My next planned trip was to visit The grave of uncle Donald J Bowen 150 Squadron who died 14/05/1940 in Sedan, France

I have been researching my uncle’s death in WW2 and was planning to take the camper to France for the 80th. anniversary of the horrible day in WW2 over Sedan in France. But with the current situation  Covid-19 that trip is not going to be possible.

Let me give you an insight into why it was a planned trip. My late father always thought his brother was lost in action, so I started researching his brother and believe me it brought me to some very sad places and some good. Donald died at the age of 21.

Here is Donald in his teens The only photo I hadDonald Joseph Bowen

Donald Joseph Bowen 

Donald Joseph Bowen 1937

But I have been sent this picture taken in 1937 from a previously unknown relative Sheila Bowen who while researching found this article. Thank you.

Born: 18/07/1918  the son of David J. Bowen and Anne M. Bowen (Annie) nee Donnelly. He lived at 233 Grosvenor Road, Belfast a public house/dwelling. Went to school at Saint Malachy’s College. He then swapped his school uniform for a RAF uniform and trained as an Observer eventually ending up with the 150 Squadron as a sergeant, flying in a Fairey Battle MK1.

Tracking the 150 squadron, on the 1st April 1939  they arrived from Boscombe to Benson then left for Challerange in France on 2 Sep. 1939 as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force (AASF ). It was a 2.5 hour flight from Benson UK to Challeranger France. By the 4th of Sep the entire squadron arrived where they set up. On the 12th Sep. the 150 squadron were ordered to go to Ecury sur Coole near the river Marne south west of Challons 20 miles south of Reims. It was basically a field with few services so they had to sleep under their planes until tents and services were set up. It was not until the end of September that the Battle squadrons announced that they were fully established and ready for action. The Battle squadrons were allocated reconnaissance duties to assist the army in their planning for operations. The Fairey Battles would fly in formations of six twice a day. The advantage of these operations was to familiarize the crews with navigation in the area and to familiarize the French to their existence to reduce the possibility of friendly fire.

As an observer Donald would have to perform the following on a reconnaissance flight. The method of taking photographs took total concentration by the pilot and observer. Pilots needed to concentrate fully as the observer tried to take overlapping vertical photographs. They had to keep to to a constant airspeed while maintaining a straight course and constant height. The Gunner was searching the sky for any Messerschmitt 109s while the other two were engrossed in their mission. Basically they were sitting Ducks, Constant speed, Constant height!

Fairey battle observer position

On the 29th September  on a reconnaissance mission there were losses then on the 30th  Sep. five battles of 150 squadron  were attacked  and suffered heavy losses. This led to the cancellation of all Fairey Battle reconnaissance missions as the Fairey battle was not up to the task. The Fairey Battle was now considered redundant as pilots were trained for low level daylight flying and were no match for Bf 109’s

The spring March 1940 saw the Battles get back into action much to the relief of bored aircrews who had only been involved in training flights since September. Nickel (codename for leaflet dropping or nicknamed by crew as toilet paper for the enemy) and reconnaissance operations restarted for the 150 squadron and others. So Donald was in the air again.  In March there were an average of twelve sorties per night. In April it increased to 25-40 aircraft at night again crews gaining knowledge of terrain.

On 11th. May 1940 the Germans were advancing, on the 11th at 06:10 they bombed Donald’s airbase Ecury with a lot of damage and one battle destroyed another damaged by shrapnel but no lives lost. Early morning on the 13th the Germans reached Sedan on the Meuse and bombarded the French defenses, they built pontoon bridges during the night. German forces were seen amassing in the Sedan area (the sector which No. 150 Squadron operated).

