Pilot Officer James Sills  

Pilot Officer James Sills - RAF

 Pilot Officer James Sills was serving as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on board Lancaster Mk.III LM441 coded LS-T on  March 25, 1944 when it took off from Mildenhall at 1847hrs for an operation to Berlin. The aircraft was part of as part of a force of 557 Lancasters, 216 Halifax’s and 18 Mosquito’s. LM441 which had  already taken part in previous ops to Berlin and Leipzig  and with a  total of 83 hours on it’s airframe, was shot down by flak on its homebound journey, crashing 3 kms N of Bonn, Germany, the entire crew was killed.

 The crew consisted of:

Name Service Trade Hometown  Age
F/L William Grove  RAFVR Pilot Swansea, Wales 24
Sgt John Johnson  RAFVR Flight Engineer Harrogate, Yorkshire 28
Sgt Arthur Jackson  RAFVR Navigator Upper Tooting, London 22
F/Sgt Frank Holland  RAFVR Bomb Aimer Birmingham 29
P/O James Sills  RAFVR W/Op/AG Hull 24
F/Sgt Allan Thompson  RAFVR Air Gunner Batley, Yorkshire 24
P/O Ivan Tvrdeich  RNZAF Air Gunner Auckland, New Zealand 32

 Pilot Officer James Archibald Sills RAF was the son of William and Cecilia Sills and husband of Elsie Viola of Hull. He worked as a junior clerk for the Alexandra Park Trustees, Alexandra Place, Wood Green, London from May to July 1937 before joining the RAF. Beginning as ground crew working on communication equipment, he was re-mustered and trained as a Wireless Operator before joining Bomber Command. Known as "Jimmy", he was the 24 year old at the time of his death and was Mentioned in Dispatches on 17th July 1942

Record of Service


Enlisted 9th August 1937 at 2 Depot ,Henlow

30th Sept.1937 to 2 Depot, Cardington

5th Nov.1937 to E.W.& S.

27th Sept.1938 to HQ 5 group, Grantham

9th May 1939 to 228 Squadron. Pembroke Dock

9th May 1939 Mediterranean

15th Sept.1939 to 228 squadron.P.Dock

10th Feb.1940 to Penrhos

7th April 1940 to 11 OTU

5th June 1940 to 214 squadron

5th June 1940 to 75 squadron

6th Nov.1940 admitted to RAF Hospital Ely

19th Nov.1940,discharged from RAF Hospital Ely to possibly convalesce

15th June 1941 to 75 Squadron

25th July 1941 to 11 OTU

8th March 1943 to 1652 CU

24th March 1943 to 196 squadron

15th April 1943 to 1654/7 CU

24th Sept 1943 to 15 squadron

28th Nov.1943,discharged,appointment to commission

Next posting to WCNE, Uxbridge approved with effect from 24th March 1944


Rank & Trade

31st Dec 1937-AC2-ACH/WO

31st Dec 1938-AC2-wireless operator

31st December 1939-AC1-wireless operator

31st December 1940-T/Sgt-wireless operator/air gunner

31st December 1941-T/F.Sgt-wireless operator/air gunner

31st December 1942-TFSgt-wireless operator/air gunner

28th Nov.1943-TWO-wireless operator

 In the Investigation report of 23rd August 1947 compiled by F/L Donner, the Investigation officer, the aircraft was seen at approximately 22.00 hrs approaching the village of Bergheim from the direction of Koln and Bonn. The aircraft was on fire and flying very low and finally crashed in flames at approximately 1 KM SSE of Bergheim. The crash scene was fenced off and guarded by the Military from Hangelar and the following day the remains were removed. There were three aircrew lying within 200 metres of their Lancaster, with their parachutes partly open, indicating that they were perhaps too low to bale out. P/O Tvrdeich was one to them, his body later identified by his named 'Caterpillar Club' Badge. Another three bodies were found in the wreckage. No trace of a seventh crew member was found and it was presumed that he had managed to bale out, fallen in the Rhine and drifted down the river and drowned.

 F/L Grove,F/Sgt Holland,F/Sgt Thompson and P/O Tvrdeich rest in the War Cemetery at Rheinberg while P/O Sills and the remaining crew members are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Loftus, research by Linda Ibrom.