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SGT Edward William “Forest/Eddie” Banks

Photo added by Rhonda C./Friends

SGT Edward William “Forest/Eddie” Banks

  • Birth 19 Jul 1909 Alverstoke, Gosport Borough, Hampshire, England
  • Death 13 May 1943 Duisburg, Duisburger Stadtkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
  • Burial Kleve, Klever Landkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
  • Plot 5. B. 7.
  • Memorial ID 56032367


1939 - 1945 STAR
Squadron 142: Joined 17, August 1942; left 18, September 1942
Squadron 156: Serving with at time of death
Squadron 160?: Some possibly incorrect paperwork to suggest with Squadron 160 briefly, but I have been unable to find any documentation of this
Squadron 156/Pathfinder's Force - The Warboys Motto: "WE LIGHT THE WAY"
Service #777836
Killed aboard aircraft #ED857


NOTE: Some of the photographs and personal papers for this family do not seem to be posting, and so please remember that I have the majority of available personal paperwork, photos, records etc. on Eddie and his immediate family, if you would like copies (no cost). Please privately message me regarding this matter. Thank You!

UPDATE, 6 FEBRUARY 2016: Please note the receipt and splinter images of Eddie's official birth certificate, received today - we now know that he was born 19, July 1909 and that his parents were Edward John and Alice. It is also noted both on the birth certificate as well as now linked information through the 1911 U.K. Census that Edward Sr. was a Corporal in the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Also, Edward Sr.'s birthplace is listed as Middlesex, 1880...and Alice was born in 1888 in Gosport.

From the National Archives, Public Records regarding Eddie's father's military history:

ADM 159/18/10598


Name Banks, Edward John
Register Number: 10598
Division: Royal Marine Light Infantry: Portsmouth Division
When Enlisted/Date of Enlistment: 03 November 1899
Date of Birth: 18 April 1880

Marriage information found on Edward Sr. and Alice (nee HENNING):

Edward John Banks
Possible Partners: Rachel Bee Or Alice Frances Henning ... District: Alverstoke ... County: Hampshire ...
Year: 1907 ... Quarter: Oct-Dec ... Volume: 2b ...
Page: 1257 ... Volume: 2b ... Page: 1257 ...

I believe that the following public record information/death record details that of Eddie's mother, Alice:

Alice F Banks
District: Fareham ... County: Hampshire ... Year: 1931 ...
Quarter: 1 ... Year of Birth: 1888 ... Age: 43 ...
Volume: 2b ... Page: 0993 ...

There may have also been a second marriage for Edward Sr., to a Rachel Bee; I have very little information on this name and notation, and would appreciate any help from site members - Thank You!

UPDATE 21, NOVEMBER 2015: I want to thank Alan Wells for the complete operational records of Eddie's military career; examples are now posted on this page, and I would be happy to send copies to anybody who requests them, at no charge. I actually did not have any luck getting hold of the actual full sortie run info, etc., and so I cannot express how very important these files are to me and, again, I am so grateful to Alan Wells.

UPDATE 11, NOVEMBER 2015: All genealogical files with any available information have now been received, including FOI military file, etc. The only thing that, oddly enough, continues to be missing from these documents (see burial certificate excerpts on this page, for instance) is Eddie's exact birthdate. I have been approved to receive his birth certificate if available, and will add the info to this page if I do receive it - the certificates, copies of his files, etc. may be requested...I will be happy to send you copies, at no cost.

UPDATE 28, SEPTEMBER 2015: I would like to note that I am presently reading copies of the original incident reports, Eddie's partial/very splintered sorties logs and more, and can at least add the statement at this time in regard to the incident that killed all on board during this specific operation: The craft was 'hit with enemy fire directly above target of Duisburg'.

UPDATE 28, SEPTEMBER 2015: It should be noted that Eddie, as well as his crew members also buried at Reichswald were each re-buried on 3, October 1946, as shown in the just forwarded documents under photographs on this page....I am presently trying to detail all information regarding this action and will update all service members' pages, accordingly.