I will now quote from the book  They Spread Their Wings

“For No 150 Squadron, the 14th began at 04.00 when a half-section (two aircraft) was put on thirty minutes’ readiness and the remainder at three hours’ notice. Then at 05.45 a telephone message was received from Gp Capt Field at HQ requesting two half-sections to stand by for immediate take-off. ‘B’ Flight was alerted accordingly. At 06.30 Wing HQ rang through the target information: pontoon bridges over the Meuse, 1.5 miles south of Sedan. At 07.35 the first pair took off: Plt OE Gulley and crew in L5524, and Plt Off Peacock-Edwards and crew in P2179. They encountered considerable light flak  around Sedan and, despite taking hits, dive-bombed the pontoons from 4,000ft at 07.50 hours — the enemy was less than fifteen minutes away. Several explosions were seen but they did not hang about to assess the damage and landed back at 08.35. The second pair were airborne five minutes after the first. Sgt Beale in L5457 and Plt Off Long in K9483 attacked pontoon bridges west of Douzy but they, too, had to fly through an intense hail of flak, saw their bombs detonate on the target but could not assess the damage done. They landed back at 08.37.  Waiting around on the airfield must have been nerve-racking but Alan Summerson’s time for action came when a second operation was ordered for the afternoon. On that fateful day he was the gunner in Fairey Battle P5232, one of four aircraft — again operating in two pairs — detailed for another low-level attack on the bridges near Sedan. Take-off was at 15.18 and 15.24. Alan’s aircraft was first away and the other members of his crew were his usual pilot and observer, Flt Sgt George Barker and Sgt James Williams.

The other aircraft in his section was that flown by Plt Off Posselt and the crews of the three were:

K9483 Plt Off Arthur Posselt; Sgt Donald Bowen; AC2 Norman Victor Vano (18)

L4946 Fg Off John Ing; Sgt John Turner; AC1 William Nolan (from Limerick)

P2182 Plt Off John Boon; Sgt Thomas Fortune; AC1 Sydney Martin

Not one of these four aircraft returned.

There was no time for recriminations or investigation. The German tide could not be held back and the next morning at 08.00, with the not-so-distant explosions ringing in their ears, those who remained at Ecury-sur-Coole airfield were destroying any u/s aircraft and equipment while frantically packing lorries and trailers with stores and provisions for a rapid evacuation to Pouan airfield, No 150’s new base about 30 miles south. The convoy drove off at 09.30 and the nine serviceable Fairey Battles remaining flew over it en route to Pouan.”

Fairey Battle K9483 crash site 14/05/1940

As you can see from the quote K9483  went out in the morning survived came back was rearmed then ordered back into battle, took off at 15:18/20 with a new crew and Donald on board. The unit’s four battles are lost: 11 of the 12 dead. The sole survivor, gunner  Alan Summerson, was badly injured.

I have researched these 4 Fairey Battles that took off on the same mission because Donald probably knew the crew and each of them. They spent a very cold winter together in tents in Ecury sur Coole, trained together, flew together, ate together, probably shared cigarette rations together.

150 squadron crew losses 14/may/1940

Click on image to enlarge

K9483 The half-section towards Sedan loses Battle n ° K9483  :“At the southern entrance to Bulson, a single-engine fighter aircraft [sic] K9483 fell; one grave – three unearthed, unidentified Englishmen ”

“Plt Off Arthur Posselt; RAF 41319, Flying-Officer A. F. Posselt – Arthur Francis Posselt, who was reported missing after a raid on the Meuse on May 14th, 1940, has since been presumed killed in action on that date.”

Arthur Posselt

Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. T. Posselt, (Friedrich Wilheim Traughott) of Mbabane, Swaziland formally District Commissioner of Marandellas South Rhodesia. He was born on August 16th, 1918, and entered Plumtree School first as a day scholar attached to Lloyd House in January 1931. He left for a short period, re-entering in 1937, and finally leaving school in August 1938.  click here  

From Mbabane, Swaziland.  He arrived by ship ( The Carnarvon Castle) on 26 Aug 1938 the ship leaving from Durban, he boarded at Capetown and arrived in Southampton aged 19. His proposed address was C/O Rhodesia House, Strand, London. On the travel log he was registered as S. Rhodesian.

He joined 150 Sqdn. 31/12/1939 for flying duties. Returned to the UK on 21/2/1940 for a gas spraying course, then returned to the unit.

View his history of operations here PO Posselt


Sgt Donald Bowen; RAF 581262, age 21, Born: 18/07/1918  the son of David J. Bowen and Anne M. Bowen (Annie) nee Donnelly. He lived at 233 Grosvenor Road, Belfast a public house/dwelling. Went to school at Saint Malachy’s College.

Donald Joseph Bowen

Date of admission to college – 03/10/1932
Left – June 1937
Exams sat and passed – Jun ’33, June ’35 and ’37. Donald was a competitive swimmer while at college and was Club Captain. He wrote articles about the club in the Collegian in his last article Attached the editor Noted:

Editor’s Note:

Donald Bowen writer of these Swimming Notes, is the best Club man the College has ever had. Secretary as well as Club Captain, he has been an untiring worker during the entire season. The Club owes its success to the personal and helpful interest he takes in every member, especially the juvenile members. Congratulations. Donald, on the new record you set up in the Senior Championship at the College Gala—three lengths in 40 2-5 secs. officially timed. While. offering you our best thanks for unstinted service, we tender you our united good wishes for success in your future career.

View his history of operations here Sgt Bowen

AC2 Norman Victor Vano RAF 630788, age 18. Norman Victor Vano  was born on 12 September 1921 in Newton Abbot, Torquay.  The son of Nunzeate Vano ( Varnie ) and Florence ViNorman Victor Vanoctoria (Wyatt).  His father was in the army and they settled in Liverpool where his sister Beryl Joyce was born in 1930.   He attended Ellergreen Road School, Norris Green, Liverpool and before joining the RAF was employed as a telegraph boy for the GPO.

Norman was a late arrival into the squadron as one would expect because of his age. He first appears on the duty rota on 29/3/40 as Guard on “B” flight

View his history of operations here AC Vano

Norman Vano

Norman with his family

All 3 were buried in a crater beside the crash site and later moved by locals up to Bulson  church cemetery.

Here is an extract from a letter to all three families dated 6 Sep 1948 from the Air Ministry.

Then to be exhumed from Bulson Cemetery and re interred in Choloy War Cemetery on 24th June 1950.

For detail on the mission Click Here

L4946   now alone, faces this anti-aircraft wall, turns, and ends its course due west on the southern heights of Donchery “Donchery, English plane,” Les Chapelles “one kilometre south of Donchery, in the state of debris, bomber n ° 4946, there are three graves of unknown airmen next to the debris of the plane”

Fl. Off ; John A. Ing RAF 39987, b 23/Sep/1914. Son of the late Mr. F. J. Ing. of Messrs. Ing and Jackson architects.

Educated  Highbury & Cordwalles primary schools then Michael-house, Balgowan. Michaelhouse & the Technical High School Durban in 1933 ( the THS changed its name to Glenwood High School in 1934) .

After leaving school he was employed with Messrs. Corrugated Containers Ltd. for a short time, after which he left to take up training for flying at Baragwanath. In 1936 he sailed to England on the Union Castle to join the RAF, having first received his pilots certificate at Robert Heights.  He was promoted to Pilot Officer on 31/May/1938 (London Gazette).

(AIR-27-587-1) Squadron 63 summary records  “19-7-38, P/O Ing was posted to the squadron from the School of Air Navigation Maston and was attached to “B”Flight for duty”

John Ing appears in the 98 squadron files ” 25/9/39 P/O Ing reported for duty from No. 63 squadron. These pilots are attached here pending posting. They are fully operationally trained” (AIR-27-781-1) The document also states that on 24/10/39 he left for 7 days embarkation leave.  He arrived in 150 squadron on 29/11/39 as a replacement from 98 squadron. P/O Ing first appears on the duty rota on 13/12/39 as orderly officer. P/O Ing was promoted to Flying Officer on the 29/02/40. He also liked playing rugby sometimes playing and sometimes as a sub.

John A. Ing RAF 39987

Images of John supplied by Glenwood High School

View his history of operations here FO Ing

Ron Selley wrote a book about his uncle Ronnie Selley who was best friends with John Ing it is called I WON’T BE HOME NEXT SUMMER: FLIGHT LIEUTENANT  R.N.  SELLEY DFC. I have extracted the relevant information on John which gives an insight into the mindset of these two young courageous lads Click Here John Ing 

Sgt. John Daniel Turner; RAF 564992 AC1, Age 25  born 4/3/1915 and son of Thomas and Ruth Turner nee Heaton of Fairholme, Carlton Road, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Turner was educated at Worksop Central School and after winning an R.A.F scholarship joined the force in 1930. He was boy entrant, part of 22th entry of apprentices at RAF Halton graduating in 1932/3 (the apprenticeship was for three years). Apprenticeships at Halton were in engineering (trade based – fitters, riggers etc.).

He arrived in 150 squadron on 29/11/39 as a replacement along with John Ing. Turner is first listed in the duty rota on 4/12/39 as NCO i/c A Flight. and several times after as Orderly Sgt.

