462 Squadron.com

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6 September 2018
Pilot Robert Hilary Vivian Thomas and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF Middle East

 

Wanted: Photo of Thomas Crew, or individuals,
and information about them.

Can anyone identify the people in the photos on this page?

If you can help, please make contact.

There were others who flew with "Tommy's" crew, some long term, some as temporary substitutes. Names and details will be added when 462 Squadron's Middle East ORB has been fully transcribed.

This crew should not be mistaken for that of Pilot J S Thomas, also of 462 Squadron, based at Fayid, Egypt, in October and November 1942.

"Tommy" Thomas and his crew in Halifax II BB321 "S" crashed and burned on return from an Op on the night of 27/28 September 1943. All of the crew were safe, with one injured.

Links to photos; Captain Thomas, Obs/Nav Page, W/OP Munroe, F/Eng Thomas, Rear Gunner Weston, Bomb Aimer Ainley;
Additional Crew Information
; Crew Ops with Ainley; Halifax aircraft flown by crew; Details of Op 27 Sept 1943; and Aircraft Loss BB321;
Additional unidentified photos from Ainley Archives.

Information sourced from the 462 Squadron Operational Record Book for September 1943 from the National Archives of Australia; Australian War Memorial; Air Force Lists; London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; the family of C R B Ainley; and Quentin Thomas (Pilot's son). The September 1943 ORB for 462 Squadron does not include the service numbers of mentioned aircrew, and only occasionally the member's Air Force. Photos on this page were kindly supplied by Alan Marr and Karen Ainley; Quentin Thomas; and Robert Thomas.

 

Ernest Goldsmith Page and Robert Hilary Vivian Thomas, 462 Squadron, Middle East, January 1944.
Photo supplied by Quentin Thomas, son of Pilot "Tommy" Thomas.

What a marvellous moustache they each have!

 

(Left) Observer Flight Lieutenant Ernest Goldsmith PAGE (Ernie), and (right) Pilot, Flying Officer Robert Hilary Vivian THOMAS (Tommy), outside the 462 Squadron Officer's Mess on 15 January 1944.

Their smiling faces are probably because they had both completed their Tour – Tommy with 30 Ops, 20 of which were with Ernie Page as Observer in his crew; and
Page with 32 Ops ....
10 Ops as Obs in Pilot W J Dalton's crew,
1 op as Obs with Sgt N Dear's Crew,
1 op as Obs with S/Ldr W R Kofoed's crew,
20 as Obs for "Tommy" Thomas.

Ops totals may change, pending transcription of 462 Squadron's ME ORB.

F/Lt Page's Posting TO 462 Squadron has not yet been located. He as Posted OUT on 23 January 1944 from El Adem to HQ 240 Wing.
P/O Thomas was posted TO 462 Squadron, Gardabia Main, FROM the UK 14 April 1943 arriving 23 May 1943; and was posted OUT as F/O on 31 January 1944 from El Adem to 203 Group.

 

Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui, Libya, 26 September 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, Hosc Raui, 26 September 1943.
The 16 personnel grouped on the wing may be a mix of air crew and maintenance staff.
Hosc Raui located in Cyrenaica, now Libya.

Aircraft – identified as W1169 "S" which completed 50 Ops on 25 September (not the newly arrived BB321 "S" which crashed and burned on 27/28 September).

Thanks go to Quentin Thomas for identifying his father Tommy, and some members of the crew in the aircraft photos. The other personnel remain as yet unidentified.

 

Squadron personnel on wing of Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui, Libya, 26 September 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Enlargement of photo at left: Squadron personnel on wing of Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui 26 September 1943.

Seated on the fuselage, front, Pilot Tommy Thomas; and seated behind him is Observer Ernie Page.

Standing on the wing, back left, is Flight Engineer John Thomas from Wales.

 

 

Side view of Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui, Libya, 26 September 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, Hosc Raui, 26 September 1943.

The 17 personnel grouped beside the aircraft may be a mix of air crew and maintenance staff. The group appears to be the same at that on the wing in the photos shown above.

The previous identifications have been corrected, with names as advised by Robert Thomas, nephew of Flight Engineer John Hewson Thomas.

