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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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75 Squadron Crest
02/03.08.1943 No. 75 Squadron Stirling III BF577 JN-M Fl/Sgt. J.A. Couper

Operation: Hamburg

Date: 02/03rd August 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (NZ) (C Flight)

Type: Stirling III

Serial: BF577

Code: JN-M

Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire

Location: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. James Arthur Couper NZ/417027 RNZAF Age 31. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Wilson Sneddon 1342219 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Nav: Sgt. George Albert Walker 1332840 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Scott Corlett NZ/42289 RNZAF Age 20. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Sydney Cecil Oliver Reeves NZ/42339 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Edward Wadeson 1489406 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Ashworth 1529817 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Mepal in Cambridgeshire at 23:31 hrs - 740 aircraft from various squadrons with 17 from 75 Squadron to bomb Hamburg.

The entire Gruppen of NJG3 were sent to search for the bomber stream - claiming 19 shot down both during and on their homeward bound trip. The other 11 were lost from flak and other causes.

En route to the target during what has been described as fierce thunderstorms, Stirling BF577 was rammed by a Do 217 N of 5./NJG3 flown by Fw. Krauter - both aircraft went down killing both crews at 01:42 hrs.

German Luftwaffe reports that they came down near Wiemerstedt, others that it came down at Kaiser-Wilhelm-Koog. As they were initially buried near the latter we understand that it was probably at that location and that the crew from the Do 217 came down Near Wiemerstedt.

Above area of loss, right overview of general area.

(1) The family were also to lose his younger brother. 20 year old, Sgt. John Norman Collett 2209824 RAFVR was killed on the 24th October 1944. Flying as a W/Op/Air/Gnr whilst training with 18 Operational Training Unit on Wellington I LP844. During a weather test the aircraft stalled and crashed at 19:01 hrs. The pilot, 27 year old P/O. William Henry Wright DFC. J/86486 RCAF from Ontario, Canada was killed along with his co-pilot 20 year old, P/O. Denis Nigel Phillips 186745 RAFVR from Aberdare, Wales. Two other crew survived, injured.

(2) The Squadron lost another crew on this operation, shot down by the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace Hptm. Hans-Joachim Jabs of Stab IV./NJG1 at 03:51 hrs:

Stirling III EH928 AA-A Flown by 21 year old, P/O. Cyril Philip Bailie 155786 RAFVR from Allestree, Derby, England - Killed with all 7 other crew members missing, believed killed.

Burial details:

The crew were initially buried at Kronprinzenkoog but reinterred later at Hamburg.

Right: Fl/Sgt. Sydney Cecil Oliver Reeve with his nephew, Rodney. Sydney had the uniform especially made for him (courtesy Lyn Collins)

Fl/Sgt. James Arthur Couper. Hamburg Cemetery. Collective grave 4A.D.10-12. Son of Duncan Thomas Couper and Catherine Jane Couper, of Rangiwahia, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 435 flying hours logged and on his 7th operation.

Sgt. James Wilson Sneddon. Hamburg Cemetery. Collective grave 4A.D.10-12. Son of the late James Gorman Sneddon and Elizabeth Wilson Sneddon. Of Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Sgt. George Albert Walker. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 4A.D.13. Son of G. A. and Rosetta F. Walker, of Acton, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Scott Corlett. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 4A.D.9. Son of Thomas William Corlett and of Isabella Scott Corlett (née Abraham), of Liverpool, England.

Fl/Sgt. Sydney Cecil Oliver Reeves. Hamburg Cemetery. Collective grave 4A.D.10-12. Son of John Henry Reeves and of Olive Reeves (née Groves), of Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 212 flying hours logged and on his 4th operation.

Sgt. Thomas Edward Wadeson. Hamburg Cemetery. Collective grave 4A.D.10-12. Son of John R. and Georgina Wadeson, of Appleby, Westmorland, England. Also commemorated on the war memorial at Murton-Cum-Hilton, Westmorland.

Sgt. Alan Ashworth. Hamburg Cemetery. Collective grave 4A.D.10-12. Grandson of Sarah E. Ashworth, of Spotland, Rochdale, Lancashire, England.

Researched for Lyn Collins and family - relative of Fl/Sgt. Sydney Cecil Oliver Reeves and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.

KTY 25.07.2017

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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