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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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160 Squadron Crest
27/28.10.1942 No. 160 Squadron Liberator II AL548 BS-R Fl/Lt. Cox DFC

Operation: Máleme Airfield, Crete

Date: 27/28th October 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 160 Squadron. 242 Wing. 205 Group. (motto: Api soya paragasamu - 'We seek and strike')

Type: Liberator II

Serial: AL548

Code: BS-R

Base: Aqir, Palestine

Location: South of target - Máleme Arfield

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Eric Clarence Cox DFC. NZ/401256 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Philip Edward Harwood 1264441 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Richard Scott Lawrence 83741 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Albert Gibbons 627801 RAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Harry Victor Ellerker 972580 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Carroll Ronald Durrant NZ/40605 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Charles Christopher Reilly NZ/40629 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. David Alexander Donaldson AUS/405544 Age 28. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 19:18 hrs from their base at Aqir in Palestine along with 9 others - two of these having engine problems and failed to join them.

Above: Máleme Airfield, Crete was taken by German paratroopers in May 1941 during the Battle of Crete. This was the first mainly airborne invasion in military history. Hitler decided that due to the heavy losses suffered that he would not use the same tactics again. The allies did, to great effect.


Seen to be shot down and fall south of the target area. Seven of the crew initially buried at Galatas with one other at Chania - all reinterred later at cemetery shown at Suda Bay.

All others from the squadron returned safely.

Above: Crew graves (courtesy New Zealand War Graves Project)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Eric Clarence Cox DFC. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. Born on the 23rd November 1913 at Upper Hut, the son of Clarence David and Delia Winifred Cox (née Cleary), of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. Prior to his service with the RNZAF worked as an accountant for Stewart Green Motors Ltd. Birth registered as Eric Clarence Edmund Fife Cox. A total of 969 flying hours logged and having completed at least 37 operational sorties.

Fl/Sgt. Philip Edward Harwood. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. Son of Philip and Ada Harwood, of Wyllie, Monmouthshire, Wales (Bachelor of Arts: Teaching Diploma) Grave inscription: "He Laid His Richest Gift On The Altar Of Duty. A Memory That Will Never Fade".

Fl/Lt. Richard Scott Lawrence. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. Son of Richard Sydney and Elsie Lawrence, of Saxlingham, Nethergate, Norfolk, England. Freeman of the City of London. Grave inscription: "In Glorious Hope Our Proud, Sorrowing Land Commits Her Children To Thy Gracious Hand".

note: We have (03rd September 2019) contacted the London Metropolitan Archives to establish the reason he received this award.

Fl/Sgt. James Albert Gibbons. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Grave 7.C.1. Son of Edward George and Lilian Gertrude Gibbons, of Walworth, London, England. Grave inscription: "Our Dear Son Always In Our Thoughts. May He Rest In Peace. Mum, Dad And Family".

Fl/Sgt. Harry Victor Ellerker. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. No further information, are you able to assist?

P/O. Carroll Ronald Durrant. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. Born on the 05th April 1919 at Wellington, the son of Albert Rowland Durrant and Charlotte Jane Durrant (née Maddock), of Strathmore, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a Monotype Operator for Government printing office. A total of 307 flying hours logged. He enlisted on the same date with P/O. Charles Reilly and became good friends, sharing at least eight postings during their services and were commissioned together on the 10th June 1942.

P/O. Charles Christopher Reilly. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Collective Grave 7.B.16-17. Born on the 15th May 1913 at Napier, the son of Charles Augustus and May Emily Reilly (née Rickit), of Te Awamutu, Auckland, New Zealand. Hardware Assistant for Briscoe and Company prior to service. A total of 365 flying hours logged. He enlisted on the same date with P/O. Carroll Durrant and became good friends, sharing at least eight postings during their services and were commissioned together on the 10th June 1942.

Fl/Sgt. David Alexander Donaldson. Suda Bay War Cemetery. Grave 7.B.20. Born on the 23rd April 1914 at Rockhampton, Queensland, the son of David Alexander and Hilary Ann Donaldson of 17 William Street, Yeppoon, Brisbane and husband of Edna Rose Donaldsdon (née Barnes), of Roselawn, Forrester Terrace, Bardon, Queensland, Australia. Worked in a tyre works and as a taxi proprietor before RAAF service. Grave inscription: "In God's Care Till We Meet Again. Devoted Wife Ed".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Medals Reunited of New Zealand, Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, New Zealand War Graves Project, other sources as quoted below:(Note: if you do find any service men/women New Zealand Medals please advise as a relative maybe seeking them - we are working closely with Medals Reunited New Zealand who may be able to assist in their return)

KTY 03.09.2019

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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