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In Memoriam

When pilot Gaven Henry broke his wrist while cranking a civilian car in late January 1945, the 6 Australians in the crew had completed 13 operations together.  Gaven was posted on 2 February from 103 Squadron to 13 Base, which was headquartered at RAF Elsham Wolds and responsible for 3 stations, RAF Elsham Wolds, RAF North Killingholme, and RAF Kirmington.  The Medical Officer predicted that Gaven Henry’s wrist would require 8 weeks to heal, leaving the remaining crew without a pilot.  Initially Australians Stoney Mitchell, Merv Bertie, Keith McGinn, Harvey Porter, Jack Grice, and Briton Ken Foster were not assigned as “spare bodies” to fill vacant positions in other crews, but starting in mid-February such assignments were made.

The three youngest members of Gaven Henry’s Australian crew were killed in separate operational accidents over Europe in March 1945 while flying with other pilots.  Jack Grice, Mac McGinn, and Harvey Porter were all barely 20 years old when they died.

Rear Gunner John William Grice  12 February 1925 – 1 March 1945  (20 years 17 days old)
RAAF Service Number 435168
Starting on 13 February 1945, Rear Gunner John (Jack) Grice flew 6 operations in other crews for a total of 19 career ops.  On his final flight, bombing Mannheim in Lancaster PD272 PM-K on the night of 01/02 March 1945, Australian Jack Grice was part of an 8-man crew with 6 Britons and 1 Canadian.  The 7 crew members killed in action are buried in Dürnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Germany.

Trade Rank and Name Service Number Fate Age
Pilot F/O. A.S. Thomson RAFVR 182757 Killed 22
Pilot (2nd) F/O. F.J. Brickman RAFVR 153982 Killed 22
Flight Engineer Sgt. R.C. Pain RAF POW
Navigator F/S. W.H. Tromp RAFVR 1474794 Killed 20
Bomb Aimer P/O. J.M. Peace RAFVR 190649 Killed
Wireless Operator F/S. A.J. Crampin RAFVR 1872283 Killed 20
Mid-Upper Gunner F/S. J.L. Rochester RCAF R/151349 Killed 32
Rear Gunner F/S. J.W. Grice RAAF 435168 Killed 20

 

Wireless Operator Keith Charles McGinn  22 January 1925 – 8 March 1945  (20 years 45 days old)
RAAF Service Number 435018
Wireless Operator Keith (Mac) McGinn was assigned as a “spare body” on 2 ops, on 05 and 07 March, for a total of 15 career operations.  On his final flight, bombing Dessau in Lancaster NF913 PM-H on the night of 07/08 March 1945, Australian Mac McGinn was part of a 7-man crew with 4 Canadians and 2 Britons.  The 4 crew members killed in action are buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

Trade Rank and Name Service Number Fate Age
Pilot F/O. S.L. Saxe RCAF J.88010 Killed 23
Flight Engineer Sgt. J.J. Bent RAF POW
Bomb Aimer F/S. R.L. Leavers RAFVR 1231015 Killed 34
Navigator F/O. M. Shatzky RCAF J.38730 Killed
Wireless Operator F/S. K.C. McGinn RAAF 435018 Killed 20
Mid-Upper Gunner W/O. A.L. Cruickshank RCAF R.209281 POW
Rear Gunner F/S. R.C. Snell RCAF R.203360 POW

 

Mid-Upper Gunner Harvey James Porter  2 March 1925 – 12 March 1945  (20 years 10 days old)
RAAF Service Number 433742
Mid-Upper Gunner Harvey Porter flew 2 ops as Rear Gunner on 21 and 23 February and a final sortie as Mid-Upper Gunner on 12 March, for a total of 16 career operations.  On his final flight, minelaying in the Kattegat in Lancaster ME449 PM-T on the night of 12/13 March 1945, Australian Harvey Porter was part of a 7-man crew with 2 Australians and 4 Britons.  The 2 crew members killed in action are buried in Englændergraven on the outskirts of Tarm in Jutland, Denmark.  The site is referred to as Tarm Isolated Graves by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Trade Rank and Name Service Number Fate Age
Pilot S/L. Stan Slater RAFVR 145503 Evaded 23
Flight Engineer Sgt. Ken Foster RAFVR 1827859 Evaded 21
Bomb Aimer P/O. Mervyn Bertie RAAF 433499 Evaded 24
Navigator F/O. Stoney Mitchell RAAF 433608 Evaded 34
Wireless Operator W/O. Thomas Fairclough RAFVR Evaded 24
Mid-Upper Gunner F/S. Harvey Porter RAAF 433742 Killed 20
Rear Gunner Sgt. Donald Morris RAFVR 3040748 Killed 20

In association with his research on the fates of the seven airmen aboard Lancaster bomber ME449 on 12 March 1945, retired language teacher Børge Rasmussen captured the tragedy of two young lives lost in the form of a poem about why a war grave was located in Tarm.  The original poem in Danish was published in Tarm Ugeblad on 28 September 1977.  Rasmussen also translated his poem about the “English grave” into English.  To read a PDF with the Danish and English versions click Englændergraven Poem.

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