Pilot Officer (air Bomber) Iorwerth Pierce Edwards

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by StalagIVB, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    I am just beginning to research my sister- in - law's uncle, Pilot Officer Iorwerth Pierce Edwards. He was with the 7th Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and according to the family story, went on an extra mission from which he did not return. Does anyone have any more information regarding the 7th Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve or this particular mission ? I have the details from CWGC.
  2. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Hi there,

    from what you say He was Pilot Officer in RAFVR serving as a bomb aimer with 7 sqn RAF

    However the only entery for a PO edwards is

    Initials: I A
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Pilot Officer
    Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Unit Text: 62 Sqdn.
    Age: 33
    Date of Death: 25/04/1944
    Service No: 179194
    Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Edwards, of Cambridge. F.R.S.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Column 433.
  3. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Hi Morse
    The CWGC details for Iorwerth Pierce Edwards are as follow:

    Pilot Officer (Air Bomber)
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    7 Sqdn.
    30 years old
    Date of Death: 11/06/1944
    Service No: 174351
    Add. Inf: Son of Abraham James Edwards and Catherine Ann Edwards of Elstree, Hertfordshire
    Grave Ref: Row 2, Grave 1
    Dreux Communal Cemetery
  4. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by StalagIVB@Mar 12 2005, 06:38 PM
    Hi Morse
    The CWGC details for Iorwerth Pierce Edwards are as follow:

    Pilot Officer (Air Bomber)
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    7 Sqdn.
    30 years old
    Date of Death: 11/06/1944
    Service No: 174351
    Add. Inf:  Son of Abraham James Edwards and Catherine Ann Edwards of Elstree, Hertfordshire
    Grave Ref: Row 2, Grave 1
    Dreux Communal Cemetery
    [post=32141]Quoted post[/post]

    10/11 June 1944
    432 aircraft - 323 Lancasters, 90 Halifaxes, 19 Mosquitos - attacked railway targets at Achères, Dreux, Orléans and Versailles. All targets were believed to have been hit but few further details are available. 15 Lancasters and 3 Halifaxes lost.

    7 sqn were flying lancs at the time. probably he filled in for someone who could not make the sortie.

    7 sqn association
  5. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Thank you very much for your reply and information. Iorwerth Edwards filling in for someone else, fits in with the family story that he was not supposed to be flying on that particular mission as he had completed his tour of duty (if that is the correct terminology for the RAF.) You mention some further details. Will I find more information at Hendon ?
  6. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by StalagIVB@Mar 12 2005, 07:32 PM
    Thank you very much for your reply and information. Iorwerth Edwards filling in for someone else, fits in with the family story that he was not supposed to be flying on that particular mission as he had completed his tour of duty (if that is the correct terminology for the RAF.)  You mention some further details. Will I find more information at Hendon ?
    [post=32143]Quoted post[/post]

    You might find some stuff in the museum library the Form 541 operations record might be held there.

    in the RAF it would correct to say that his tour was completed
  7. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Thanks Morse.
    Checking the CWGC site it looks as if a crew of seven including Iorwerth Edwards were killed on the 11/06/1944.
    Just in case anyone knows any more about the other six men, the list of names and their ranks etc. are below :

    Henry John Bonnett
    Pilot Officer (Pilot)
    7 Sqdn
    21 years old
    Son of William Henry & Rosalie Amy Bonnett of Blackheath, London

    Harold Burnside
    Warrant Officer
    Royal Australian Air Force
    7 (RAF) Sqdn
    20 years old
    Son of John George & Elizabeth Burnside, husband of Joy Burnside of Toorak, Victoria

    Rex Ward Athey
    Sergeant (Nav)
    7 Sqdn
    23 years old
    Son of Reginald & Alice Ruth Athey of Birmingham

    Albert Leonard Goulding
    Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.)
    7 Sqdn.
    21 years old
    Son of Alfred Herbert & Alice Goulding of East Ham, Essex

    Daniel Henry Hedley
    Sergeant (Flt. Engr.)
    7 Sqdn.
    22 years old
    Son of Daniel & Ellen Mary Hedley; Husband of Gladys May Hedley of Stepney Green, London

    Leonard William Pullee
    Flight Sergeant (W.Op)
    7 Sqdn
    33 years old
    Son of John & Sarah Ann Pullee
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Pilot Officer Edwards serving in Bomber Command would be said to be tour expired, ie if he had completed 30 operations over the qualifing enemy territory.For instance some operations over France,usually before the invasion did not qualify as an operation as one would over Germany.P/O Edward's last operation to bomb the railyards at Dreux would qualify as a full operation and his presence in the crew might be that although tour expired he was to hand on the occasion of a shortfall in a crew.

