13/14.07.1943 No.115 Squadron R.A.F. Lancaster II DS690 S/L Baird Location: Les Hayons, Luxembourg.
Mission: Aachen, Germany.

Date: 13/14th July 1943

Time: 02.10 hrs

Unit: No.115 Squadron R.A.F.

Type: Avro Lancaster II

Serial No: DS690

Coded: KO-

Base: East Wretham, Norfolk.

Location: Les Hayons, Luxembourg, 5 km NE of Bouillon, Belgium.

S/L Robert Alexander Graville Baird 70789. Age.33 – Killed.

Sgt J. E. C. Odendaal – POW. From southern Rhodesia.

F/O William James Moorcroft R.A.F.V.R. 127974. Age.22 – Killed.

Sgt Robert Alfred Walker R.A.F.V.R. 1235107. Age.21 – Killed.

Sgt Edwin Smith R.A.F.V.R. 1330882. Age.? – Killed.

F/S Nicholas Auber Benjamin Robinson 406795. Age.31 – Killed.

Sgt Harold Matthews R.A.F.V.R. 1318179. Age.19 – Killed.


Lancaster DS 690 took-off from its base at East Wretham at 23.59 hours to attack Aachen, Germany. The following account extracted from the Bomber Command War Diaries;

A strong tail wind brought the first waves of the main force into the target area before zero hour with the result that, when the first Pathfinder markers were released, an unusually large number of aircraft bombed in the first minutes of the raid. Visibility was good and large areas of Aachen appeared to burst into flames at once. 2,927 individual buildings were destroyed, 294 people were killed and 745 injured, 28,000 people appear to have fled the town and were still absent when the new ration cards were issued nearly 7 weeks later. R.A.F. aircraft lost were 15 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling.

From the time given to the loss of S/L Baird's Lancaster we can assume that the aircraft was returning home from the target. German night-fighter pilots were very active during the defence of Aachen. Lancaster DS690 was claimed by Hptm. August Geiger of III/NJG1.

Approximately 10 weeks after the loss of Lancaster DS690, Hptm. August Geiger (aged 23) with his Radio/Op Fw. Dietrich Koch (aged 22) lost their lives when their Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4 with the Wnr.5477 was shot down by an R.A.F. Beaufighter night fighter. The machine crashed 10 km NW of Harderwijk, Netherlands.

(1) 14.07.43 Sgt Harold Matthews No.115 Sqdn
Sergeant Harold Matthews killed in action (Emma Loveridge)

(2) Church
The service was held in this church (A.R.S.)

(3) Bairdcc(4) Robinson - Moorcroft

(5) Smith - Walker
Those who lost their lives rest in Les Hayons, Cemetery (A.R.S.)

Burial details:

Those who lost their lives lie in a collective grave at the Les Hayons Cemetery, Belgium.

Robert Alexander Graville Baird. Son of John Lawrence Baird, P.C., G.C.M.G., D.S.O.1st Viscount Stonehaven, and of Viscountess Stonehaven (nee Keith Falconer); husband of Dormigelda Malvina Baird, of Great Waltham.

William James Moorcroft. Son of Robert and Elizabeth Margaret Moorcroft, of Maghull, Lancashire.

Robert Alfred Walker. Son of Horace Thomas Walker and Alice Isobel Walker, of Ramsey, Isle of Man.

Edwin Smith.

Nicholas Auber Benjamin Robinson. Son of Auber Benjamin and Elizabeth Margaret Ivy Robinson, of Esperence, Western Australia.

Harold Matthews. Son of George and Alice M. Matthews, of South Croydon, Surrey.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless on behalf of Emma Loveridge, March 2014.

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