My Father's crew.

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by David Layne, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Taken from my father's Red Cross P.O.W. "Wartime Log" this attachment shows the crew of 97 Squadron Lancaster JA 708 that was shot down September 23rd 1943 by Ullrich Veh two minutes after bombing Mannheim.

    This crew was on the last trip of their tour. Their usual mid upper gunner James White was already tour expired, his place being taken by the Squadron Gunnery Officer S/L "Red" McKinna.

    The Fletcher crews regular navigator was F/Lt. Sgt. J. Dunn. He did not go on this trip, I presume he too had tour expired as his name does not appear in the Squadron Orbs after a September 22nd trip to Hanover. Dunn's place was taken by S/L K. Foster the squadrons navigation officer.

    Pilot Fletcher, Bomb Aimer Beasley, Wireless Operator Layne, and Flight Engineer Nelson all survived the shootdown. S/Ldrs. McKinna and Foster were killed as was rear gunner Harry Page.

    I am curious to know more about these men, especially McKinna and Foster, any further information and photographs would be appreciated.

    Fletcher, Beasley, Layne and Nelson were together as P.O.W.'s for a time. Beasley was something of an artist having made a couple of sketches in my father's P.O.W. log.

    My father kept in contact after the war with pilot Bob Fletcher. Both my father and Bob Fletcher are now deceased.

    James White is alive. I keep in contact with him in matters regarding 97 Squadron.

    I have no knowledge of Dunn beyond 22 September 1943 and of Beasley and Nelson beyond their time as P.O.W.'s. Any help here would also be appreciated.
  2. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    McKinna was Robert Alexander McKinna. Found this on April 6, 1945:

    Air Ministry, 10th April, 1945.
    The KING has been graciously pleased to approve
    the following awards: —
    Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross.
    Acting Squadron Leaders.
    Kenneth Jack FOSTER, D..F.C. (77915), R.A.F.V.R.,
    97 Sqn., with effect from 23rd September, 1943
    (since deceased).
    Robert Alexander McKiNNA, D.F.C. (69440),
    R.A.F.V.R.,| 97 Sqn., with effect from 23rd
    September, 1943 (since deceased).

    Other reference to McKinna in the LG had him with 156 Sqn when he received his first DFC.

    Looks like Ken Foster also had a Bar to his DFC.

    Not much help, sorry.
  3. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    DL, in relation to McKinna, here's some more details from the 156 Sqn site:

    156 Squadron RAF

    Excellent website. Lots of good work done.
  4. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Thanks for the info Andy.
  5. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

    Jennie Gray has come up with a little more on Foster. Can anyone add more?

    The following is taken from some notes on Ken Foster by an old friend
    Kenneth Jack Foster, called "Ken" was born November 11, 1916, in Pendleton, Salford Manchester; he was the son of John and Winifred Foster. He is memorialized on his parents´ tombstone in Southport, which reads "Also Sqd. Ldr. Kenneth J. Foster .... Killed in Action 23rd Sept., 1943. Interred in Germany."
    His name appears on a roll of honour in Southport.
    Ken´s brother John (also of the RAF, who died in the U.S. in 2006)once wrote of Ken´s "high spirits and great zest for life." This was so true! His enthusiasm was a very outstanding characteristic. His sisters were Win - who likes to remember that Ken taught her "to dance the slow fox trot" - and Hilda, fourteen years old when Ken died - who kept a scrapbook about him during the war and called him her "hero". There was also a younger brother, Ron, who was a little boy when he lost his big brother, Ken.
    As a young boy Ken moved with his family to Southport, where he was a student at King George V School.
    Ken enlisted in the Royal Airforce Volunteer Reserve on 31 July 1939.
    He loved music and dancing; Ken was an expert dancer, and you could almost say he had a "passion" for dancing. Fishing was a hobby.
    Ken married Eileen and had a daughter, Karin.
    He was in 78 Squadron, June 10, 1940.
    June 12, 1940 he was posted to 51 Squadron, stationed at Dishforth in Yorkshire.
    Awarded DFC , gazetted 18 July 1941, flying as Navigator with 51 Squadron, "raids on Berlin and other German targets, carried out in very bad weather. On his 29th Sortie a direct hit on the target at Ludwigshafen was proven by a Night Photograph taken at the same time. .... Foster has throughout shown great courage and devotion to Duty, as well as skill in Navigation and has been an excellent example to Observers in this Squadron."
    In 1941 he went to an Astro Course in Canada. His return to England and to 51 Squadron was via Bermuda from where, on Feb 2, 1941, he flew the Atlantic Ocean as Navigator with a British crew ferrying an American bomber plane, the PBY flying boat, to Pembroke Dock, England.
    Awarded Bar to DFC, gazetted 10 April 1945. Sq/Ldr Kenneth Jack Foster 77915, with effect from 23rd Sept 1943. "He has taken part in numerous operational missions which have included most of the major operations against German targets. On three occasions, he has rendered valuable aid to the squadron by acting as captain of inexperienced crews. He is a very keen captain of aircraft and a skilled and experienced navigator ..."

    It is thought that Ken died after jumping from the aircraft with his parachute, but there are three differing versions of how he lost his life. His body was found in a forest district called "Bösenberg" (on a hill which itself also has the name "Bösenberg) and is located about six kilometres from the village of Maikammer in Germany. Ken Foster was the only member of the crew ever to be buried in Maikammer.
  6. David Layne

    David Layne Active Member

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