operator. He was the son of Edith Hall of Wickham Market, Suffolk, and died with his comrades on impact. Having been born in Suffolk, England, he emigrated to Australia before the 2nd World War and enlisted in the RAAF in May 1941. He is buried at Wickham Market Cemetery, Suffolk.



Flight Sergeant (flight Engineer) 652403, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Air Force. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 24. Son of George William and Ada Elizebeth Pulford, of Hull. Buried in Northern Cemetery, Hull, Yorkshire. Compartment 263. Grave 77.

DV 382's Flight Engineer and the son of George and Ada Pulford of Hull. He is buried in the Northern Cemetery of his home town, Hull. In March 1943 he had joined the newly formed 617 Squadron and became part of the crew of Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC on the Dams Raid for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. He died immediately when DV 382 crashed.


John Paul

Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) 1390921, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 13 February 1944. Aged 22. Son of John Harvey Riches and Alice May Riches, of Lingfield; husband of Lily Riches. Buried in the east part of SS. Peter and Paul Churchyard Extension, Lingfield, Surrey.

Was DV 382's mid-upper air gunner. He was the son of John and Alice Riches of Lingfield, Surrey. He is buried in the family grave of the Paul family, in the churchyard of SS. Peter & Paul, Lingfield, Surrey. He had been with Squadron Leader Suggitt's crew since 1943 and had completed nine operations with them at the time of his death.


Thomas Williams

Squadron Leader 84133, 617 (RAF) Squadron), Royal Air Force. Died 12 February 1944. Aged 52. Son of Walter Edmund and Annie Lloyd Lloyd; husband of Alice Joan Lloyd. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Cremated and commemorated at Cheltenham Crematorium, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Panel 1.

Son of John and Annie Lloyd and husband of Alice Lloyd of Cheltenham. He was Station Intelligence Officer at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire and was travelling back to base with the crew from Ford, having de-briefed them after the Antheor raid. His DSO had been awarded for Army service in Mesopotamia during the 1st World War. He died on impact and his ashes are at Cheltenham Crematorium.

11 FEBRUARY 1945

C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) No:43-16397, USAAF.

Dakota C-47B, piloted by 1st Lieutenant Richard Pogue, was assigned to the 311 Ferrying Squadron, 27th Air Transport Group on a non-operational flight carrying freight and mail from Istres in France to the US Air Force base at Grove, Berkshire, having gone into Le Bourget, Paris to refuel en route. As well as their crew of three, 1st Lieutenant Pogue, 2nd Lieutenant Robert G. Robinson, co-pilot, and Corporal Jerome T. Smith, the radio operator, there were four passengers, 2nd Lieutenant Craig Moore, Staff Sergeant Victor C. Corson, Sergeant Carl Clayton and Sergeant Robert Norris, also from Istres, who were to relieve work overload at Grove for a few weeks. The last report of the Dakota's location came from Tangmere Flying Control at 11.25am, when it was noted that the aircraft was flying overhead in deteriorating weather at around 300-400 feet ascending, heading north. Ceiling was zero, visibility 25 yards at the time. Around 1200 hours a report came in to Flying Control, Tangmere that an aircraft had crashed into a hill north of this airfield. A search party which included Mr Chapman, John Chapman drove a tractor, and the valley men, was sent out and discovered the C-47 completely disintegrated between West Wood and Burton Down. There were no survivors. The aircraft crashed close to the top of the hill, indicating that it was still in ascent at the moment of impact.

Flying Control Tangmere reported that the aircraft had flown over them at around 300400 feet. There had, however, been no verbal contact between the C-47 and the control towers at either Ford or Tangmere, nor was there a pilot call for instructions. The investigating party decided that the pilot had let down to a few hundred feet over the English Channel but did not break out of cloud and so did not realise that he had crossed the southern coast of England. From the lie of the wreckage it is thought that Lieutenant Pogue saw the hill, banked sharply and the left wing hit the trees, was torn off and the resulting lift on the right wing caused the aircraft to cartwheel. Wreckage was spread over a wide area.


Richard L

First Lieutenant, aged 28, he came from Woodlake, California. and joined up in 1940. After training at Ryan Field he spent a year as an instructor at Kingman, Arizona before joining the Ferry Command in April 1943. He was the son of Grace Pogue, husband of Vivian and father of Annalee, and is buried in the American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge. UK.


Robert Gaylord

Second Lieutenant, aged 27, was the co-co-pilot/navigator. He was the son of Florence and Robert Robinson of Springfield, Massachusetts. He married Mary Angele Brown in 1943 while in flight training in San Antonio, Texas. They had a daughter, Gail Ann Robinson, who was 5 months old at the time of the crash. She and her husband live in Massachusetts. Angele, who remarried and had two additional children, passed away in June 2015. While Robert was from Springfield, Massachusetts, he is buried in the Robinson family plot in Sheffield, Massachusetts not Springfield.


Jerome I

Corporal, aged 22, was the C-47's radio operator/engineer. He came from Kings, New York but there are no details available about his family. He appears to have been unmarried and is buried in the Baltimore National Cemetery.

The four passengers were:


Victor C

Staff Sergeant, aged 32, a flight engineer, stationed in Istres, France. He was the son of Ida and Ernest Corson of Summit County, Ohio. He was divorced, and without issue. He is buried in Winchester National Cemetery Winchester City, Virginia, Plot: 86, 40490..


Craig C

Second Lieutenant, aged 25, born in Missouri and had been a Sergeant pilot with the RAF. He transferred to the USAC, flying C-47s. No details could be found of his family but he is buried in the Tahama Cemetary, California.


Robert S

Sergeant, was also a C-47 flight engineer, stationed at Istres, France. He was the son of Elizabeth C. and Thomas C. Norris of Georgia. He was buried in the cemetery of Bleckley County, Georgia.



Sergeant 32387705, aged 32, came from Bergen County, New Jersey, The names of his parents are not known, He was married but the name of his wife is not known, nor whether there was issue. He had been serving with HQ Squadron, 36 Air Depot Group, based in the Mediterranean area. Buried in Cambridge American Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge. Plot C Row 2 Grave 49

Raised by the parishoners of Upwaltham in 2009

Last updated 13 August, 2009

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