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6 June 2017
Pilot Robert Hilary Vivian Thomas and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF

 

Wanted: Photo of Thomas Crew, or individuals,
and information about them.

Alternately, can anyone identify the people in the photos on this page?

If you can help, please make contact.

Thomas and his crew in Halifax II BB321 "S" crashed and burned on return from an Op on the night of 27/28 September 1943. All of the crew were safe, with one injured.

Links to Captain Thomas, Observer Page, W/OP Munroe, F/Eng Thomas, Tail Gunner Weston, and Bombardier Ainley;
Additional Crew Information; Crew Ops with Ainley; Details of last Op;
and Aircraft Loss.

Information sourced from the 462 Squadron Operational Record Book for September 1943 from the National Archives of Australia; Australian War Memorial; Air Force Lists; London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; and the family of C R B Ainley. The September 1943 ORB for 462 Squadron does not include the service numbers of mentioned aircrew, and only occasionally the member's Air Force. Photos on this page were kindly supplied by Alan Marr and Karen Ainley.

 

Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya, 26 September 1943.

Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, Libya, 26 September 1943.
The 16 personnel grouped on the wing may be a mix of air crew and maintenance staff.

 

Squadron personnel on wing of Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya, 26 September 1943.

Enlargement of photo at left: Squadron personnel on wing of Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya 26 September 1943. Ainley is not in this or the following photo, so may have been using the camera.

 

Side view of Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya, 26 September 1943.

Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, Libya, 26 September 1943.
The 17 personnel grouped beside the aircraft may be a mix of air crew and maintenance staff.
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Squadron personnel beside Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya, 26 September 1943.

Enlargement of photo at left: Squadron personnel beside Halifax II BB321 "S" of 462 Squadron, at Libya 26 September 1943. The group appears to be the same at that on the wing in the photo above.

 

Captain

Name: Robert Hilary Vivian THOMAS
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 123947 (previously 994133)
Promoted to Pilot Officer from Leading Aircraftman on 25 June 1942
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flying Officer
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Observer

Name: ? ? PAGE (initials not identifiable)
Service: RAF or RAFVR
Service Number: ?
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flying Officer
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known

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Wireless Operator

Name: D C MUNROE
Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
Service Number: .....
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Flight Engineer

Name: J H THOMAS
Service: RAF or RAFVR
Service Number: .....
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Tail Gunner

Name: Charles WESTON
Service: RAFVR
Service Number: 1325255
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Bombardier

Name: Charles Robert Borden AINLEY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1451753
Date of Birth: 2 April 1921
Place of Birth: Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flight Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known

Age at date of Aircraft Loss: 22
Son of Arthur and Ellen Ainley, Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire.

 

Charles Robert Borden Ainley, 1451753 RAFVR, at right, and 2 additional Crew members beside an unidentified aircraft, in Libya, undated, WW2.

 

 

Crew members beside an unidentified aircraft, in Libya (undated).

From left to right:
1. unidentified, possibly with rank of Pilot Officer or Flying Officer;
2. unidentified, possibly with rank of Flight Lieutenant;
3. Flight Sergeant Charles Robert Borden Ainley, 1451753 RAFVR.
(Officers' rank stripes visible on shoulder tabs at high magnification.)

An enlarged portrait of Ainley, cropped from this crew photo, may be seen on the Warner crew page.

If you can identify the 2 officers, please make contact.


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Additional Crew Information.

More information is required for all of this crew, and will be updated a it is available.

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY – this was the second incident in which he was fortunate to have survived. Please see his section on the Warner crew page for more information about him, and about the loss of Halifax II W7758 on 14 July 1943. In September 1943, Ainley carried out 9 Ops as Bombardier with the Thomas crew. His last Op was on the night of 27/28 September 1943 when Halifax BB321 "S" crashed and burned on landing. The photos that Halifax as shown in the previous section were dated 26 September 1943, just one day before it was written off, after its only listed Op. Ainley was sometimes recorded as Ainlie. No later Ops for Ainley have been located in the ORB.
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Thomas Crew Ops with Ainley as Bombardier (may contact errors due to poor quality of ORB pages).

1. Night of 3/4 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Grottaglie Aerodrome, Italy
2. Night of 7/8 September 1943, one of 9 aircraft to attack Manduria Landing Ground, Italy
3. Night of 10/11 September 1943, one of 9 aircraft to attack Road Junction at Potenza, Italy;
4. Night of 15/16 September 1943, one of 4 aircraft to attack Communications at Potenza, Italy;
5. Night of 16/17 September 1943, one of 3 aircraft to attack Communications at Potenza, Italy;
6. Night of 22/23 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Calato Aerodrome or Maritza Aerodrome, Rhodes;
7. Night of 23/24 September 1943, one of 7 aircraft to attack Calato Aerodrome or Maritza Aerodrome, Rhodes;
8. Night of 25/26 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Kalamaki Aerodrome Greece;
9. Night of 27/28 September 1943; one of 10 aircraft to target Larissa Aerodrome, Greece.
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Details of Op on the night of 27/28 September 1943.

Form 540, Summary of Events, Hosc Raui, 27/28 September 1943 .... (quote, as originally recorded, poor quality) ...

27/28. Ten aircraft were detailed to illuminate and bomb LARISSA AERODROME GREECE.
One aircraft (an illuminator) returned to base with engine trouble. The other
illuminator dropped 7 flares over target from 14000ft. was hit by 5 bursts of
heavy flak and Aircraft went out of control, losing height, but control was
regained, but did not carry out further illumination of target. Main beacon was
jettisoned in sea and a/c returned safely to base. Owing to difficulty in identifying
target, 5 aircraft jettisoned in sea. 4 aircraft bombed the target to the south,
SE, and SW. from 12000ft. to 12500ft. No results observed. One aircraft bombed
flak concentrations believed 8 miles S.E. LAVIA but not results observed. One of
above aircraft jettisoned 3 x 500lb bombs in sea west of base 3 miles, to enable
aircraft to gain height. No cloud cover over target. Visibility poor. very accurate
flak – predicted. Guns sited around target area on concentric ring. Up to 20 guns.
Several heavy AA at VOLOS. One aircraft (an illuminator) crashed on landing and
burst into flames, fortunately Crew were safe, the Tail Gunner suffering a super-
ficial eye injury.

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", September 1943
28/29 September 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Halifax II BB321 F/O R H V Thomas and crew (Captain F/O R H V Thomas, Obs F/O ? ? Page, W/OP Sgt D C Munroe, F/Eng Sgt J H Thomas, T/Gunner Sgt C Weston, Bombdr Sgt C R B Ainley); up 2000; crashed and burned at 0110 back at base Hosc Raui (details of the Loss of this Aircraft in next section).
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Aircraft Loss Halifax II BB321 "S"

ORB, Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", September 1943
28/29 September 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Other aircraft ....
............ was detailed to attack
LARISSA AERODROME with 7 x 500 and 8 x 250 ?.I.R. (illegible)

(Halifax BB321 "S")
This aircraft was detailed as flare dropper for
the above. Task abandoned, flares brought back
owing to S. I. engine trouble. On returning to base
left hand circuit made, aircraft crashed and burst
into flames. Crew safe. Tail Gunner sustaining
superficial eye injury.

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