Sydney ‘Sidney’ Joseph James of Broadway (1924-1945)
Sydney1 Joseph James was born in Broadway in 1924, the son of Joseph Charles James and Annie Elizabeth James (née Turner) of Mill Avenue, Broadway.
As a boy, Sidney was educated at Broadway Council School and a member of Broadway Scout Group. Sidney was a keen footballer and played for Broadway Football Club’s junior teams before later becoming Secretary of the Club. After leaving school Sidney went to work on the clerical staff at the corn merchants Titchmarsh and Hunt in the village.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Broadway set up a Pig Club and Sidney was appointed the first Secretary of the Club2. Sidney was interested in flying and was a member of Broadway’s Air Training Corps, playing football for Broadway’s ATC at weekends.
Aged 18, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 and he served with the 61 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on Lancaster Bombers.
Operation Leuna and the Loss of the Crew of Lancaster B3, LM720 QR-D
Sidney was killed whilst on operations during the early hours of 15th January 1945. On 14th January, He was one of the crew3 in Lancaster B3, LM720 QR-D, piloted by Flight Officer William George Corewyn, that took off at 8.51pm from RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincoln, on a night time raid to bomb the synthetic oil refinery near Mersberg, Eastern Germany (Operation Leuna). The Lancaster successfully carried out the raid but crashed during the return flight over Norfolk. Poor weather conditions and possibly a garbled message advising the destination of Carnaby Airfield near Bridlington, Yorkshire, are thought to have contributed to the crash. However, the Lancaster headed towards Langham Airfield, Norfolk, and in the fog struck the 200ft RAF radar mast on Bard Hill, Salthouse. The Lancaster came down at 1.21am on Salthouse Heath near Langham Airfield. Six of the crew including Sidney died instantly and Air Bomber Flight Sergeant Edward ‘Teddy’ Boakes died in hospital later the same morning.
Remembering Sydney Joseph James
Sidney’s body was recovered from the crash site and brought back to Broadway. He was buried in St Eadburgha’s Churchyard the following week. His funeral service, attended by his family, friends and representatives from Broadway Parish Council, Titchmarsh and Hunt and Broadway’s ATC, was conducted by the Vicar of Broadway, Rev. V.H. Patrick. Sidney’s coffin was draped in the Union Flag and borne by Sergeant Sunley, Flight Sergeant Phillips and ATC Cadets Agg, Beard, Dyde and Print.
Sydney Joseph James is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour inside St Michael and All Angels Church in the village.
We will remember them.
1. Also spelt ‘Sidney’. His first name was registered at birth as ‘Sydney’ but his RAF records have his name recorded as ‘Sidney’.
2. Broadway Pig Club, to supplement meat rations during the War years, was started in March 1941 following a meeting at the Lifford Memorial Hall attended by Worcestershire’s Agricultural Organiser, C. Culpin. The first officers of the Club were: A.B. Williams (Chairman), Charles Steward (Vice-Chairman), Sydney James (Honorary Secretary) and A.F. Lomas (Hon. Treasurer). A year later the Club had insured 130 pigs and there were over 160 members.
2. The crew of the Lancaster LM720 QR-D were: Flight Sergeant R.C. Battersby (Navigator), Flight Sergeant E.J. ‘Teddy’ Boakes (Air Bomber), Flight Officer W.G. Corewyn (Pilot), Sergeant J. Douglas (Air Gunner), Sergeant P.R. Earl (Flight Engineer) and Sergeant R. Richardson (Air Gunner). They were all in their 20s. The oldest was 24.
Air Crewed Remembered
The records of International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln.