Halifax JN888 "T" 13/14 July 1944. Took off from Blida 22.25 and failed to return from supply mission. The aircraft crashed high in the Pyrenees, above the town of Nistos, while engaged in the dropping of supplies to the French Resistance. The Mayor of the nearby village of Nistos wrote in 1945: “The seven occupants of the plane were killed instantly. A shepherd boy found them on the 15th July. At once a large group of inhabitants of Nistos went to the scene and they, along with Résistance fighters of the 3201 FTPF buried the seven heroes. They dug seven graves side-by-side and buried the heroes in beds of fern. It was impossible to take coffins there because the place was two-and-a-half hours walk away amongst precipitous mountains, and moreover this country was occupied by the enemy. We erected a wooden fence round their small cemetery and a cross, also of wood, bears the inscription: To the memory of our heroic allies, who died for France. Their graves will not be left untended.” They were just 4 miles from their target,having flown over 600 miles by dead reckoning in the dark.Despite the crash and the loss of the crew, their mission was not a complete failure as the resistance members were able to recover many of the supplies in the shock proof parachute containerss
In 1994 with help from the French Air Force , the former resistance and local residents built a new cemetery around the graves.The land and graves were bequeathed to the UK. At some 4730 feet above sea level this is by far the highest war grave in Europe.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission did not recognise these graves until 2014 due to their inaccessibility. The men had been officially listed as "missing" since 1944. It was 70 years to the day, on 14th July 2014 when the CWGC finally placed a plaque in the local churchyard to commemorate the 7 aircrew. At a ceremony on July 12th 2014 the members of 624 squadron were given the freedom of the local city of Tarbes.
P/O Leslie Arthur Peers, Pilot, J.85070 RCAF aged 27 , an optician, son of Jeptha and Early May Peers, husband of Shirley Eileen Peers from Chatham,Ontario,Canada
F/O Albert John Baythorp, 152931 RAFVR , aged 20 , son of Albert James and Ethel Margaret Baythorp from Barrow-In-Furness
Sgt. John (Jack) Brooke ,745993 RAFVR , aged 30, son of Arthur and Mary Ellen Brooke from Orpington, Kent
Sgt. Harry Clarke, 1592499 RAFVR , aged 22, son of Harry and Elsie Clarke from Sheffield
F/O Charles Spencer Goble, 145381 RAFVR , aged 21, son of David and Clarice Alma Goble from Portsmouth
Sgt. James Edward Walsh , 1652695 RAFVR , son of John and Ann Walsh from Grange , Cardiff
Sgt. William Ronald Wharmby, 1248157 RAFVR , aged 23, son of William and Florence Wharmby, husband of Jessie Elizabeth Wharmby from Bulwell, Nottinghamshire
Halifax JN896 "R" took off from Blida on 14th August at 23.03 hrs. on an operation to a drop zone at Quincaillerie, France. The operation was part of the Massingham Mission. The crew made a successful drop and safely dropped at Berre des Cervennes, a 2 man Jedburgh Team -Minaret - L.C.M. Hartley-Sharpe and J.W. Ellis. The aircraft was lost on the return journey exploding at 0430 hrs 6 miles off the coast of S’Agaro, San Feliu de Guixols (Gerona), between Palamos and San Felip de Guios, Spain.
All members of the crew are commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
F/O. Walter George Driscoll, Pilot ,151252 RAFVR, aged 22, son of James Daniel and Mabel Louisa Driscoll from Stratford,East London
Sgt. Edmund Hurst, Flight Engineer , 528937 RAFVR , aged 29 ,an Electro-plater ,son of Edmund and Clara Hurst from Rochdale, Lancashire
Sgt. Norman Soulsby, Air Gunner, 985124 RCAF , aged 23 , Husband of Lilian Soulsby from Corringham, Essex
Flt/Sgt. Edwin Garnet Lambert , Air Bomber, 1391779 RAFVR , aged 20, son of Frederick Charles and Constance Ida Lambert from Ipswich, Suffolk
P/O. Frederick Davidson Laing , Air Gunner, J.90303 RCAF ,aged 21, a salesman, son of William Laing , husband of Elizabeth Jane Laing from Montreal, Canada, a British citizen born in Dundee,Scotland
F/O. Leopold William Neale ,Navigator, 425206 RNZAF, aged 35, an accountant, from Auckland, New Zealand
Flt/Sgt. James Maxwell Hulmes, Air Gunner, 432551 RAAF , aged 19,son of Andrew Percy and Minnie Enid Hulmes from Croydon, New South Wales, Australia
W/O. William Norman Procter , Wireless Op. R.114451 RCAF ,aged 24, son of Joseph and Mary Procter from Hamilton, Ontario ,Canada
F/O. Cecil Henry Luxon , Pilot in training, 152771 RAFVR aged 22 , son of William Henry and Cissie Luxon from Whitton, Twickenham, Middlesex
LJ984 returned over base at Blida but could not land due to very poor visibility. The aircraft was diverted to Biskra but crashed being short of fuel and owing to thick mist. The Stirling crashed about 5 miles west of Raghaia and burnt out. All crew were killed except for rear gunner Sgt. Formby who escaped practically unhurt. A message had previously been received that stores had been successfully dropped on Quincaille.