    In No 7 Squadron's case at the time of the loss of Lancaster Mk 111 RAF Serial NE 129 MG-G for George , the squadron was serving in No 8 Group (Pathfinders) and operating out of Oakington.In their role as Pathfinders,the squadron's operations would always qualify as full operations.

    In some cases, aircrew volunteered and signed on for a second tour and went on to complete two tours and sometimes in exceptional cases could be well into a third tour when fate overtook them.In these cases aircrew might be transferred to a newly formed squadron and complete a high number of operations on as many as 5 squadrons.

    Normally tour expired aircrew would be screened from operations and be found a role as instructors in OTUs, OCUs and Finishing Schools.Guy Gibson was screened from operations after the Dams Raid and was allocated other duties including "showing the flag" in the US but was unsettled away from air operations.He lost his life acting as a Master Bomber after appyling pressure to his superiors to return to air operations.

    As Morse has said, if you can get hold of the Squadron Form 541, it should reveal a great deal of the operational record of the Squadron,its aircrew and groundcrew. An entry should be there regarding P/O Edwards posting to the squadron and his aircrafts' failure to return. There might also interesting information in the RAF Oakington Station Form 541 regarding No 7 Squadron, a good insight to activity on a wartime Bomber Command station.
  9. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Thank you for your reply. I will certainly attempt to track down the Squadron Form 541. I appreciate your advice.
    May I ask how you know that Lancaster Mk 111 RAF Serial NE 129 MG was the one in which PO Edwards was a member of the crew, when killed ?
  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    The basic information is contained in one of Bill Chorley's excellent publications, Royal Air Force. Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War 1944.The information would have been extracted from the Squadron ORB,the Operations Record Book,ie Form 541, a daily log of squadron events.

    Postwar, the fate of each aircraft lost and the fate of its crew were determined as though as possible by the Royal Air Force and in many cases,the dead were left in the cemeteries they were initially interred in, except those losing their lives over Germany.

    PO Edwards aircraft Lancaster Mark 111 Serial NE 129 MG-G is shown as being up at 2300 on 10th June 1944 from Oakington to bomb the railyards at Dreux.It crashed in the target area without survivors.All the crew were identified and buried in the local cemetery. The date of the deaths of the crew are shown as the 11th June.

    MG-G was the only Lancaster lost that night from No 7 Squadron which would have about 18 aircraft on charge and depending on aircraft availability could have put up a number on this operation approaching this.The aircraft was one of 600 Lancaster Mark 111s, manufactured and delivered by AV Roe to the RAF between December 1943 and May 1944.I do not think it completed many operations and could have been lost within weeks of being taken on charge by No 7 Squadron.

    The offensives against remote rail communications towards Normandy started early (but "quietly" as to not give the Germans the idea that the Allies had plans for an invasion in the area) in the new year of 1944 with intense operations against these targets just before D Day and after when the Germans were attempting to push men and armour into the Normandy beachhead. MG-G was lost in an attempt to delay or prevent reinforcements getting into the Allied beachhead.

    For service and casualty records (next of kin only) go to :


    On this page you can also find the RAF Uxbridge unit address which should be able to give the historical data of individual aircraft such as Lancaster Mark 111 Serial NE 129.
  11. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Thank you very much for your detailed reply. I had been wondering how to identify the particular Lancaster and you have provided me with the answer. I will follow up your advice and then suggest that my sister-in-law contacts the RAF records.
  12. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    I contacted Hendon to enquire about the Form 541. They were very helpful regarding the Lost Aircraft and Movement Cards. It appears that the Form 541 will be found at the NA (Kew).
  13. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by StalagIVB@Mar 15 2005, 08:31 PM
    I contacted Hendon to enquire about the Form 541. They were very helpful regarding the Lost Aircraft and Movement Cards. It appears that the Form 541 will be found at the NA (Kew).
    [post=32235]Quoted post[/post]

    may i suggest that if you going to Kew to look at the forms 541s over a period of months which would show your relative's intital crew as well as the crew he flew with on his last mission. there may be some of his fellow crew mates still alive.
  14. StalagIVB

    StalagIVB Junior Member

    Good suggestion Morse. Thanks.
  15. Mosquito Boy

    Mosquito Boy New Member

    Hi all, I am the Great Nephew of Harold Burnside In 2016 I wrote a story about Harold for the 2016 Anzac Day services held by my local Football Club in which 3 medals were made and awarded to the best player at the end of the tree matches played that day in hour of Harold's service.

    Research had led to closure for the family and his sole surviving brother as to what had happened to Harold and his crew as it was unknown for 70+ years what happened the night.

    Below is the story that I wrote

    Volunteering Larrikin

    As war raged in Europe and now in the Pacific and on Australia’s doorstep, the call to enlist was as strong as ever. Wanting to serve his adopted country, at the age of 18 Harold Burnside enlisted with the RAAF on the 28th March 1942.

    Born on the 2nd November 1923 in Northumberland England, Harold emigrated to Australia in 1927, with his parents John & Elizabeth Burnside from Durham England with his 4 older brothers and sisters Joe, Margaret, William &, Nancy whilst remaining in England was older brother John. Three years later after arriving in Australia another brother Doug was born.

    Upon arriving in Australia the family first settled into a residence in Dale Street Port Adelaide. In 1932 the family moved to 25 Olive Road Prospect which during this time Harold attended Prospect Primary School then transferred to Nailsworth Primary School and completed his education at Thebarton Technical High School. The family was on the move again finally settling into 7 Jones Street Nailsworth. Life was typically hard during the early years of the depression with not much money around. Older brother William at the age of 18 joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1935, and served until his discharge in 1947.

    Harold was your normal young boy growing up in the depression, when not in the local church the Prospect Salvation Army Harold could be found out with his mates in the local area. Harold was also a member of the 3rd Enfield Boy Scouts and he was a keen builder of balsawood aeroplanes and as they say a bit of a Larrikin and Scallywag

    In 1939 as war was breaking out in Europe 16 year old Harold had obtained an apprenticeship at the Municipal Tramways Hackney Depot as a Fitter & Turner. Harold’s love of planes would see him seek release from his apprenticeship to enlist in the RAAF rather than be drafted into another branch of the service.

    Harold began his initial training in Victor Harbour with the rank of Aircraft Man. Harold was then transferred to Wireless and Gunner School in Ballarat and then completed his basic aircraft training at Bomb & Gunnery School in West Sale Victoria.

    By the time Harold had finished his basic training; he had shown his leadership qualities and had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Shipping out from Melbourne on the 15th January 1943, a two month voyage entailed to England via Canada before finally arriving in Brighton England on the 17th March.

    The next 7 months would be spent in operations training and conversion units learning to fly the four engine heavy bombers before receiving his initial posting to 199 (Bomber Support) Squadron in October 1943, flying Short Stirlings based in Lakenheath Suffolk with the Squadron Motto “Let Tyrants Tremble”. During his time with 199 Squadron Harold was promoted again in May to the rank of flight Sergeant. It was not unusual for RAAF personnel to serve in RAF units

    The Short Stirling was an unpopular aircraft by flight crews as it was relativity slow compared to the Lancaster & Halifax and was an easy target for German night fighters & Anti-Aircraft Guns due to its low ceiling altitude caused by its short wing span. In July 1943 the squadron commenced mine laying duties using the Stirling and from February 1944 performed supply drops for the Special Operations Executive.

    As was the custom of the day amongst aircrew upon completion of your 30th mission you were rotated out having completed your tour and were assigned to training duties to teach new aircrews or in some cases with a tight knit crew they would seek another posting together. Such was the case for Harold and his crew.

    Always looking for excitement and being a bit of a daredevil Harold and his crew requested a posting to No.7 Squadron with the newly formed Pathfinder Force of PFF as it was commonly known.

    Joining No.7 Squadron based at Oakington in Cambridgeshire was not a decision to be taken lightly by aircrews as they had the highest casualty rate in Bomber Command. To encourage aircrews to make the transfer to No. 7 Squadron an automatic upgrade in pay and rank was instituted but the downside was that you were required to complete another 45 missions instead of the standard 30 missions before rotating out, as a higher level of training was once again needed for this type of operational work. Upon joining the Squadron Harold along with the rest of his crew were automatically promoted and this time Harold was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer the highest rank as he was able to obtain well as a boost in pay. To gain any higher ranking Harold would have needed to have become a pilot.

    With the move to No7 Squadron came the opportunity to fly in the Avro Lancaster now the mainstay of the RAF Bomber Command. An aircraft well-liked by its crews it could also sustain heavy punishment like its USAAF counterpart the B-17 Flying Fortress. In a letter sent back home to his parents Harold wrote that he was pleased to be flying the Lancaster as he felt safer than flying the Stirling

    Arriving in February 1944 training began in earnest for the crew in PFF operations as well flight training with the New Lancaster Mk111 designated NE-129 MG-G. The crew flew their 1st mission on the 12th April to Aachen. Bomber Command dispatched 341 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes causing widespread damage to the city. With the D-Day invasion less than 2 months away, the USAAF by day and the Bomber Command by night started pounding targets within France, with the main targets being Airfields, Train Marshalling yards, Fuel Dumps and local factories.

    By the time D-Day had arrived Harold and his crew had completed 9 successful missions for the PPF.

    6th June D-Day the Squadron was out in full force hitting coastal targets along the French coast line. Upon their return flight to Oakington crews were able to see the first intimation that the invasion of the continent was underway.

    During June 1944 Bomber Command was actively supporting the invasion troops in their advance through France, the next night the Squadron targeted Foret De Cerisy a fuel dump and a concentration of Panzer units followed up by a raid on the Rennes Airfield on the next night. Harold and his crew had now completed 12 missions but the 13th was to be their last.

    Always out to surprise people, Harold met a young lady by the name of Margaret a member of the WAAF and they were quickly married in April of 1944, Harold’s family did not know that Harold had married until receiving confirmation of his missing in action when advised that his personal belongings had been sent to his wife!!!!

    On the night of 10/11 June 1944 raids were planned for the French Marshalling yards at Acheres, Dreux, Orleans & Versailles to halt the advance of German reinforcements to the Western Front. 323 Lancaster’s, 90 Halifax’s & 19 Mosquito’s took part in the raid from No. 7, 90, 100 & 514 Squadrons and were joined by No. 75 Squadron of the RNZAF. The Pathfinders of No.7 Squadron along with Mosquito’s led the raid. Flying NE-129 was Pilot Officer Captain Henry Bonnett, Flight Engineer Sgt Daniel Handley, Navigator Sgt Rex Athey, Wireless & Air Gunner Flt Sgt Leonard Pullee, Mid Upper Gunner Flt Sgt Albert Goulding, and Warrant Officer Rear Gunner Harold Burnside. Bomb Aimer Pilot Officer Iorweth Edwards was a late inclusion to the crew volunteering to take the place of the regular Bomb Aimer who was unavailable to fly that night. The Squadron took off from Oakington at approximately 2300 hours. Upon joining up with the rest of the force No.7 Squadron led the attack to the marshalling yards lighting the way. Upon reaching the target the squadron was set upon by heavy anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters. At approximately 0100 hours in the morning of June 11th 1944 Lancaster NE-129 succumbed to enemy fire and crashed within in the target area with all crew on-board killed. The non-return of NE-129 to Oakington was reported as missing in action as no confirmation was able to be given as to the fate of the crew.

    By late March 1945 no news had been received as to the fate of the crew. Following the end of the war the Allied forces began their search for missing aircraft & aircrews lost over Europe to give closure to families back home. While searching thru the Dreux area in in June 1946 almost two years after Harold and his crew were reported missing two gentlemen given the task of locating lost airman & aircraft stumbled upon a salvage yard owned by M. Normand a scrap dealer in Dreux were remains of the aircraft were discovered in his yard namely an engine cover bearing the number NE-129. M. Normand informed the gentleman concerned that it had been shot down on the morning of the 11th June and crashed in the Plateau de Granges Dreux. Another local gentleman Mr M. Carpard went out to the crash site on the 12th June to investigate. Upon arriving at the scene Mr. Carpard found 6 bodies still in the aircraft having been left by the Germans. A 7th body was found over a kilometre away, this airman presumably attempted to bail out at low altitude. The aircrew were buried in the local Dreux cemetery by Mr M. Carpard and the local French Priest Frere Roland. The airman who attempted to bail out was believed to be Harold Burnside. Due to the confined spaces of the Lancaster unlike the B-17 Flying Fortress the chances of the aircrew baling out was very remote. Due to its construction of a solid floor to carry its massive bomb load unlike the B-17, escape was almost impossible in a Lancaster. The rear gunner’s position was reconfigured to give the rear gunner some chance to bail out by being able to push the gun turret to one side from within the aircraft to allow escape.

    News of Harold’s death final reached his family in August 1946. Belief was that the plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the ground. Research in 2015 showed this to be in-accurate as a young German Night fighter pilot Major Paul Zorner flying a Messerschmitt Me110 with upward firing guns had actually downed the plane.

    Major Zorner shot down four RAF bombers of the 432 bombers targeting railway installations at Acheres, Dreux, Orleans and Versailles in support of the Normandy invasion on the night of 10/11 June being 3 Halifax’s and 1 Lancaster. RAF records show that only one Lancaster was lost that night over Dreux that being NE-129.

    At the age of 20 Warrant Officer Harold Burnside lost his life while serving his adopted country. After his death Harold was awarded the following Honours Posthumously

    1939-45 Star

    Aircrew Europe Star

    France and Germany Clasp,

    Australian Service Medal 1939-45

    Defence Medal

    War Medal 1939-45

    Harold Burnside Memorial Medal.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Tricky Dicky, dbf, ozzy16 and 2 others like this.
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Well done and thank you for all the information nearly 15 years after the original thread was started

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  17. Mosquito Boy

    Mosquito Boy New Member

    Being Australia it was and still is hard to get information on Australian Members of the RAAF who served in the RAF I was able to get a lot of information from the Australian war graves site on his last mission and copies of the letters that my Great Grand Mother and family wrote seeking information on Harold and the returned correspondence but very little info on his actual service in the RAF and his missions. We do know that he was the tail gunner for the plane and I have his RAF wings and Air Gunner Patch but nothing else.

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