Robert Leonard Perry was born in October 1921, the elder son of the four children of Robert Charles and Hilda Perry. Robert was born in Stroud in Gloucestershire as his father was a teacher there. The Parrys came to Blandford when Robert senior was appointed as the Headmaster of Blandford Boys School (the non-selective school for boys up to the age of 14 on the site of the old Archbishop Wake school) in 1934 where he was head for the next 20 years.
Robert Charles Parry had been a schoolmaster before the First World War but enlisted and was awarded a commission in the Gloucestershire Regiment, serving first at Gallipoli and later in France where he won a Military Cross at Leipzig Redoubt on the Somme whilst attached to the Worcestershire Regiment. Robert Charles Perry was demobilised in 1919 as a Captain but remained on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers until he reached the maximum age in 1943.
Not unsurprisingly for the son of a schoolmaster, Robert Leonard Perry won a place at Blandford Grammar School. His father was a talented artist and despite being a Headmaster his real interests in life were music and drawing. Perhaps unsurprisingly then Robert junior also developed as a skilled artist, winning not just school prizes but in open competitions as well. Eventually Robert junior gained a County Scholarship to Poole School of Art in 1938.
Very little of Robert’s RAF records are available but we know he enlisted at Oxford and after training was posted to 103 Squadron at RAF Elsham Wolds flying Lancasters. During a bombing raid on Hamburg on the 25th July 1943 Lancaster III ED878 PM-V was attacked and brought down by a Nightfighter flown by Hermann Greiner at 1.15am some 10 miles out to sea west of the Frisian Islands, having taken off just after 10pm. 5 of the crew’s bodies were never recovered and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The other two were washed ashore some time later. Sgt Broadmore’s body was recovered on the 2nd September.
The rest of Robert’s crew were:
George Irvine Bailey (Sgt) aged 19, Navigator
Alfred George Broadmore (Sgt) aged 20, Air Gunner (buried in Kirkeby, Denmark)
James Crane Hamilton (Sgt) aged 20, Air Gunner
Charles Frederick Kilner (Sgt) aged 22 Air Bomber
Felix Francis O’Hanlon (W/O) aged 23, Pilot
Thomas Edward Witts T E (Sgt) aged 22, Flight Engineer (buried in Hamburg)