John Daniel Turner

View his history of operations here Sgt Turner

Nottingham Journal 21/Oct/1942 Missing Two Years JD Turner Nottingham Journal

William Joseph  Nolan RAF 613363 (from Glenarold, Rathkeale, Limerick, Ireland) died age 20, son of Joseph and Mary Nolan (nee O’Brien). When William Joseph Nolan was born in March 1920, his father, Joseph, was 34 and his mother, Mary, was 35. He had three brothers and one sister.

“Willy, as he was known ran off to join the war via Belfast , the 1st time he ran off Mary Nolan, his mother, got people to go to Belfast and bring him back home but he went off again to Belfast a few weeks later to enlist. Willy was the first man from Limerick to be killed in WW2.”

At that time the Irish Free State were a neutral nation and tried to discourage their youth from joining the British Army by refusing travel papers etc. The main route for those wanting to join was through Belfast. At the Central Recruiting Office, Clifton Street, Belfast-some sources suggest that up to 200 Southern Irish citizens were enlisting in Belfast per week.

William Joseph  Nolan RAF 613363

Photo supplied by Angela Nolan

 He moved from 98 squadron to 150 squadron on 29/11/39 along with Ing and and Turner as replacements. He appears on the duty rota on 29/12/39 as guard for “B” flight.

The body of AC1 Nolan was re-interred at Donchery 7 Mar 43.

View his history of operations here AC Nolan

P2182  The other half-section on Brévilly was wiped out by German fighters . Battle n ° P2182  at heading 250 caught  fire: two aviators whose pilot jumps with their parachute which is not the case for the third. They were buried on the edge of a wood, west of Douzy. The plane crashed 1,500 meters further at “Le Rule” in the Bazeilles territory.

Plt Off  John Boon; RAF 40597, age 27, b. 9 Jan 1913, Son of Reginald Percy ( Teacher at Dartmouth Street School, Headmaster at Rowley Street School, Chairman at Stafford Bowling Club) and Mary Maud Boon (nee Allcock), of Hyde Lea, Staffordshire.

John Boon; RAF 40597

John attended King Edwards VI Grammar School and is mentioned in their magazine several times. In the ‘Prizes’ section: “Cambridge University School Certificate – J Boon, distinction in French” which would prove very useful in Ecury.

He matriculated at Downing College in 1931, playing Hockey for the College and graduating with a B.A. (Cantab) in 1934.

He joined the Royal Air Force on 26 Mar 1938 (Appointment to Short Service Commission as Acting Pilot Officer on Probation). As a University Graduate he was commissioned on entry.
He was confirmed in his appointment and promoted Pilot Officer on 17 Jan 1939. He trained at No. 10 Flying Training School based at RAF Tern Hill. No 10 FTS was part of Training Command/No 23 (Training) Group. He was posted to (was on the establishment of) 150 Sqn on 28 Jan 1939. He moved to France on 2 Sep 1939.

Record AIR-27-1008 states: 29/8/1939

09:15 No:74 Wing forward party (Air) left Benson For France

11:30 Squadron forward party (Sea) left Benson. Officer i/c P/O J Boon

15:15 Squadron Main Party (Air)  left Benson. Officer i/c  w/com A Hisketh . DFC

18:15 Squadron Main Party (Air)  arrived in CHALLERANGE

The records do not state when the forward sea party arrived. But other records show him as duty officer in Chateau du Coolus  on the 16/17 Sep. as officers billeted there. The air party billeted in Ecury sur Cool.

A tribute to John Here

Boon also played rugby on the team. He was selected to travel to Plivot Airbase to form part of the welcoming party for King George VI on the 08/12/1939

View his history of operations here PO Boon

Sgt Thomas Fortune; RAF 521800, age 29, enlisted 1935, Son of William (Tram Motorman) and Mary Fortune (nee O’Neill from Wexford, Ireland), Spouse Martha Ann Middleton,  of Newcastle Upon  Tyne, Northumberland. He was born in December 1910 at 27 Canterbury St. Newcastle upon Tyne. Daughter Mauveen Stone nee Fortune with whom I have been in contact.

Thomas worked as a driver and motor mechanic in Jesmond  then left to enlist in Henlow, in 1935  He had Ginger hair and was nickednamed as such in the RAF. He was one of the first arrivals  in France on 2/Sep/39. He was given vacation on 19/12/39 and again on 2/4/40.

