Mighty Atom Lancaster 35 Missions

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Sgt Pilot Bernard Henson RAFVR, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. I found this photograph hanging on the back door of a Volvo estate @ a local car boot sale,& couldn't leave it there in its ignominous position,I would be grateful if any Forum member might be able to Identify the actual Aircraft,which I believe to be a Lancaster with the War Art motif:~ "Mighty Atom" & 35 "Bomb" Motifs,signifing succesful raids?;Unfortunately the Aircraft's Number etc is not visible.The Crew seems to be made up of 3 Flight Sergeants,3 Sergeants & an Officer
  2. Isn't the www Wunderful! :)

    A Search on google for "Avro Lancaster / Mighty Atom"had my
    evening mapped out for me!

    It threw up a Flight Engineer Ron Beale on the online Peterborough Memorial
    who had died when Lancaster PD 363 "UL~K2" Crashed in France 8/3/1945;all crew
    Killed & interred @ Choloy Cemetery.

    A further cemetery report search on the CWWGC site led to my being able to
    identify the rest of the Crew who died that day.

    Flying Officer;George Henry PALEY 179271 {No Age Given}
    Flight Sergt{Navigator}Reginald Peter BELSHAW 1586544 Age 23 Aylesbury
    Flight Sergeant{WOP/AG}George Brodie BURNS 1629942 {Age Not Given}
    Flight Sergeant Air Bomber Reginald POTTER 1523636 Age 30 Warrington
    Sergeant Air Gunner Robert BLACK 1594570 Age 20 Dundee
    Sergeant F/Engineer Ron BEALE 1868744 Age 38 Peterborough
    Sergeant AG Charles Spencer MASON 1568576 Age 20

    All are buried in Combined Grave 4C 1~7 @ Choloy Cemetery France

    Presumably if I can confirm that this is indeed the same Crew as in the Photograph
    All that remains is to attribute an Identity to each Member of the Air Crew,the F/O
    is easy {providing I can confirm him as FO Paley}& F/E Beale should hopefully be
    traceable @ Peterborough Library in the papers.Wish me luck! ;)
  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    It looks as if this aircraft,RAF serial number, PD 363,was homeward bound from Dessau in Eastern Germany for contact was lost at 2155 hrs when it transmitted wind speed and direction information.The target suggests that this heavy raid was in support of the Russian advance through East Germany to Berlin.This aircraft appears to be well south of the return track used on this raid by returning aircraft.

    It was one of two Lancasters lost from No 576 Squadron (from 18 that that were lost out of a force of 526 Lancasters) which was based at Fiskerton,a village near Lincoln, having taken off at 1655 hrs for the long haul to East Germany.The crew being buried at Choloy Military Cemetery suggests that the aircraft fell in the Meurthe et Moselle Department but the crash site could have been in a wide surrounding area as Choloy was used as a concentration cemetery post war as individual RAF casualties were brought in to Choloy from remote grave locations.

    PD 363, a Lancaster Mark 1,was built by Metropolitan Vickers at Trafford Park, Manchester and was one of a contract batch of 200 that were delivered between June 1944 and December 1944.Its RAF serial number suggests that it was one of the aircraft delivered to the end of the contract.Indeed this aircraft is shown as being only on charge to No 576 Squadron and its first Operation is recorded as being to Duren,Germany on 16 November 1944.It had completed 6 Operations over Germany until it was posted missing on 7/8 March 1945.If this is correct it might well be that the aircraft had availability problems.

    With the time in squadron service it is unlikely that the aircraft had conducted 35 Operations at the time of the photograph.More likely the bomb symbols may represent bomb tonnage.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
  4. Superb! thank you,& for the tonnage suggestion sounds more logical,all I have to do now is prove that this is that crew!!
  5. rubes12

    rubes12 Junior Member

    Hi just a query is it possible for copy of your picture? I am Robert Mcartney from Dundee and the gunner Robert Black on the Mighty Atom was my uncle, im named after him. My mother has lost a picture of Robert and the crew and is deperate to find any that still exsist. Yours Rob Mcartney
  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    In Memory Of Sergeant~Pilot Bernard Henson,RAFVR;
    32 Sqn/257 Sqn RAF 1924~1940,Who Died @ the Guns
    of Adolf Galland,"A Few Quick Bursts From My Guns Put The Pilot Out Of His Misery" Adolf Galland Speaking Of 17th November 1940 in his Autobiography.
    "Per Ardua Ad Astra"

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    17 November 1940

    257 Squadron
    Hurricane I N2342

    Patrol. Shot down by JG26 (Galland) east of Harwich 0925 hrs.

