24/25.06.1943 No. 75 Squadron Stirling III EH902 AA-K P/O. Norman B. Bluck
Date: 24/25th June 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron RNZAF
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Wissenkerke, off the Dutch island of Beveland.
Pilot: P/O. Norman Bradford Bluck NZ/40364 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John William Gillard 938834 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. James Brett Cooksey NZ/416460 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Walter Strong NZ/413905 RNZAF Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Michael Kendlan 1072258 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Armitage 1434609 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lesley Ronald Cant 1397680 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 23.27 hrs from RAF Newmarket, Suffolk.
Either on the way to the target or returning, thought to have been hit by flak, crashing into the sea off Wissenkerke off the Dutch island of Beveland. No claims made by night fighters for this aircraft
75 Squadron sent 13 aircraft to Wuppertal on the night of 24/25th June, 1943. One aircraft returned early owing to an unserviceable rear turret and one failed to return. The attack was made with incendiary bombs both 30 lb. and 4 lb. Flak was heavy over the target and night fighters were also encountered. The attack was considered to be very successful.
630 aircraft took part on this operation which devastated the Elberfeld region of the city. 171 industrial buildings and around 3,000 houses were destroyed, a further 53 industrial and 2,500 houses severely damaged. Deaths on the ground amounted to 1,800 people killed and 2,400 injured. 34 aircraft failed to return.
Information sent by Robert Strong:
From this base he took part is 10 operational flights at targets including Dortmund, Dusseldorf (x 2), Wuppertal (x 2), Krefield and Mulheim in Germany, also sea mining to the Friesian Islands and Bordeaux and Le Creusot in France.
In an operation to attack Wuppertal on the night of June 24/25th, 1943 his aircraft failed to return and all of the crew were classified as missing.
Through the Red Cross it was reported that the body of Flight Sergeant Strong was washed up on the shore of the island of Nordbeueland and he was listed as killed in action. He is buried in the Flushing general Cemetery, Holland.
Left to right: P/O. Bluck, Fl/Sgt. Cooksey and Fl/Sgt. Strong (courtesy Roger Strong)
Left: Bergen-Op-Zoom War and Flushing (vlissingen) Northern Cemetery (courtesy C.W.G.C)
P/O. Norman Bradford Bluck. Flushing (vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row F. Grave 12. Son of Walter Bradford and Eileen Maud (nee Atchison) of Otorohanga, Auckland, New Zealand.
Sgt. John William Gillard. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery Grave 4.C.7. Son of Joseph and Clara Ann of Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffordshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. James Brett Cooksey. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery Grave 14.C.1. Son of Thomas Brett Farmer and Annie Ellizabeth (nee Ball) of Mangawhare, Auckland, New Zealand.
Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Walter Strong. Flushing (vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row F. Grave 13. Further information: Geoff Strong was the father’s cousin of Robert Strong (see credits) - i.e. Geoff’s father Arthur John was his grandfather’s (Fred) younger brother. His mother was Grace Rubena Strong (nee Davis) of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Born at Gisborne, 20th March 1912 and educated at Christchurch Boys’ High School and then a year at Digby’s commercial college. Worked in the spare parts department of the Ford Motor company in Lower Hutt when he applied in March 1939 for a short service commission in the Royal Air Force. Enlisted in the Initial Training Wing Levin on 6th July,1941 and went to No.1 Elementary Flying Training School, Taieri on 16th August, 1941 this was terminated during September returning to Levin on 17th December embarking on 17th December,1941 for Canada to train under the Empire Training Scheme. Trained at various places in Manitoba and after several courses graduated as a navigator and promoted to Sergeant and subsequently in England on 1st June 1943 to Flight Sergeant.
Sailed to England from Halifax on 6th September,1942 arrived Bournemouth on 6th January,1943 and proceeded to No. 11 Operational Training Unit, Westcott, Buckinghamshire for crewing-up and completion of training on Wellington bombers. Posted 25th March to unit for conversion to Stirling four-engined bombers and posted 5th May to No.75 (New Zealand) Squadron at Newmarket, Suffolk.
Sgt. Michael Kendlan. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery Grave 7.AA.6. Son of Mary Ann of West Hartlepool, Co. Durham, England.
Sgt. Douglas Armitage. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row F. Grave 14. Son of Ellis and Edith of Wakefield, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Lesley Ronald Cant. Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery Row F. Grave 7. Son of William Charles and Mary Ann of Bermondsey, London, England.
Dedication to the relatives of the crew with thanks to Roger Strong for photo's and information.
For further details our thanks to the following, 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.