 

 

Squadron personnel beside Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui, Libya, 26 September 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Enlargement of photo at left: Squadron personnel beside Halifax II "S" of 462 Squadron, at Hosc Raui, 26 September 1943.

Back row, L to R:
1. unknown;
2. Flight Engineer John Thomas;
3. Pilot Tommy Thomas;
4. Observer Ernie Page;
5. Rear Gunner Charles Weston;
6. Bomb Aimer Robert Borden Ainley;
7. unknown; 8. unknown.

Front row, far right: Wireless Operator Don Munroe.
The others are not yet identified.

 

Six members of the Tommy Thomas crew of 462 Squadron at Hosc Raui, in the Middle East, with Halifax W1169 S "Sugar", and other personnel, September 1943.
Photo supplied by Robert Thomas, nephew of Flight Engineer "Johnny" Thomas.

Six members of the Tommy Thomas crew of 462 Squadron at Hosc Raui, in the Middle East,
with Halifax W1169 S "Sugar", and other personnel, September 1943.

This photo was probably taken just after that shown previously (above, right), with a few very minor changes in position
e.g. Pilot Tommy Thomas now facing forward.

Details as already recorded in red on the photo, when received:-

Aircraft Handley Page Halifax BII Series 1 W1169 S for Sugar
462 Squadron RAAF Middle East
Taken 1943 September 26th.

Numbers below match the red numbers on the person in the photo.
1. Sergeant John Hewson Thomas (Johnny) – Flight Engineer (British/Welsh)
2. Pilot Officer Robert Hilary Vivian Thomas (Tommy) – Pilot (British/Welsh)
3. Ernest Goldsmith Page (Ernie) – Observer (Australian)
4. Donald Cuthbert Munroe (Don) – Wireless Operator / Air Gunner (Canadian)
5. Sergeant Charles Weston – Tail Gunner (British)
6. Charles Robert Borden Ainley – Bomb Aimer (British)
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Captain

Name: Robert Hilary Vivian THOMAS (Tommy)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 123947 (previously 994133)
Promoted to Pilot Officer from Leading Aircraftman on 25 June 1942
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flying Officer
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known

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Observer

Name: Ernest Goldsmith PAGE (Ernie)
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 407623 (later O4406)
Date of Birth: 11 June 1918
Place of Birth: Moonta, South Australia
Date of Enlistment: 7 December 1940
Place of Enlistment: Adelaide, South Australia
Locality on Enlistment: Naracoorte, S A
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: Linnett PAGE
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flying Officer
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No

Date of Discharge: 11 December 1965
Rank at Discharge: Squadron Leader
Posting at Discharge: HQOC, Penrith
Awards or Honours: Not known

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Wireless Operator

Name: Donald Cuthbert MUNROE (Don)
Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
Service Number: .....
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Flight Engineer

Name: John Hewson THOMAS (Johnny)
Service: RAF or RAFVR
Service Number: .....
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Tail Gunner

Name: Charles WESTON (Charlie)
Service: RAFVR
Service Number: 1325255
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
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Bombardier

Name: Charles Robert Borden AINLEY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1451753
Date of Birth: 2 April 1921
Place of Birth: Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire
Date of Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: 27 September 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Flight Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known
Age at date of Aircraft Loss: 22
Son of Arthur and Ellen Ainley, Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire.

 

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753 RAFVR, at right, and 2 additional Crew members beside an unidentified aircraft, in Libya, undated, WW2.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Crew members beside an unidentified aircraft, in Libya (undated).

From left to right:
1. unidentified, possibly with rank of Pilot Officer or Flying Officer;
2. unidentified, possibly with rank of Flight Lieutenant; (he may also be in later unidentified photos)
3. Flight Sergeant Charles Robert Borden Ainley, 1451753 RAFVR.
(Officers' rank stripes visible on shoulder tabs at high magnification.)
If you can identify either of the 2 officers, please make contact.

 

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron RAAF, Libya 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Portrait of Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron RAAF, Libya 1943, cropped from the crew photo (at left).

His Caterpillar Club Membership Card, received after his life was saved by parachute on 14 July 1943, may be seen on the Warner crew page.

