The Loss of Lancaster JA691

The family aftermath

Shortly after JA691 failed to return, the local Guildford paper contained the following missing notice. The article ended on an optimistic note by referring to the incident that occurred with the JU88 during their second operation to Gelsenkirchen. The family however, were grief stricken and feared the worst.
 

 
 

In the letter below, Bob's sister Phyl passes on the bad news to the elder sister, Ethel.
The words "try not to upset yourself dear I'm sure he will come back" are especially poignant.
The entire family were very upset when Bob qualified as an Air Gunner as the chances of surviving a tour of operations were slim.

 


In November 1943 confirmation of the family's worst fears was received in the following letter from the Air Ministry. The clerks had been kept busy as 42 crews (6.7% of those dispatched) failed to return from the Peenemünde raid alone. The heartbreaking process of initial telegram followed by the dreaded confirmation was to be repeated many times before the war ended. When it did, over 55,000 aircrew had been killed and the the trail of paper reached all corners of the world.

 


Shortly after the family had been informed of Bob's death the local newspaper printed the following entry. Note that the place of burial has been given as Apenrade, which is the German equivalent of Aabenraa.