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Uncle Jim Part 6

by Sue Bridgwater

Contributed by 
Sue Bridgwater
People in story: 
Ernest james Adams (AKA JIm Adams)
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
28 April 2004

The story of these seven deaths and of the loss of one single aircraft give some insight into the nature of life in wartime, and of the tremendous efforts expended to keep up the pressure on the Axis forces. ED473 was an Avro Lancaster Mk. III bomber, the 131st Machine of a production patch of 620 aircraft built by Avro, Manchester. It is known to have served with number 50 Squadron and no. 1667 Conversion Unit before being taken-on-charge by XV Squadron in January 1944. It flew 25 missions with 13 different pilots for 15 Squadron before its final mission on 8th May 1944.

We know little of the service history of most of the crew. However, Pilot Officer “Tommy” Jones reported to Aircrew Training Centre, RAF Uxbridge, in April 1941. His training took him to Brighton, Newquay, Manchester, Brough, Manchester again, Canada, Harrogate, Shawbury, Holme on Spalding, Shawbury again, Childs Ercall, Methwold and Stradishall. Early in March 1944, after three years intensive training, Thomas and his crew were ready for combat. Jim also underwent a long period of training before beginning operational duties, as detailed above in the notes from his service record. After two sorties, one on 18th April on Lancaster EC 395 and one on 1st May in Lancaster LL889, Jim was killed on his third operational flight. This was the first sortie on which all seven men served together. The target of Jim’s April sortie was Rouen in France, that of May 1st was Chambly.

After the war an officer of No. 1 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit discovered the graves and the six crew were laid to rest side by side in a War Graves Commission plot where they still lie, in the Communal Cemetery at Pont-du-Cens, a suburb of Nantes. Flying Officer Horton lies separately from the others in Plot L, Row B, Grave 19.

Jim rests in Grave 22 in Plot L, Row C. His headstone names him as E.J.Adams although my memory of the scroll of commemoration on Nanny’s wall is that it read “J.E.Adams”. His death certificate names him James Ernest Adams.

Jim lived for only 19 years, and none of the children of his six cousins, or step-siblings, was ever able to call him “Uncle”. Yet his place in the family history is secure, his name was spoken and is still spoken with respect and affection. The loss to our family is one of an uncountable number of such losses across the world between 1939 and 1945.

For our “tomorrow”, they gave their “today”.


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