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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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No 431 Squadron
07/08. 03.1943 No 431 (Iroquois) Squadron Wellington HE202 SE-Z Sgt Derek Cecil Pitts

Operation: Gardening (mine laying) Frisian Islands

Date: 7/8th March 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No 431 (Iroquois) Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE202

Code: SE-Z

Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire

Location: West Essen, North West Jever, Germany

Pilot: Sgt Derek Cecil Pitts NZ/413470 RNZAF Age? PoW No 27655 Camp: Lamsdorf - VIIIB/344 (1)

Nav: Sgt Robert McHugh 1147399 RAF. Age? PoW No 27649 Camp: Lamsdorf - VIIIB/344 (2)

Air/Bmr: P/O Kenneth David Tutton 120888 RAF Age? PoW No? Camp:? (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt B G Peart 1379087 RAF Age? PoW No 27650 Camp: Lamsdorf - VIIIB/344 (4)

Air/Gnr: Sgt D E H Dyer 1288756 RAF Age? PoW No 27635 Camp: Lamsdorf - VIIIB/344 (5)

Vickers Wellington X aircraft.


Wellington HE202 took off at 18.13hrs Wellington HE202 with six other aircraft from the squadron for a Gardening (mine laying) operation in Nectarine 2 (Frisians Islands) area. Each aircraft carried 2 x 1500lb G.P.mines. None of the other aircraft saw Wellington HE202 in the target area, but it was reported that there was a concentration of search lights and considerable flak seen at the apex

Map of the area of the crash of Wellington X HE202

Obit Paul Zorner

The aircraft was claimed by Obit Paul Zorner from 2./NJG3 15km. West Essen, North West Jever between 20.30 and 20.43hrs at 1,700 metres. This was his fifth abschusse (shooting down) of the war making him an ace. Obit. Paul Zomer's final total of bombers shot down was 59 which made him one of the leading Luftwaffe night fighter aces. He was awarded the Knights Cross on the 3rd June 1944 and Oak Leaf on the 17th September 1944 and finished the war with the rank of Major. He was taken prisoner by the Russians and finally released from captivity in 1950. (See Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)

Of the seven aircraft that took off that night. One returned shortly after take off and one turned back due to faulty equipment. Of the remaining five aircraft three successfully dropped there mines, but one was unable to pin point the target and brought the mines back to base. The only loss for the Squadron was the Wellington flown by Sgt Pitts.

Above: Wellington HE202 SE-Z after it crash landed. All the crew were taken prisoners of war (courtesy Daz Bunker Museum, Emden, Germany

The first operation for the Squadron was on the night of 2nd March 1943 mine laying in Nectarine 1 (Frisians Islands) Sgt Pitts and crew first flew on the 3rd March on a mine laying operation to Nectarine 1 (Frisians Islands) returning to base after a very successfull operation. Flying again on the 5th March in Wellington 202 Sgt Pitts carried out an operation on Essen bombing the Krupps factory

Above: Lamsdorf Prisoner of War camp (courtesy New Zealand Bomber Command Association)

Back row: NZ403290 Wt Off Carlye Arthur Powel (AB), NZ412369 Wt Off Raymond Herbert Thom (WOp/AG), NZ404535 Flt Lt William Edmund Gibbes (Nav/AB), NZ402493 Wt Off Gordon Leonard Otter (AB), NZ403819 Wt Off Noel Stuart Craddock (AG), NZ41135 Fg Off Aynsley Stuat Forbes (P), NZ41164 Wt Off Roden Barnsdale Pickford (AG), NZ412222 Wt Off Douglas Cecil Giddings (WOp/AG)

Centre row: NZ414564 Wt Off John Douglas Hardie (P), most likely NZ41565 Wt Off Leslie Sydney Bevan (AG) - otherwise - NZ44772 (but previously RAF as 959593 until Jun 44) Wt Off Stephen Henry Rossfield Bevan (AG), NZ413470 Wt Off Derek Cecil Pitts (P), NZ402174 Wt Off George Emmerson (P), NZ411057 Wt Off John William Filda Atkin (AG), NZ411745 Wt Off Thomas William Devine (WOp/AG), NZ405310 Wt Off Uila Nicolson (not Nicholson) (Nav), most likely NZ413423 Wt Off Eric William Peter Johnson (P), otherwise - RAF 43643 (later NZ2473 in 1945) Flt Lt Theodore Faire Storrier Johnson (P). NZ404559 Wt Off Gordon George Whitla (not Witla) (Nav)

Front row: NZ405311 Wt Off William Kevin Charles O'Byrne (AB), either NZ416637 Wt Off Jack Edwin Hyde (AB) - or - NZ413420 Wt Off Galbraith Mickle Bullen Hyde (P), Grimsby - no NZer of this surname in WWII air force, NZ404550 Flt Lt Bruce Alexander McKenzie (not MacKenzie) (Nav/AB), NZ412349 Wt Off Edwin Burton Mossman (WOp/AG), NZ41708 Wt Off William James Stanley Voice (AG), NZ405327 Wt Off Denis Butler Scoble (not Scobie) (Nav/AB), NZ41596 Wt Off Norrice John MacKenzie (WOp/AG)

(1) Sgt Derek Cecil Pitts. Born 20th January 1918 Derek left Auckland on the 22nd September 1941 and arrived in the UK on the 7th October 1941. Dereck died in 1984

(2) Sgt Robert McHugh. After repatriation Robert stayed in the Royal Air Force and on the 7th September 1958 Flying Officer R McHugh service was extended by four years. Robert extended his service again on the 7th September 1962 and 1966. No further information. Are you able to help?

(3) P/O Kenneth David Tutton. Kenneth was posted to No 431 Squadron on the 11th December 1942. Are you able to help with further information?

(4) Sgt B G Peart. Are you able to help with further information?

(5) Sgt D E H Dyer. Are you able to help with further information?

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Martin Klose, Germany, Daz Bunker Museum, Emden, Germany, New Zealand Bomber Command Archive

KT August 14, 2015

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', 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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