UPDATE, 4, March 2015: I have now verified through Eddie's records on file with Forces War Records that Eddie was born in Cheshire...a family site has him born in Germany, but this has now been proven incorrect, and I think that it was a simple clerical error, listing his place of death as his birthplace.

UPDATE, OCTOBER 6th, 2014: I am so grateful to Tommy for the new photo that is possibly of Eddie - please click on the photo of the gentleman in full dress for thoughts and comments regarding this latest discovery. =)

UPDATE, September 16th, 2014: I received verification today that eighteen aircraft were sent out in the later hours of May 12th, 1943; beside Eddie's aircraft casualty, a second aircraft was reported a complete loss. Only 16 of the crafts, therefore, would return from this mission.

From official military correspondence and files:
“This NCO has carried out 34 operations against Germany, Italy and enemy occupied territory, 27 of which have been with this Squadron. Flight Sergeant Banks has displayed great efficiency as a bomb aimer and it is entirely due to his knowledge that he has brought back photographic evidence of his good work which has materially contributed to the success of many operations carried out by this crew. At all times he has displayed skill and courage to a high degree and devotion to duty in all his work”. Remarks by Station Commander – “This NCO has proved himself to be a most skillful and determined Air Bomber. Award recommended.”. Edward William Banks enlisted for WW2 service with the RAFVR from Rhodesia (a small village near Nottinghamshire), as suggested by his service number. He served for a time with 142 squadron, before being transferred to 156 Squadron in October 1942, which became part of No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group. The Group initially used Wellington Bombers prior to converting to Lancasters in 1943, and as Air Bomber, Edward William Banks took part in a large number of bombing raid over important strategic and industrial targets such as Torino, Genova, Hamburg, Koln, Munich, St Nazaire, Lorient, Berlin, Hamburg, Essen, Kiel, Dortmund, and latterly Duisberg. It was during a raid on Duisburg that Flight Sergeant Banks was killed in action 12-13 May 1943 aboard aircraft ED857, under the command of pilot Lighton Verdon-Roe DFC (son of the aeronautical pioneer Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe, founder of the Avro Company). He was posthumously awarded the DFM for his WW2 service and is buried with other members of his crew in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

An image of Eddie's actual medals has been added to the photograph scroll of this memorial; they were sold through private auction in 2014, without my knowledge...I had no idea that they still existed.

There has always been confusion and different opinions as to whether 'Forest' may have mistakenly been added to Eddie's family history as a second middle name, when in reality it was simply where he was memorialized, but there seems to have been enough paperwork and personal recollection to solidify the fact that Eddie did in fact come from a family that used the uncommon name 'Forest' (also spelled as 'Forrest' - We presently have a family member with the middle name 'Forest', for instance). I have had no success whatsoever tracking down his birth certificate, nor the facts behind what became of his parents (he is listed in all official paperwork as single at the time of his death); I will keep trying to find out more about one of our family's great, great heroes. Regarding his assumed second middle name, I find this almost poetic, in that a Forest returned to a forest.

Those lost:
Squadron Leader Lighton Verdon - Roe
Sergeant John Cameron Stewart
Flight Sergeant/Bomb Aimer Edward William "Eddie/Forest" Banks
Flight Sergeant Thomas James Pritchard
Officer Frank Giles
Pilot Officer Herbert Francis Jolley
Sergeant Kenneth Cecil Harrison

"These heroes are dead. They died for liberty - they died for us. They are at rest. They may or may not sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines. They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest. Earth may run red with other wars - they are at peace. In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death. I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead: cheers for the living; tears for the dead." ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Family Members

Gravesite Details Flight Sergeant (Nav./Bomber), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
  • Maintained by: Rhonda C./Friends
  • Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
  • Added: 6 Aug 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 56032367
  • Rhonda C./Friends
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SGT Edward William “Forest/Eddie” Banks (19 Jul 1909–13 May 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56032367, citing Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Klever Landkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany ; Maintained by Rhonda C./Friends (contributor 47795548) .