Flight Sergeant Thomas Pragnell - 432 Squadron  

Flight Sergeant Thomas Pragnell - RAFVR

Flight Sergeant Thomas Pragnell  was serving as an air gunner on board Lancaster Mk. II DS831 coded QO-N during an operation to Berlin on December 16,1943. The aircraft departed East Moor at 1629hrs but was shot down by a night fighter piloted by Obit Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, IV/NJG1. The aircraft crashed between Witjaard and Weidum Friesland, some 7 km S of Leeuwarden, Holland at 1841hrs. Six of the eight man crew were killed, including Flight Sergeant Thomas Pragnell.

The crew consisted of:

Name Service Trade Hometown  Age
F/O W.C.Fisher  USAAF Pilot - -
Sgt Owen.D.Lewis - POW RCAF 2nd Pilot - -
Sgt Raymond Hughes  RAFVR Flight Engineer Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales 19
F/Sgt James Briegel  RCAF Navigator - -
F/Sgt Thomas Pragnell  RAFVR Bomb Aimer Northampton 22
F/Sgt Montagu Brudell - POW RAAF W/Op/AG Sydney,Australia 21
W/O Raymond Saunders  RAAF Air  Gunner East Guildford,W.Australia 23
F/Sgt Herbert Turner  RCAF Air  Gunner London, Ontario 24

 Flight Sergeant Thomas Walter Pragnell RAFVR was the son of George and Sarai Ann of Northampton. He was the twin brother of Jack and also Elsie,Noreen,Stan and Doris. Before enlisting he worked at Manfields Shoe Factory in Northampton. His twin  brother Jack was also a bomb aimer  in the RAFVR

Twin brothers Jack and Thomas Pragnell both served as Bomb Aimers in Bomber Command

 After the war, at a ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the crash, Jack Pragnell, twin brother to Thomas met one of the survivors of the crew who told him that a decision was made to guide the plane to an area away from the town (as they had a full bomb load) to cause the least damage to the town, a decision that would cause 6 of the crew to lose their lives. Flying Officer Fisher rests in the United States Military cemetery at Neuville-en-Condroz Cemetery in Belgium, while his five crew rest in the Leeuwarden Protestant Churchyard.

An excellent and detailed account of the crew's last operation together was written by M.N.Huizenga can be seen here.


  Photos courtesy of Jack Pragnell and Jenny Maguire, research by Linda Ibrom.