The Lewis crew, lost on Bohlen 20/21 March 1945
Lancaster I PA196 EM-D

Lancaster Mk1 PA196 EM-D 20/21 Mar 1945 BOHLEN Failed to Return
t/o 2343hrs RAF Spilsby

F/O Raymond Allen LEWIS A/19892 RAAF Pilot killed NKG (no known grave)
Sgt Charles James DEWDNEY1837078 RAF(VR) Flt Engineer killed NKG - see below
F/O John Duncan SMITH 184200 RAF(VR) Navigator killed NKG
WOff William Bruce JUDD A/429268 RAAF Wireless Op killed NKG
F/Sgt Gerald MATSUMOTO 1586927 RAF(VR) Air Bomber killed NKG
Sgt Henry Oswald COLLIN 1880273 RAF(VR) Air Gunner (MU) killed NKG - see below
Sgt Thomas Arnold LAWTON 2222713 RAF(VR) Air Gunner (Rear) killed NKG - see below

Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Their average age was 22.
224 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes of 5 Group attacked the synthetic oil plant. This accurate attack put the plant out of action and it was still inactive when captured by American troops several weeks later. 9 Lancasters lost.

The Lewis crew

L-R back: CJ Dewdney F/E - RA Lewis, Pilot - W Judd, WOp - John Smith, Nav
front: H Collin M/U - Gerald Masumoto B/A TA Lawton RG

Ops by the Lewis Crew

date (all 1945) crew a/c target 5 Gp force raid comments
2/3 Feb as above PB764 Karlsruhe 250/15 lost Complete cloud cover resulted in poor target marking and operation was a failure
7/8 Feb as above PB764 Ladbergen 177/3 lost Later recce showed canal banks had not been breached bombs having falled in nearby fields
8/9 Feb as above PB764 Politz 475/12 lost Port inner engine became u/s and Captain aborted after jettisoning part load of bombs
13/14 Feb as above PB764 Dresden 244/6 lost Force attacked in two phases, the first being lead by 5 Group. 8 Group followed in second phase and USAAF followed on 14 Feb in daylight
14/15 Feb as above PB764 Rositz 244/4 lost This was a small oil refinery near Leipzig. Once again trouble with port innerengine and Captain aborted
3/4 Mar as above PB764 Ladbergen 212/7 lost Aqueduct breached in two places and put out of action
5/6 Mar as above PB764 Bohlen 248/4 lost Bohlen was a synthetic oil plant. Cloud cover resulted in poor target marking but some damage
6/7 Mar as above PB764 Sassnitz 191/1 lost Sassnitz was a small port on the island of Rugen in the Baltic. Considerable damage. 3 ships sunk in harbour.
12/13 Mar as above RF144 Dortmund n/a A big raid with only 2 lost out of the total force of 1108. A record effort on a single target. Engineering production stopped and post waar assessment indicates that it would have been many months before industry would have got back to normal.
14 Mar as above PD220 Wurzburg n/a No details available.
20/21 Mar as above PA196
Bohlen 224/9 lost Very accurate bombing putting refinery completely out of action.

RAF Bomber Command Losses of WW2 - 1945 (WR Chorley, Midland Counties Publishing, 1998)
The Bomber Command War Diaries - An operational reference book: 1939-1945 (Middlebrook & Everitt, Penguin, 1990)

Sgt Charles James Dewdney (known as Jim) - Flight Engineer

Betty Dopson is the sister of Jim Dewdney and justifiably remainsvery proud of him. He was the only son of William and Winnefred Anne Dewdney and the family then lived at 44 Maesteg Rd, Tondu. Jim attended Bridgend County Boys School and became an apprentice engineer at Shepherd's Foundry, Bridgend (later known as Hayes Engineering).

Betty always remembered him as her big brother, very responsible and grown up, very good technically and someone she always looked up to, a great role model. As a 12 year old schoolgirl she was approached by the headmaster one day in March 1945. He gave her the fare home and told her to go because her mum needed her. On arriving home she learnt that Jim had been posted missing.

Betty continues – “Jim had a motor bike and would regularly take it up to Spilsby where he would share it with other members of the crew. He also took his pushbike up there from Wales but sadly, this was eventually returned back home to Bridgend”.

She recalls a memorial service at Runnymede which many of the crew’s relatives attended. The families of the two Australian members of the crew (pilot Ray Lewis and wireless operator William Judd) did not attend, presumably due to the long distance from home. Many of the parents of the crew did stay in touch for a while after the war and Betty remembers that the Australian families occasionally sent over parcels of fruit. Mrs Matsumoto was the mother of the bomb aimer Gerald and she attended the service in a wheelchair.

