View Aircrew Details
Surname ETCHELLS   Initials R M   First Name ROBERT MATHER  
Decorations DSO DFC  
Rank Flight Leutenant   Unit RAF   Service No. 161599  
Age Unknown  Deceased   Previous Squadron 625  
Comments 9/2/44 - P/O R. M. ETCHELLS & CREW posted from 625 Squadron  
Grave Location  
Additional Info  
War Graves Link   Grave Photo NO Cemetery Photo NO
Award Date Citation / Reference Squadron
DFC  12/09/1944  Acting Flight Lieutenant Robert Mather ETCHELLS (161599), R.A.F.V.R., 156 Sqn.  156 
DSO  24/10/1944  Acting Flight Lieutenant Robert Mather ETCHELLS (161599), R.A.F.V.R., 156 Sqn.

ETCHELLS, Robert Mather, F/L, DFC (161599, Royal Air Force) - No.156 Squadron - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 27 October 1944.

Born 1920 at Mastington (?) , County Durham.
Educated at Ryhope Secondary School and Sheffield University.
Enlisted 1941; trained in Canada.
Commissioned 1943.
Awarded DFC, 15 September 1944 for services with No.156 Squadron.
The incident occurred on the night of 26 August 1944.
Reported missing when DSO announced.

On night in August 1944, Flight Lieutenant Etchells was captain of an aircraft in an attack on Kiel. Just as the bombs were released over the target, the aircraft was attacked and damaged by an enemy fighter. One engine was put out of action, the rear turret was rendered unserviceable and the fuselage holed in many places.

Nevertheless, course was set for base. The enemy coast was safely crossed but shortly afterwards Flight Lieutenant Etchells was compelled to bring his aircraft down on to the sea. The crew got safely aboard the dinghy and some hours later they were sighted by a pilot of an aircraft who reported their position.

During the next day and night they drifted until an airborne lifeboat was dropped safely to them. This was boarded and course was set for England. Before the English coast was reached the crew were picked up by a fishing vessel just as the position was becoming extremely serious.

Throughout a most trying ordeal, Flight Lieutenant Etchells displayed great leadership and courage and his excellent example helped greatly to maintain the morale of his crew.
Citation details provided by Hugh Halliday. 
Source Date Comments
LG 36302  24/12/1943  7th Aug. 1943 1451806 Robert Mather ETCHELLS (161599). appt P/O 
ORB  9/02/1944  P/O R. M. ETCHELLS & CREW posted from 625 Squadron. 
ORB  9/02/1944  P/O R. M. ETCHELLS & CREW posted from 625 Squadron 
ORB  26/08/1944  16 aircraft detailed for night operations on KIEL. All proceeded, one aircraft missing F/L R.M. Etchells and crew. 
ORB  29/08/1944  F/L R.M. Etchells and his crew was rescued from the sea and have been landed at GRIMSBY. The aircraft had been attacked by an enemy fighter whilst over the target. The E/A was shot down and claimed as destroyed. The aircraft ditched sucessfully although one engine was on fire and two feathered. The dinghy was sighted and a lifeboat dropped. It could not be reached however and the next day another aircraft dropped a lifeboat, which was eventually reached after strenuous efforts, during which an unsuccessful attempt was made by the Rear Gunner to swim out to the lifeboat. The sea was very rough the next day, and just when the lifeboat was almost swamped a DANISH fishing boat was sighted and the crew ere taken aboard. They persuaded the DANES to make course for ENGLAND. An A.S.R. launch eventually took them off and the launch and fishing boat arrived at GRIMSBY. 
ORB  12/09/1944  F/L ETCHELLS awarded immediate DSO. 
LG 36702  12/09/1944  DFC Notification 
ORB  12/09/1944  DSO Notification 
ORB  21/09/1944  F/L R.M. ETCHELLS D.S.O. awarded D.F.C 
LG 36767  24/10/1944  DSO Commendation 
LG 37286  25/09/1945  R. M. ETCHELLS, D.S.O., D.F.C. (161599). Appt F/Lt 7th Aug. 1945.