A DUTCH researcher wants to trace the wartime RAF wireless operator who left the crew of a Lancaster bomber four days before it was lost with all on board.
Theo van de Mortel has spent years looking into the crash in April, 1944, which saw the aircraft shot down by an enemy night-fighter over Holland as it returned from a bombing raid on Essen in Germany.
Its entire crew of captain George Nicholls, flying engineer Roy Laybourne, navigator Alfred McKay, bomb aimer Lindsay “Jerry” Smith and gunners AlexanderŠShiels and Harold Dyerson died.
But only four days before the Lancaster’s wireless operator, Sergeant William Davis, had a lucky escape when he had to leave the crew after becoming unconscious during a raid on Dusseldorf.
Mr van de Mortel wants to speak to him and is contacting newspapers in Cheshire as he believes Mr Davis was from the county.
He had been stationed at the RAF base in Wickenby and it was during the Dusseldorf raid on April 22 that he became unwell aboard Lancaster ND 873.
Four days later the same aircraft was on the Essen raid with a replacement wireless operator, SergeantŠ Alexander McJannett, whose first bombing run it was.
The Lancaster crashed near the village of Asten in the south of the Netherlands.Š
There were no survivors and the crewmen are buried at the British War Cemetery known as Jonkerbos in Nijmegen.
Mr van de Mortel said: “For more than two years I’m doing research into the crash and especially the crew involved. I am living close to the crash site, whereŠin 2006 a memorial was erected.
“I would like to contact William Davis, if he is still alive, or his next of kin.”
The person to contact is: Theo van de Mortel at Van Gilsstraat 22, 5751 CK Deurne, The Netherlands. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org