As with Arnold Lawton’s family and connections (Rear Gunner), Betty feels it likely they came down in the sea on the return journey and mentions the Zuider Zee in Holland as a distinct possibility.

Jim Dewdney’s surviving family remain proud of him to this day. As well as sister Betty, through nephew Jeffrey and niece Carol, also with Carol’s husband Simon (presently a sergeant in the RAF) and all the extended family. They can rest assured that most definitely Jim played his part.

Sergeant Henry Oswald Collin RAFVR, Air Gunner

Henry Collin was the Mid Upper Gunner and was aged 23. He is commemorated on the Peterborough War Memorial - Air and on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 274.

Sgt Arnold Lawton RAFVR, Air Gunner

Arnold Lawton was an Air Gunner on No.207 Squadron Royal Air Force. Together with the rest of his crew, based at RAF Spilsby in Lincolnshire, he sadly failed to return from an attack on the synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, near Leipzig on the night of 20/21 March 1945.

Arnold was the youngest son of John Thomas and Sarah Lawton of Scholar Green, Cheshire. He was particularly inspired by his elder brother Stan who served at Dunkirk. He too wanted to make his contribution and so volunteered for active service in the RAF and became a valued member of 207 Squadron.

Arnold became a great source of pride not only to his parents and brother Stan but also to his friends, in particular his old school-mate Dick Carman, who retired as as Squadron Leader in the RAF. He continues to be fondly remembered to this day through sister-in-law Irene, nephews Graham and Raymond, Sandra (Ray’s wife) and great nephew John (Ray’s son).

David Nicholls is a family friend of the Lawton family who has taken a keen interest in Arnold and the crew of Lancaster I PA196 EM-D. He writes: "I recently did a simple dedication to Arnold Lawton which was well received by Arnold's nephews Graham and Raymond. As part of the dedication I took information from the 207 Squadron and Commonwealth War Graves Commission websites in an effort to gather what material I could. As a result of this, I have received from Arnold's family further information compiled mainly by Arnold's school mate Squadron Leader Dick Carman. This includes information about the various ops of the lost crew in early 1945 and makes very interesting reading. I believe very passionately that this crew should not be forgotten. As with so many others, they gave their lives to win our freedom and were volunteers, every one a hero. It is generally believed that they were forced to ditch in the sea on the home leg although nobody knows for sure."

Much of this page is based on David's findings with more added from other sources.

Dedication to Arnold Lawton, a lost airman of World War 2

Odd Rode Parish church in Cheshire is surrounded by beautiful unspoilt countryside. It is a very peaceful place and on entering the main gate the pathway splits into two and directly ahead you will find a memorial to the local men and women, who sadly lost their lives fighting for their country during the two world wars.

One such dedication is to Thomas Arnold Lawton, a son of the nearby village of Scholar Green.

David Nicholls was born in Scholar Green and spent his early years there prior to moving away to Leicestershire. He never forgot it and many happy childhood memories remain with him to this day.

His family often told him about Arnold, whose mother Sarah, David's grandmother Florence Southerton, were best friends.

War Memorial at Odde Rode Parish Church

1945 plaque detail

As a small boy David was told that Arnold was a rear gunner in the RAF and that sadly he failed to return from a raid. David remembers thinking how brave he must have been:

" .. we all like local heroes after all, but then I didn't think about it much more. Then many years later, early in 2005, although nothing directly to do with Arnold and his crew, I happened to attend a 60th anniversary dedication to the crew of a Wellington bomber which sadly crashed in Leicestershire on its final training mission on 14 January 1945. I managed to trace the surviving relatives of the Canadian members of the crew and it was all covered in the local press complete with photos. Then my mother reminded me of Arnold, and asked me if I knew anything about him. Sadly I knew precious little but inspired by the Canadians I decided to try and spend a short while trying to find out what I could."

Arnold's local area

Odd Rode and Scholar Green are on the A34 Newcastle to Manchester main road and close to both the Macclesfield Canal and the main London-Manchester railway line. Nearby are the attractions of Mow Cop Castle , Little Moreton Hall and Rode Hall

People gaze and think of dashing young men,
Knights of the air on chariots of fire
Guardians of the skies.
Old folks stop and stare
Waiting, Watching, Listening.
Engines throbbed in distant haze
Heralding twentieth century Merlins
Returning home with knights of moonlit skies
With jagged holes in bucking mounts
Ensuring freedom for young and old
So little hands can play again
And build a Camelot in the sand.

from Bomber Dawn by Richard Caville

Sgt Thomas Arnold Lawton

If you can add to the information on this page, particularly about the
other members of the crew, please contact the

207 Squadron RAF Association
207 Squadron Roll of Honour
RAF Spilsby
Odd Rode War Memorial

last update: 24 June 2007