By John Lowe

206 Squadron: Coastal Command - Pilots: Part IV | John Lowe

PILOTS: Part IV
(Last updated: 25.11.14 - William Jones)
Here's the fourth list of WWII 206 Squadron Pilots, click on their photographs for their story...

  Eric Rawes (PO) by Susan Rudebeck (July 2013)
 

 
[No Pic] William Jones (Sgt) by Graham Walters (Nov 2014)


Eric Rawes
Rank:                      Pilot Officer
Number:                  63801
Joined 206:              ??/??/1941
Flew with Ken:         0 times
Born:                       11/06/1916
Died:                        21/12/1941
I was contacted by Susan Rudebeck in December 2009 who had left a message on the 'Guest Book' looking for information on her Uncle Eric Rawes.
Eric Rawes 1916-1941

The 206 Squadron Roll Of Honour had E Rawes listed as 'Death Presumed' along with 3 other men that had a matching date of 21st December 1941:
  • P.O Eric Rawes - 63801
  • F.Lt Ian Terry - NZ40666
  • Sgt J.W Durrant - 633261
  • Sgt R.L Watts - 1210042
They had failed to return from a bombing raid in Lockheed Hudson AM837 'N' on the 21/12/1941.

There was a memorial held in September 2010 that Susan attended a provided me with the following write-up.
2010 Memorial Summary
ST. VIAUD, FRANCE
10-12 SEPTEMBER, 2010
On December 21st, 1941 a RAF Hudson from 206 Squadron, piloted by P/O Eric Rawes, left Chivenor in Devon.  They were on a raid with five other planes to bomb the oil refinery at Donges at the mouth of the Loire.  This was close to the notorious submarine base at Saint Nazaire.  One plane returned shortly after take off with technical problems but the rest found their target and dropped their bombs.  Four planes and their crews returned safely to Chivenor (although one had suffered some damage).  There were several gun emplacements in the area of the submarine base and the searchlights of one of these caught Eric's Hudson in its sights and it was fired upon.  The plane lost height and burst into flames crashing into a field near the village of St. Viaud, a few miles from the target.  All four crew members were killed.
Sixty eight years later a keen French historian, Rene Brideau[1], spent several months researching the crash, locating the crew's graves and looking for the relatives.  Thanks to the internet, in November 2009 he contacted Julian Rawes via his Rawes website who directed Rene to the Kerr family, Eric's next of kin.  It was a shock to all of us to hear from Rene that Eric had been buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in the Pont-du-Cens Cemetary in Nantes.  We had all been told by our family that he was probably lost at sea and that he and his plane had never been found.  I contacted the RAF and was told that not only had Eric's father, Stanley Rawes,  been notified that his son was buried in Nantes but he had also acknowledged  this fact by letter and had implied that his wife, Amy, had also been told this news[2].   This correspondence took place in 1946 as it was only in that year that the bodies were confirmed by the RAF as being those of Eric and his crew.  One can only speculate as to why Stanley apparently never divulged this information about Eric to the rest of his family.  I remember being told that he was devastated by the loss of his son and had difficulty coming to terms with the news that he was missing.  Perhaps once the war was over and an RAF personnel officer had finally identified the bodies, Stanley could not bring himself to tell his family.  As far as we knew, Eric's sisters, Betty and Dorothy were unaware of the full story.
Elizabeth                                                     Dorothy

Rene Brideau, having spent many months researching the details of these airmen, was keen that they should not be forgotten and that their actions should be honoured.  He, therefore, contacted the mayor of St. Viaud who readily agreed that a memorial stone should be erected at the crash site.  He also agreed that a commemoration service should be held in the parish church, followed by a dedication ceremony at the memorial stone.
On 10th September, several of Eric's relatives[3] spent the weekend in St. Viaud.  We were not sure what to expect but the occasion surpassed all our expectations.  The French could not have been more charming and we were looked after from the moment we arrived in Nantes airport until we left on Sunday.  The weather was perfect - blue skies and warm sunshine. After arriving in Nantes, we were taken to the Pont-du-Cens Cemetery.  There is a small area within the cemetery which is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  It is here that Eric and his crew are buried.  The epitaph on Eric's headstone is:   'Let light perpetual shine upon him'.  It is a quiet peaceful place and the graves are beautifully looked after.
Watts - Durrant - Terry - Rawes