 

Leave Pass for Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753 RAFVR, August 1943, Hosc Raui to Alexandria and Cairo.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

 

 

Left: One of Ainley's war service documents to survive, is .....
Royal Air Force Form 293
Temporary LEAVE FORM.
Station 462 Squadron
Official No. 1451753, Sgt AINLEY, CRB
has permission to be absent from his quarters from A.D. hours on
24. 8. 43 to 2359 hours on 31. 8.43
for the purpose of proceeding on leave to Alexandria (Nearest Town)
Date 23. 8. 43 Signed by W T Russell, Wg Cdr, Commanding Officer.
It is also stamped "Royal Air Force 25 Aug 1943 CAIRO MAIN", so he must have reached Cairo.

The signature along the lower section is that of W R KOFOED, S/Ldr.
A third signature, lower left, is not legible (may be Taylor?).

From the beginning of June to the end of September 1943, 462 Squadron was based at Hosc Raui, Cyrenaica (now Libya).
Those seven days of Leave for Ainley at Alexandria and Cairo, may have assisted with his physical recovery after the traumatic event of 14 July, with the Warner Crew. He was back on Ops with the Tommy Thomas crew by 3 September 1943.

Wing Commander William Taylor RUSSELL 39341 RAFO, was Commanding Officer of 462 Squadron, following the death of previous Commanding Officer, Wg/Cdr P G B Warner.
Squadron Leader William Robert KOFOED 404380 RNZAF

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Additional Crew Information.

More information is required for all members of this crew. This section will be updated as details becomes available. Please note that the poor legibility of the ORB is such that transcription errors are possible.
Thanks go to Quentin Thomas, son of Pilot Tommy Thomas, for information received for the July 2017 update; and to Robert Thomas, nephew of Flight Engineer Johnny Thomas for photo and information received for the February 2018 update.
Advice received from Robert is that Pilot Tommy Thomas and F/Eng Johnny Thomas were both from the south of Wales, but were not related.

Tommy THOMAS and crew originally "crewed up" at 15 Operational Training Unit (15 OTU), RAF Harwell, Oxfordshire, in September 1942, training in Wellingtons. The original crew was:

Pilot: Tommy THOMAS
Observer/Navigator: Stan ELPHICK
Bombardier / Bomb Aimer: Bill AINLEY
Wireless Operator: Not known
Tail Gunner / Rear Gunner: Charlie WESTON

After their training was completed at 15 OTU, the crew was posted to 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit (1658 HCU), Riccall, Yorkshire, for conversion to 4-engine Halifax bombers. John Thomas, from Wales, joined the crew as Flight Engineer.

The crew was originally destined for 76 Squadron, but they were instead posted to 462 Squadron in the Middle East. They were to ferry a Wellington (LB 189) to Fayid, Egypt. However the Wireless Operator went on sick leave on the morning they were due to fly the first leg of the flight, from RAF Portreath, Cornwall, to Gibraltar. They were delayed, but eventually flew with a new W/OP, a Canadian, Don MUNROE, who, for reasons unknown, had been in Portreath without a crew.

The 462 Squadron ORB, Gardabia Main, Form 540, for May 1943, page 4, lists postings TO the squadron .....

123947 P/O R H V Thomas, G. D. (General Duties) Posted from the UK to Unit with effect from 14 April 1943, arrived 23rd May 1943.
116532 F/O S J Elphick, G. D. Nav (General Duties, Navigator) Posted from the UK to Unit with effect from 14 April 1943, arrived 23rd May 1943.
As only Officer's postings were recorded in the 462 Squadron ORB from September 1942 to March 1944, none of the other crew members are listed, so they are assumed to have been of lower ranks. However, Ainley, Munroe, and Weston would have most likely also arrived at 462 Squadron with Thomas and Elphick on 23 May.

