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John Palmerley

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

John Palmerley was born in the Dewsbury area in the Summer of 1922, the son of Durham born John Palmerley (1893 - 1938) and Leeds born Olive Stannard (1888 - 1960) who married at St Peter’s Church, Leeds on the 22nd May 1915. John, a leather splitter by trade was 21 years of age and Olive, one of eight children, was aged 27 years.

John Palmerley senior was living in Crook, Durham in 1911 with his widowed mother and three siblings, but by the time of his marriage in 1915 both he and Olive gave their address as Warrel’s Place, Bramley, Leeds. The couple had three children from their marriage: Roy born on the 23rd December 1915; Mona born on the 17th March 1920 and John Palmerley junior, born in 1922. All three children were born in the Dewsbury area, suggesting that they may have arrived in Ossett in late 1915. The period between 1915 and 1920 when no children were born to the couple suggests that John Palmerley senior may have served in WWI.

John Palmerley senior was a leather merchant with business premises in Ossett and by 1936 the family wee living at "High Lea", Albert Street, Ossett. John Palmerley senior died, aged 45 years, in Ossett on the 17th October 1938 while living at 6 Sunnydale Park. He was buried at South Ossett Christ Church on the 20th October 1938. Probate was granted at London on the 23rd December 1938 to his widow, Olive.

In September 1939 Olive was living with her three children at 6, Sunnydale Park Ossett. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records John Palmerley’s widowed mother, Olive, living on Queens Drive following the death of son in May 1943.

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