Robert Latham was born in the Sudan, he is on the Extract from the Registers of Births of British subjects, domiciled in United Kingdom, resident in the Sudan. (Births) (Page 393). He was born on the 11th October 1919 the son of Gerald & Mary Elizabeth Latham formerly Williams. His father’s Rank was Superintendent of Government – Dairy.
The 1911 census shows us that Gerald Latham was in the Army at the Royal Army Medical Corps Barracks and Married Quarters, Grosvenor Road, Westminster, London,S.W. (St. Margaret & St. John). He was 21, single and a Private of the 35 Company Royal Army Medical Corps. born Malpas, Cheshire.
By 1915 he was in Khartoum being initiated into the England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1921 on the 1st November 1915 in the Sir Reginald Wingate Lodge. By then he was a Sergeant and age 23.
I don’t know how he met his bride, Mary Elizabeth Williams, but they married on the 19th June 1918 – Gerald LATHAM, 27 Bachelor, Staff Sgt Attached to Egyptian Army, 84, York Street, Robert LATHAM (Deceased), Farmer & Mary Elizabeth WILLIAMS, 27, Spinster, 87, Jackson Street, Stretford, John WILLIAMS (Deceased) Farmer. (By Licence). Witnesses:- Charles Edward HUNT & Winifred WILLIAMS.
Robert, his sister Mary & mother Mary Elizabeth is seen on Passenger Lists going to and from Sudan.
His mother Mary Elizabeth is seen travelling 2nd Class on the “Dunvegan Castle” from Zanzibar, Tanzania with young Robert, age 2, on the 28th March 1922 to London, so was she on her own with Robert in the Sudan, as I found his father Gerald travelling on the S.S. “Castalia” from Liverpool to Sudan on the 11th August 1922. He was working for the Sudanese Government. His address – 87, Jackson St., Stretford , Manchester, 1st Class, Sudan Govt. Age 31 years. Country of intended residence – Sudan.
Again on the 22nd February 1923, Mary Elizabeth and Robert are seen on the “Guildford Castle” to Port Sudan. Again the address is – 87, Jackson St., Stretford in 2nd Class. Their future permanent residence was Sudan.
Then on the 2nd November 1928 the Ship “Kemmendine” brought Mary Elizabeth, 37, & Mary Latham, 4 years 10 months, back to London from Sudan in 1st Class. Their UK address was The Crossways, Wood Lane, Hawarden, Chester.
The 12th February 1932 on the ship “Strathaird” from Sudan to London, Mary Elizabeth, 40 & Mary, 8 were travelling in “T” Class, whatever that means. Their future permanent residence was Sudan, but the Country of Last Permanent Residence was England.
Robert is seen on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10, entering on the 18th September 1930. His parents and sibling Mary were back and forth to Sudan over the years after Robert entered Hawarden Grammar School. Any information would be gratefully received as I do want his story to be correct. He must be remembered for his sacrifice.
1313/2080 LATHAM, Robert, Date of birth – 11th October 1919, The Crossways, Wood Lane, Hawarden, Father’s Occupation – Sudan Govt. Vet. Dept, Khartoum, No previous school mentioned, Date of entry 18th September 1930, date of leaving – 19th July 1935 – Left District.
Robert left Hawarden Grammar School on the 19th July 1935 and the register states he left the district. I wonder if he went straight to the R.A.F. or was he with his family in London?
Robert’s family are seen on the 1939 National Register (taken on the 29th September 1939) living at 6 Disraeli Gardens, Disraeli Gardens , Wandsworth, London, England. This source gives us dates of birth. Gerald Latham was born on the 22nd January 1891, he was a Sudan Government Civil Service Farm Manager, Retired and married. Mary E. Latham, his wife had been born on the 6th June 1891 and as most women who did not have a job on this register were described, she was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.” Their daughter, Mary Latham, who was single had been born on the 15th December 1923 was attending Commercial College.
Again, I do not know when Robert either enlisted or was conscripted, but he married Betty Diane Jarvis in the September quarter of 1941 at Trowbridge, Wiltshire. (Trowbridge Vol. 5a Page 515).
Robert joined the Royal Air Force, but I have no information when, but he was to find himself in 625 Squadron and on the 28th January 1944 he was to find himself on the fateful flight of The Lancaster 111 (D.V. 364) which took off at 23.54 on the 28th January 1944, (Page 15 of 18). – “BERLIN, Aircraft failed to return, nothing heard after take off at 23.54 hours.”
Was he promoted posthumously? (Robert is an Air Bomber as shown on other flights, – (Page 13 of 18 -27th January 1944,(Page 7 of 18 – 14th January 1944) (Page 3 of 18 – 2nd January 1944)(Page 1 of 18 – 1st January 1944) (I have the Operational Records of January 1944 if anyone want me to send them to you., please contact the website.)
Thanks to http://www.rafcommands.com/database/serials/details.php?uniq=DV364 , they give us more details of the crew of Lancaster DV364.
Aircrew details : – Details – Took- off 2354 28 Jan 1944 from Kelstern. Lost without trace. – Source Henk Welting’s Database.
Pilot Officer – Joseph Emmanuel ALVES (170028) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 210.
Sergeant – George BONE (1131466) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 225.
Warrant Officer Class II – Lewis Gerard CARSON (R/109991)United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 254.
Pilot Officer – Robert LATHAM (54355) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 211.
Sergeant – William Henry LYSSINGTON (1804046) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 233.
Flight Lieutenant – George Aytoun SPARK (155494) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 203.
Pilot Officer – Herbert John WATKINS (162607) United Kingdom. Runnymede Memorial Ref : Panel 213.
I downloaded the Operational Records from the National Archives for the month of January 1944, if anyone wants a copy, please get in touch with the website
Search Google for Lancaster DV364 – Back to Normandy – https://www.backtonormandy.org/the-history/air-force-operations/airplanes-allies-and-axis-lost/lancaster/17294-DV3641944-01-29.html
Robert is also remembered on the International Bomber Command : –
LAST OPERATION INFORMATION
Start Date 28-01-1944 – End Date 28-01-1944
Takeoff Station Kelstern
Day/Night Raid Night
Reason for Loss – Lost without trace
Please read : – http://www.bcar.org.uk/kelstern-history
BOMBER COUNTY – AVIATION RESOURCE
Kelstern Airfield History – WWII
The station was declared ready for operational use on 20th September 1943, and on the 1st October, No.625 Squadron was formed at the station as part of 1 Group, Bomber Command. With the formation of the new squadron came the stations first aircraft, the Avro Lancaster. The squadron was finally declared operational on the 9th October, and began a series of “Bullseye” navigational sorties around the country. The finally made its first operational sortie on the 18th , when nine Lancasters took part in a bombing raid on Hanover. The Squadron did not suffer it’s first loss until the night of the 3rd / 4th November, when one of the twelve aircraft taking part in an attack on Dusseldorf failed to return.
Lancasters from the station were to also take part in the Battle of Berlin. Their first lost during this operation was on the second raid on the German capital, on the 26th / 27th November. Avro Lancaster ED809, was shot down near Apeldoorn in Holland. Both the pilot, F/O R. McSorley and all his crew were sadly killed.
Despite all the losses in the various operational missions, the squadron did have some good luck. During a raid on Berlin, a Lancaster flown by Sgt Doyle was hit by another Lancasters incendiary bomb, damaging the rudder controls. But with the crews fast thinking, they carried out running repairs using an intercom lead and managed to make it back to the airfield.
June 1944 was to see No.625 Sqn set a new record (at the time) when it delivered 1202 tons of bombs to various targets in France as part of the run up to the Normandy invasion.
By September 1944, No.625 Sqn had been expanded to three flights thus enabling the squadron to send 31 aircraft on the first of two 1000 bomber raids mounted in a single day against Duisburg. The squadron was to lose its first aircraft on the first raid only minutes after take-off. Lancaster LL956 (Q-Queenie) suffered engine problems on take-off, and with the aircraft fully loaded struggled to climb. The pilot F/O Hannah ordered his crew to jump while he attempted to avoid crashing in the small village of Fulstow. The aircraft finally came down in Little Grimsby. Only one of the crew was killed in this incident when his parachute failed to open after bailing out the aircraft.
Robert was also Mentioned in Despatches.
Sadly Roberts father, Gerald, had died on the 26th September 1943 and his Probate gives details – perhaps when the Scholl Admissions register stated that Robert had left the district the family had moved to Wrexham: –
Gerald Latham in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
LATHAM, Gerald of Rosebank, Kingsmills, Wrexham, Denbighshire died 26 September 1943 at Beachcliffe Promenade, Rhos-on-Sea, Denbighshire. Probate Bangor 25th October to Mary Elizabeth LATHAM, Widow.
Perhaps as Mary Elizabeth is mentioned in her husband’s Will, she survived to be able to attend the service when The Roll of Honour was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War. As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.