This crew's original Navigator/Observer F/O Stanley James Elphick (Stan) temporarily crewed with W/Cdr P G B Warner, first Op on 20 June 1943; second Op on 01 July 1943, and third Op on 14 July 1943, in place of that crew's usual Obs. On that 3rd Op, Stan Elphick was Killed in Action (four of crew KIA, two survived, see Warner crew for details). It appears that Stan did not get to fly on Ops with his usual Crew, however, checks of the ORB are on-going. Tommy Thomas felt the loss of Stan quite keenly as he had known him, and also shared a room with him, since crewing up at 15 OTU in September 1942.

The crew's second permanent Navigator/Observer F/O Ernest Goldsmith Page (Ernie) had been posted to 462 Squadron some time prior to 20 February 1943. On that date he flew as Obs for P/O W J Dalton, with four more Ops up to 28 Feb, followed by another 5 Ops with the same crew during March, a total of 10 Ops with Dalton. In June 1943 he flew one Op with S/Ldr W R Kofoed. His first Op as Observer with Tommy Thomas was on 18 August 1943, followed by 9 Ops in September 1943, another 5 Ops in October 1943, another 5 in November 1943, as well as one Op with Sgt N Dear in November 1943.
Total – 32 Ops, to complete his tour (checks of the ORB are on-going).
Ernie Page was the only Australian to have flown with this Crew.

Substitute Nav/Obs – E F Bass (5 Ops in July and August 1943); L J Dunlop (2 Ops in Sept & Nov 1943); F H Fishpool (3 Ops in November 1943); Redman (1 Op in August 1943).

Bomb Aimer Charles Robert Borden AINLEY was the crew's original Bomb Aimer, but after posting to 462 Squadron, he also temporarily crewed with W/Cdr P G B Warner on 14 July 1943. Please see his section on the Warner crew page for more information about him, and about the loss of Halifax II W7758 on 14 July 1943.
Pilot Tommy Thomas must have been relieved when Ainley was rescued, and, after Leave in Alexandria and Cairo, he returned to the Squadron to continue his duties as Tommy's Bomb Aimer. Ainley's Leave Pass is shown in the previous section.
In September 1943, Ainley carried out 9 Ops as Bomb Aimer with the Tommy Thomas crew, with his last Op on the night of 27/28 September 1943 when Halifax BB321 "S" crashed and burned on landing. This was the second incident in which Ainley was fortunate to have survived. No later Ops for Ainley have been located in the ORB, so he may have been taken off flying duties.
However there are several Ops in October and November 1943, where NO Bomb Aimer was listed, and this omission had also occurred for Ops for the Thomas crew in June 1943 and July 1943 – was this a typing error? or did the Nav/Obs carry out both roles for those Ops? or had Ainley's name been omitted in error. Ainley was sometimes recorded in the ORB as Ainlie.

In February 2018, a copy was received of B/A Ainley's Service File, RAF Form 543, with thanks to Alan Marr, Karen Ainley and Robert Thomas for file copy.
Identification of some of the many and various abbreviations was by comparison with readily available RAAF service files, and by reference to website run by Chris Pointon...... www.raf-lichfield.co.uk/GroundUnits.htm
Please note that the hand-written RAF documents were very hard to decipher so errors may have occurred in the transcription. Some words were blotched ink, or faded pencil, or so badly written as to be illegible. Items with a question mark may be incorrect.
Compared with RAAF Service Files, information is very basic in the RAF files, with no travel details, no names of locations, and incomplete training location codes (e.g. only 9 AFU, instead of 9 (O) AFU; and un-numbered AOS or AS, both possibly in Canada). Additional comments in italics are not from the File.

Name Charles Robert Borden AINLEY
Date of birth – 02 April 1921, born at Tickhill, Doncaster, Yorkshire; Civil occupation Student (see also the personal notes from the Ainley family at end of this section); home address Austerfield Road, Bawtry; next of kin not listed; single; height 5 ft 11½ inches; chest 36 inches; black hair, green eyes, fresh complexion; eyebrow scar, some acne and Vaccination scars;
14 July 1941 – Enlistment in the RAF (VR)
14 July 1941 – Commencement of RAF service
14 July 1941 – Classified as AC2 (Air Craftman 2); Service Number 1451753; Mustered as Air/OBS
Initially recommended for training as Pilot/Observer; later recorded as Unfit Pilot, but fit Observer
14 July 1941 – Posted to 2RC (2 Recruit Centre, Cardington)
15 July 1941 – Posted to Reserve
15 Aug 1941 – Promoted to LAC (Leading Air Craftman) after I month at rank of AC2
16 Aug 1941 – Posted to 1 AC RC (Air Crew Reception Centre ?)
18 Sep 1941 – Mustered as Observer U/T (under training)

Not recorded – Embarkation from UK, and disembarkation in Canada; the following entries from Nov 1941 to April 1942 may all be training carried out in Canada.

