Story 44: The crew of Lancaster ND467
The crew of Avro Lancaster mark III ND467 is typical of this multinational Allied military effort, international cooperation which led to the defeat of German forces in the Battle of Normandy and ultimately brought World War Two to an end.
The crew of ND467 – nicknamed ‘B-Beer’ – assigned to 83 (Pathfinder) Squadron RAF and based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, was made up of aircrew from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America.
The pilot of the aircraft was 23 year old Pilot Officer George Mervyn Kennedy from Aukland, who served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
The six crew were: 20 year old Flight Engineer Sergeant Norman G Whitley, RAF; Navigator First Lieutenant Carl Joseph van Horn, USAAF; 22 year olds Air Bomber Sergeant Oswald John Turner, RAF and Wireless Operator Peter J Lynes DFM, RAF; Rear Gunner, Flight Sergeant Constantine George of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and MU Gunner Sgt Arthur W Poyzer DFM, aged 29, who also served in the RAAF.
Sgt Poyzer had already completed 58 operational sorties against the enemy by May 1944, including in the Middle East. The citation for his Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) praised his ‘…high standard of courage in the face of the heaviest enemy opposition…. his skill and ability as a gunner and his untiring vigilance.’
Born in Ohio in 1918, 25 year old 1st Lt van Horn had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in July 1941, around five months before America entered the war, according to the American Air Museum in Britain.
A number of Americans had joined British or Canadian forces before the Pearl Harbour attack on 7 December 1941, which brought the US into the war the following day. Official US documents show that by mid 1944, Carl Van Horn was on ‘detached service’ to the RAF, after transferring to 127th Replacement Battalion, United States Army Air Forces in December 1943.
The young men of ND467 flew 13 missions together between February and June 1944 over targets hundreds of miles from Britain.
These were hazardous sorties over some of the most dangerous and well defended enemy targets in Europe, including the German cities of Stuttgart, Berlin and Nurnberg, as well as targets over Western and Northern France.
Official documents show that ND467 took off from RAF Coningsby at 2215hrs on the night of 7th June 1944. The crew’s mission: to bomb three bridges which crossed the river Orne, South of the City of Caen, ‘bombing by moonlight’.
Sorties like this, carried out in the days after D-Day, caused havoc for German forces, delaying reinforcements trying to reach the Normandy coastline to launch country attacks.
They played a crucial role in enabling the Allies to create a bridgehead on the Normandy coast; a vital strategic foothold which would sustain the momentum of the liberation.
It was the aircraft’s 14th mission, a sortie from which it would not return.
According to former Top Secret documents, ND467 was shot down by a German FW190 just after 0130hrs on the It is not clear what happened to ND467. Official records state that the aircraft was not seen or heard from after taking off from RAF Coningsby.
Most likely it was shot down during the mission over Caen. This is the original document from the US War Department detailing the missing aircraft and crew.
National Archives and Records Administration.
American Air Museum in Britain research has revealed that Pilot Officer Kennedy and four of the six crew died in the crash.
1st Lt Van Horn survived, but was taken prisoner by the Germans. He died the following day.
One member of the crew, F/Sgt Sergeant Constantine George managed to bale out of the stricken aircraft and evaded capture, but it is not clear what happened to him next. An Official document from 127th Replacement Battalion says he was later repatriated to Australia.
Flight Lieutenant George M Kennedy, Pilot Officer Oswald J Turner, Warrant Officer Peter J Lynes DFM and Sergeant Norman G Whitley are buried in a single grave in the Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery.
Initially buried at Caen Cemetery, the remains of 1st Lt van Horn were re-interred at Saint Joseph Cemetery, Lockbourne, Franklin County, Ohio in 1949.
Buried apart for 75 years, the crew of ND467 will be commemorated together on the British Normandy Memorial.