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In the footsteps® of

Flight Sergeant Arthur Wallace Poyzer DFM

No 83 (Pathfinder) Squadron RAF

Grave of the crew of Lancaster ND476 OL-B

Cherie and Allen Weston at the grave of the crew of Lancaster ND476 OL-B at Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery.  [© Ian R Gumm, 2015]

Arthur Poyzer was a Flight Sergeant in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) who flew in Avro Lancaster Bombers with No 83 Squadron RAF. He had taken part in the Middle Eastern Campaign before coming to Britain where he flew with the Squadron against the enemy's major targets in Europe. In recognition of his service and actions he had received the Distinguished Flying Medal on 20th May 1944. His citation reads:

"This NCO has completed a total of 58 operational sorties against the enemy, 13 of which have been with the Pathfinder Force. In addition to operating in the Middle East, F/S Poyzer has also operated against the majority of the enemy's major targets in Europe. Throughout these operations, he has displayed a high standard of courage in the face of the heaviest enemy opposition. His skill and ability as a gunner and his untiring vigilance in the air are worthy of the highest praise and he has set an excellent example for others to follow. He is strongly recommended for the non-immediate award of the DFM."

No 83 Squadron was a Pathfinder Squadron that carried out target marking duties for Bomber Command. In April 1944, 83 Squadron was transferred from No 8 Group to No 5 Group at RAF Coningsby. Up to this time all pathfinding had been done by No 8 Group, but now 83 Sqn was to lead its old parent Group, No 5, against separate targets. The squadron became concerned with attacks on railway targets in France, Belgium and Western Germany in preparation for the Allied invasion of the Continent.

On the eve of the invasion, the night of 5/6th June 1944, 83 Squadron bombed gun emplacements at La Pernelle on the Normandy coast. On the night of 6th/7th June 1944 83 Squadron RAF was tasked with bombing communications in the vicinity of Caen, France.

The aircraft in which Flight Sergeant Poyzer flew was an Avro Lancaster III, ND467 OL-B. This was one of the aircraft that took part in the mission over Caen and it took off from RAF Coningsby at 00.50 hrs on 7th June 1944. Whilst over the target area, ND467 was shot down and all but one of the crew were killed. Arthur, along with Flight Lieutenant George M Kennedy, Pilot Officer Oswald J Turner, Warrant Officer Peter J Lynes DFM and Sergeant Norman G Whitley are buried in a single grave in the Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery; the one American crew member, First Lieutenant C J Van Horn is buried in an American National Cemetery and the eighth crew member, Filght Sergeant C George survived and evaded capture.

Flight Sergeant George bailed out of the aircraft after it was hit and did not see any of the other crew members exit the Lancaster. He later reported: "I was the first to bail out and I do not think the others had time to escape before the crash."

In July 2015 I had the honour to follow in the footsteps of Flight Sergeant Arthur Wallace Poyzer in the company of his niece Cherie Weston and her husband Allen.

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Page last updated: 22 April 2022