207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
In Memory of the Siebert Crew, Manchester L7303
Royal Air Force Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
This was put together as a memorial to her husband and to the rest of the Siebert crew by Mrs Pam Gurnell, widow of Sgt Peter Gurnell, the Rear Gunner in the Siebert crew, who was one of the five crew members taken prisoner. Peter died in January 1992. Pam did the calligraphy and used photos from her husband's files. It was framed by RAF Waddington and presented to the Station on 14 November 1993 and hangs in the corridor outside the Nettleton Room.
- an image from a painting of the aircraft L7303 EM-P
- the crew listing, adding that apart from Sgt R Robson (2nd Pilot) and Sgt J MacDougal (2nd WOp/Mid Upper Gunner) the crew had all completed tours of about 35 operations on Hampdens by October 1940
- a photo of Flt Lt John Siebert DFC RAAF, the first Allied Pilot to be buried in Eindhoven Cemetery
- a photo of the Van den Berk farmhouse at Roessel, Helmond, demolished by the crashing Mancester. All livestock was lost including 22 milk cows. The family of seven escaped. The Van den Berk family have found several parts of L7303 in recent years. A piece of alloy, possibly from an engine cowling, was found buried a metre down, in November 1991, over fifty years later.
- a photo of Luftwaffe fighter pilots, including on the far right, Oberfeldwebel Gerhard Herzog, who, flying an Me110, shot down L7303 and two Wellington bombers on the same night (27/28 March 1941). During October 1943 his aircraft collided with a Lancaster and he was killed. Quite remarkably, both John Siebert and Gerhard Herzog's ancestors originated from the same small village near Hanover.
click the image for another view: photo provided by Peter Green
from the 1992/2 Newsletter of 207 Squadron RAF Association
Air Gunner 11/40-3/41
Jim Taylor (44 & 207 Sqns), George Fomison (144 & 207 Sqns) and Rennie Davidson (44 Sqn & ex-POW) write 'Peter joined the RAF as a boy entrant in 1934, trained as a Fitter II at Halton and then as an Air Gunner with 7 Squadron in early 1938 at Finningley. Posted to Waddington in 1939, his first wartime operational flight was in a 44 Sqn Hampden in an attack 'directed against German Naval Forces reported North of Heligoland'. The crew on that memorable occasion was P/O DJ Penman, Sgt W Hill, AC1 P Gurnell and AC1 J Lyttle.
On completion of his Hampden tour by late September 1940, Peter joined 207 Sqn on 1.11.40. He was tail gunner on the first Manchester lost over enemy territory on 27th March 1941. Flt Lt John A Siebert DFC, his pilot, was killed.
After four years of grim life in German POW Camps, Peter returned to the family farm at Sturton by Scawby, near Brigg, from where he reluctantly retired only four years ago. During his long brave fight against cancer, he was sustained by his wife Pamela and their daughters and grandchildren. The RAF Hospital Halton treated him with great devotion and all the skill at their command, certainly prolonging his life for several years. He died on 5th January 1992, two months after his 74th birthday.
Peter was a gentle man and a gentleman, much loved by his family and many friends.
from the Spring 1995 Newsletter of 207 Squadron RAF Association
GEORGE FOMISON DFM
Jim Taylor (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner 11/40-3/41) was in Flt Lt John Sieberts crew with George when they were shot down in Manchester EM-P L7303 on an operation from Waddington to Düsseldorf on 27/28th March 1941. Jim writes:
In the Autumn of 1939 George Fomison joined 61 Sqn, then flying Hampdens, at Hemswell. On completion of his tour, in late 1940 he came to 207 Squadron at Waddington where they were flying Manchesters. As the only married man in John Sieberts crew, although not the oldest, we relied on him for clear thinking and a steadying influence - especially on the mornings after.
When we had to bale out over Holland - 54 years ago today as I write - George went first, after having had difficulty with the lower front hatch. With typical consideration for the rest of the crew he managed to secure the hatch in an open position. Sadly, our pilot Johnnie Siebert DFC RAAF was killed in action.
While he was a prisoner of war George studied Physics, Maths and Radio Communications. However, most POWs of Stalags Luft I & III will remember him for his sporting and leisure skills; he played chess and bridge, representing his barrack room in the endless competitions. He was usually in the NCOs Compound team in games of soccer against the Officers.
After demob in 1945 he went to Liverpool University where he graduated in Science. From 1951 he taught Physics at Chesterfield Grammar School for Boys. He generously gave much help with games coaching - soccer, tennis, badminton - the chess and bridge clubs, and other extra curricular activities.
George was much loved by his family - Elinor, his two sons Paul and Neil, his grandson, relatives and many friends. I had a pub lunch with Elinor and George just six days before the saddening, sudden and unexpected loss of my very dear friend.
No contact has been had with the other crew members who survived:
Sgt Peter Charles Robson 754584 RAFVR
Sgt William John Jewell MacDougall 749440 RAFVR
If you know of either of these airmen please contact the 207 Squadron Association website editor
207 Squadron RAF History
The Siebert crew tree at East Kirkby
The Rijken family and Eindhoven (Woensel) Cemetery
page last updated 26 August 2006