Outdoor portrait of a crew of 53 Squadron RAF in front of their Liberator aircraft at St Eval, ...

Accession Number P08703.003
Collection type Photograph
Object type Colour - Toned black & white print
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom: England, Cornwall, St Eval
Date made 1943-1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Outdoor portrait of a crew of 53 Squadron RAF in front of their Liberator aircraft at St Eval, Cornwall. Identified, back row, left to right: 418054 Flying Officer (FO) Allan Edward Buckley RAAF, 22, 1st navigator of Heidelberg, Vic; FO Kenneth Kara Edwards RAF(VR), 2nd Navigator; Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Frank Mason Burton RAF, Captain and pilot; FO Elmer James Hagen RCAF, 22, of Nelson, British Columbia; FO Lionel Herbert Abbott RAF, 26, of Poole, Dorsetshire. Front row: Sergeant (Sgt) Ronald Leonard Peirce RAF (VR), 23, of Hillingdon, Middlesex; Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) Wilfred Archibald Hallett RCAF, 21, of Poplar Point, Manitoba; Flt Sgt Claude Ralston Newell RCAF, 21, of Newellton, Nova Scotia; Sgt Laurence Gerald Reilly RAF (VR), 21, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire; Flt Sgt Thomas Roy McDennon RCAF, 20 of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This crew, along with passenger FO Alfred Derrick Critchlow RAF (VR), 22, of Leek, Stafforshire, was lost on operations over the Bay of Biscay on 17 April 1944, France. The crew's last operation ended in the outer Biscay Bay area (46o 21' N, 11o 48' W) when at 3.49am on 17 April 1944, their Liberator BZ945 began its final approach to attack surfaced German U-boat, U993. Advance-alerted via Naxos radar, U-boat captain Oberleutnant Kurt Hilbig ordered his crew to open fire with U-boat's 4x22mm machine guns and 37mm automatic cannon. The combined tracer/HE/incendiary ammunition set BZ945 on fire and, out of control it dived into the sea, its depth charges exploding, none surviving. Also lost that night was No. 53 Squadron's Liberator BZ800, similarly shot down as it approached surfaced U-boat, U546. Again all crew members lost, including two Australians: Flt Sgt Malcolm Box, 1st Navigator, 22, from Rockdale, NSW and Flt Sgt Jack Arnold Alexander, 2nd Navigator, 21, from Bondi, NSW.