17.05.1942 No. 42 Squadron Beaufort II AW383 AW-V F/O. Archer,
Operation: 'Prince Eugen', Norway
Date: 17th May 1942 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 42 Squadron. 18 Group. (motto: Fortiter in re - 'Bravely into action')
Type: Beaufort II
Base: RAF Leuchars, Fife, Scotland
Location: Listafjorden, Norway
Pilot: F/O. Rodney Bainbridge Archer DFC. AUS/402148 RAAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Obs: Fl/Sgt, David North Keeling NZ/404033 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Barry Cain 1172541 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Jefferies 926101 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17:55 hrs with 11 others to bomb the heavy cruiser the Prince Eugen, escorted by 4 Beaufighters and 6 Blenheims they spotted the targets off Listafjorden, Norway.
20 Luftwaffe aircraft intercepted the dive bombers and attacked - 3 were seen to be shot down and in flames in the target area.
A missing Research and Enquiry Unit who investigated this in June 1946 concluded that three members of the crew must have gone down with the aircraft at sea. The only body from the crew was recovered on the 15th June 1942 and received a burial - the others are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial in their local town war memorials.
Above: As described - note the anti-torpedo nets in place.
Above: RAAF Officers England 1941. L-R: F/O. Richard Chandler Hooper 400144, F/O. Rodney Bainbridge Archer 402148, F/O. Ernest Birchley 404166, P/O. Russell Devenish-Meares 402156, F/O. Harry Horwood Lawson 400204.
(notes: P/O. Russell Devenish-Meares missing - believed killed whilst with Coastal Command 42 Squadron Beaufort I L9868 AW-S on a shipping strike off Kristiansand, Norway (09/11/1941). F/O. Harry Horwood Lawson killed whilst with Coastal Command 42 Squadron Beaufort I W6529 AW-J on an Air Test at Fife, Scotland on the 29th November 1941)
Above: Members of the RAAF standing on the deck of SS Mosfruit en route to the United Kingdom after participating in the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) in Canada. L-R: F/O. Richard Chandler Hooper 400144, F/O. Rodney Bainbridge Archer 402148, Sq/Ldr. Stanley Charles Mutimer 400153, Sq/Ldr. Denis Russell Lawrence DFC. 402164, F/O. Harry Horwood Lawson 400204.
RAF Abbotsinch Airfield 1941 F/O. Rodney Bainbridge Archer 402148, F/O. Ernest Birchley 404166, P/O. Russell Devenish-Meares 402156, F/O. William Austin Thornton 400161, Harry Horwood Lawson 400204.
(notes: 29 year old, F/O. William Austin Thornton missing - believed killed on the 18th March 1942 on Beaufort W6474 whilst with 86 Squadron. Married to a New Zealander, Theone Carina Mutimer, of Karon, Wellington, New Zealand)
F/O. Rodney Bainbridge Archer DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 108. Born on the 09th October 1918 at Lindfield, New South Wales, the son of Rowland Bainbridge Archer and Olga Blanche Archer, of 44 Balfore Road, Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Worked for Quantas as a clerk prior to service. Engaged to a WAAF Officer, Miss April Eve Wilson who worked in the cypher section.
Obs: Fl/Sgt, David North Keeling. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 117. Born on the 28th November 1918 at Wellington, the son of Hubert Allardyce Keeling and of Beatrice Elaine Keeling (née Simcox), of Raumati Beach, Wellington, New Zealand. A sheep farmer for P.F. Brodrick prior to service. 331 flying hours logged and having completed 21 operational sorties.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Barry Cain. Sola Churchyard. British Plot. Grave D.1. Son of Charles and Edith Lucy Cain, of Deptford, London, England. Grave inscription: "You Shall Live On Immortal, Barry, For Ever With The Brave".
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Jefferies. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 86. Son of Charles Jefferies, and of Marjorie Jefferies, of Denchworth, Berkshire, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, National Archives of Australia, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: