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Thread: Seeking Lancaster air crew

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    Default Seeking Lancaster air crew

    I have recently written a book which features my uncle Peter Frederick Croft who was shot down on 18/19 December 1944 over Poland. I'm looking for two members of the crew and am not sure where to find this information. Below is what I have already.
    Lancaster from 106 Squadron based at Metheringham. NN726
    Prichard, Marcus Sydney Francis. Pilot. 114399 RAF VR Aged 30
    Robinson, Stanley. Wireless operator. 1528518 RAF VR Aged 32
    Skipper, Wilfred Edward. 1880467 Flight Engineer RAF VR Aged 24
    Turkentine, Frederick John. 1601690 . Flight Sgt/ Navigator RAF VR Aged 22
    Croft, Frederick Peter. 154538 Air Bomber. RAF VR Aged 20
    Rusty Sutton? Gunner
    Ron Sutton? Gunner
    Both survived the crash but were captured. They escaped a German POW camp and returned to the UK. A letter my mother had from a Mrs Sutton doesnít give the name of her son.
    Do you know where I can find this information or maybe have it?
    Thanks
    Anna

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Hello Anna

    Welcome to the Forum.

    The 106 Squadron ORB Form 541 (https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8385839) has the following crew for NN726 on December 18/19th 1944:

    F/Lt M. S. F. Pritchard - Captain
    Sgt. E. W. Skipper - Flt Engineer
    Sgt. F. J. Turkentine - Navigator
    F/O B. F. Croft - Air Bomber
    Sgt. S. Robinson - W/operator
    Sgt. R. Egglestone - M/Upr Gunner
    Sgt. H. Ainley - Rear Gunner

    The P.o.W. database on this Forum has:

    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...E&qnum=1369656

    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...EY&qnum=966915

    Sgt. Hassell Ainley was reported missing in the Rochdale Observer of December 30th 1944, and then reported as being a P.o.W. in the same newspaper on March 17th 1945. He is reported as being the husband of Mrs. E. Ainley, 160c Drake Street, Rochdale.

    Not sure why Egglestone is missing from the entry for NN726? Or how Mrs. Sutton fits in...?

    Regards

    Simon

    EDIT - does the letter from Mrs. Sutton have an address showing from where it was sent?
    Last edited by wwrsimon; 4th November 2022 at 17:15.
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Anna,
    From Simon's starting point above went on to use the National Archives 106 Sqn record link and the PoW & RAF dbs here to find as follows

    Gunner Sutton of 106 Sqn
    The Record of Events Form 541 for the whole of Dec 1944 finds no man or men named Sutton among any crew on ops all through the month.
    Although errors or omissions can sometimes arise, this record seems well-compiled.

    Next, taking just the surname
    Sutton
    in the PoW db here
    http://www.rafcommands.com/Ross/Air%...ery%20S_1.html
    lists a number of men of that name + RAF service no (last but one column).

    To match across to 106 Sqn crew, worked through the Suttons listed one at a time,
    copying just RAF Service no into the main Air Forces db here
    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/search.php

    To find just one match on Sutton for 106 Sqn:

    Sgt Richard Peter Sutton 1601271
    Taken captive on the loss of 106 Sqn Lancaster B.1 W4118 on 4 Feb 43*
    Sgt Sutton:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...N&qnum=1601271
    W4118 crew:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=W4118

    The other PoW db Suttons can all be discounted, on date, Sqn and/or aircrew posn grounds.

    Finally, it did strike me as rather less likely that two Gunners in the same crew would be named either
    Rusty Sutton or Ron Sutton.
    Not impossible, whether related or unrelated, to be on the same Sqn, but to be in the same crew?
    Struck me as more likely one man than two.
    Recall: tricky thing, that, and the longer after the event the more tricky.
    Or, perhaps, the letter has been misunderstood - possibly Ms Sutton was just giving possible nicknames (Rusty, Ron) for the one man.

