Flight Sergeant Donald Finlayson - 44 Squadron  

Flight Sergeant Donald Finlayson - RAFVR

 Flight Sergeant Donald Finlayson was serving as Navigator on board Lancaster Mk.III ME299 coded KM-E on  February 8/9, 1945 when it took off from Spilsby at 1650hrs for an operation to bomb the synthetic oil plants at Politz. The aircraft crashed 45km from the target, five of the seven man crew were lost, including Flight Sergeant Donald Finlayson.

 The crew consisted of:






F/L Kenneth Mangos





Sgt T.S. Fitzpatrick - POW


Flight Engineer



F/Sgt Donald Finlayson





F/Sgt John N. Sheehan - POW


Bomb Aimer

Campertown, N.S.W.


F/L Kenneth Bingham - DFC


Wireless Air Gunner

Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire


Sgt Willie James


Air Gunner

Pontnewydd, Monmouthshire


Sgt Maldwyn Jones


Air Gunner

New Broughton, Denbighshire



 Flight Sergeant Donald Finlayson RAFVR was the son of Raymond "Ray" and Beatrice Finlayson and had one brother and sister. He was born in 1922 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. After training at No. 2 Squadron, ITW, Scarborough, Yorkshire, he went on to train in Winnipeg, Manitoba and stayed with a family there, becoming good friends with their daughter "Bunty".


Initial Training Wing Scarborough


 When F/Sgt Sheehan & Sergeant Fitzpatrick arrived back in the U.K. after being prisoners of war, they visited Donald’s mother to recount the events of that night. Flight Sergeant Finlayson is remembered for pushing other members of the crew from the aircraft. One crew member looked up from his parachute descent and saw the plane explode with Donald still on board and clearly visible. Donald had placed his own parachute on either crew member Sheehan or Fitzpatrick, placing one of the injured crew in the arms of his uninjured crew mate so that they could share a parachute if the first one failed, as it was holed. 475 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos were lost on this operation. Donald Finlayson was posthumously awarded his officer’s commission. The five crew members who died are remembered on the Runnymede memorial.

 Flight Sergeant Finlayson is remembered on the Second World War Roll of Honour for Chesterton, Cambridge.

Photo courtesy of Jean Finlayson Hellwag (sister) and Carolyn Carey (niece),special thanks to Errol Martyn, research by Linda Ibrom.