How can I find my uncle’s Second World War RAF records?

Phil Tomaselli helps a reader find out more about his uncle's service in the RAF.

Lancaster bomber crew

I am looking for any information or photographs of my uncle, flight engineer Sergeant Anthony John Maxwell Davies, 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who was born in 1926 and died on 21 March 1945. He was Lancaster aircraft crew, and we think he was based in Skellingthorpe.
A Roberts

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Researching RAF servicemen without a service record can be difficult, but given that your uncle died in service it should be possible to obtain a copy (for £30) via www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website confirms his death on 21 March 1945, and his burial in Durnbach War Cemetery, Bayern, Germany. The Operations Record Books (ORBs) for 61 Squadron are available from The National Archives website. There are two for each month costing £3.50 each (although currently free while The National Archives is closed due to coronavirus). They’re being indexed and put online by thegenealogist.co.uk, but the website has not yet got to 1944/1945.

Operations Record Book
Operations Record Book showing aircraft and crew, 1944

The first ORB each month gives the bigger operational picture, and the second (pictured above) details aircraft and crew. It appears that Anthony joined 61 Squadron in October 1944, as his first raid was on 1 November on Homberg. He almost always served with the same crew. They made 20 raids on targets including Berlin, Dortmund, Essen, Karlsruhe and a dam at Urft bombed in daylight. They missed the bombing of Dresden. Curiously, his name does not appear in the crew list for 21 March. But the whole crew lie together in Durnbach Cemetery. Perhaps Andrew had been ill, recovered and flew with them anyway. The website no-50-and-no-61-squadrons-association.co.uk/history-of-n0-61-squadron may be able to help with photographs.

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Phil Tomaselli is a military family history expert and author of Tracing your Air Force Ancestors