RCAF FO Glyn Lawrence Sqd 166 Kirmington, Jly'43

Discussion in 'Canadian' started by William Lawrence, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    My brother, Glyn James Lawrence, a Canadian descendant of Pembrokeshire parents, died after a bomber crashed some 8 miles south east of Hamburg, at Fischbecker Heide, on July 30, 1943, about 1:30 a.m. The Wellington, HE810, crashed some 200 yards from the glider school, Segelfliegerschule. Four crew, E.G. Birkbeck (Southport), J.R. Brind (Sibthorpe, Lincoln), A.E. Bransgrove (Grosvenor, Bath), and H.T. Furniss (Hillsbrough, Sheffield), died; their remains with those of my brother, were interred at Ohlsdorf, Hamburg, (5000 there from WWII).

    The Lawrence family picture was taken September, 1941, after a year of air training, just before Glyn Lawrence was posted overseas.
    It was said that he flew 28 missions in Lancasters during seven months in Britain, it was exceptional he was navigating a Wellington.

    The crash site was not discovered by R.A.F. investigators until April, 1949, six years later, the family only notified in yet another year, June, 1950. Engine and parts numbers confirmed it was HE810. Even in 1949, bones, and two or more skulls, clothes and boots, were found scattered in the area of the wreckage, some as far as 300 yards away. F/Lt. John R. Hughes DFM, investigated and spoke with six local citizens who remembered the crash and knew about remains, the report refers to excavation and removal. I would like to know if there were photographs taken of the crash site at the time of this investigation, and any details about excavation, and removal to Ohlsdorf, etc. The lost bomber web site is no longer active but I presume there are more records of this event that could be accessed.

    Our cousin, William Roberts (1915-2011), was an RAF officer from Barry, Wales, from 1935, a glider pilot who undertook raids into France. He investigated and reported to us that some survived the crash and were killed by local citizens. I ponder if he found this information from other witnesses such as German glider confreres as the crash occurred only 200 yards from an air glider school. I ask if the nature of the crash, determined by site photographs, might clarify if this was actually the case or did they all die upon impact as suggested by F/Lt J.R. Hughes. If enough detail is known about the site location, I would prepare to visit it even at this late date...

    If family members of the above crew (Birbeck, Brind, Bransgrove, Furniss), or Patrician Needham of Chester, have further information they might share it would be greatly appreciated. Others who might help would be investigators, those who sought lost bombers, those associated with Squadron 166 at Kirmington, Lincoln, those who dealt with burials and war records.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    William,
    Welcome to the forum. There are lot's of experts here who can assist with your research.
    Any other info about your brother? IE service number, date enlisted etc would help you find the answers to your inquiry.

    Cheers from Toronto
     
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  4. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    William

    Just had a brief look in "Wings of War" the 166 Squadron book.

    Is F/O G.J.Lawrence, downed on 30/7/43 your Brother ?

    If so, please confirm and I will do a more thorough look tomorrow.

    Regards

    Ron

    (Who also lost a brother from 166 Sqn)
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/war-air/42597-last-flight-lancaster-rf154-b.html
    Yes, certainly that is he... I am his only yngr brother...

    Would like to know your connection to sqdn 166...?
     
  5. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hello William,

    Welcome to the forum. The following is taken from 'RAF Bomber Command Losses' Vol.4 - W R. Chorley. I hope it helps........

    29-30 July 1943

    166 Squadron
    Wellington X HE810 SA-Y
    Op. Hamburg

    Took off from Kirmington at 2238 hrs. All lie in Hamburg Cemetery, Ohlsdorf

    Crew.

    P/O. E G. Birbeck +
    F/O. G J. Lawrence RCAF +
    F/L. J R. Brind +
    F/O. A E. Bransgrove +
    Sgt. H T. Furniss +


    Not a lot of info there, hopefully Ron will be able to add more

    Regards
    Peter
     
  6. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    William,
    Welcome to the forum. There are lot's of experts here who can assist with your research.
    Any other info about your brother? IE service number, date enlisted etc would help you find the answers to your inquiry.

