Flying Officer Reginald Lawton

 

Unit : 190 Squadron, 38 Group

Service No. : 139304

 

Flying Officer Lawton was shot down on the 19th September 1944. The following is his M.I.9 evasion report:

 

Date of Birth : 17 Jul 13.

R.A.F. Service : Since 17 Jun 41.

Peacetime Profession : Customs & Excise.

Private Address : 32 York Avenue, Great Crosby, Liverpool, 3.

 

Other members of the crew:

S/Ldr GILLIARD (pilot) (Last seen in aircraft. Probably killed.)

F/O CULLEN (bomb aimer) (Baled out)

F/Sgt BYRNE (engineer) (Baled out. Injured on landing. Last seen in hospital at Arnhem. Probably P/W.)

P/O LANE (wireless operator) (Baled out. No information.)

2 Army despatchers (Reported killed by Flak in aircraft.)

F/O McEWAN (rear gunner) (No information. Probably killed.)

S/Ldr BANTOFT (passenger) (Baled out.)

 

We took off from Fairford at 1300 hrs on 19 Sep 44. While we were dropping supplied to the 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem we were hit by flak at about 1000 ft. I heard the order to bale out and left the aircraft after F/O CULLEN. I landed in some woods near Oosterbeek (N.W. Europe 1:250,000, Sheet 2a, E 6978). There was considerable activity in the vicinity and I was not clear which part of the wood was in our hands. I therefore took cover as quickly as possible. I found myself completely surrounded by machine-gun fire and noticed two heavy Flak batteries firing at an aircraft from near at hand. I decided that the presence of German troops made it impossible for me to move before dark.

 

In the evening I decided to work S.W. to try to contact our forces across the Rhine in the Nijmegen area. I crawled and walked for about two hours, avoiding two Germans and making for the river. At about 2130 hrs I managed to make contact with a patrol of the 1st Airborne Division. They took me to their artillery battery near Oosterbeek. Here I met S/Ldr Bantort from my crew. Next day F/O Cullen also turned up.

 

I remained with the 1st Airborne Division for six days until they were evacuated. On night of 25 Sep we received orders to attempt to cross the Rhine. We started at 2015 hrs and reached the river at about 2330 hrs. F/O Cullen and myself crossed by assault boat and here I parted from him. I was taken to Nijmegen (E 7162), arriving at 0600 hrs on 26 Sep. I remained at Nijmegen until 28 Sep and was taken to Louvain (Sheet 3, J 85). On 29 Sep I went to Brussels and flew from there to U.K. on the same day.

 

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