Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24

Thread: Missing in action, 29 July 1944

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Missing in action, 29 July 1944

    My uncle, Francis (Frank) Fearns, was a 19 year-old bomber navigator, Liverpool born, but, as a bomber navigator, was flying with either/both the Snowbirds and the Wild Geese. I have no idea why he was with the Canadians although he was English. His plane was one of those that didn't return on the night of 28/29 July 1944 and so was declared dead at the end of the war. I have his medals and a couple of photos, one of which shows the crew standing in front of their plane (Wellington? Halifax?) As far as I can gather, he was probably deployed in the raid on Hamburg.
    Where can I find more information as I don't have his logbook?
    He is commemmorated on the Runnymede Memorial, but I'd like to know if his remains were ever found and buried (unknown to the family)

    (FEARNS, Francis. Sgt (Flt Engr). 2201584 RAFVR. 29 July 1944 Runnymede Air Force Memorial)

    Thank you in advance.
    Jamafe
    Last edited by Jamafe; 28th August 2009 at 19:32.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    1,231
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    It was not uncommon for RAF and RCAF personnel to serve together, despite the Canadians' efforts to have all-Canadian squadrons.

    From the 6 Group Web site, daily operations diary (in case you didn't already have it):

    http://www.rcaf.com/6group/July44/July28~2944.html

    July 28/29, 1944

    46 Lancasters from 408, 419, and 428 Squadron were joined by 186 Halifaxes from 408, 415, 420, 424, 425, 425, 427, 429, 431, 432, 433, and 434 Squadrons on an attack at Hamburg. The crews were over the target at between 16,000 and 22,000 feet, releasing 2,019,000 lbs of high explosives. According to reports, some bombing fell into the port area, otherwise the attack was scattered. On this attack, 6 Group suffered their highest losses. 22 crews failed to return.

    P/O J. McCaffrey RCAF and crew, flying Lancaster II LL-725 coded EQ-C, failed to return from this operation.

    Sgt F. Fearns RAF
    P/O R. Mitchell RCAF
    F/O G. Cameron RCAF
    P/O A. Marsden RCAF
    P/O L. Cassidy RCAF
    F/Sgt A. Candline RCAF
    Sgt G. Harvey RAF

    All were lost without a trace.

    You might learn more by ordering the service records of the Canadians from Ottawa but if they are still listed as on the Runnymede Memorial, it is unlikely.
    David

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a photo of the whole crew and didn't know the names of any of them apart from my uncle. I don't have a copy of the daily operations diary and am very grateful for this copy. He has always been my hero because this mission was an extra tour of duty for which he had volunteered and although he had a premonition that they wouldn't return, he still went ahead with it.
    Last edited by Jamafe; 28th August 2009 at 20:18.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    866
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Hello Jamafe,

    If you seek further information to what "dfuller" has just provided and you know your Uncles 'next-of-kin', you can ask them to request his RAF service records from RAF Cranwell or get their permission to apply yourself:
    [http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/raf.html] will tell you how to go about it. I understand from last time used in 2008, it cost £30. You could receive 1 to 2 large digitaly copied sheets of paper showing your uncles service with many abbreviations and in service language. Fear not as there are many experts on this board who will help you with the deciphering.

    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 28th August 2009 at 20:32. Reason: minor correction to last sentence

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    7
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    I will follow that up immediately. Thanks very much indeed. I really appreciate your help.

    Jamafe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    866
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    When applying for RAF service records the turn round is about 4-6 weeks
    Norman

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Huddersfield UK
    Posts
    433
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    A bit more info on the crew from the book 'They shall grow not old'.
    P/O John Harold Alexander McCaffrey J/86046 had been awarded a DFC.
    He was from Melville, Saskatchewan was aged 23.
    P/O Rex Harris Mitchel J/86673 was from Tyvan, Saskatchewan aged 29.
    F/O Gordon Everett Cameron J/19634 was from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia aged 24.
    P/O Arthur Frank Marsden J87821 was from Montreal, Qubec was aged 25.
    P/O Lorne Francis Cassidy J/90069 was from Regina, Saskatchewan aged 23.
    F/Sgt Albert Edward Candline R/100359 was from Winnipeg, Manitoba aged 21.

    More info on the pilot John McCaffrey from the Canadian Air force web site thanks to Hugh Halliday's work.
    McCAFFREY, P/O John Harold Alexander (J86046) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.408 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 28 July 1944 as per London Gazette dated 25 January 1946 and AFRO 244/46 dated 8 March 1946. Born 1921 at Melville, Saskatchewan; home there; enlisted Saskatoon, 27 December 1940. Trained at No.4 ITS (graduated 10 October 1942), No.19 EFTS (graduated 5 December 1942), and No.11 SFTS (graduated 16 April 1942). Commissioned April 1944. Medal presented to next of kin, 10 December 1947.Killed in action 28 July 1944; no known grave.


    Citation:
    Throughout his operational tour Pilot Officer McCaffrey has attacked a variety of heavily defended targets in Germany. On all his sorties he has displayed a fine fighting spirit pressing home his attacks with keen determination and obtaining excellent photographs of the objectives. On one occasion when attacking Cologne two of the engines of his aircraft became unserviceable. Nevertheless, showing exceptional flying skill, he brought his aircraft and crew safely back to this country. His cheerful nature and keen determination have been a great asset and set a splendid example to his squadron.

    Regards
    Andy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    866
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Also, if you search the crew names on the CWGC on line web site (~Google CWGC) you may find the other crew members function mentioned

    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 28th August 2009 at 20:47.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire
    Posts
    2,508
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    Couple of things reading through this thread Jamafe -

    You described your uncle as a 'bomber navigator' whereas he's given as a Flight Engineer on the Runnymede memorial.

    He was flying with 408 Squadron - the 408 Squadron Operations Record book is held by the National Archives - File reference 27/1798. You can request the pages for 28/29 July which may give more information pertinent to the squadron than the 6 Group Summary. If you could visit the NA yourself it would pay you to look at the weeks before that date as they will tell you which operations he took part in.

    I'm wondering if, at 19, he was old enough to have completed both his training and a full tour (that's 30) of operations), and started on a second tour. His service record will certainly contain the details.

    Brian

    PS. NA file 50/249 holds the combat reports for 408 Sqn; it may be there are some reports from other crews for the night of 28/29 July, which might add to your story.
    Last edited by Lyffe; 28th August 2009 at 20:52. Reason: Additional info (combat reports)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    866
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Hello Jamafe,

    With reference to your crew photograph. Assuming they are in uniform, you might be able to see the flying badges? and shades of uniform? The two RAF crew members uniform will be a different shade to the Canadians.

    Captain/Pilot - badge "Wings"
    Navigator - brevet badge - N
    Bomb Aimer or Air Bomber Brevet badge - B
    Wireless Operator - brevet badge - S
    Flight Engineer - brevet badge - E (to the best of my knowledge these were nearly always RAF personnel)
    Mid Upper Air Gunner - brevet badge - AG
    Rear Air Gunner - brevet badge - AG

    Please note the Canadians had a combined aircrew function of Wireless Operator and Air Gunner (WopAG) and the Wireless operators flying badge may be different (exactly what escapes me)


    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 28th August 2009 at 21:22. Reason: ammending my incorrect spelling of your name

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •