The following has been found by research, luck and a major contribution from ROY LOURENS Nephew of JACK LAURENS.Commonwealth War Graves 1
My Uncle (Bert), was one of many who got the spelling of Jack Laurens incorrect. The following is a transcript of an e-mail sent to me by Roy Lourens and puts pieces of the puzzle into their place.
Some of the photos are original and as seen on the "Bert Pinner Page" also taken from "Bomber Squadron at War" by Andrew Brookes and "LANCASTER" by M. Garbett & B. Goulding. My apologies for any copyright infringed I mean no profit or harm.
|Taken from my uncles collection. He describes the crew as of different nationalities trying on new body armour.
This was not an unusual occurrence by all accounts
Bert in background - hands in Pockets
His name was JOHN Lourens, but was also known as JACK, probably to distinguish him from his father who was also John (JAN). he was born in Wolseley 1918, a country town about a hundred kilometers from Cape Town, South Africa
After school he joined the Navy as a gun battery mechanic on the ship Louis Botha at Gordons Bay. This was the former Royal Navy Cruiser HMS Thames of WW I vintage. He came to the UK and joined the Grenadier Guards, where he served from 1936 to 1941. He was wounded at Dunkirk in heavy fighting - I think the Grenadier Guards had the job of being the rearguard- and returned to London with nothing. He transferred to the RAF in June 1941 after training in Canada and was based at 101 Squadron.
He was one of the few who somehow managed to serve in all three forces -Navy, Army and Air Force.
Jack enrolled in the RAF under the spelling Jack Laurens, whereas he fought in the Guards as Lourens. The family name has veered from spelling the original German name (Lorenz, Lohrentz and Laurentz in 1680, but not used since about 1700) in various ways; mostly the standard Afrikaans Lourens, but sometimes Laurens, which would have been easier in England, where he married.
I (ROY LOURENS) was born in Cape Town but pronounce my name as Laurens in Australia, simply because that is easier for Australians to pronounce, and I expect Jack did the same.
At the time of the body armour photo, he was W/O Jack Laurens. Later lost over North Netherlands on the difficult Leipzig raid - his 20th sortie - in the early hours of the morning on 20th February 1944: His crew was known as the United Nations crew, as they came from South Africa, Canada, British Honduras, Wales, Yorkshire, and the rest of England.
Jack, according to the five survivors, stayed at the controls of the Lancaster while it was in its death plunge to give the others time to get out. Three were too late, and died. Four of the five survivors fell into helpful Dutch hands and evaded capture for a considerable time. ROYSTON was taken POW the day after they crashed. I think at least one got back to the UK un-captured.
Of his crew on that last flight, the Navigator Sgt (later F/O) Leslie 'crash' Burton, Flight Engineer Sgt William Alexander George Kibble, Rear Gunner Sgt Albert Edward Royston, Special Sgt Arthur (Jim) Davies, bomb Aimer Sgt Ronald Aitken, survived. Mid Upper Turret Gunner William Frederick Donald Bolt, Wireless Operator Cass Henry Waight and Pilot Jack Laurens had insufficient time to leave the burning plane with parachutes and died.
Jack was my father's younger brother. The son of his older brother recently visited Belgium and made a trip to the Leek (Tolbert) cemetery near Groningen earlier this year. He needed some help finding Jack's grave, and the very person he asked there turned out to be the son of one of the Dutch who looked after the survivors. As a lad of 11 year old, Johannes Van der Velde remembered the Lancaster DV 267 K for King coming down early in the morning of 20 February 1944. His father found the two bodies - Jack still at the controls, and Sgt Don Bolt (MUG) in a field. Sgt William Frederick Donald Bolt was buried beside Jack. Commonwealth graves Commission 2
Jack was made a Pilot Officer posthumously, and had been awarded the DFM earlier for his courage, skill and determination during the series of Berlin raids.
LEAGUE OF NATIONS
K for King
|Crew heading for K for King for the last time ?|
LAURENS, JOHN. 657916 Flight Sergeant, No. 101 Sqn. (Immediate)
London Gazette 25 Jan 1944. Sorties 11, flying hours 78.45. Pilot. Air2/9216
Flight Sergeant Laurens is a South African who has shown conspicuous courage and determination on all the operational sorties he has carried out. On the night of 29th December, 1943, in spite of the complete failure of all his navigational aids very early on the way to Berlin, he continued with the sortie and successfully attacked the target. This was the second occasion on which this N.C.O. has carried on when some of his equipment has been unserviceable. On the night of 2nd December, 1943, also when attacking Berlin, he was coned by searchlights and very severely damaged by flak, when on the run-up to bomb. His aircraft was thrown out of control but with magnificent skill, he remained on an even keel and with splendid determination went on and released his bombs in the target area. Flight Sergeant Laurens has completed 11 sorties, 7 of which have been against the German capital. He is completely fearless, while his captaincy and leadership are of a very high order which inspires his crew with confidence and sets a fine example to the squadron. It is recommended that this N.C.O.'s courage, determination and magnificent devotion to duty be recognisied by an immediate award of the D.F.M.
6th January 1944
Remarks by Station Commander:
This N.C.O. has displayed outstanding determination to reach his target at all costs regardless of difficulties or dangers. His exceptional qualities and coolness set a fine example to his crew and his skilful handling of his aircraft inspired them with the utmost confidence. I recommend that his fine achievements be rewarded by the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
many thanks to Jim Routledge for the above
Comments and remarks always welcomed