    'Fighter Command Losses' Vol.1 - N L R. Franks.
  7. rubes12

    rubes12 Junior Member

    you got any info or pictures of the crew by any chance Harry. One of crew is my uncle Robert.
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    The original poster was last on line in April, so it may pay to send a PM (Private Message) and on the next log on hopefully will get back to you.

    Good luck.


  9. Hi Robert yes I do still have the Bomber Crew Photo I will scan a copy & e Mail it to you PM me your eMail address sorry for the delay in contacting you but am very busy at present
    regards Roger {BH}:poppy:
  10. rubes12

    rubes12 Junior Member

    Hi thanks Bernard my e mail address is xxxx, we used to have picture of all crew and plane but it has been "reported missing" during my mothers constant moves. We are taking her down to the airfield hopefully in next few weeks and thsi would be pleasnt surprise. Some family have also now visited grave in France. Much appreciated
  11. davinaj2

    davinaj2 Junior Member

    Hi, Davina Jones here, We were wondering if it was possible to have a copy of the photograph you have found. My husband Nick Jones is Reginald Potters Grandson and we would love to collect some information and pictures for our son Ryan.
    Here's hoping, many thanks. :D Davina
  12. Sarahk

    Sarahk New Member

    I’m sooo late to this thread; apologies. Flight officer George Paley was my gran’s much loved brother, and it was fantastic to read all the details you’d uncovered about his last flight.
    Carpe Diem 576 likes this.
  13. Hi all

    I have read these posts with much interest. I am writing the history of 576 Sqn and have a massive digital archive amongst which i have a large collection of nose art photos. I am very interested to see a photo of The Mighty Atom which I believe was pD363, UL-Y2 and UL-K2 on 576 Squadron. Can anyone help me out here?
    Looking forward to any response!
    Best wishes,
  14. Sarah I would love to hear from you. I have a FB group '576 Squadron' with over 300 relatives of 576 crews
  15. Hi Robert!
    I would love to hear from you. I have a FB group '576 Squadron' with over 300 relatives of 576 crews
    Best wishes
  16. Hi Davina!
    I would love to hear from you. I have a FB group '576 Squadron' with over 300 relatives of 576 crews
    Best regards
  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Some information indicates Pd363 crashed at Bauhofstrasse, Dessau Ziebigk, southwestern suburb of Dessau.
    However, as the crew are buried miles away at Choloy, I think they may have confused it with ME503 of 550 Squadron, one of two aircraft claimed over the target. Whether PD363 managed to limp as far as near Choloy can't be determined.
    There is no Concentration record for Paley et al, which suggests they crashed very close to Choloy, so no need for a burial at a remote crash site.

    I don't know when Choloy was liberated, but PD363 may have been shot down when crossing the German border, and crashed after reaching friendly territory. I can't see a plane being "claimed" over Dessau making it as far as Choloy with substantial damage, so I think the cause of its loss occurred close to Choloy.

    I was a little surprised by the nose art "The Mighty Atom, as that was Top Secret in 1945!
    However, Wiki came to my rescue, and it looks as if someone in the crew, or on the Squadron, was a Welsh boxing fan...
    William James Wilde (15 May 1892 – 10 March 1969) was a Welsh professional boxer who competed from 1911 to 1923. He held the IBU world flyweight title in 1916, the EBU European flyweight title twice; firstly in 1914 and again from 1916 to 1917, the BBBofC British flyweight title in 1916 and the National Sporting Club’s British flyweight title from 1916 to 1918. Often regarded as the greatest British fighter of all time, he was the first official world flyweight champion and was rated by American boxing writer Nat Fleischer, as well as many other professionals and fans including former boxer, trainer, manager and promoter, Charley 'Broadway' Rose, as "the Greatest Flyweight Boxer Ever".
    Wilde earned various nicknames such as, "The Mighty Atom," "Ghost with the Hammer in His Hand" and "The Tylorstown Terror" due to his bludgeoning punching power. While reigning as the world's greatest flyweight, Wilde would take on bantamweights and even featherweights, and knock them out. As well as his professional career, Wilde participated in 151 bouts judged as 'newspaper decisions', of these the results were: Won 7 and lost 1, with 143 being declared as 'no decisions'. Wilde has the longest recorded unbeaten streak in boxing history, having gone 104-0.
    Chris C likes this.
  18. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    In any case the potential power of an atom bomb was widely known. H G Wells had written a novel in 1913 published 1914 describing the use of atomic bombs in a war between Germany and an alliance of France and Britain set in 1945 The World Set Free. What was secret was how to build one.
    KevinBattle likes this.
  19. Hi Kevin... I have a painting of the 'Mighty Atom' which may have been the inspiration for the nose art: I can send it if you wish?
  20. Hi Roger
    I would very much appreciate a copy of the photo if you could to go into the 576 Digital Archive and hopefully pass on to the relatives of the crew
    Many thanks in advance!

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