06 Nov 1941 – Posted to 75 Air School
28 Nov 1941 – Posted to 47 AS (Air School)
01 Dec 1941 – Commenced NAV Course at AOS (Air Observer School?)
21 Feb 1942 – Completed NAV Course at AOS, with Pass of 85%

16 Feb? 1942 – Posted to 43 AS (Air School)  
19 Feb 1942 – Forfeited 3½ days pay in lieu of 7 days CC (confined to camp? – reason not listed, location not listed, but assumed to be at 43 AS)
23 Feb 1942 – Commenced Bombing Course at 47 Air School
17 Mar? 1942 – Completed Bombing Course at 47 Air School, with Pass of 75%

02 Apr 1942 – Promoted to Sergeant (T/Sgt); after 7½ months as LAC; and having qualified as Bomb Aimer;
02 Apr 1942 – Re-mustered as AIR OBS
04 April 1942 – Posted to TK (or T/C) Bullamore (or Bullsmore?)
16 April 1942 – ? Embarked for UK
22 Apr 1942 – ? Disembarked in UK

23 Apr 1942 – Posted to 3 PRC, UK (3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, where arrivals from Canada were processed)

13 July 1942 – one day's "Time Forfeited", due to absence from 0001 hours to 1405 hours
16 July 1942 – Posted to 9 AFU (Advanced Flying Unit, possibly 9 (O) Observers, AFU, Wales)
31 Aug 1942 – Posted to 15 OTU (Operational Training Unit, RAF Harwell, Oxfordshire, where the original Thomas crew formed)
30 Nov 1942 – Posted to 1658 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit, Riccall, Yorkshire)

02 April 1943 – Posted to 462 Squadron, M E (Middle East, the squadron at that time was located at Gardabia Main, but relocated to Hosc Raui in late May 1943, then to Terria on 01 October 1943, and on to El Adem in late Dec 1943 – all the aforementioned places were in Cyrenaica, now Libya).

01 May 1943 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (T/F/Sgt) after 13 months as Sgt

?? ?? 1943 – Admitted to 64th Gen. Hospital (undated, location and reason not recorded)
03 Jun 1943 – Discharged from 64th Gen. Hospital

18 July 1943 – Admitted to Hospital (most likely as the result of injuries received when the Warner Crew aircraft crashed into the sea on 14/15 July 1943). 
27 July 1943 – Discharged form Hospital

15 Dec 1943 – Posted to A H Q East Medn (Air Headquarters East Mediterranean, possibly Adem)
18 March 1944 – Posted to 26 Act Aircraft Unit (26 AACU ? or A A Conversion Unit?)  

01 May 1944 – Promoted to Warrant Officer (T/W/O) after 12 months as F/Sgt

13 Nov 1944 – 1st Good Conduct Badge, Category A

3?/7?/44 – WSI (?) 3 years wef (with effect from)
18 Aug 1945 – WSI (?) 4 years

07 Feb 1945 – Posted to 22 PTC (Personnel Transit Centre, to await passage to the UK)
12 Feb 1945 – Posted to 216 Group, H Q, M E  (Headquarters, Middle East)
18 Feb 1945 – Posted to 127 Staging Post

11 May 1945 – Embarked from Middle East
23 May 1945 – Disembarked in UK
23 May 1945 – Posted to 1 PHU (? Personnel Holding Unit?)
12 Dec 1945 – Posted to A C A C (? Or ACHC, Air Crew Holding Centre?)

11 Jan 1946 – Med Cat Grade III, UK for 6 months wef this date (Medical Category Grade III)
29 July 1946 – Discharged from RAF, (651, Clause 4B) "causing(?) to fulfil RAF physical(?) requirements, although fit for employment in civil life".

