Avro Lancaster serial number ND424 was one of a batch of 600 Lancaster Mk. III (serial range ND324 to NE181) ordered from aircraft manufacturer A. V. Roe in Chadderton (north of Manchester) from December 1943 to May 1944. Each was fitted with four Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin 38 engines. It was delivered to 12 Squadron at RAF Wickenby in Lincolnshire on 4th January 1944 and was assigned the squadron identifier of PH-G (‘G’ for George). PH was the main identifier used by 12 Squadron during WWII.
Based on the documents found in the National Archive ND424 took part in a total of around 30 operations during its six months in RAF service. It flew on a number of operations before our crew were allocated to the aircraft at the beginning of May 1944. Our crew then took part in a further 17 operations over France and Germany up to the end of June. During this period it was also flown by at least one other crew on operations. It has been quite difficult to ascertain the exact number of operations due to incomplete, missing or poorly copied original documents.
List of Flights Involving ND424 or Our Crew
Below is a table containing a list of the documented flights for Lancaster ND424 or our crew, including training flights. The operations in bold are the 17 operations that involved our crew, 15 of which were in ND424. The NA Ref (National Archive References) used in the table are:
- A = 12 Squadron ‘Orders for Night Flying’ (AIR 27/171).
- B = 12 Squadron ‘Form 540 – Summary of Events’ (AIR 27/168).
- C = 12 Squadron ‘Form 541 – Details of Sortie or Flight’ (AIR 27/168).
- D = RAF Wickenby ‘Summary of Events’ (AIR 28/945).
- + = No entry found in National Archive documents but they may exist.
The ‘A’ documents are the least reliable as they are plans written before the operations took place. The ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ documents are more reliable as they were written after the operations.
Based on the available information it is thought that Lancaster ND424 took part in a total of around 30 operations between 20 January and 28 June 1944. It may not be possible to agree an exact figure as not all of the National Archive documents were found, some were incomplete, some had been badly copied onto microfilm, some may contain original typing errors and some originals were of a poor quality. The data was originally based on the documents found at the National Archive in February 2011 although there were some gaps. The ORB’s downloaded in March 2018 have helped to fill some of these gaps.
The first operation for ND424 that has been found in the ‘Orders for Night Flying’ (AIR 27/171) is 20/21 January 1944 on an operation to Berlin. The crew were Sgt. D. R. Knowles, F/S H. E. Edgley, Sgt. S. J. Arnold, Sgt. A. Cross, Sgt. H. J. Sishton, Sgt. H. Jackson, Sgt. E. E. Bebington. Sadly they were lost on an operation to Stuttgart on 15/16 March 1944 in Avro Lancaster ND447 (PH-C). The crew included an eighth crewman F/S A. E. Hammond (RCAF) who was probably on a familiarisation flight. The book ‘Bomber Command Losses 1944’ shows Sgt. Edgley and Sgt. Sishton were POW’s and the rest of the crew were killed.
On this same operation to Stuttgart on the night of 15/16 march 1944 ND424 was attacked by a night fighter and was severely damaged and would be out of action while being repaired until 3/4 May. The fuselage was raked by canon and machine gun fire, the starboard inner engine stopped, there was a fuel leak from the starboard inner tank, the trimming tabs on the wings were put out of action and the rear gunner was hospitalized. P/O Adams attempted to bomb the target but realised the chances were hopeless, so they dropped their bombs and set off for the long trip home. The crew were P/O H. H. Adams, P/O Kimmett, P/O Lake, Sgt Cameron, Sgt Solly, Sgt Attwood and P/O Butler. P/O Adams flew as the pilot of ND424 on 7 operations in January, February and March 1944.
Air Ministry Cards for ND424
The UK Air Ministry created a series of cards for aircraft produced for and operated by Bomber Command. The following cards were requested for ND424 via e-mail from the RAF Museum at Hendon in December 2014 and PDF copies were received in January 2015. The documents are:
- Aircraft Delivery Card.
- Aircraft Movement Card (A.M. Form 78).
- Bomber Command Loss Card.
There is also an Accident Card (Form 1180) but it was not created for ND424 as it was lost on an operation and not in an accident.
List of Aircraft with 12 Squadron Code PH-G
These are the 12 Squadron aircraft that all used the squadron code PH-G: DV224, DV355, EE142, JB285, LM213, ND424, PB435, R5688, RA583, RF181, W4372 and W4881.