Crew 60 - P.R. Lanyon D.F.C

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Flight Sergeant (Percy) Ray Lanyon D.F.C. - Air Bomber

(Percy) Ray Lanyon (Service Number 417962) was born on 30th December 1920 at Moonta, South Australia. His parents were William and Ruby Lanyon nee Quintrell. He was educated at the Kadina High School in South Australia.

In his early working life he was a Clerk with the Commonwealth Public Service - Postal Service. He returned to the CPS in different roles post-war.

In 1959, Percy Ray Lanyon is mentioned in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette as being in the Northern Territory as a Clerk, Department of Works etc. (Source)

It would appear that on 12th November 1982 he retired from the Public Service - Department of Transport and Construction - Australian Capital Territory. (Source)

RAAF/RAF Service

Unfortunately, Lanyon's service record has not been scanned and released by the National Archives of Australia as yet but there are some biographical details available which were maintained on RAAF officers serving overseas with the RAF. (SOURCE)

Many members of the Royal Australian Air Force underwent training in Canada before being taken on strength with different squadrons of the Royal Air Force. In Ray Lanyon's case, we do know that he was a member of Crew 60 attached to Squadron 640 based at Leconfield RAF Base, Yorkshire, England.


(Click on the link to view the file in the browser or Download the file.)

Throughout the 31 sorties that Harry Ratcliffe and Ray Lanyon flew together as part of Crew 60, Lanyon was the designated Air Bomber - as they approached the targets, I imagine that the success or failure of the mission was very much in his hands.

Sortie to Rüsselsheim

On Saturday, the 12th of August, 1944, Crew 60 set out from Leconfield Airfield at 2136 hrs in a Halifax Heavy Bomber aircraft designated LW554 with the mission to bomb Rüsselsheim, Germany. According to Wikipedia Rüsselsheim had a number of strategic targets including the Opel Automobile Factory which was being used to manufacture aircraft parts. The area had been subject to (and would see further) intense bombing.

During this sortie the aircraft suffered damage through intense anti-aircraft fire (flak) and, as a result, the Navigator - Harry Ratcliffe - was injured requiring first aid. This was applied by Ray Lanyon who, then using his own navigation skills, ably assisted in returning the crew and aircraft safely to their Leconfield base.

Subsequently, Ray Lanyon was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Available in RAAF Biographical Files - National Archives Australia
(His actual service file is not yet available - Nov 2020)

Copy of Citation of Non-immediate Award of D.F.C. (Gazetted 20.2.45)

Pilot Officer Percy Ray LANYON (US.417962, No.640 Squadron

Pilot Officer Lanyon has shown himself to be an outstanding air bomber. His cool courage, vigilance and skill have set an excellent example to all. During an attack against Russelheim (sic) his aircraft was damaged by intense anti-aircraft fire and the navigator was wounded. Pilot Officer Lanyon immediately rendered first aid. Throughout the return flight he gave valuable assistance to his navigator and it was largely due to his navigational skill that the aircraft was flown back safely to this country. His devotion to duty at all times has been most commendable.


Rüsselsheim Massacre

To underline the intense danger that all aircraft and their crews were under every time they flew a sortie, please read the account of the Rüsselsheim massacre that occurred to a US aircraft crew just two weeks following Crew 60s mission to Rüsselsheim.

"...parachuted to the ground, where they were captured and held by German Luftwaffe personnel. Unable to transfer the downed aircrewmen to a prisoner-of-war camp due to the train tracks being heavily damaged by bombing the night before, the Americans were forced to march through the devastated town of Rüsselsheim to catch another train. The townspeople, already angered by damage caused to their town by an RAF bombing raid the previous night on the Opel automobile factory, which was manufacturing airplane parts during the war, started attacking the unarmed crew members with rocks, hammers, sticks, and shovels, which resulted in the deaths of six of their number."

Wikipedia

Another danger - apart from weather, mechanical faults, ditching in water, anti-aircraft fire, enemy fighter planes, mid air collisions, injuries on bailing out or murderous assault by civilians - was flying underneath a friendly aircraft as it released its payload. No doubt a rarity but it did happen.

Royal Air Force Bomber Command, 1942-1945. Sergeant D Cameron, the pilot of Handley Page Halifax B Mark II, HR837 'NP-F', of No. 158 Squadron RAF, poses with two of his crew amidst the damage caused when it was hit by a falling bomb from another aircraft while raiding Cologne on the night of 28/29 June 1943. In spite of the severe damage to the fuselage, none of the crew were injured and Cameron managed to fly HR837 back to the Squadron's base at Lissett, Yorkshire. HR837 was repaired and flew a further 11 operations with the Squadron before being turned over to No. 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit.


NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH RAAF SERGEANT
(HERBERT) RAY LANYON OF MALVERN, VICTORIA.

AT THE RECEPTION: W.O. Basil Ballantine, RAAF, and his bride, formerly Miss Elaine Wilson, who were married at Ewing Memorial Church, East Malvern. Misses Beryl Wilson, Shirley Morton, and Diana Quinton attended the bridge; Mr A. W. Ballantine was best man, and Sgt Ray Lanyon, RAAF, groomsman.
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