    Without having the full names or actual original text from the correspondence to confirm, it looks on the existing evidence pretty likely that
    Sgt Richard Peter Sutton
    is the man she meant, but misrecalling the date & crew...

    * Addnl:
    Record of Events Form 541 for 106 Sqn ops 4-5 Feb 1943 confirmed loss of W4118.
    Full crew listed, with Sgt RP Sutton as mid-upper gunner (& Sgt J Picken rear gunner)
    The aircraft reported rapid loss of height after engine failure, posn then near Dijon. Nothing further heard and failed to return
    No other Sutton as gunner in Feb 1943.
    See https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/D8385795
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th November 2022 at 10:22. Reason: 106 Sqn Ops Record Feb43 added
    Toujours ŗ propos

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Thank you both so much! I hope you can both read this answer. I was working on a list left by mother, dated in the 1980s. I have a photo of the crew with the first names written on it, which I haven't managed to attach as it's on my PC. The names written on it are Peter a/B, Roby. Ted 'R'. Skipper, Pilot. Basil. 'N'. Row or Ron, Mid A/G. Rusty Rear A/G.
    So this would possibly make Ron Sgt. R. Egglestone - M/Upr Gunner
    Leaving Rusty as Sgt. H. Ainley - Rear Gunner

    I have the letter, copied as follows; 24, Station Road,
    Chertsey
    1/11/45




    Dear Mrs Croft,

    I am terribly sorry not to have answered your letter before now, but I have been away for three weeks and your letter has only just reached me. But I am afraid that I cannot give you any news much.
    You see, after the crash my son had been a prisoner of war in Germany and he escaped his camp. We had know news of him for months until he turned up in Warsaw. He has been told not to disclose were he was all that time by the Airforce, but I really think he had been in Russian hands. He made his way across Poland to Warsaw with the help of some Polish friends he had made. It was great news for us when he turned up again after the crash in Poland and I can sympathise with you in your loss, but my son seems to think that lots more people may turn up.
    So sorry not to be able to help you as I realise a motherís feelings at a time like this.

    Yours sincerely
    M Sutton

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Hi Anna,

    Just out of interest 106 Sqn Lancaster NN726 was shot down by Oblt Peter Ehrhardt of 2./NJG5 for his second victory that night and his 19th victory over all. The Lancaster crashed at north of Gotenafen at 22.10hrs. He would survive the war with 20 night victories and 1 day victory.

    Cheers,

    John.

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Thanks for your second post, Anna.

    Had lost sight of your uncle, Air Bomber PF Croft, confirmed in the crew of NN726, while checking for any 106 Sqn Sutton gunner or gunners.

    So some of my discussion re Sutton was poorly made...

    Good reminder there for me: thinking too far ahead of the actual info always risky, prefer getting as much original info as possible esp from original poster first.

    At least, from the records, it's clear that in late 1944 there was no man called Sutton in the crew of NN726 with your uncle.
    Sgt Richard Peter Sutton was the sole 106 Sqn gunner of that name, made PoW Feb 43.

    From your added photo names summary vs the confirmed crew, there still seem to be a number of puzzles of name vs crew posn.

    best wishes with your project.
    Last edited by Don Clark; 5th November 2022 at 21:51.
    Toujours ŗ propos

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Hello

    I think I may have something, if you all bear with me..

    Richard Peter Sutton was mentioned in an article on the Bucks Herald of March 30th 1945:

    Royal Air Force Award - The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the British Empire Medal (Militayr Division) to 1601271 Sergeant Richard Peter Sutton, R.A.F.V.R., No. 106 Squadron. Sergeant Sutton was born in 1923 at Wendover, Bucks, and his home is at Whitchurch, Hants. He was a labourer before enlisting in 1941, and is now an air gunner. One night in February, 1943, Sergant Sutton was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft engaged in an attack on Turin. During the return flight engine trouble developed. The aicraft crashed in the Alps, adn the pilot was thrown out of the aircraft. The wreckage caught fire and burned furiously. Sergeant Sutton succeeded in rescuing one member of the crew, however, and then, despite the heat and exploding fuel tanks, he entered the aircraft, clambered over the main spar to the pilot's cockpit and dragged out the unconcscious wireless operator. Sergeant Sutton displayed great courage and disregard for his own safety, and undoubtedly saved the lives of two of his companions.

