South Shields Local History Group

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Bainbridge, Roland Barnsley (RAF)

Sgt Roland Barnsley Bainbridge 102 Squadron ‘Ceylon Sqn’ – Section R Grave 8399

Roland was born in 1920 in South Shields. His parents were George William Bainbridge and Jennie Ruddick who were married in 1918. In 1911 George’s occupation was a Railway Clerk.

At 16:31pm n the 22nd November 1943 a Halifax of 102 Squadron number LW333 took off from Pocklington airfield with Roland as the Air Gunner, on a bombing mission to Berlin. The bomb load was dropped successfully over the target and Roland’s bomber turned for home. They had been in a force of 764 aircraft and it was the largest force ever sent on a raid to Berlin. Bad weather had kept the German night fighters grounded. Berlin had been completely covered in cloud so it was impossible for crews to verify they had hit the target. Despite this it was the most effective raid on the German capital of the war. On their return to Pocklington they made contact with the airfield flying in good visibility when suddenly a little before midnight Roland’s plane  was hit by a Halifax Bomber from 77th Squadron causing both bombers to plummet two thousand five hundred feet to the ground. The 77th Squadron Bomber had been waiting to land at Elvington’s airfield in a queue and the Court of Inquiry came to the conclusion it was just bad luck that both aircraft waiting to land at different airfields were flying at the same height. The bombers crashed 500 yards apart near Newlands Farm on Barmby Moor and all 14 airmen were killed.

In 1994 14 trees were planted as a lasting memorial and named after each man.

Written and researched by Dorothy Ramser

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