    Cheers from Toronto
    Thanks for your response...! His number was J14351 and he enlisted, I think, in September or October of 1940, in Edmonton (uncertain). Trained in Claresholm, then Regina, then sailed from Halifax, November/December, 1941. Any info welcome.
     
  7. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    Hello William,

    Welcome to the forum. The following is taken from 'RAF Bomber Command Losses' Vol.4 - W R. Chorley. I hope it helps........

    29-30 July 1943

    166 Squadron
    Wellington X HE810 SA-Y
    Op. hamburg

    Took off from Kirmington at 2238 hrs. All lie in Hamburg Cemetery, Ohlsdorf

    Crew.

    P/O. E G. Birbeck +
    F/O. G J. Lawrence RCAF +
    F/L. J R. Brind +
    F/O. A E. Bransgrove +
    Sgt. H T. Furniss


    Not a lot of info there, hopefully Ron will be able to add more

    Regards
    Peter
    Peter,
    Thanks so much for quick reply, yes those are the names of him and his crew...Wow!
    William (Bill Lawrence)
     
  8. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    The Hamburg raid of 29/30 July 1943

    The Battle of Hamburg continued with 777 aircraft - 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons, 4 Mosquitos being despatached. The marking for this raid was again all by H2S. The intention was to approach Hamburg from almost due north and bomb those northern and north-eastern districts which had so far not been bombed. The Pathfinders actually came in more than 2 miles too far to the east and marked an area just south of the devastated firestorm area. The Main Force bombing crept back about 4 miles, through the devastated area, but then produced very heavy bombing in the Wandsbek and Barmbek districts and parts of the Uhlenhorst and Winterhude districts. These were all residential areas. There was a widespread fire area - though no firestorm - which the exhausted Hamburg fire units could do little to check. 28 aircraft - 11 Halifaxes, 11 Lancasters, 4 Stirlings, 2 Wellingtons - lost, 3.6 per cent of the force.


    'The Bomber Command War Diaries' - M. Middlebrook / C. Everitt
     
  9. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    Ron,
    Really took in every word of your 1945 saga with total interest. It must have been as difficult as I imagined it. I wanted to know how each of you managed from then onward, how did it affect your lives, and what kind of lives did you have until now... When my 3 children became 22 years old it was difficult to think of my brother leaving his life at that age, and I have always wondered what might have happened...
    Bill (William) Lawrence
     
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Attached Files:

  11. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    Peter Clare,

    Thanks for this detail, it is very difficult to think of 777 attacking aircraft in a single raid of one city... I assume my brother was navigating one of the two lost Wellingtons...I believe it could not fly as high as the Lancasters he had been flying (29 times) to avoid the flack... Bill (William) Lawrence
     
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  13. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    William

    Just had a brief look in "Wings of War" the 166 Squadron book.

    Is F/O G.J.Lawrence, downed on 30/7/43 your Brother ?

    If so, please confirm and I will do a more thorough look tomorrow.

    Regards

    Ron

    (Who also lost a brother from 166 Sqn)
    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/war-air/42597-last-flight-lancaster-rf154-b.html
    Ron,

    Thank you, especially for the quote from the book. The brevity of the report indirectly confirms that contact and news were lost after the Wellington was hit (not surprising if there were over 700 in the air at that time!). I knew from letters, usually censored to ribbons, that he had flown 29 sorties in Lancasters, I did not know that he had done four sorties in a Wellington. If memory of Luneburg is correct, then the plane continued for another 30 miles to the south and east of Hamburg before crashing.

    Our cousin, William Roberts (1915-20011), in the RAF from 1935, flew gliders in and out of France, had a higher rank, was still in the service in 1950. He visited the grave and accessed some records (war graves?). He did not wish to upset me with the details but inferred that crew members had survived and were killed by citizens, that matter then kept secret for seven years in Germany until the discovery of an engine revealed the event. It is that detail, if it still exists, that I would like to access. I plan to visit Lincoln, what was Kirmington, Hamburg, and perhaps Luneburg, in May. If I can find out my brother’s first burial site and more detail about it, that would be of help. I assume it must be with Commonwealth cemeteries, etc. I and my three children are Glyn’s only surviving family, unless he married secretly in Chester…a possibility.