The following day the church service took place in St. Viaud.  We arrived there in the morning to find a crowd of people.  There were about twenty war veterans holding their regimental banners, together with other war veterans, elderly witnesses to the crash and other villagers including a number of school children.  The Mayor of the village was also present.   The service was simple but very moving.   At one point four of the children each took a photograph up to the altar.  One of these photos was of Eric in uniform, the other three were of the graves belonging to the crew, namely Flight Lieutenant Ian Terry, Sergeant Ronald Watts and Sergeant James DurrantBruce Dawson read two poems about flying.  At the end we sang all the verses of 'God Save the Queen'. 
After the service we made our way out of the village to the Breteches Farm where the dedication ceremony of the stone took place. Several speeches were made including one by Rene who related the tragic story.  John Kerr also made a speech thanking the Mayor and the village for all they had done.  The plaque on the stone was then unveiled by me and Henriette Durand, one of the witnesses who saw the plane flying over the farmhouse in flames. The village band played.  Children placed flowers at the foot of the memorial stone.   Before we left, a local artist presented the family with a painting of a Hudson bomber.  He had stuck pieces of metal from the Hudson to the picture frame which he had found using a metal detector at the crash site.

Following the ceremonies we returned to the village and had a 'boisson d'amitie' and sat down to a buffet lunch hosted by the mayor in the village hall.  Later that afternoon we were driven west and crossing the bridge over the Loire we were able to see the oil refinery at Donges, which is still operational.  We were also taken round the submarine base at Saint Nazaire which is now a tourist attraction.  It was so strongly built by the Germans in 1940 that the Allies never managed to inflict any notable damage even after fifty nine bombing raids.  It was of course incapacitated by the famous "St. Nazaire Raid" on 28th March, 1942. The day ended with a drink and canapés in Jeannine Emeriau's flat a few minutes walk from the submarine base.  True entente cordiale.
Susan Rudebeck
[1] Rene Brideau can be contacted by email: renebrideau@yahoo.fr    
[2] I requested and have received copies of this correspondence from the RAF
[3] Family members who attended the ceremonies were Susie Rudebeck, John Kerr, Alistair Kerr, Bruce Dawson and Patrick Dawson together with their husband and wives.
 
Links To Ken
When I crossed Hudson AM837 'N' with Ken's logbook I found he had flown in that very aircraft on 3 occasions:
  • 02/11/1941 - A/S Escort to Secret Force reported Swordfish crash
  • 18/11/1941 - To Wick
  • 18/11/1941 - From Wick
 
William Jones
Rank:                      Sergeant
Number:                  563455
Joined 206:              ??/??/19??
Flew with Ken:         0 times
Born:                       ??/??/1913
Died:                       19/05/1940
I was contacted by Graham Walters in November 2014 who was looking for further information and a photograph of his Great Uncle William Jones
William Jones 1913-1940
Cefn Coed, Nr. Merthyr Tydfil War Memorial  

Graham had already established a number of facts about William, here's a summary of what's known to date.
  • 1925 - Attended Brynmawr County School for 4 years
  • 1929 - Joined the RAF
  • 1937 - Became a Pilot
  • 1939 - He was married in December to his wife who lived in High Barnet, London
  • 1940 - Failed to Return from a photo reconnaissance operation
19.05.1940
In Ross McNeill's book "RAF Coastal Command Losses - Volume 1 1939-1941" it states that Hudson N7363 was shot down on the 19th May 1940 over the North Sea by Oblt. Wulf of 6(J)/TrGr 186 flying an ME109.
The crew of Lockheed Hudson N7363 on that day were as follows:
  • 563455 - Sgt William Jones
  • 565431 - Sgt E A Judge
  • 516026 - Cpl A J Metcalfe
  • 622864 - AC1 V C Mewett
On investigation into the official archives I found the following records for that date.

Here is the local newspaper story that Graham found from the The Merthyr Express with details of William reported as missing, it's dated June 15th 1940.

Runnymede Memorial