Flight Sergeant Laurence Randolph PEARSON

Service No: 421453
Born: Guyra NSW, 28 September 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 February 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NE116), France, 23 June 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Morienval Communal Cemetery, Oise, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Stanley Richard and Johanna Margaret Pearson, of Guyra, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Guyra NSW
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Between 13th and 30th June RAF Bomber Command carried out 16 raids against rail choke points during which 1,774 aircraft were dispatched, 1,614 bombed their targets and 5,620 tons of bombs were dropped. Weather seriously interrupted operations during the gale of 18th-22nd June and again between the 25th-27th, and attacks against Aulnoye and Montdidier on the 17th -18th were almost entirely abortive, but some of the raids were outstandingly successful. The Australian heavy-bomber squadrons joined in only six, all in the latter part of the month: No. 460 attacking Reims (22nd-23rd), Vaires (27th-28th) and Vierzon (30th June-1st July); Nos. 463 and 467 attacking Limoges (23rd-24th) and Vitry-le-Francois (27th-28th), and No. 466 bombing Blainville sur L’Eau on the 28th-29th. Targets raided by other forces (including individual RAAF airmen) were Cambrai, Douai and St Pol (14-15), Lens and Valenciennes (15-16), Aulnoye and Montdidier (17-18), Laon (22-23), Saintes (23-24) and Metz (28-29).

In all the RAAF squadrons sent out 139 aircraft. Enemy defences were patchy but over the whole series of raids 65 aircraft (3.6 per cent) were lost, the worst casualties being sustained during the deep penetration to Vierzon when 14 out of 118 Lancasters were shot down (11.8 per cent). On several occasions individual Australians and sometimes whole crews, forced to parachute after enemy attack, were successfully hidden by French patriots.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 158

Lancaster NE116 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2233 hours on the night of 22 June 1944 to bomb railway facilities at Rheims, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Sixteen aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and two of these including NE 116 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed and exploded at Morienval (Oise), 8 kms north north east of Crepy-en-Valois, France. Five members of the crew were killed and two evaded capture and returned safely to the UK.

The crew members of NE116 were:

Flight Sergeant William Joseph Flynn (424170) (Bomb Aimer) Baled out, Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 June 1945
Sergeant John Albert Jillings (1294813) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Samuel David Keenen (1126908) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant Kenneth George Mason (1304507) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Laurence Randolph Pearson (421453) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Clive William Schwilk (422304) (Navigator) Baled out, PoW, Escaped, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 July 1945
Flight Sergeant William Worthington (1670524) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)

In a statement Flight Sergeant Schwilk said: “The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter at 7,000 feet and immediately caught fire. The aircraft was out of control and both Flight Sergeant Flynn and I baled out. I was later informed that the other crew members had been killed.’

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster LM547 (Flying Officer Francis Stephen Lamble (400388) (Pilot)) on 22 June 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/32/416
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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