Thomas Fortune; RAF 521800

Mauveen sent this picture

View his history of operations here Sgt Fortune

AC1 Sydney Martin; RAF 550964, age 21, (b. 11/11/1919) Son of  Albert  Edward and Elizabeth Martin nee Lyon of W. Derby Lancashire born in Walton on the Hill. Syd had two brothers and his father was a railway man. Syd started his RAF career aged 18 in November 1937 and moved from 52 Squadron to 150 Squadron in September 1939

Sydney married Jean Alberta Clarke  on the 6 Apr. 1940 a nurse from Redford five weeks  before his death.

Sydney is listed in the duty rota as the duty Trumpeter from  13/3/40 to the end. Sydney got leave on 2/4/40 and married Alberta on the 6th.

Sydney Martin; RAF 550964

View his history of operations here AC Martin

All 3 buried at DOUZY COMMUNAL CEMETERY Ardennes, France

 P5232 , mission accomplished, ends its race in Flaba . Observer Sergeant Williams was charred in the violent fire. A very fortunate machine gunner Summerson Aviator was thrown out of the aircraft. A bullet in the leg, he lost a lot of blood, but quickly regained consciousness to bring vain help to the pilot, Sergeant Barker, in the midst of the flames. Burned on the arms, hands and face, he joined the French lines through wood being searched for by the Germans. The third night, he fell on a French patrol which hospitalized him urgently.

Pilot Sgt. Tom Barker and Obs. Sgt. Jim Williams

Image supplied by David Williams nephew 

Flight Sergeant (Pilot) George Thomas Barker, RAF 563835,  age 27, k.a. Tom Son of Mr. and Mrs. George Robert Barker; from Flat Top Terrington, North Yorkshire, husband of Vi Barker of Andover, Hampshire. George was the eldest of  4 children.

George was given leave on the 9/1/1940 and married Vi Biddiscombe  while on leave.

George joined the RAF around 1929; he was boy entrant, part of 20th entry of apprentices at RAF Halton graduating in 1932 (the apprenticeship was for three years). Apprenticeships at Halton were in engineering (trade based – fitters, riggers etc.).  He received the IGSM – the Indian General Service Medal so at some point he was stationed in/around India. George was based in India during the earthquake at Quetta in May 1935 which destroyed the RAF base killing some 54 RAF members 12 of whom were ex Halton graduates. George luckily was just off base at the time.

George Thomas Barker,

George Barkers Medals

George’s Medals came up for sale and the description  is HERE

Helen Ashdown from the Terrington Local History Group kindly sent me their research from 2014 about Tom apparently he was known as Tom not George  Click Here G T Barker

George came from 98 Sqdn. to 150 Sqdn. He loved to play rugby and is listed on the 150 Sqdn. rugby team several times. He flew over on the 2/Sep/39 to France. It is interesting to note that he was not listed on the duty rota until 27/4/40. How was he able to avoid that? I bet you that there is a picture of him as a youth playing rugby in his school near Terrington.

View his history of operations here Sgt. Barker

Sergeant (Obs.) James Douglas Frederick Williams, RAF 562632 d. age 27 , born 19/March/1913  in Hawkhurst in Kent ,  Son of Frederick Williams, and of Alice Millicent Sarah Williams, who later moved to Folkestone.

James Douglas Frederick Williams

Image taken 27/July/1939 was extracted from his Brother’s Wedding photo.

Reported to Halton (joined RAF) 28 Aug 1928 . Completed training at Halton – 19 Mar 1931. He trained as a Metal Rigger.

In 1933 he was with 209 Sqn. based at RAF Mount Batten (Plymouth). James was involved in a flying accident between a flying boat and a naval launch while at  Plymouth Sound where he sustained minor injuries. I have attached two newspaper articles which cover this event.

Western Mail 13 Jan 1933

Leeds Mercury 13 Jan 1933

9 Jun 1933 – Departed UK for Malta posting in Malta would have been RAF Kalafrana (sometimes spelt Calafrana) . He is listed as travelling on the Balranald and being part of RAF 269 Squadron Mount Batton Metal Rigger.

James came from 98 Sqdn. to 150 Sqdn. and flew across with George Barker to France on 2/Sep/1939

View his history of operations here Sgt Williams

LAC Alan K. Summerson Survived

Alan K. Summerson

” Born in the Lincolnshire village of Donington in 1920, Alan Summerson was educated at Donington Grammar School where he took his matriculation exams. Then, in February 1936, aged 16 and ‘mad keen on airplanes ’, he joined the RAF as an apprentice. As airman 568963″

He was awarded the French Medaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre.

