How it began:
In 1987 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join a group of dedicate people that we trying to save a Canadian built Lancaster Mk.X.
Being transplanted to Canada from England I had grown up with a huge awareness of the Second World War and so I jumped at the chance to lend a hand in preserving a piece of military history.
As things generally do, one thing lead to another and I started reading as much as I could on the type. If for no other reason then to help answer questions from the public who may stop by to look at the old Lanc.
One of the books I had picked up in my scramble to gain knowledge had by chance a list of all of the Canadian Lancaster Mk.X's and this included such things as: Squadron Service, Date of Loss, some operational sortie information and when applicable what the aircraft did after the war.
At around the same time I was starting to play around with databases and since the information contained in the book learnt itself nicely to a database application I decide to use this as raw data and thus teach myself how to setup and program database. If you can believe it, this was also before Windows has really taken over and we are in fact talking about a DOS based program and was years before the Internet exploded onto the seen. By the way does anyone remember DOS??
Things get out of control:
As usually happens when one gets into something and it directly ties into a hobby, things generally get out of control in fairly short order and I was certainly not out of the norm. Having recently acquired yet another book on Lancaster's - my library was now rapidly expanding - I was presented with what can only be described as MANNA from heaven - a complete list of every Lancaster and Manchester ever built and some that we ordered but later cancelled.
So I was hooked and started into what I knew was going to be a long typing job. The entry of 7377 aircraft and whatever information happened to be available at the time began in earnest in 1989. Entry was slow as having to work full time and also meet other commitments meant that only spare time could be given to the project. But as the years went by the entry continue, some claimed I had also gone mad! On three separate occasions I went back the start and began adding additional data, the final time being with the publication the Bill Chorley's massive work listing all of Bomber Commands Losses. Again this was MANNA from heaven as I could now complete all of the crew losses for every aircraft and also have some data as to the cause of loss etc.
As my research expanded, the expansion and general use of the Internet also came into being and with it came a very basic web page on which I had some limited data on Lancaster's but more importantly an offer to help anyone who wished to locate data on a given Lancaster or was looking for data of a loss relative. To say the response was large would be a minor understatement, some days I was receiving 50-100 emails all asking fro help. But the benefits also outweighed the efforts... as with each response I completed I asked for any additional information that the person may have had to be forwarded. And so data began to arrive in the forms of lists of sorties flown by crew members, copies of log books and also word of mouth that I was able to help and/or was looking for information.
As 2003 closes the main body of the database which includes - losses for each Lancaster raid, date or raid, target, raid general data, crew names and fates, cemeteries, crash sites and aircraft service histories - is complete and available for searches. And as 2004 approaches my research has again taken another step forward with the decision to begin logging ALL Lancaster and Manchester bomber operational sorties - this will include: take off/landing times, crew names, target, date of raid and possibly bomb loads. A huge task which requires me to acquire all 57 Lancaster Squadron Operational Records Books from the British Archives and estimated cost of 23,000 UK Pounds!
2008 Update - after taking some time off from this project, mainly to move house, rebuilt a Triumph Spitfire and to just give my head a break from this. I have now returned to the task of entering sortie data. To date 47,000 sorties done and I have a back log of ORB's sitting on the shelf waiting to be entered. More ORB's remain to be purchased or copies obtained for helpful sources. Total sortie count is estimated at approx. 157,000 - Yikes!
Why do this? I genuinely enjoy the research and trying to put together final historical histories for each Lancaster and Manchester. At worse case when complete the records will be centrally located and not spread all over and if I can afford to make the records accessible online.
How can you help???
I'm glad you asked - I need help in acquiring Operational Records and aircrew log books. Sponsorship by cash donations would be welcomed as would donations of copies of this material. Credit is given to all sources and respected.
Also if you'd like to contribute by writing the text for a page to be added to this web site, again I'd enjoy hearing from you. As you will read, many have done so in the past and it is a pleasure to add such pages.
If you can help, then I would welcome hearing from you and appreciate your help is preserving RAF Bomber Command's history.
Please email me at: larry617 "at" lancaster-archive.com (please replace "at" with @ symbol)
Finally, thank you for visiting I hope you enjoy your time on my web site