GALLERY: World War II airmen who died ‘Black Thursday’ commemorated in Market Stainton

Sqd Ldr Guy Carpenter at the Lancaster JB657 dedication ceremony at Market Stainton. Photos: D.R.Dawson PhotographySqd Ldr Guy Carpenter at the Lancaster JB657 dedication ceremony at Market Stainton. Photos: D.R.Dawson Photography
Sqd Ldr Guy Carpenter at the Lancaster JB657 dedication ceremony at Market Stainton. Photos: D.R.Dawson Photography
​Airmen who bravely gave their lives during ‘Black Thursday’ have been permanently commemorated in a special ceremony in Market Stainton.

​Thursday December 16, 1943 is known as RAF Bomber Command’s ‘Black Thursday’ when almost 300 RAF airmen lost their lives due to poor weather conditions on a raid on Berlin.

Of the 483 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos that set out, 23 Lancasters were shot down over enemy occupied territory, with the deaths of 148 men and 17 bombers returned with damage from enemy flak or fighters, and another 31 crashed attempting to land in the fog, or ran out of fuel – with the loss of 150 Bomber Command aircrew.

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​460 Squadron sent 20 Lancasters on the operation on December 16 1943, one of which was Lancaster JB657, flown by 21-year-old Flying Officer "Archie" Randall DFC, who was based at RAF Binbrook and was just 21 years old.

Dan Grant lays a wreath at the plaque site.Dan Grant lays a wreath at the plaque site.
Dan Grant lays a wreath at the plaque site.

Lancaster JB657 was damaged over Berlin and after trying for 45 minutes to land at Binbrook, it eventually crashed at Market Stainton, with the deaths of all seven crew.

FO Randall’s cousin, Dan Grant, put together a crowdfunder last year to install a memorial plaque at The Green in Market Stainton, which ultimately raised thousands of pounds.

The plaque was officially unveiled on Saturday (May 25) with representatives from the Royal British Legion, The Australian High Commission in London, HIS Binbrook, 460 and 1265 RAFAC sqdns, and relatives of lost crewmen.

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Dan said that the event was a great success and tribute to the crew: “It was very well attended and everyone was particularly moved by it.”

Sqd Ldr Guy Carpenter of the Royal Australian Airforce.Sqd Ldr Guy Carpenter of the Royal Australian Airforce.
Sqd Ldr Guy Carpenter of the Royal Australian Airforce.

Sadly, a flypast by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight did not take place due to the crash at RAF Coningsby, who claimed the life of Squadron Leader Mark Long.

Dan said there are plans to potentially add a memorial to Sqn Ldr Long at a later date.

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