Total service – 5 years and 16 days
Total Qual. Service – 4 years and 349 days
Address on discharge - Auterfield (sic, ? Austerfield) Road, Bawtry, Doncaster, Yorkshire

Character at all levels of rank – all recorded as “Very Good”
Trade Proficiency –
– AC2 and LAC and Sgt – Under Training
– F/Sgt A/Obs – Superior
– Warrant Officer Air Obs, and NAV/B – Satisfactory

Authority to wear 1939/45 Star and Rosette

Personal information from the Ainley Family .... Charles Robert Borden AINLEY had enlisted in the RAFVR prior to graduation from the University of Sheffield, where he had been studying French, History and Maths. He returned to the University of Sheffield after the war to complete his studies. He died of a heart attack on 17 June 1982 at his home, 48 Oak Road, Glinton, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Prior to his death at the age of 61, he had been a Deputy Head for some years at a large local secondary school.
His family has many documents and photographs relating to his service in the Middle East during 1943/44, some of which are yet to be identified. His younger brother Raymond Ainley also enlisted in the RAF.
Like many of his fellow War Veterans, Ainley did not speak of his war experiences with his family, nor did he talk about the other members of his crew.

Substitute Bomb Aimer – L J Dunlop (5 Ops in October/November 1943); F H Fishpool (2 Ops November 1943); Page, Pope, and Wall (? may be erroneous records).

Wireless Operator D C Munroe (Don), of the Royal Canadian Air Force, replaced the crew's original W/OP at Portreath, just prior to the crew flying to Fayid, Egypt in April 1943. His Ops as W/OP with Tommy Thomas in 1943 – 4 in July, 4 in August, 10 in September, 5 in October, 2 in November – Total 25 with Thomas, commencing Ops on 19 July 1943, finishing on 5 November 1943.

Substitute Wireless Operator F/Lt A Dunning 105187 RAF, 5 ops with Thomas in November 1943, plus Ops with other crews.

Flight Engineer J H Thomas (Johnny) joined the already formed crew at 1658 HCU, Riccall after they were posted there from 15 OTU, Harwell. John was from Wales. Ops as F/Eng with Tommy Thomas in 1943 – 4 in July, 4 in August, 10 in September, 5 in October, 2 in November – Total 25 with Thomas, commencing Ops on 19 July 1943, finishing on 10 November 1943.

Substitutes for Flight Engineer on 5 Ops in November 1943 were Sgts J M Harrower, J Kinmond, Dunville (from 178 Squadron), J Higham (2 Ops).

Rear Gunner Charles Weston (Charlie) was an original member of the crew, when it formed at 15 OTU, September 1942.
Ops as F/Eng with Tommy Thomas in 1943 – 4 in July, 4 in August, 10 in September, 4 in October, 1 in November – Total 23 with Thomas, commencing Ops on 19 July 1943, finishing on 02 November 1943.

Substitutes for Rear Gunner on 1 Op in October was F/Sgt E R Waller; and 6 Ops in November 1943 were Sgt L Rackham (5 times) and F/Sgt A A Bolland.

The Crew went on leave on 30 September 1943, not returning to Ops until 16 October 1943, with their first post-crash Op on 17 October. There was no record of the reason for this period of leave, however it was most likely posted to allow them to recover from the crash of the aircraft on the night of 27/28 September 1943 (details in later section). Ainley did not fly again on Ops after this, his second crash survival.
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Thomas Crew Ops with Ainley as Bombardier (may contain transcription errors due to poor quality of ORB pages).

After crewing as Bomb Aimer with Wing Commander Warner and crew on 14 July 1943, and being one of only 2 survivors after the loss of their aircraft, Ainley returned to 462 Squadron to recommence flying with his original crew.
Subsequent Ops for him with Tommy Thomas and crew were as follows ........ (this list may be amended after further checking of the Squadron's Middle East ORB.)

