Aircrew who were lost in the skies over Europe between 1939 and 1947 and have no known grave are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, in Surrey. More than a few Portsmouth men who served in the Royal Air Force are memorialised there.
One of them is Flying Officer Charles Goble, 21 and from Portsmouth. He was serving with 624 Squadron, flying in a Short Stirling Bomber. He was killed on the night of 14 July 1944 and has no known grave.
What makes Goble’s story all the more interesting, is that 624 Squadron’s role was to insert and supply special agents behind the lines of Nazi-occupied Europe. The Special Operations Executive was set up to co-ordinate and support guerilla and underground forces in various countries. Often small and nimble Lysander aircraft would be used to drop off and pick up agents. But Bombers were also used as transport aircraft, to drop men and supplies by parachute. Stirling’s were used as a large number of them were available, having been replaced in Bomber Commanded by the Lancaster and the Halifax. It was a particularly hazardous role – flying low, alone, darkened and facing very serious consequences if captured. It was certainly a job for brave and skilled men.
Where Goble was operating when his plane was shot down, we can only speculate. In July 1944 the battle of Normandy was raging, and the French Maquis further south were certainly active against the Germans. 624 Squadron are also known to have flown missions over Poland. Documented records of 624 Squadron are very limited due to the secrecy of the work involved.