15/16.10.1942 No. 12 Squadron Wellington III BJ606 PH-S Sgt. Robert Bayley
Operation: Köln (Cologne)
Date: 15/16th October 1942 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 12 Squadron
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire
Location: North West of Wintershoven
Pilot: Sgt. Robert Bayley 1210044 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (1)
Nav: Sgt. Alec Gordon Willans 1381545 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Nav 2: Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis 1023440 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Jack Johannesen AUS/412146 RAAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Edward Freese Martin AUS/403060 RAAF Age 31. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Edmund St. Aubin Richardson R/82608 RCAF Age 31. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18:42 hrs. from RAF Wickenby to join a total of 289 aircraft (109 Wellingtons, 74 Halifaxes, 62 Lancasters and 44 Stirlings) to bomb Cologne.
Navigator of Wellington BJ606: Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis (courtesy Karen O'Shaughnessy)
Not a successful raid as the weather forecast was not as predicted with the winds different. The Pathfinders had great difficulty marking the target away from the huge decoy fire site which attracted the majority of the bombs.
The report from Cologne states that 1 x 4,000 lb. exploded in the city (71 were carried by the bombers), 3 x high explosive bombs (out of 231 carried), 210 incendiary bombs exploded (68,590 carried!) causing very little damage with 226 houses hit and only 2 of these were classed as serious damage. 4 people on the ground were injured.
The Allies suffered terrible losses on this raid with 21 aircraft being lost. 106 aircrew lost their lives, 15 made Prisoners of War and a further 12 survived after crash landings on return to their bases in England. All of these aircraft were lost after the raid. being intercepted on the homeward bound flight.
Wellington BJ606 was intercepted at 23.24 hrs by Oblt. Wilhelm Telge (2) of 4./NJG1 and shot down 1 km. North West of Wintershoven at 2,500 mtrs. This was his first kill of the war.
In December 2017, Ann Wijgaerts of the Patton Driver Club contacted and informed us of the wonderful tribute placed to this crew by the people of Wintershoven.
(1) Sgt. Robert BayleyA former pupil of Moseley Grammar School
having left on 23rd December 1937 and recorded on their memorial in the West Foyer.
Further details follow on another member of his family that would sadly also lose his life.
Right: Oblt. Wilhelm Telge of 4./NJG1
(2) This was Oblt. Telge first of his 14 kills of the war before he was killed on the 31/01st September 1943 when he rammed a Stirling, South West of Berlin. This Stirling has not been positively identified. His crew member managed to bail out, surviving after the Bf110 G-4 G9+AN sheared a wing.
Sgt. Robert Bayley. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.15. Son of Walter and Kate Bayley, husband of Edna Bayley, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England.
Sgt. Alec Gordon Willans. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.13. Son of Thomas Gordon Willans and Edith Willans, of Bardsey, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.17. Son of Alfred and Edith Willis, husband to Norah Willis, father of 3 children, of Manchester, England. Born in 1910.
F/O. Jack Johannesen. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.14. Son of Jakob Bertin Johannesen and Bessie Johannesen, of Punchbowl, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. John Edward Freese Martin. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.12. Son of Edward James Martin and Jessie Eleanor Martin, of Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Edmund St. Aubin Richardson. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.16. Son of Edmund St.Aubin Richardson, and of Helen Richardson, of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Researched for the Moseley Grammar School Historical Society, we would like to thank Keith Townsend (Moseley Grammar Historian) for his valuable assistance on this and many others that we hope to be able to assist with. With thanks to the following: Karen O'Shaughnessy, granddaughter of Sgt. Willis who contact us in August 2014 with further details. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.