F/O Pearce. Pilot. RAAF.

Flying Officer Laurie Pearce Aus. was the pilot of the ill fated QR-N Nan which crashed on take off on what should have been it's 131st operation.

 

 

QR-N. Nan:

1944. Over the previous 18 months ED860 QR-N Nan had successfully carried out 130 operations and survived fighter attacks and the heavy flak thrown up over the Ruhr Valley and during the Battle of Berlin.

 

Below are photos and extracts from a diary kept by his Wireless Operator, Warrant Officer A.E.Perry

Sunday 22nd Oct 1944.

lst 'OP' Daylight.

Did our first 'op' today in 'N' for Nan with F/O Pearce (Skipper). The weather was very bad as was visibility. We flew through clod nearly all the way to the target (Heavy Gun Positioned around Flushing). Attacked target with 14 one thousand pound bombs from 4000 ft. It was a controlled 'op' and sounded quite good to hear the controller tell the boys to "Come in and bomb as planned, height 4). One dummy run made. On second run up was almost hit by bombs from a Lanc 500feet above us. Slight heavy but accurate flak over target (one plane shot down). Quite a few bombs fell in sea but all guns except one were silenced.

Snags

 i/c failed on way out but fixed up by changing ..............

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Saturday 28th Oct. 1944.

Ops on Bergen in N. Nan. (Night}

Did not take off as plane swung on take off and crashed at 65 miles per hour with full bomb load on board. Under cart collapsed and starboard outer torn off. Bomb bay wrecked and nose smashed in. We were very lucky as bombs did not go off. Jock the engineer suffered the only injuries (a cut face sustained when falling off cockpit after abandoning plane) The end of Nan. A complete write off. She was a lucky kite to the end.

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Here is an extract from an official report about the incident:

QR N NAN's 131st operation

.....28nd October 1944. At 22.35 hours F/O Pearce lined his Lancaster at the end of Skellingthorpe runway and opened the throttle against the brakes to see if all Merlin engines responded evenly. He then throttled back, released the brakes and began to reopen the throttles again. The heavily loaded aircraft slowly built up speed until it was thundering down the runway, but before the young Aussie pilot had full control a dangerous swing developed and the aircraft swung violently to port hitting a runway glim lamp which burst a tyre and the undercarriage collapsed. The resulting ground loop tore off part of the port wing spilling fuel from ruptured fuel tanks and by the time the aircraft finally came to a halt the heavy fuel and bomb load had crushed the bomb bay doors and lower fuselage. Before emergency services arrived on the scene all the crew had managed to scramble out of the aircraft and distance themselves from the very dangerous situation. They were all feeling very shaken after such a devastating experience, but otherwise unhurt..........

Lancaster ED860 QR-N Nan's mounted bomb panel.

The C/O at that time was furious at the loss of the squadron's record breaking aircraft and made Pearce go to all sections to appolgise. The crew were now given the silent treatment by other aircrew !

Nan never did complete her 131st operation against the enemy, sadly her next port of call was the scrap yard.

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Despite this setback to his career F/O Pearce went on to prove his courage and skill by completing 26 difficult and dangerous operations.

The end of the WW11 coming too soon for him to complete his tour.

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More extracts from W/O Perry's diary.

Wednesday lst November.

2nd 'op' (Daylight)

Went to t omberg (?cannot decipher his spelling) in the Ruhr (Near Duisberg) in O for Oboe. Weather good but thick cloud 10/10. We flew over this cloud in company with about 250 more 'Lanc'. Gee it was a sight to see all these kites right, left and centre. Bombed target from 16700 ft in face of intense heavy flak from Duisberg. At least five Lancs were observed to be hit and on fire and only four kites off our station came back without flak holes. We were one of them. Almost got bombed by another Lanc above us. Skipper dived port just in time.

A real nerve-racking operation.

Snags

I/C went u/s but fixed this up by changing to emergency I/C H/T U/SP.

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Warrant Officer A.E. Perry

 

 

 

 

Arthur in Flying gear

 

 

 

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 Monday 6th November

 4th 'op' (Night) O for Oboe

Went to Dortmund-Ems canal. Flew there in fairly good weather at 10000 feet. Had 14 one thousand pounds bombs on board. Thick cloud over target prevented PFF. from marking target. Given instructions to bring bombs back. Where we cheesed ? Stooging over there and not dropping our bombs. We flew into a terrific storm which sent us miles off track. Diverted to Framlingham by W/T. Could not find Framlingham because of storm and bad visibility so we landed at Horam nearby. This is a Yank drome and we had a fairly good time there. We had four eggs when we landed and bags of coffee milk sugar and butter. Came back next morning. Jettisoned 6 bombs in North Sea and brought 8 back. A pretty bad show.

Snags - nil

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Sunday 26 th November

5th 'op' (Night) N for Nan (New)

Went to Munich (Blitz) Weather was good but some cloud on first half. Flew over the Alps in bright moonlight (Beautiful sight). Bomb load was one cookie (4000lbs) and eleven 500lb clusters of incendiaries. Bombed from 20000ft. Heavy flak was encountered over target but was bursting about 16000. 1 enemy fighter (ME110) passed close underneath us but did not fire.

A good prang. 1 Lanc shot down. A new type of 12000lb earthquake bomb was used on raid. Diverted to Kernesby but landed at a drome nearby. Had breakfast and then took off for base.

Made four attempts to land before finally getting down (Bad vis:) took off at midnight H hour =0500. Trip took 10hrs approx.

