Poppy Logo

John Palmerley

Sergeant John Palmerley, 1457804, Air Gunner, 180 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Son of John and Olive Palmerley of Queen's Drive, Ossett. John Palmerley senior was a leather merchant with business premises in Ossett and in 1936 the family were living at 'High Lea', Albert Street, Ossett.

No. 180 Squadron was formed at West Raynham, Norfolk, on 13th September 1942, as a light-bomber squadron equipped with North American Mitchells. Early in October it moved to Foulsham - also in Norfolk - and it was from there, on 22nd January 1943, that it flew its first operational mission against the enemy - a raid on oil targets at Terneuzen (Ghent) in Belgium.

Palmerley was the air gunner in a B25 Mitchell bomber, FL-211 that left RAF Foulsham, near Norwich, at 09:40 on the 25th May 1943 on a daylight raid into occupied France. Their aircraft was shot down at Pende, near St. Valery-sur-Somme after they had semi-successfully attempted the bombing of the airfield at Abbeville, home of the "Abbeville Boys", a gang of Focke-Wulf 190 fighter pilots that had played havoc with Allied bombers. Three of the four-man crew are buried at Pende: Sergeant John Palmerley, Flight-Sergeant R,J. Fowler and Flight Sergeant D.R.N. Reynolds. However, the pilot of the downed aeroplane, Squadron-Leader John Theodore Hanafy lies in Abbeville Cemetery.

Mitchell Bomber

Above: A 180 Squadron B25 Mitchell bomber, which was an American made aeroplane, provided via the Lend-Lease arrangement. The RAF was the only force to use the B-25 on raids against Europe from bases in the United Kingdom. A total of 93 Mitchell Is and IIs had been delivered to the RAF by the end of 1942.

Twelve Mitchell bombers were despatched on the raid on Abbeville, but cloud over the target and flak disrupted the attack. Only five aircraft bombed dispersal buildings near the airfield and two Mitchells were lost, both from 180 Squadron, with the loss of all eight crew members.

John Palmerley died on the 25th May 1943 aged 20 years and is buried in Grave 14, Pende Churchyard, near Abbeville, Somme, France


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site