    One thing we can take from that is that he doesn't seem to have a connection with Chertsey, so I think we can possibly discount him?

    However, moving on to Mrs Sutton, there is a Margaret Sutton living at number 21, Station Road, Chertsey on the 1939 Register with the following household members:

    SUTTON Thomas H., b. July 19th 1899, M., Postman
    SUTTON Margaret, b. December 30th 1900, M., Unpaid Domestic Duties
    SUTTON Thomas H. A., b. August 18th 1921, S., Assistant Transformer Erector

    I think perhaps Thomas H. A. Sutton may be 1446557 Thomas Henry Arthur Sutton, from Stirling EF451?

    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=EF451

    His M.I.9 report can be seen here:

    https://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/E...hur_sutton.htm

    The details tie in with Mrs. Sutton's letter, perhaps?

    Regards

    Simon
    Researching R.A.F. personnel from the North East of England

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Yes, I knew that, I have been in contact with Theo Boten who writes about the Nachtjagd. The plane came down near Putzig (German) or Puck on the Polish coast.

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Thanks so much for all your work, Simon. That's so interesting, yes, I think we can discount Sutton. It make sense of some of the comments in the letter about other prisoners. Did all POWs have a M19 account of their time as a POW? If so I wonder if there are ones from Egglestone and Ainley?I guess they couldn't speak to them all!

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    Default Re: Seeking Lancaster air crew

    Quote Originally Posted by Anna Croft View Post
    Thank you both so much! I hope you can both read this answer. I was working on a list left by mother, dated in the 1980s. I have a photo of the crew with the first names written on it, which I haven't managed to attach as it's on my PC. The names written on it are Peter a/B, Roby. Ted 'R'. Skipper, Pilot. Basil. 'N'. Row or Ron, Mid A/G. Rusty Rear A/G.
    So this would possibly make Ron Sgt. R. Egglestone - M/Upr Gunner
    Leaving Rusty as Sgt. H. Ainley - Rear Gunner

    I have the letter, copied as follows; 24, Station Road,
    Chertsey
    1/11/45




    Dear Mrs Croft,

    I am terribly sorry not to have answered your letter before now, but I have been away for three weeks and your letter has only just reached me. But I am afraid that I cannot give you any news much.
    You see, after the crash my son had been a prisoner of war in Germany and he escaped his camp. We had know news of him for months until he turned up in Warsaw. He has been told not to disclose were he was all that time by the Airforce, but I really think he had been in Russian hands. He made his way across Poland to Warsaw with the help of some Polish friends he had made. It was great news for us when he turned up again after the crash in Poland and I can sympathise with you in your loss, but my son seems to think that lots more people may turn up.
    So sorry not to be able to help you as I realise a motherís feelings at a time like this.

    Yours sincerely
    M Sutton
    Interesting confusion with the letter from Mrs Sutton but I can only think there must have been a mix up at Air Ministry when exchanging next of kin addresses with relatives of other members of the crew - EF451 was lost on Nuremburg 27/28 Aug 43, so over a year earlier. The only similarities I can see were that in both losses only the Mid-upper and Rear gunners survived to become POWs.

    I checked back through the ORBs and can only find one previous operation for this crew, flown on 22nd Nov 1944 to Trondheim, although the Nav was different for that op - Flt Lt William Bernard 'Bim' Bone DFC (113918), who had actually flown a previous tour with 106 Squadron in 1942/43, so he may be the airman on your photo?

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