CREW: Edward James Carter, Guy Ernest Dunning, Ronald John Conley, Herbert William Rieger, Henry William Edward Jeffery, Albert Chambers, Frank Raymond Watson, Martin Bryan-Smith
97 Squadron Aircrew after Bourn - CONINGSBY
LANCASTER Z-Zebra - ND739
Lost without trace on D-Day, 6th June 1944
For eyewitness account scroll down page
Pilot: Edward James Carter, DFC
F/E: Guy Ernest Dunning, DFM
Nav: Ronald John Conley, DFC
AB: Herbert William Rieger
Vis A/B: Henry William Edward Jeffery DFM
W/op: Albert Chambers, DFC*
MU/G: Frank Raymond Watson, DFM
R/G: Martin Bryan-Smith, DFC*
When I originally put the first four crew pictures on the site, I wrote 'Unfortunately the only known photo of Conley is splashed with ink'. Since then, a kindly RAF Samaritan by the soubriquet of 'Caoimhin' has stepped in and somehow wizarded all the ink away. See the revised photo to the left and the ink-splattered image of Conley beneath.
FROM THE ORB
5.6.44 ... Today must be recorded as one of the most eventful days in the Squadron's history. The target had been given us at about 1pm. It was a battery of coastal heavy guns on the French coast at a point called St Pierre du Mont, which is situated just on the south eastern base of the Chernourg Peninsula, also La Peanelle. It seemed quite a normal target until various other things came trickling in things such as convoys to be avoided keeping strictly on track, news of impending naval actions to the East, and many other things, until one became aware of the obvious that the invasion of Europe was about to commence. The Squadron Commander was heard to say "Thank God I'm still on ops and not at an O.T.U." Everyone was delighted and excitement was at fever pitch; 18 of our aircraft were detailed. The attack started at 4.50am about 30 minutes before dawn with a red TI which was accurately dropped by an Oboe Mosquito on the target. It was instantly backed up by green TI dropped visually by Mosquito aircraft of 627 Squadron. These TI were not so accurate as those dropped on Oboe. However by the time Main Force came in to bomb, the target was well marked. The Main Force bombing was extremely accurate and the whole point was flattened. Crossing the Channel on the return journey thousands of landing craft were seen proceeding towards the French coast. Two of our crews failed to return. One was captained by the Squadron Commander, W/Cdr E.J.Carter DFC who was flying in "Z" and the other was a Norwegian crew captained by Lt. Jespersen. W/Cdr Carter had with him S/Ldr M.Bryan-Smith DFC, Gunnery Leader and F/L A.Chambers DFC, the Signals Leader. It is believed that they encountered some JU88s.
5/6 June 1944 St Pierre du Mont
ND739Z W/C E.J.Carter, P/O G.E.Dunning, F/L R.J.Conley, F/L H.W.Rieger, F/O H.W.E.Jeffery (Vis A/B), F/L A.Chambers, W/O F.R.Watson, S/L M.Bryan-Smith. Up 0256. 11 x 1000lb MC, 4 x 500lb GP. (Deputy Controller). Aircraft missing. Last heard on W/T at 0504 hours, acknowledging message from Controller.
Extract from Bomber Command Losses 5/6.6.44
Lancaster III ND739 OF Z. Op St Pierre-du-Mont. T/O 0256 Coningsby to bomb a coastal defence battery. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. P/O Dunning and W/O Watson had their awards published as recently as 2 June, while F/O Jeffery, the second air bomber, had flown with 9 Squadron, details of his DFM being gazetted on 10 September 1943.
W/C E.J.Carter DFC(+), P/O G.E.Dunning DFM(+), F/L R.J.Conley DFC RAAF(+), F/L H.W.Rieger RCAF(+), F/O H.W.G.Jeffery DFM(+), F/L A.Chambers DFC & Bar(+), W/O F.R.Watson DFM(+), S/L M.Bryan-Smith DFC & Bar MID(+).
Charles Owen's ops diary for 6 June 1944 gives a brief but vivid picture of D-Day and the shooting down of Carter's Lancaster
6 June 1944
Target: St Pierre du Mont - Coastal battery
A/C Lancaster ND961 N-NAN
We thought the briefing sounded a little odd for this trip, and sure enough when we broke cloud over the French coast the Channel was full of ships. The army had pulled its finger out at last and D-Day was on. We bombed at 05.00 just as it was getting light, and had a grandstand view of the Americans
running in on the beach. First-class prang on the battery, but saw Jimmy Carter shot down by a Ju88 over the target. Marvellous sight coming back as the sun came up. We on the way back and the Americans on the way out.
Landed back in time for breakfast, but very disappointed that there was nothing on the 8 o'clock news.