630 Squadron & The Wesseling Raid
21/22 June 1944


Sergeant LN ‘Blue' Rackley of 630 Squadron

An Australian pilot, Sergeant LN ‘Blue' Rackley of 630 Squadron at East Kirkby completed his operational tour in a peculiar way, notes Martin Middlebrook in his excellent book on the Nuremburg Raid – “when returning from a raid on Wesseling on 22nd June 1944, he was forced to abandon his badly damaged aircraft over England and was injured when he came down by parachute on to an express train.” [The Nuremburg Raid, Martin Middlebrook, p119]

Rackley himself gave more detail in one of the Lancaster at War books, which I will quote at length as it so closely matches the part of the route at which EM-M went down: -

“Soon after we crossed the Dutch Coast we began to see aircraft exploding, so many in fact that I was almost convinced they were spoofs, until suddenly it was our turn. I had just brought the kite to a straight and level attitude after a banking search when there was a terrific explosion aft, coupled with a muffled cry from one of my gunners.”

(Despite having no aileron control and rudder problems, they managed to get their Lancaster BI ME795 LE-G back to England, when finally the aircraft became totally unmanageable near Henlow. The crew baled out - the Rear Gunner's parachute had been damaged in the attack and he was roped to the Bomb Aimer, who was unable to hold on to him as their chute opened and the Rear Gunner fell to his death. I take up Rackley's account again after he had baled out).

“Eventually, I reached the clouds. The base must have been quite low because no sooner had I passed through than I realised that I was being dragged along at a terrific rate and I became aware of the distinctive sound made by train wheela, rattling beside my ear ... I remember finding myself beside a railway line. My second flying boot had gone, as had my watch. My chute was also gone. I found later that it had got caught up in the train, causing quite a stir on its arrival in London, when a search party was sent back up the line.” [Lancaster at War, Garbett & Goulding, p99-100: 'Caterpillars Extraordinaire']


630 Squadron Roll of Honour
for the Wesseling Raid 21/22 June 1944

630 Sqn Lancaster I ME843 LE-U
Op: Wesseling t/o 2327 East Kirkby - P/O RC Hooper DFC

Believed shot down by a night-fighter, crashing in flames between Hamont (Limburg) on the Belgian-Dutch border and Bocholt, a small town 3 km NNW of Bree. All are buried in Heverlee War Cemetery. F/L Neison was the Squadron's Gunnery Leader

Pilot P/O Robert Cecil Hooper DFC RAFVR age 22
Sgt Thomas Douglas Safely Fraser RAFVR age 24
WO2 Frederick Sayre Dewis RCAF
P/O John Leo McKenna RCAF
Sgt Peter Hogan Kano RAFVR age 21
F/L Thomas Neison DFC RAFVR age 31
Sgt Daniel Felix Oliver Synnott RAFVR age 19

630 Sqn Lancaster III ND531 LE-K
Op: Wesseling t/o 2330 East Kirkby - S/L AE Foster DFC

Lost without trace. All are perpetuated by the Runnymede Memorial. F/S Lawrence had flown his first tour with 61 Squadron, as had F/O Davis, their awards being published on 14 October and 12 November 1943 respectively. By a quirk of coincidence S/L Foster's twin brother, P/O Alec Leonard Foster, had been posted missing from operational while flying with 61 Squadron on 2-3 September 1942. He too is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Pilot S/L Arthur Edward Foster DFC RAFVR age 23
F/S Leonard Lawrence DFM RAFVR age 22
F/L Robert Adams DFC RAFVR age 32
F/O Frank Leonard Hewish RAFVR age 23
F/O Frederick Richard Stone MID RAFVR age 26
Sgt Dennis George Bradd RAFVR age 20
F/O Leonard George Davis DFM RAFVR age 24

630 Sqn Lancaster I LH118 LE-V
Op: Wesseling t/o 2317 East Kirkby - P/O JHG Smith

Shot down by a nightfighter and crashed 4 km S of Boxtel (Noord-Brabant), 8 km ENE of Oisterwijk. All lie in Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Sgt Kimberley had attended Sparkhill Commercial School in Birmingham.

Pilot P/O John Henry George Smith RAFVR age 21
Sgt Ian Alistair Place RAFVR age 19
Sgt Robert Edward Duck RAFVR age 29
F/O Norman Bunker Wilcock RAFVR
Sgt John Kenneth Kimberley RAFVR age 21
Sgt Eric Stanley Worden RAFVR age 19
Sgt Henry George Kember RAFVR age 19

Note. At least 19 former pupils of this school lost their lives on active service with the RAF, seven while flying with Bomber Command. I am indebted to Dr Eric Rowley of Stockport, himself an ex-pupil of Sparkhill Commercial for supplying me with the names of those who fell.

630 Sqn Lancaster I ME782 LE-N
Op: Wesseling t/o 2308 East Kirkby - P/O TG Hart RCAF

Shot down by a nightfighter and crashed into open countryside some 4 km NE of Turnhout (Antwerpen). All rest in Schoonselhof Cemetery.

Pilot P/O Thomas George Hart RCAF age 21
Sgt Ronald Merrick Jordan RAFVR age 26
Sgt Michael John Macnaughton-Smith RAFVR age 20
P/O John Joseph Scully RCAF age 21
F/S Raymond Guy Harwood RAFVR
P/O Richard John Walton RCAF age 20
P/O Archie Harry Siemins RCAF

630 Sqn Lancaster I NE795 LE-G
Op: Wesseling t/o 2324 East Kirkby - F/O LN Rackley RAAF

Abandoned 0338 in the vicinity of Henlow, Bedfordshire. It will be recalled that F/O Rackley RAAF had put a fine show by getting his crippled Lancaster to the island of Corsica in the April, though his rear gunner had died in the ensuing crash-landing. Sgt Davies, his replacement, had been the sole survivor from a take off crash in February 1944.

Pilot F/O L N Rackley RAAF
F/E Sgt S Jones
Nav F/O I Gow
B/A F/S D Morgan RAAF
W/Op F/S R Carroll
M/U F/S J Jones
R/G Sgt W Davies