D-Day – The Loss of the Carter Crew

Wing Commander Carter, the Commanding Officer of 97 Squadron from 7 January 1944, was flying with a top crew on D-Day in support of the Allied invasion. The crew of Lancaster OF-Z – ND739 were:

  • Pilot: Edward James Carter, DFC 
  • F/E: Guy Ernest Dunning, DFM    
  • Nav: Ronald John Conley, DFC   
  • AB: Herbert William Rieger
  • Vis A/B: Henry William Edward Jeffery DFM 
  • W/op: Albert Chambers, DFC*    
  • MU/G: Frank Raymond Watson, DFM  
  • R/G: Martin Bryan-Smith, DFC*   


5.6.44 … Today must be recorded as one of the most eventful days in the Squadron’s history.  The target had been given us at about 1pm.  It was a battery of coastal heavy guns on the French coast at a point called St Pierre du Mont, which is situated just on the south eastern base of the Chernourg Peninsula, also La Peanelle. 

It seemed quite a normal target until various other things came trickling in – things such as convoys to be avoided – keeping strictly on track, news of impending naval actions to the East, and many other things, until one became aware of the obvious that the invasion of Europe was about to commence. 

The Squadron Commander  was heard to say, “Thank God I’m still on ops and not at an O.T.U.”  Everyone was delighted and excitement was at fever pitch.

18 of our aircraft were detailed.  The attack started at 4.50am – about 30 minutes before dawn – with a red TI which was accurately dropped by an Oboe Mosquito on the target.  It was instantly backed up by green TI dropped visually by Mosquito aircraft of 627 Squadron.  These TI were not so accurate as those dropped on Oboe.  However by the time Main Force came in to bomb, the target was well marked.  The Main Force bombing was extremely accurate and the whole point was flattened. 

Crossing the Channel on the return journey thousands of landing craft were seen proceeding towards the French coast. 

Two of our crews failed to return.  One was captained by the Squadron Commander, W/Cdr E.J.Carter DFC who was flying in “Z” and the other was a Norwegian crew captained by Lt. Jespersen.  W/Cdr Carter had with him S/Ldr M.Bryan-Smith DFC, Gunnery Leader and F/L A.Chambers DFC, the Signals Leader.  It is believed that they encountered some JU88s.

5/6 June 1944 – St Pierre du Mont

ND739Z W/C E.J.Carter, P/O G.E.Dunning, F/L R.J.Conley, F/L H.W.Rieger, F/O H.W.E.Jeffery (Vis A/B), f/l a.chambers, W/O F.R.Watson, S/L M.Bryan-Smith. Up 0256. 11 x 1000lb MC, 4 x 500lb GP. (Deputy Controller). Aircraft missing. Last heard on W/T at 0504 hours, acknowledging message from Controller.

Above: ‘Hank’ Jeffery