The crew, for some unknown reason, did not operate in December 1943 and thus missed Black Thursday. In January 1944 Wakley did two trips as second pilot with Charles Wilson. On the first op, to Stettin, Wakley's rear gunner, John Roberts, was standing in with another crew, that of Victor Samuel Flack. The Flack crew was lost, and with them John Roberts. The family story is that Roberts had taken the place of a friend who was celebrating his engagement. This may have been E L Wright, but as the Flack crew had just changed gunners (Wood had gone to the Emerson crew) it is not possible to be certain.
5/6 January 1943 - Stettin
14/15 January 1944 - Brunswick
JB300D F/L C.T.Wilson, P/O C.A.Wakley (2nd Pilot), Sgt T.W.Smith, F/L G.W.Borthwick, F/L G.A.Watling, F/Sgt L.G.Jones, F/Sgt G.Harper, Sgt H.J.Pleydell. Up 0004 Down 0823. 12 flares, 3 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 2 x 1000lb. Stettin bombed. Vis good, clear sky. TIs well placed and good concentration. Fires were seen burning which showed up streets in pattern.
JB353L F/L C.T.Wilson, P/O C.A.Wakley (2nd Pilot), Sgt T.W.Smith, F/L G.W.Borthwick, F/L R.M.Nelson, F/Sgt L.G.Jones, F/Sgt G.Harper, F/Sgt H.J.Pleydell. Up 1701 Down 2213. 4 flares, 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb. Brunswick bombed from 19,500'. Target identified by Wanganui flares and bombs dropped in center of concentration. Green TIs seen through cloud.
20/21 January 1944 - Berlin
On his first trip in charge of his own aircraft, Wakley was killed along with four of his crew. His replacement rear gunner was Technical Sergeant B H Stedman, who was from the USAAF, a most unusual posting. Stedman had been posted to 97 Sqn from No12 US Replacement Control Depot on 1st January 1944. Could this unusual posting have been part of a drive to replace the losses of Black Thursday very quickly? Did Stedman volunteer for service with the RAF?
Stedman's flight with Wakley was his first and last with 97 Squadron.
21 Lancaster IIIs are detailed to attack Berlin. One aircraft returned early, also one bombed Brunsbuttin, oxygen failure. The remaining nineteen bombed the primary. Weather was 9/10th to 10/10th thin cloud at the commencement of the attack with good visibility. A fair concentration was achieved with early arrivals reporting incendiary bombs in built up area. Cloud thickened and no further results were observed although aircraft reported seeing glow of fires 100 miles from target. P/O Wakley and crew failed to return, no news since leaving base.
Extract from Bomber Command Losses - 20/21.1.44
Lancaster III ND367 OF - K. Op Berlin. T/O 1750 Bourn. Believed crashed at Zahrensdorf some 6km ENE of Boizenburg, a largish town on the N bank of the Elbe, roughly 50km SE of Hamburg. Three rest in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, but the remains of T/S Stedman could not be found, despite an extensive search of Zahrensdorf Friedhof, where he was initially buried. He is commemorated on the Walls of the Missing at Margraten US Military Cemetery, near Maastricht, Holland.
P/O C.A.Wakley(+), Sgts G.Taylor(pow), A.J.Alexander(pow), E.Lowe(pow), R.G.W.Climo(+), J.Tye(+), T/S B.H.Stedman USAAF(+).