RAINE James Metcalfe

James Metcalfe RAINE 1915 – 1942

648020 Sergeant Air Gunner James Metcalfe Raine, 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force died 4 July 1942, aged 27.  He is buried at Helsingborg [Palsjo] Municipal Cemetery, Sweden[1] and commemorated on West Auckland War Memorial.

Family Details

James Metcalfe Raine was born 1915 [2], the son of James and Dora Raine.  In 1911, James and Dora lived at Toft Hill with their 2 children Holmes and Sarah Ann.  James [senior] worked as a coal miner. The family presumably moved to the West Auckland area later.

Service Details

The service details of James M. Raine have not been researched.

No 61 Squadron was re-formed in March 1937 as a bomber squadron and in WW2 flew with No.5 Group, RAF Bomber Command.  It’s first operational mission was on 25 December 1939, am armed reconnaissance over the North Sea by 11 Hampden bombers.  This was followed by its first bombing mission 7/8 March 1940.  Beginning operations with Hampdens, the squadron converted to Manchesters in July 1941 then Lancasters in Spring 1942.[3]

No 61 Squadron flew out of RAF Hemswell until July 1941, RAF North Luffenham until October 1941, RAF Woolfox Lodge until May 1942 and RAF Syerston until November 1943.  It was detached on loan to Coastal Command RAF St. Eval in July and August 1942.[4]

Details of the fateful mission are set out below:[5]

Lancaster B.Mk.1 R5663 “QR-B” of 61 Sqn., RAF. Took off from RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire at 22:35.

Mission: Laying mines in Öresund (between Helsingborg and Helsingör), hit by flak in one main fuel tank. The aircraft was hit by the 4./Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 508 off Helsingor and crashed in shallows 200 metres from Lerberget.
The pilot, Flight Sergeant G. S. Williams was the only person to exit the aircraft, wounded. He was saved from drowning by a small rowing boat.

According to the 61 Squadron RAF ORB (Operational Record Book):

“The pilot of another aircraft engaged in similar operations reported the weather was clear over the target with good visibility and moonlight. No enemy fighters, and the flak encountered was light. At 1:36 am one aircraft, believed to have been hit by flak, which was seen to dive into the sea to the east of Helsingborg from a height of approximately five thousand feet. As far as is known, the only aircraft in this area at the time was R5663, which was one of two 61 Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation. The other was R5488.”

The remaining six crew were killed in action:
Sergeant Mervyn Caddy, RAAF, 404951, observer, age 32
Sergeant Bruce Morgan, RCAF, R/82076, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Sergeant Jack Pritchard, RAF, 1377413, Flight Engineer, age 21
Sergeant James Raine, RAF, 648020, Air Gunner, age 27
Sergeant John Samson, RAF, 1369354, Air Gunner, age 19
Sergeant Harry Victor Turton, RAF, 1167137, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Burial [6]

Sergeant Air Gunner James Metcalfe Raine is buried at grave reference XV.14. Helsingborg [Palsjo] Municipal Cemetery, Sweden.  His headstone bears the following epitaph:

In Affectionate Remembrance

Of J.M.R.

He Made the

Supreme Sacrifice

The cemetery contains 47 Commonwealth airmen of the Second World War including James’ 5 fellow air crew.  Although Sweden was neutral throughout the war, a number of servicemen are buried here, most of them airmen who failed to return from bombing raids over Germany or German occupied territory.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.492 1915Q3 Auckland

[3] http://www.no-50-and-no-61-squadrons-association.co.uk/history-of-n0-61-squadron/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._61_Squadron_RAF

[5] https://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/164290

[6] CWGC