Liege

Liege Armaments Factory

20th December 1943

8 Lancasters and 8 Pathfinder Mosquitoes left England for a bombing attack on the Cockerill steel works at Liege in Belgium. The Mosquitoes markers were not visible below the cloud and the raid was aborted. However one Lancaster was caught by a German night fighter and set on fire. The aircraft broke up over Merbles-Le-Chateau and only one crew member, Geoff Rice, survived, he was thrown clear as the aircraft disintegrated. He suffered a broken wrist and evaded capture thanks to the Belgian resistance, however he was taken prisoner in April 1944. Sadly Geoff Rice died in 1981.

·DV398 KC-Z, Lancaster I departed Coningsby at 17:58 hours
·F/L G Rice DFC (POW)
·F/S E C Smith (Died)
·F/O R Macfarlane (Died)
·WO2 J W Thrasher RCAF (Died)
·WO2 C B Gowrie RCAF (Died)
·F/S T W Maynard (Died)
·F/S S Burns (Died)

In Memory of Edward Clarence Smith

Flight Sergeant 540655 Flt. Engr. 617 Sqdn., Royal Air Force
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Age: 24.
Additional Information: Son of Clarence and Annie Smith; husband of Evelyn Sarah Smith, of Easthampstead, Berkshire.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium Grave
Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 15.

In Memory of R MacFarlane

Flying Officer 126044 Nav. 617 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium
Grave Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 17.

In Memory of John William Thrasher

Pilot Officer J/19337 Air Bomber 617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Canadian Air Force
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Age: 23.
Additional Information: Son of Charles De Vere Thrasher and Irene Agnes Thrasher, of Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium Grave
Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 16.

In Memory of Chester Bruce Gowrie

Warrant Officer Class II R/93201 W.Op./Air Gnr. 617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Canadian Air Force
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Age: 28.
Additional Information: Son of Malcolm Alvery Gowrie and Phyllis Gowrie, of Tramping Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium Grave
Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 13.

In Memory of Thomas William Maynard

Flight Sergeant 1386420 Air Gnr. 617 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Age: 20.
Additional Information: Son of Sydney Thomas Maynard and Janet Isabella Maynard, of Wandsworth, London.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium Grave
Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 14.

In Memory of Stephen Burns

Flight Sergeant 1217692 Air Gnr. 617 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died: Monday, 20th December 1943.
Age: 22. Additional Information: Son of John and Sarah Jane Burns, of Dudley, Worcestershire.
Commemorative Information: Gosselies Communal Cemetery, Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium Grave
Reference/ Panel Number: Row 2. Grave 12.

Location:

Gosselies Communal Cemetery is located 5 km north of Charleroi. Take the E42 from Mons in the direction of Liege then exit at Gosselies onto the N5 towards Charleroi. 2 km after this junction lies the third right hand turning towards Brussels. After taking this turning the next right hand turning leads onto the Chaussee de Fleurus, with the cemetery located 50 metres along this road on the left hand side.

Historical Information:

During the 1939-45 War, Gosselies town was the site of a Luftwaffe base, and British Commonwealth airmen shot down by fighters from that base were buried in the Communal Cemetery. There are now 10, 1914-18 and over 100, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site.