All crew are buried at Deli Ibrahim War Cemetery, Algiers
A funeral party left base at 0930 hours. on 19th August . S/Ldr. Welshman represented the C.O. with seven other officers, 48 bearers and 50 N.C.O. and airmen followers.
F/Sgt. Kenneth Vincent Pole, Pilot , 1431386 RAFVR ,aged 22 , son of Herbert Vincent and Lillian Annie Pole from Bursall, Leicestershire
Sgt. William James Roberts , 1580115 RAFVR , age 22, son of William and Olive Roberts from Coventry
Sgt. George William Brown , 1323515 RAFVR ,age 23 , son of George Henry and Florence Ellen Brown from Chiswick, Middlesex.
Sgt. Ronald Charles Wilson , 1396889 RAFVR ,age 21 , son of Ernest John and Minnie Elizabeth Wilson of East Sheen, Surrey.
Sgt. Raymond William Meadows , Flight Engineer , 1627263 RAFVR
Sgt. John Alexander Fraser , 157220 RAFVR , age 19 , son of Donald Hugh and Hilda O'Hara Fraser
Sgt. Dennis Alfred Edgar Taylor, Navigator , 1601741 RAFVR , age 22 , son of Edgar George and Winnifred Matilda Taylor from Christchurch, Hampshire.
LK178 "V" returned over base at Blida but could not land due to very poor visibility . Aircraft was diverted to Biskra. In thick mist and short of fuel P/O. McClure attempted to land his Stirling in a field about one mile East of Beni Mered. He hit some trees on landing and crashed badly, wrecking the aircraft completely. The dispatcher, Sgt. Emerson was killed, and the remainder of the crew were admitted to S.S.Q. suffering from shock and bruises
Sgt. Emerson is buried at Deli Ibrahim War Cemetery, Algiers.
A funeral party for Sgt. Emerson and the crew of LJ984 left base at 0930 hours. on 19th August . S/Ldr. Welshman represented the C.O. with seven other officers, 48 bearers and 50 N.C.O. and airmen followers.
Sgt. George Whitehead Emerson, dispatcher, 1894771 RAFVR , age 19 , son of William and Maud Ellen Emerson of Highgate Middlesex
The last four Stirlings of 624 Squadron were ferried to 144 M.U. W/O. Kirk crashed with Stirling ‘V’ in the sea five miles N.E. of Castiglione en route for 144 M.U. Maison Blanche after starboard outer engine failed while flying at 80 ft. The aircraft was seen to sink immediately by P/O Eisenhauer in ‘K’. There were four survivors in a dinghy, later picked up by motor launch. Three of the crew were posted missing, F/Sgt. Platt, F/Sgt. Owen and F/Sgt. Terry. W/O. Lord was conveyed to 94 General Hospital slightly injured. The rest were admitted to S.S.Q. Blida .
W/O Thomas J. Kirk, Pilot, Flt.Sgt. Clifford John Smith, Flight Engineer , W/O Thomas M. Lord , Navigator and Flt. Sgt. William Rae , Air Gunner were the survivors.
Sadly the other three crew members lost their lives.
Flt.Sgt. Owen , Wireless Operator, is buried at Dely Ibrahim War Cemetery, Algiers .
Flt. Sgt. Platt and Flt. Sgt. Terry are commemorated on the Malta memorial.
Flt./Sgt.Thomas Percival Owen , Wireless Op./ Air Gunner , 1600623 RAFVR aged 20, son of Thomas Charles and Violet Owen from Dagenham, Essex
Flt./Sgt. James Henry Russell Platt, 1822714 RAFVR , aged 20, son of Richard William and Emily Josephine Platt from Glasgow
Flt./Sgt. Robert Hall Terry , 1807246 RAFVR , aged 21 , son of Jessie L.M. Terry from Croydon , South London.