1. Night of 3/4 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Grottaglie Aerodrome, Italy;
2. Night of 7/8 September 1943, one of 9 aircraft to attack Manduria Landing Ground, Italy;
3. Night of 10/11 September 1943, one of 9 aircraft to attack Road Junction at Potenza, Italy;
4. Night of 15/16 September 1943, one of 4 aircraft to attack Communications at Potenza, Italy;
5. Night of 16/17 September 1943, one of 3 aircraft to attack Communications at Potenza, Italy;
6. Night of 22/23 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Calato Aerodrome or Maritza Aerodrome, Rhodes;
7. Night of 23/24 September 1943, one of 7 aircraft to attack Calato Aerodrome or Maritza Aerodrome, Rhodes;
8. Night of 25/26 September 1943, one of 8 aircraft to attack Kalamaki Aerodrome Greece;
9. Night of 27/28 September 1943; one of 10 aircraft to target Larissa Aerodrome, Greece.
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Halifax Aircraft flown by Tommy Thomas and this crew in 1943 ....... (this list may be amended after further checking of the Squadron's Middle East ORB.)

Halifax BB333 – 19 and 23 July 1943

W1169 "S" – 29 July, Did not take off, due to Op being cancelled (Op not counted in tally)
W1169 "S" – 30 July
W1169 "S" – 02, 05 August (with 2nd Pilot Sgt H A St. Pierre, RCAF, on 05 August)
W1169 "S" – 08 August, early return, Op abandoned due to glycol leak in starboard outer engine
W1169 "S" – 18 August
W1169 "S" – 03, 07, 10, 13, 15, 16, 22, 23, and 25 September 1943. This was the 50th Op for this Halifax, and this Crew's 14th Op in this aircraft. This was the completion of the second cycle of Ops for W1169, and the aircraft was therefore due for its second major inspection. It was replaced by BB321 "S".

Photos of the crew and ground staff with Halifax W1169 "S" on 26 September 1943 shown in a previous section.

BB321 "S" – night of 27/28 September 1943, this Halifax crashed and burned on return to base (details below).
BB424 – 17, 18 and 25 October
BB418 – 21 October
BB430 – 28 October
BB430 – 02 November, undercarriage failed to retract after take-off at 2140; task abandoned, bombs jettisoned at sea at 2230 hours, early return to base, undercarriage collapsed on landing at 2310, crew uninjured. (as recorded on Forms 540 and 541, ORB, 2/3 November 1943, and the second unfortunate incident for this crew, but with a fortunate outcome.)
BB425 – 05 November
BB386 ? – 10 November (blurred entry in ORB)
BB419 – 13 November
W7845 – 15 November
BB386 – 18 November, with 2nd Pilot Sgt C M or G M Hall (blurred entry in ORB)
JN890 – 21 November 1943 (last Op for crew? checks of ORB still in progress).
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Details of Op on the night of 27/28 September 1943.

Form 540, Summary of Events, Hosc Raui, 27/28 September 1943 .... (quote, as originally recorded, poor quality) ...

27/28. Ten aircraft were detailed to illuminate and bomb LARISSA AERODROME GREECE.
One aircraft (an illuminator) returned to base with engine trouble. The other
illuminator dropped 7 flares over target from 14000ft. was hit by 5 bursts of
heavy flak and Aircraft went out of control, losing height, but control was
regained, but did not carry out further illumination of target. Main beacon was
jettisoned in sea and a/c returned safely to base. Owing to difficulty in identifying
target, 5 aircraft jettisoned [bomb load]in sea. 4 aircraft bombed the target to the south,
SE, and SW. from 12000ft. to 12500ft. No results observed. One aircraft bombed
flak concentrations believed 8 miles S.E. LAVIA but not results observed. One of
above aircraft jettisoned 3 x 500lb bombs in sea west of base 3 miles, to enable
aircraft to gain height. No cloud cover over target. Visibility poor. very accurate
flak – predicted. Guns sited around target area on concentric ring. Up to 20 guns.
Several heavy AA at VOLOS. One aircraft (an illuminator) crashed on landing and
burst into flames, fortunately Crew were safe, the Tail Gunner suffering a super-
ficial eye injury.