View his history of operations here Summerson

P5232 final resting place

P5232 Crash site 1

Crash site 2

The Impact on the Families

Having been in contact with some of the relatives of the crew a very sad picture emerges as to their suffering.

Waiting and not knowing where their beloved ones are, missing, presumed dead, dead, buried where?

P5232 Barker, Williams

David Williams the nephew of Jim asks did everyone suffer this?

In the case of Jim Williams the information received by his mother from the Air Ministry was as follows. Documents from 14th 23rd 29th May 1940 and the final one for 31st May 1947

“ They are pretty faded but you can see the bad news , good news ,bad news caused his mother great distress,, she lived in Folkestone and at the end of the war she used to go to see the prisoners of war arriving at the port in the hope she may see her son.”

14 May 1940, Failed to return this afternoon

23 May 1940, Your son has been reported safe

29 May 1940. Another letter from the Records Office confirming he is missing believed killed

31 May 1947, States that hey have found Tom and Jims burial place at the French Military Cemetery d’Epinettes at Raucourt Department of the Ardennes grave No.29.

They were identified when a local priest had a record of two unknown crew members of plane P5232.

Alan Summerson the sole survivor of this flight later contacted Barkers family

‘Sergeant G. T. Barker, who was my pilot, whilst on operations in France, I regret to inform you that both he and the observer, Sergeant Williams were hit in the air by machine gun fire before our machine caught fire, and when we crashed in flames I was luckily thrown clear but the others were trapped in the aircraft. Although I tried to get them out, the flames and heat were too much for me and I was forced to leave them. One thing is certain though – they were unconscious at the time – perhaps dead already so the poor chaps would feel nothing. Please convey my deepest sympathy to Mrs. Barker and tell her that her husband died bravely for the sake of England and how much everyone with whom he came in contact liked him.”

Summerson says that although he had tried to write to Mrs. Barker he was unable to finding it the ‘most difficult task I have ever tackled.’ He asked for the letter to be forwarded.’

L4946 Ing, Turner, Nolan

 An article appeared in the journal newspaper in October 1942 which explains the correspondence between the air ministry and JD Turner’s family. Basically stating that the graves of 3 were identified by the Dutch Red Cross and by process of elimination they are the above named.

That is a quick turnaround considering it was still occupied territory. At least the 3 families got early closure.

The body of AC1 Nolan was re-interred at Donchery 7 Mar 43.

 K9483 Posselt, Bowen. Vano.

 “I think  Norman’s mother knew by 1946 that he was dead, but that was after writing letters to find him. However like your other mother’s  Norman’s mother searched for her son among the wounded.  She visited hospitals to check scar sites etc. on some of the wounded. The newspapers printed photos of young men who had lost their memory or were confused PTSD as we would call it today and many women went to identify them.  She held on to the hope for those six years that he would come home. She told the insurance man to take his money back as he would be coming back.  They even contacted the Salvation Army.   So many people looking for their missing loved ones. Very sad.  One nice thing was the family of Arthur Posselt sent food parcels from SA to  Norman’s mother as there was rationing. ”

The only correspondence I have is that received by the 3 families on 6 Sep 1948.

My Gran  Bowen had to endure the same wait for news of Donald.

P2182 Boon, Fortune, Martin

I have very little feedback on this as regards the correspondence with family.

Two parachuted from the plane. The plane crashed 1500 meters further on.

Mauveen Stone Nee Fortune is of the belief that her father jumped along with Pilot Boon and possibly landed safety but were hunted down and buried with Sid Martin. They were buried on the edge of a wood, west of Douzy. The plane crashed 1,500 meters further at “Le Rule” in the Bazeilles territory.

Will we ever know?

 Now for the Operation Detail.

Donald was on Fairey Battle K9483 tasked with bombing bridges in Sedan as an observer.

His flight path as described by Arnaud Gillet in his book :                                                                    Le Piege De Sedan (ISBN 2-9514552-8-3) was as follows: also you can click here


He was shot down by a Mf 109 claimed by Uffz  Willie Ghesla 1/JG 53 who himself was shot down in England and taken as a POW. later that year. Here you can read about willi ghesla

Fairey Battle crash site

Donald’s plane crashed just south of Bulson in France near a road. Thus there are a lot of images of the crash site taken by passers by and German soldiers posing on the wreckage.

