On Saturday, 01 January 1944, (a part of) the aircraft of the 156 squadron (RAF), took off for a mission to Berlin in Germany from a station (airfield) in or near Warboys.
One of the crew members was Flight Sergeant R J Bowen. He departed for his mission at 00:19.
He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type III, with serial JA925 and code GT-L). His mission and of the other crew members was planned for Sunday, 02 January 1944.
Text by Judith, see original attachment below this record
On the night of 1/2 January 1944, Pit Off Bowen was flying as the Flight Engineer on AvroLancaster Mk III Serial JA925 of 156 Squadron then based at RAF Warboys, Huntingdonshire. The aircraft took off at 00.19 hrs on 2 Jan as part of a raid on Berlin. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and the crew were initially posted as missing when they failed to return.
Other members of the crew were as follows:
Squadron Leader R E Fawcett DFC - Pilot
Pilot Officer Percy Robert Lyford DFC - Navigator
Flight Sergeant J Bell - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Pilot officer G Vickers - Air Bomber
Flight Sergeant G Headley - Mid Upper Gunner
Flight Sergeant B C Hinks - Rear Gunner
In February 1944, a telegram was received by the Air Ministry from the International Red Cross Committee (IRCC) stating they had been notified by the German Authorities that a Lancaster had been shot down and that Sqn Ldr Fawcett, Fit Sgt Hinks and four unknowns had been killed. As a result the crew were re-classified as Missing - Believed Killed. Confirmation of the telegram was given in German Totenliste (Death List) No 203 which was forwarded again by the IRCC in May 1944 and as a result the crew were reclassified as Missing Presumed Killed. No burial details were provided.
Post war, extensive efforts to trace missing aircrew were made. During the war many RAF casualties were listed as missing from air operations over enemy held territory, including Pit Off Bowen. The RAF formed the Missing Research Section to investigate these cases but, despite their hard work, at the end of the War some 42,000 aircrew were still missing without any evidence of their fate. The fate of hundreds of others had only been provisionally established from the information supplied by the Germans to the IRRC. Therefore, post D Day, the RAF Missing Research Enquiry Section (MRES) took over and continued to search for the casualties’ burial places and establish the fate of the missing as the Allies moved through Europe and other areas of operations. Their quest started with a list of all the missing RAF/WAAF personnel and MRES Search Teams scoured vast areas in all the theatres of the war in their efforts to establish the fate of individuals. By December 1950 the Air Ministry reported that of the 41,881 personnel listed as missing 23,881 had been accounted for, 9,281 were recorded as being lost at sea but 8,719 were still unaccounted for.
In the immediate post war period, searches by the MRES teams of captured German records, found documents stating that a Lancaster had crashed in the Berlin-Dahlem (Kiebitz weg und Domäne) area at 03.05 hrs on 2 January 1944 and that the bodies of Sqn Ldr Fawcett, Fit Sgt Hinks and four unknowns had been found. However, no burial details had been recorded in any of the documentation recovered. This documentary search was followed by extensive searches of burial grounds and cemeteries in the Berlin area, but sadly no trace of the remains of any of the crew members of JA925 were ever found. As such, the crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial to the Missing at Egham in Surrey, with Pit Off Bowen being remembered on Panel 210. See:https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1530180/bowen,-roland-john/,-roland-john/
Information about other sorties undertaken by Pit Off Bowen whilst serving with 156 Squadron should be contained in the Operational Record Book (ORB) of that Squadron.
The ORBs of RAF units from this period are no longer held by the Ministry of Defence but have been deposited in accordance with the Public Records Act, at the National Archive (TNA) at Kew, London where they are on open access to the public. The ORBs document
the activities of the units concerned including flying sorties by aircrew (who are listed as crews) together with the aircraft involved. The quality of ORBs is variable and some contain more information than others. The ORB for 156 Sqn covering the period concerned is held under ref AIR27/1042 Information about opening times of TNA and other information are on TNA website at www.nationalarchives.qov.uk. Their Catalogue of holdings is also
accessible through this website.
Information about aircraft who did not return from this mission can be found here. Information about the other crew members on this flight can be found at this website (Aircrew Remembered). This website also provides the flight information for this record.
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