Tag Archives: X3396

James Law RAFVR 1101018 – Pilot

Sgt James Law 11 May 1942 OTU Cambridge. © Graham Kershaw

Sgt James Law 11 May 1942 OTU Cambridge.
© Graham Kershaw

Many thanks to Graham for providing the following information about his relative James Law, who was tragically lost on the night of 3rd September 1942 during an Op to Emden. I will let Graham tell the story;

Through researching James’s life and career it has made me very proud of what he and thousands of others in Bomber Command did during the second  world war by giving their lives to protect the nation and fight back against evil. This article describes, the yet so short career of Sgt James Law and is a tribute to him and his crew, to be shared by others.

James Law was the son of William and Millicent Law, brother of Herbert, Fred and sisters Eva and Hilda born on the 02.02.1921, living at 53 Linnet Street, Deepdale, Preston, Lancashire, England.

Only until recently have I been fully aware of James, this came about through researching my family tree. This discovery also confirms what my Grandma once told me a number of years ago that there was a pilot in the family who was reported missing during the war.

The trail begins, James joined the RAFRV on the 18.06.40 at No 3 Recruitment Centre Padgate Warrington. On enlistment he was recommended by No 6 Aviation Candidate Selection Board for training as a “Wireless Operator / Air Gunner.

Training began in this role at No 10 (Signals) Recruitment Centre Blackpool, Lancashire.

A picture of James during his training.

A picture of James during his training.
© Graham Kershaw

James was then recommended for pilot training on the 25th Oct 1940 attending the following training units at the early stages of the war :-

No 5 Initial Training Wing  – Torquay 20th Dec 1940.

Attached to No 1 Receiving Wing – Babbacombe 21st Dec 1940 then back to No 5 Initial Training Wing – 04th Jan 1941.

Parachute Training Centre, Central Landing School, Ringway (which is now Manchester Airport ) – 26th Jun 1940.

Attached to the South West Airways, Phoenix Arizona – 17th Jul 1941.

Moving to No 31 Personnel Reception Centre, Mancton, Canada then back to the UK.

Moving to No 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth 26th Dec  1941.

No 12 Service Flying Training School, Grantham (Spittalgate) 28th Jan 1942.

James began at the lowest rank of “Aircraftman 2nd class”, which could only be held by qualified air crew. Being promoted to temporary sergeant on his qualification as “Pilot Sergeant”.

On promotion moving to No 1516 Blind Beam Approach Training Flight, Middleton, St George – 23rd Feb 1942.

No 12 Service Flying Training School, Grantham.

No 11 and No 23 Operational Training Units (OTU) at Bassingbourn / Pershore – 05th Jul 1942.

On completion of his training James eventually joined No 75 NZ Squadron at Mildenhall , Suffolk on the 29th Aug  1942. From the 1942 Operational Record Book ,  James’s first operation was on the 1st September 1942 , attacking Saarbrucken, Germany. As was normal practice, this first op was with another, more experienced crew;

Sgt. Richard Stansfield Derek Kearns      Pilot
Sgt. James Law                                            2nd Pilot
Sgt. William John Muir Low Barclay         Observer
Sgt. Morris Watson Egerton                     Wireless Operator
Sgt. Andrew John Moller                           Front Gunner/ Air Bomber
Sgt. Harold Ernest Anzac Price                Rear Gunner

The next operation was on the 03rd Sept 1942 in Wellington III X3396, the target being Emden northern Germany. On this flight James was the pilot. The crew was;

Sgt. James Law                                         Pilot
Sgt. Horace Llewellyn Grant                  Observer
Sgt. Rupert Ernest Renton                     Wireless Operator
Sgt. Richard Alfred William Newman   Front Gunner/ Air Bomber
Sgt. John Trevor Vivian Gill                     Rear Gunner

X3396 took off from RAF Station Mildenhall at 23.28 hours on the 3rd September as part of a bombing raid on Emden, northern Germany. When the aircraft arrived at the target they could only bomb through 10/10 cloud cover on dead reckoning positions. It was later discovered that the aircraft had been shot down by enemy fighter aircraft and crashed at Westermarsch (southwest of Norden) at 0220 hours on the 4th September.

All the crew mentioned above are buried at Sage War Cemetery northern Germany.