CREW ON BLACK THURSDAY (Lancaster JB299-OF-W

Pilot: F/L Frank Roberts
Killed 21-Jan-44, Berlin, buried in Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery
Flight Engineer: P/O SR Arter – left the crew after Black Thursday
Navigator: F/S Ronald Dudley
Killed 21-Jan-44, Berlin, buried in Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery
Bomb Aimer: F/S George Young
Killed 21-Jan-44, Berlin, buried in Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery
W/Op: F/S HJ Blower  – left the crew after Black Thursday
Mid-Upper Gunner: Sgt Peter Andrew Marsh
Killed 21-Jan-44, Berlin, buried in Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery
Rear Gunner: FS William Alfred Parsley, known as Bill
Killed 21-Jan-44, Berlin, buried in Berlin 1939-45 Cemetery

With regards to the above crew list, Blower and Arter had been replaced by Sergeants Devine and Martin by the time the Roberts crew were shot down and all killed. We would like to thank Henry Pedersen in Denmark for pointing this out. Both Blower and Arter had clearly finished their tours because Arter, the flight engineer, left 97 Squadron for 24 OTU on 7th January and Blower, the w/op, went to 84 OTU on 22nd January, on the very day it became obvious that his skipper Roberts would not return.

The full photograph from which the photograph of the pilot Roberts was taken. Peter Marsh, the mid-upper gunner, is on the right, With thanks to Peter Marsh, the nephew of the wartime Peter Marsh.

The evidence for this being Roberts is as follows:

  • he is wearing pilot’s wings
  • the stripes on his and Peter’s sleeves indicate it is around the right period.
  • It is clearly summer in the picture, and the crew were together from 1943 onwards according to Peter’s logbook
  • the final confirmation is a heartbreaking letter from Mrs Roberts, written to Peter’s family in Australia after the crew disappeared, which speaks of Peter making his home with the Roberts’ family when on leave; this lovely informal snap was probably taken on just such a visit.

For all the contemporary documents and photos associated with Peter Marsh, please click on the following link: www.marshes.pac.com.au/pam.html

Bill Parsley, the rear-gunner, a Canadian. With thanks to John Potts (nephew)

Extract from Bomber Command Losses – 21/22.1.44
Lancaster III  JB299  OF – W.  Op Magdeburg.  T/O Bourn.  All rest in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.  The two DFM recipients had their awards gazetted on 11 and 15 February 1944 respectively.
F/L F.J.Roberts DFC(+), Sgt E,J,Devine(+), F/S R.Dudley DFM(+), F/S G.Young DFM(+), Sgt F.Martin(+), F/S P.A.Marsh RAAF(+), WO2 W.A.Parsley RCAF(+).