Lancaster JB657 memorial planned by brave pilot's cousin
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 with 483 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos.
Twenty-three 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.
Due to thick fog and very low cloud with extremely poor visibility, many of the returning Lancaster crews crashed attempting to land, or simply ran out of fuel, and two Lancasters, one from 103 Squadron and one from 576 Squadron, were lost when they collided in mid-air over Ulceby.
There were 43 aircraft lost in crashes that night, around 150 Bomber Command aircrew died and an additional 40 were injured.
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.
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, has now put together a crowdfunder and has obtained permission to install a memorial plaque at the Green in Market Stainton, and hopes to install it by the end of June 2024.
He said: “Considering what these very young men went through, I definitely think a memorial plaque is in order.
"Flying at night, subject to enemy attack at any moment, the attrition rate of bomber crews, the loss to families, only on return to base to find the weather is so bad they can't see to land and then lose more aircraft to weather than the enemy, and the fact that Black Thursday was the second highest loss rate to Bomber Command sorties.”
Dan has set up an an online fundraising page for the memorial plaque to help raise the CD$5,500 (roughly £3,249) needed for the plaque, and anyone wishing to make a contribution can visit https://www.zeffy.com/en-CA/fundraising/a1633dbb-370c-4540-872e-a495d4197a84