    Ron, I appreciate your reponse, I just joined and am not sure I am in the right place or forum here, please advise if you know your way around here, you seem to do so. Where should I be here? Many thanks.

    Bill (William) Lawrence
     
  14. William Lawrence

    William Lawrence Junior Member

    Ron,
    You inquired about my connection to Squadron 166. Well, Glyn Lawrence was my only brother and perhaps a parental figure as well, my parents really never recovered from WWI and the trials of immigrating to Canada… We lived an isolated life on the Alberta prairies, rode horses to school with fellow students who mostly spoke other languages. My father left Wales in 1913 and returned to marry our mother in 1920, both from families of ten children. Glyndyr James Lawrence was born to our parents on November 5, 1920, I in 1930. He said his last goodbye to me when I was 11 years before he went overseas. I was 13 years, 5 months, when he was killed, in college when I heard of his reburial. During my entire adolescence I hoped that he might return. He is still not far from my thoughts. A few days before his death he wrote me in an “aerogram” what I should do with my life, and I have successfully followed that advice!

    I remember how much he wanted to fly… When I was five, he would be fifteen, he must have run mile in pursuit of a plane that flew overhead, a rare event… How much flying he might have done had he survived the war! I inherited his photography books and took pictures of the star movement overnight to try to understand how he might navigate a plane with their help. I could hardly wait to grow into the uniforms that were sent to us. As he grew into adult life he left us all in awe of his size and his vigorous enthusiasm anf fun for his life. Our dog so adored him she would leap in the air when he came home on leave. That dog moaned disturbingly in the wee hours the night of his death, the elm he planted split down the middle, events that somehow forewarned…

    Bill Lawrence
     
  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Bill

    Ron, I appreciate your reponse, I just joined and am not sure I am in the right place or forum here, please advise if you know your way around here, you seem to do so. Where should I be here? Many thanks.
    I think where you are at the moment will do you nicely and the other good folk on this forum will know where to respond.

    I am interested to learn that you intend to visit Kirmington.

    On my only visit there the 166 Squadron Association was still going strong and I spent a weekend in lodgings at the Hull University whilst attending the remembrance ceremony and the Annual Dinner. It was also my chance to tape an interview with Ted Hull and talk to Alf White, both fellow crew members of Jack's but sadly no longer with us.

    At Hull Airport there is a small framed portrait of their plane.

    More talk tomorrow.......

    Regards

    Ron
     
  16. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    Hi Bill,

    Very interesting story. My mothers cousin Bill Fowler from Michel, BC served as RCAF Pilot in UK WW2.

    Sorry if you are already aware but just wanted to mention that you should be able to access your brothers service file at Canadian Archives in Ottawa. Ancestry put a small selection (about 200) of deceased Canadian service personnel files on line a couple of years ago. RCAF files have much detail - including work done post war to locate crashed aircraft and ensure proper burials were carried out.

    Regards

    Steve Y.
     
  17. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Bill,Hope this information is of some help

    As Tullybrone has pointed out,it would be best to obtain your brother's service record so his postings and units can be ascertained.

    It is interesting to note that your brother completed 29 operations on Lancasters before his service on Wellingtons.

    Regarding the finding of the aircraft in 1950 and its identification from a engine serial number,this has tended to be the first line of investigation into the identity of recovered aircraft.

    I am taking that the aircraft location was discovered in 1950. If the crew had been initially buried by the local authorities following the loss of the aircraft.There should be local authority burial records which would indicate the burial location in 1943.Further the German authorities would have informed the British Government via the Protecting Power of the names of the casualties and the place of burial.The IRRC more than often would have also have been involved in this communication loop.But it has to be said that the fate of some aircrew had to wait for confirmation until the early years after the war after the Air Ministry investigation teams had completed their work.Sometimes,it has to be said,casualties were buried in unconsecrated ground and were found some years after,the result of investigation or chance recovery.

