14/15.04.1943 No. 420 Squadron Wellington X HE863 PT-G W/O. P.J. Cozens
Operation: Stuttgart, Germany
Date: 14/15th April 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 420 Squadron (Snowy Owl RCAF)
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Middleton St. George
Location: Rocquigny (Ardennes), France.
Pilot: W/O. II Paul Joseph Cozens R/105169 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Nav: W/O. II ‘Gerry’ William Gerald Blight R/115483 RCAF Age 21. Killed (4)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Stephen Graham Giffin R/134457 RCAF Age 21 Killed (1)
W/OpAir/Gnr: W/O. II ‘Pappy’ John Paplowski R/105866 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Dutton R/136360 RCAF Age 22. Killed (2)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Middleton St. George base (Now Teeside Airport, County Durham) at 21:09 hrs. Part of a force of 462 aircraft - 146 Wellingtons, 135 Halifaxes, 98 Lancasters, 83 Stirlings - 23 aircraft were lost on this raid. Not classed as a huge success as the pathfinders although claiming to have placed the markers accurately, the main bombing force hit the north east of the target.
Only a few bombs hit the centre of Stuttgart. The old church Gedachtnis was destroyed and a 1 bomb had a direct hit on an air raid shelter packed with French and Russian prisoners of war. 257 Frenchman and 143 Russians were killed. This tragedy brought the total death toll to 619, a new record for raids to Germany.
This Wellington HE863 has been claimed by a Major Kurt Holler of Stab III./NGJ4. The combat occurred on the homeward bound trip 2 kilometres North of Rocquigny at a height of 3,900m time: 02:58hrs.
Major Holler (shown left) was a Luftwaffe night ace with, at this time, 14 kills to his credit. 18 by the time of his death on the 3/4th April 1945 at Dulvendijke, Schouwen Island following return fire from a bomber. Please see Kracker Archives on this website for detailed information.
Left to right: William Gerald Blight, Chich Chamney (3), 'Rosy' Rosenbarker, and the pilot of this aircraft, Paul Joseph Cozens. (courtesy Darik Datta)
Above left.Stephen Graham Giffin, centre: Cliff Anderson and right "Pappy" Paploski - some photo's taken on the 13th April 1943 - the day prior to this mission! (courtesy Darik Datta) Fl/Sgt Giffin taken - with the Lynx in 1936 (courtesy Geof Wyght)
Above left: Gerry, Jean and Cliff. Centre: Gerry, ?, Jean. Right: Gerry and Jean (courtesy Darik Datta)
W/O. II William Gerald Blight (courtesy Sharon Sargent - nee Blight) Right: William Gerald Blight wedding 1943 (courtesy Darik Datta)
Cliff Anderson Winnipeg 1944 (courtesy Darik Datta) Above right: Obit for Gerry Blight
(1) Clifford G. Anderson was the usual Air Bomber for this crew but he had been grounded for medical reasons (severe duodenal ulcer). Clifford was best friends with Gerry Blight and he often spoke about him to his grandchildren. Sadly Clifford has since died although his grandson who we are in contact with, is trying to source further information from his records. Gerry Blight had been married only four months prior to his loss. His wife gave birth to a daughter in the autumn.
(2) It also appears that the other Air Gunner Leonard Dutton was also not part of the usual crew and he replaced a chap called Art Elliot. Art joined another squadron for reasons unknown and was replaced by "Rosy" Rosenbarker (shown in picture below) who fitted in well with the crew. "Rosy" missed this flight as in the month previous he had broken his arm whilst on a gunnery training flight and had to bail out.
(3) ‘Chich’ Burnet Montieth Chamney was killed earlier on the 26th February 1943. Wellington III BK468 flown by 26 year old Canadian, W/O II. Harry Alwin Hansen from Alberta, Canada, killed with all 5 Canadian crew members on a trip to Köln. All the crew are buried at the Rheinberg War Cemetery having been exhumed from their original graves at Stadtfriedhof, Möchengladbach.
(4) Blight Island in Ontario has been renamed after W/O. II ‘Gerry’ William Gerald Blight
(1) Giffin Lake, East of Sipiwesk Lake, Manitoba was named after Fl/Sgt. Stephen Graham Giffin
W/W. II Paul Joseph Cozens. Rocquigny Communal Cemetery Collective grave. Son of Joseph Michael and Olive Mary Cozens, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
W/O. II William Gerald Blight. Rocquigny Communal Cemetery Collective grave. Born on the 23rd December 1920 in Toronto, the son of William and Lila Blight of Newmarket, Ontario Canada, brother of Grant Murray (Feb. 11th 1928 - August 16th 1987) and Lois his sister (Oct. 19th 1929 - July 9th 2007) Father to a daughter, Geraldine Dawn - born on the 6th November 1943.
Fl/Sgt. Stephen Graham Giffin. Rocquigny Communal Cemetery Collective grave. Born on the 11th May 1922 in Melfort, the son of Glen Earl Giffin and Sue Giffin, of Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada.
W/O. II John Paplowski. Rocquigny Communal Cemetery Collective grave. Son of John and Mary Paplowski, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Dutton. Rocquigny Communal Cemetery Collective grave. Son of Frederick and Ann Dutton, of Swansea, Ontario, Canada.
Some photographs supplied by Darik Datta - grandson of Clifford Anderson. We are also in contact with the relatives of W/O. II William Gerald Blight (Mrs. Sharon Sargent - née Blight) also the daughter of W/O. II ‘Gerry’ Blight, Mrs. Geraldine Dawn Counsel (née Blight) who have provided further information. With thanks to Pierre Vandervelden, finally (for now) thanks to Geof Wyght, relative of Fl/Sgt. Stephen Graham Giffin who contacted us in October 2017 with the photo taken in 1936.