Snags. Nil.

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Monday. 4th December.

6th 'op' (Night) Q for Queen (6hrs 40 mins)

Went to Heilbronn (Near Karlsruhe). Blitz raid. Weather was fairly good but cloudy in parts especially on return. H Hour was 1930. There wasn't much flak or searchlights but bags of fighters instead. The sky was a blaze of light with flares etc. Just after dropping our bombs we were attacked by an ME410 which the rear gunner fired at and claims he blew the starboard engine off it and shot fighter down. Another crew say they saw this fighter going down (A damn good show). After the attack we stopped in the clouds all the way back to the front line where we were fired on by our own flak guns.

Dropped a cookie and incendaries from 17000feet. Photoflash did not go so B/Aimer went back and fixed same so it was safe but it fell out on to the runway when landing.

15/250 Lancs shot down on this raid.

Snags. i/c was ropey (VR21 loose) - fixed it up.

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Wednesday 6th December

7th 'op' (Night) N for Nan.

Went to Geissen (North of Frankfurt) to marshalling yards. Bad Weather over parts of the journey . Flew low through most of way. Attacked target with 12 one thousand pounders. A terrific box barrage of accurate light flak was put up over the target. We bombed from 10800 feet. Several aerial dog fights were seen and 2 fighters and 4 Lancs were seen to go down. ...............fighters over target.

We were not attacked but it was about the toughest trip we've been on so far.

Snags - i/c a bit shaky but I put that right.

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Friday 8th December.

8th 'op' (Daylight) N for Nan.

Went to Urlt Dam (near Aachen) to bust up the dam and flood german's.

Took off at 8.5 in morning . Flew through cloud part of way and had ........... near escape from other aircraft. Very light flak over target and no fighters. Could not see target at first because of cloud so we kept orbiting target until cloud cleared then dropped 14 one thousand pound bombs on target from ten thousand feet. A collision occured over the target between two Lancs resulting in one going down (bad show) and the other came back with three feet of port wing missing. Otherwise it was a piece of cake this op. The ...........................................

Snags - i/c shaky due to helmets and plugs. fixed them up.

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Tuesday 16th January .

12th 'op' (Skipper 13th) X for Xray.

Went to Brux (Chzeckoslovakia)(think that's how it's spelt) and dropped cookie and 14 500 lbs on oiul refinery. Weather was fairly good all the way. Everything thing seemed to go wrong on this raid. On take off the front escape hatch blew in taking large piece of perspex in with it. We had to jettison front hatch over sea and was it cold. There was a veritable gale blowing inside the cabin so I chopped the rest bed top off and we put this over the escape hatch holding it in place with bundles of window. During the process of jettisoning the hatch cover the engineer almost jettisoned himself through the hole. (Seems humurous now). It was still draughty inside though and we had to go all the way there and back with this gale blowing.

Very heavy flak was experienced over target and we had to corkscrew twice because of unexpected fightrs. The rear gunner claims he shotthe first one down but he was not sure whether it was a fighter or what. The second was only a Lanc. On return flap lever would not work so we diverted to Carnaby (emergency landing strip). Made a good landing and had to stop there for a couple of days ..................................

Trip took 10 hrs approx. (....-4 over enemy territory).

Snags - nil (with wireless).

Saturday 3rd March.

15th 'op' (night) Xfor Xray.

Went to Ladbergen (Dortmund-Ems) with 14 1000 lb delay bombs. Weather was moderate all the way. Flak very heavy over target. 1. small hole in Starboard inner engine was all damage we sustained. Plenty of fighter around as well. We were followed by enemy fighters right back to base. Three kites shot down in Waddington circuit by enemy fighters. H hour = 2200.

Snags - nil.

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Monday 5th March.

16th 'op' (night) Xfor Xray.

Went to Bohlen (near Liepsig) with cookie and 500 lb bombs to attack oil target. 10/10th cloud all the way and over target. Target was obscured so bombed wanganue. Flak and fighters were moderate. 33 planes lost from night operation. Trip took 10 hours. H hour 1950.

Snags nil.

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Wednesday. 7th March

17th 'op' (night) X for Xray.

Went to Harburg (Near Hamburg) to attack oil refinery with cookie and 14 500 lb bombs. Went via Denmark. Searchlights and flak all the way into and out of the target (about 2 hours). Plenty of fighters around as well. Had to go in with the 'Path Finders' and was over target for 20 minutes (very unhealthy). Weather was good all the way and clear over target. 40 planes lost on night ops. 13 from 5 Group and three from our squadron (bad show). Got caught in searchlights but didn't hold us for long......

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Left to right:

F/Sgt R.Pettigrew Nav. Eng. Cockney. F/Sgt J.Murray F/Eng. Scot. Sgt R.Gillander R/G. F/O L.Pearce Pilot. Aussie. Sgt D.Baker B/A Eng.

Cockney. Sgt A.Barker MUG Eng. Brummie.

F/Sgt A.Perry WOP. Eng. Brummie.

F/O Pearce's WOP, F.Sgt Arthur E Perry (later Warrant Officer) kept a comprehensive record of all his bombing operations,

 

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Editor's Comments.

Despite only being remembered for their spectacular crash in the record breaking QR-N Nan, Warrant Officer Perry's comprehensive operational diary clearly shows that F/O Pearce and crew ought to be remembered as a brave, skilful, dedicated crew and a great credit to 61 squadron.

H.James Flowers