    If the aircrew were recovered in 1950 at the same time as the aircraft,the Next of Kin would have been made aware of a FTR (fail to return) and notified that a individual was "missing" and perhaps later notified as "missing believed killed" as the case may be.

    However the practice, as regards Germany, was to re-inter recovered remains in CWGC concentrated cemeteries.Ohlsdorf had fullfilled this purpose for British casualties of the area in the Great War and so the crew,this location would be their final resting place.The CWGC should have some information on the transfer of crew remains from the crash area location to Ohlsdorf.

    With regard the suggestion of murder of the particular aircrew from this aircraft.Any illegal war death would have been followed up and investigated by Air Ministry teams/War Crimes North East Europe unit and intelligence to this end would have been filed in the National Archives.However it would have been extremely hard to mount a prosecution against individuals where there are no survivors or prosecution witnesses drawn from bystanders.It will be interesting if you could add further information on this point.

    Visiting Lincoln poses no problem, being half an hours travel from the main Kings Cross line at Newark.You can travel on to Kirmington quite easily by car from Lincoln via the A15.

    Kirmington has been a region airport since 1974,still very rural as it was when Bomber Command were in residence.It has not seen extensive development,its main business is holiday traffic, although it does have short haul regular services.The main advantage of Kirmington is that KLM have stayed there and have maintained a feeder service for some years to the busy hub at Amsterdam (Schiphol).An option, therefore, is to fly from Schiphol straight into Humberside Kirmington.

    A little background to No166 Squadron at the time your brother was lost.From when the squadron was reformed in January 1943 to when it converted to Lancasters in September 1943,the squadron used 70 complete crews.Of these,39 were lost and the rest, either completed their tours and were screened off operations for 6 months,then went on to crew Lancasters,some as Pathfinders but above all continued to run the risk of losing their lives in what might be called a "press on regardless" culture.

    Trevor "Tim" Timperley a Sgt Pilot on the squadron in 1943 summed it up in 1984,when in an interview he stated "Sticking to the disciplined approach,doing the job properly,staying in the stream,and if one encountered a fighter,sticking to the rules of combat.In training in a Wellington,we were taught to accept instructions from the rear gunner in the case of a beam or quarter attack.We had to turn into the fighter just fractionally before we though the fighter was going to open fire.Because the pilot couldn't see behind him,he had to rely entirely on what he was being told.I only encountered 3 enemy fighters in the nearly 50 ops that I did and only 2 of those fired at me before I lost them.Of course,sheer luck played a part in it.If an ack ack shell had your name on it,then you were lost anyway.I always felt that if I struck to the parts over which I had control,then that was the most I could do and I kept my fingers crossed over the rest".

    Trevor "Tim" Timperley completed 49 ops on No 166 Squadron and as a Pathfinder.Commisioned to Pilot Officer, he is the pilot mentioned as being awarded the DFC in Ron's cutting of the squadron's operations.

    Remembering P/O J.R.A Hodgson,Pilot of No 166 Squadron lost on the night of 29/30 March 1943 on an operation to Bochum.

    Per Ardua Ad Astra.
     
  18. JDarby

    JDarby New Member

    Bill,

    I realise it's been 5 years since this post, but I found all the information very interesting in my research for the IBCC biographies. I passed the link on to the grand niece of Flt Ln James Brind, another member of Glyn Lawrence's crew.

    Again, thank you
    Jenny
     
  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I was last in PM communication with Bill Lawrence on 21 August 2013.I had some photographs of present day Kirmington for him but he did not respond and it would appear he has not posted on the forum since.

    Another PM to him might raise a response.
     
  20. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria. Patron

    These were taken from FO Glyn James Lawrence's service files.

    brind.jpg Brind 1.jpg Brind2.jpg Brind 3.jpg brind 4.jpg brind 5.jpg
     

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