Personnel Index - Detail
The burial of Pilot Officer RG Lewis, Sgt W S Collins and Sgt RG Reynolds at St Trond, Belgium, 4th September 1942
Images via Alain Trouplin
2/3 September, 1942; KARLSRUHE:
This time the Pathfinders got it spot on, and the town of Karlsruhe received a heavy attack from 200 bombers. The squadron contributed 9 aircraft to the attack, 8 of which returned safely to Scampton having completed their tasks successfully. Unfortunately the ninth aircraft failed to return. Lancaster R5763, flown by 21 year-old P/O Ron Lewis and crew, crashed in Belgium. Three crew members were killed and are buried in Heverlee War Cemetery, whilst their four colleagues became prisoners of war. During his captivity W/O Bradshaw exchanged identities with a Private N L Garnsey and escaped back to the UK via Spain.
Bill Chorley (of RAF Bomber Command Losses) explains.....
NCO aircrew who exchanged identities with army personnel were able to go outside of their camp, under escort, attached to working parties. From quite early on in the war the Germans were aware that aircrew (RAF et al) were keen to escape, particularly officers, and though - in theory- NCOs of all three services might be ordered for work parties, aircrew were, in the main, prevented from doing so. Thus, in camps where you had a mix of RAF/Army personnel aspiring escapers would try to take the place of an army friend. Such cases, I believe, were not common; some would exchange just to get away from the sheer boredom of being behind the wire and not necessarily as a means for escape. Also, such excursions with work parties enabled them to gather intelligence as to what the general mood of the local population was like or to obtain data such as information pertaining to train timetables.
Following his return to the UK, W/O Bradshaw joined the South African Airforce who were flying Liberators out of Celone, Italy. W/O Bradshaw was killed on the 17th August 1944 whilst flying with 31Sqn SAAF. It was a low point for the squadron as, on the same day, they lost a further 21 aircrew, five of whom were listed as pilots.
P/O R.G. Lewis Pilot (Killed)
Sgt T.W. Hayes F/E (P.o.W.)
Sgt J.H. Pearson RAAF Nav/Ab (P.o.W.)
Sgt R.G. Reynolds W/Ag (Killed)
Sgt W.D. Cane W/Ag (P.o.W.)
Sgt W.S. Collins A/G (Killed)
Sgt E. Bradshaw A/G (P.o.W. then evader)