It has now been 2 hours since the last of the Lancasters touched down at Mepal. The Ops board in the control tower lists 3 aircraft and their crews as yet to return:
Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
F/O Patrick Leo McCartin, RAAF AUS.419328 – Pilot.
Sgt. John Miles, RAFVR 845847/ 187426 – Navigator.
F/O Leonard ‘Len’ Arthur Martin, RAFVR 153528 – Air Bomber.
F/S Phillip Francis Smith, RAAF AUS. 427206 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. William John Warlow, RAFVR 1653307 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Dennis George Albert Bryer, RAFVR 1874880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. John Gray, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.
Take Off 12:43
Lancaster Mk.I PB689 AA-X
F/O Ronald Gordon, RAFVR 1580245/ 185116 – Pilot.
P/O John Robson Bell, RAFVR 173943 – Navigator.
F/S Albert John ‘Mick’ Weston, RAFVR 1115103 – Air Bomber.
F/O Louis David Sampson, RAFVR 186413 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Carl Robert Freeman, RAFVR 189608 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Sidney George Hone, RAFVR 2221190 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Leonard Forrester, RAFVR 3010665 – Rear Gunner.
Take Off 12:48
Lancaster Mk.III PB520 AA-G
F/O Hubert ‘Hugh’ Rees, RAFVR 152402 – Pilot.
F/O Raymond Charles Preston, RAFVR 1494143/ 153457 – Navigator.
F/O Douglas Cooper ‘Westy’ Westwood, RNZAF NZ427483 – Air Bomber.
F/L William French Morison Naismith, RAFVR 47714 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James Edward Mulhall, RAFVR 2202223 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Robert Alderson, RAFVR 2221636 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Charles ‘Chaz’ Allen, RAFVR 1898556 – Rear Gunner.
Take Off 12:55
Returned air crew, ground crew and Station staff pace. It was dark when the aircraft returned and now it is a cold November night. Habitual checking of watches and clocks. Phone calls are made to other Group airfields and beyond, checking, waiting, ears straining in the darkness for those 4 merlins, maybe only 3, but the hope and belief they might be heard…………