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A Poignant Meeting At Tangmere Museum

A chance sighting of a photograph of the model of Avro Lancaster SR-U ME619 and an email to the museum brought about a meeting recently of next-of-kin of two of the crew who perished.

SR-U was attached to 101 squadron Bomber Command during WW2, a dedicated Radio Countermeasures squadron which, as the name suggests, undertook disruptive action to interfere with German night fighter control. 101 squadron aircraft carried a full bomb load in addition to their countermeasures role. They also carried an extra crew member, a fluent German speaking radio operator, to confuse the night fighter instructions. SR-U was lost on operations against Dusseldorf in April 1944. Four crew perished, and the other four parachuted to internment as PoWs for the remainder of the war.

David Burleigh, a volunteer at the museum, is the youngest brother of special radio operator Sergeant Terence Burleigh, and William Ault, who travelled from Shoreditch with his wife, is the grandson of Sergeant William Ault, the rear gunner of SR-U, two of the four crew members who died that night. They are laid side-by-side at Rheinberg Military cemetery, 50 miles north of Cologne, in Germany. David Burleigh built the model of SR-U as a tribute to his brother and it is on display at the museum.

Following an exchange of information and stories about the crew, David showed William and his wife around the museum. They were amazed and fascinated by the wealth of artefacts and history on display, a fitting conclusion to an emotional meeting for both men.

Main photo: William Ault (left) and David Burleigh.
Bottom left: David’s model of Lancaster SR-U.
Bottom right: The Rheinberg Military Cemetery.

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