Fairey Battle K9483 crash site

Fairey Battle K9483 crash site 1940

crater beside k9483 Fairey Battle

As you can see from the image above there is a crater to the left of the tail so it would appear that one of their undelivered bombs exploded on impact. It also would appear that the crater hole was used as their burial ground.

Donald’s first grave marked unknown military, locals moved all three to Bulson cemetery where they lay for some years then later to be exhumed in 1950 and re-interred in Choloy War Cemetery.

Grave beside Fairey Battle

I posted this information here as I am still researching and perhaps one of you readers has something to add. Perhaps a photo of some of the 150 squadron group, an old photo of any of the persons listed or further info on his friends.

Hopefully when this Covid-19 clears I will get to visit Donald’s grave in France.

You can add a comment below.

I wish to thank some people who helped me on this journey. Arnaud Gillet who has done extensive research on the battle of Sedan and has supplied me with an insight, photos etc. Michael Beckers NL who is also a researcher who kindly sent me some images. Also the author of They Spread Their Wings  by Alastair Goodrum who gives an insight on what happened based on the the sole survivor of the outing. Andrew Riley  ex. R.A.F who always knows where to find the information and points me in the right direction.

Also reference : aircrew remembered

They Spread Their Wings

Here is another good reference point for any of you that want to research. As mentioned above several of the crew were trained in Halton and there is a very good website which documents their past students called oldhaltoians

The National Archives UK have opened their site for free downloads due to their offices being closed because of the virus, this has allowed some further research to be done. Although a lot of files are missing it does allow us to create a picture of the events surrounding the individuals involved in the mission.

On the 2nd September 39  the following arrived in France as part of 150 squadron. Fortune, Martin, Summerson (from 52 squadron), Boon, Barker  as part of A Flight.

AC Nolan arrived from the U.K on 29/11/39

P/O Posselt arrived for flight duty 31/12/39 and was on duty as an Orderly Officer on 12/01/40.

Sgt. Bowen only appears in the logs of 150 squadron on 28/3/40 as NCO i/c A Flight Sgt. Bowen then again 8/4, 9/4, 20/4,  as Orderly Sergeant but the last record  : The following will represent the Squadron versus French Infantry at Herbisse on Sunday 28/4/40 Sgt. Bowen and others.

I have analyzed the archives  and extracted the information about each of the crew members and presented it beneath their description above as “View his history of operations here Name” because I believe they all need to be honored as individuals.

This is a live document and as more information arrives from you or other sources this site will be updated.

If you have read down as far as here hit the like button below it just encourages me to continue my research. Thanks for reading.

Some research Notes; that explain the research methodology used on this project. I hope the notes will help others that wish to take on a similar project reach their objective.

Using a Blog to push an Elephant up a Stairs

I am using Photoshop and other AI programs to convert the images to colour but it takes a wee bit of time.

7 thoughts on “My next planned trip was to visit The grave of uncle Donald J Bowen 150 Squadron who died 14/05/1940 in Sedan, France

  1. Eilish Fitzgerald April 13, 2020 / 10:18 pm

    Very interesting story Tom, and so sad too.



    • Tom April 15, 2020 / 9:32 pm

      thank you Eilish


  2. sheilabowen64 April 17, 2020 / 4:54 pm

    Hi Tom, great article and very sad. I am married to your cousin Paul, and my brother in law Colin senr this link to me. I’m researching family trees and gathering as much info as i can. I have 2 other photos of Donald if you’d like them? You can email me? Regards Sheila


  3. John Tillier May 23, 2020 / 12:29 pm

    Hi Tom after reading your story my mother’s brother was Norman V Vano
    We have no info except what was written on here and no photos off Norman either
    Unfortunately my mother passed away 3 years ago so I am also trying to go to France to see
    Norman’s Grave


    • Tom May 25, 2020 / 5:20 pm

      John Hopefully we can meet there on the 81st year 14/05/2021


    • John October 23, 2020 / 7:26 am

      Hi Tom Many thanks for the lovely update on Norman, much appreciated the photos as well, hope to make it to France next year.


  4. Arnaud Gillet October 21, 2020 / 5:45 pm

    Congratulation. Great Work. We’ll remember them… Arnaud Gillet


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