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", September 1943
28/29 September 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Halifax II BB321 F/O R H V Thomas and crew (Captain F/O R H V Thomas, Obs F/O E G Page, W/OP Sgt D C Munroe, F/Eng Sgt J H Thomas, T/Gunner Sgt C Weston, Bombdr Sgt C R B Ainley); up 2000; crashed and burned at 0110 back at base, Hosc Raui (details of the Loss of this Aircraft in next section).
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Aircraft Loss Halifax II BB321 "S"

ORB, Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", September 1943
28/29 September 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Other aircraft ....
............ was detailed to attack
LARISSA AERODROME with 7 x 500 and 8 x 250 ?.I.R. (illegible)

(Halifax BB321 "S")
This aircraft was detailed as flare dropper for
the above. Task abandoned, flares brought back
owing to S. I. engine trouble. On returning to base
left hand circuit made, aircraft crashed and burst
into flames. Crew safe. Tail Gunner sustaining
superficial eye injury.

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Additional unidentified photos from the Charles Robert Borden AINLEY Archives

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - aircraft and aircrew in Libya, 1943/1944.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

 

This collection of unidentified photos were received from the Ainley Archives, and show unknown locations in Mediterranean Command. Names of the personnel were not recorded. Some were marked with a cryptic "Libya" so may have been taken during Ainley's posting to 462 Squadron, however the aircraft don't suit (?). Perhaps they date from Ainley's later postings in 1944, after he left 462 Squadron. If anyone can assist with information or corrections, please make contact.

At left: - aircraft and aircrew in "Libya", undated.
From left to right 1. Airman; 2. officer; 3. officer with map;
4. unidentified seated on aircraft; 5. unidentified:
6. possibly an Australian wearing the hat.
Some of these men may also be in the next two photos.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - Group in Libya
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Group of eleven with dog, in "Libya", tent visible at rear, appears to be the same or similar group to that in the photo on the right. The officer in the white shirt may be in the aircraft photos. Undated.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - Group 2 in Libya
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Appears to be the same group of eleven in "Libya", tent visible at rear, pet dog with airman in the front row.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - Christmas Menu 1943 - front
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Front of Menu for Christmas 1943, Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess at T.M.E. Ainley had been posted to A H Q East Medn (Air Headquarters East Mediterranean, possibly Adem) on 15 Dec 1943, so he may have been there for Christmas. The signature at the top edge is CRB Ainley, and above the RAF logo is "S A Heard 462".
Heard was a Sgt Pilot at 462 Squadron, from his 1st Op as 2nd Pilot on 21 Aug 1943, and was F/Sgt by mid-November 1943.

 

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - Christmas Menu 1943 - back, with signatures
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Reverse of Menu for Christmas 1943, Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' Mess at T.M.E., with signatures of attendees. Some of the identifiable signatures have been checked against names of personnel who were in 462 Squadron in December 1943, but none seem to match.

T.M.E. - is this Transport Middle East? or Training Middle East?
or Transit Middle East? or other?

 

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - forced landing - Jimmy and George
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Forced landing - Jimmy on the left, and George on the right, both with cigarettes; their full names not known; undated.
Avro Anson aircraft; oil trails can be seen on the side of the engine in the photo on the right.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - forced landing - Jimmy and George and Pilot plus one, Aliwal North
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Forced landing of aircraft, from left to right:-
George, unidentified Pilot, unidentified crew member, Jimmy;
with cigarettes, and bottles (of beer?);
The Pilot looks a bit like "Tommy" Thomas, but not so.
Location marked as "Aliwal North". There is an "Aliwal North" in South Africa, but it is not likely to be the above location.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - aircraft at unknown location
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Baltimore (?) aircraft at unknown location, with an unidentified Pilot
seated in cockpit. This Pilot looks similar to the Pilot in the group of three including Ainley, shown previously with individual crew information. He may also be in the group photos in front of the tents. Baltimore aircraft were used by the RAF in the Mediterranean and North Africa, including 454 Squadron. However, Ainley was not ever posted to 454 Squadron.

 

CRB Ainley 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron - aircraft at unknown location
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Baltimore (?) aircraft at unknown location, undated.

The smaller aircraft (possibly a Hurricane?) in the background on the right has the letter "Y" on the fuselage.

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