14/15.01.1944 405 Squadron Lancaster III ND423 KQ-K F/O Gordon R. Drimmie DFC
Operation: Braunschweig (Brunswick)
Date: 14th/15th January 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 405 (Vancouver) Sqn (RCAF)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Gransden Lodge, Cambridgeshire
Location: Uepsen, Diepholz, Germany
Pilot: F/O Gordon Robert Drimmie DFC J16306 RCAF Age 21. Killed (1)
Flt Eng: Sgt. Eric Arthur Lane 651329 RAF Age 22. Killed
Nav: Fl/ Lt. Rodger Bingham Jarvie 116797 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air Bmr: F/O James Frank Gilbey J17444 RCAF Age 22. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Joseph Waddell 1077103 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt Raymond Floyd Peterson R168827 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt Dennis Frederick Smith 1576471 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
Part of a force of 496 Lancasters and two Halifaxes, ND423 took off at 16:57 hours for the first major raid on Braunschweig. Soon after take-off the German controllers locked on to the incoming aircraft and directed the defending nightfighters to intercept the bomber stream over Bremen.
It is believed that between Bremen and Hanover five of the Pathfinders, of which ND423 was one, where shot down before reaching the target. Maj Helmut Lent, the Kommodore of Stab NJG3 and his Bordfunker Ofw. Kubisch were scrambled from Stade in Bf110 G-4 D5+CA at 18.19hrs. ND423 was his 81st Abschuss and the 1st of three bombers claimed that night. The aircraft crashed at 18:45 hrs near Üpsen 6 km north of Siedenburg. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
The majority of the losses occurred between Hanover and in the target area itself. The raid was deemed a failure with little damage reported in Braunschweig most of the bombs having fallen in the surrounding countryside at a cost of 38 aircraft and their crews.
Above crew photographs (courtesy Phil Dent, Carole Fry)
Left: F/Sgt. Raymond F. Peterson Right: F/O James F. Gilbey (Library & Archives Canada)
(1) Drimmie Creek in the Kootenay Land District, British Columbia, Canada was named after F/O Drimmie in 1977.
F/O Gordon Robert Drimmie DFC
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 2. Born 25th April 1922 in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Son of Martin Charles and Margaret Ellen (née Ringe) Drimmie of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada.
Gordon was born in Revelstoke , British Columbia on 25 April 1922
where his father worked as a locomotive engineer for the Canadian
Pacific Railway. He graduated from Revelstoke High School in 1940 and
enlisted in the RCAF wanting to train as a pilot at Calagary, Alberta
on 15 January 1941. It was noted in his application that he was an
avid skier and also had a small worshop where he made model aircraft
and other woodwork projects.
Taken on strength at Brandon, Manitoba on 25 April 1941, he was
posted to No. 2 Initial Training School, Regina on 22 June later that
same year until he was posted to No.19 Elementary Flying Training
School, Virden, Manitoba as LAC Drimmie to begin his training as a
pilot. Upon successfully completing his training there, he was posted
to the Service Flying Training School at Dauphin, Manitoba on 26
September where he graduated with his pilot's badge on 19 December
1941 and promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Posted overseas he arrived in the UK on 10 February 1942 and spent
two months training at No.3 PRC Bournemouth before being sent to No 2
Pilot Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Syerston for training on the twin
engine Airspeed Oxford.
Gordon’s training on bombers began at RAF Upwood where he
transitioned to the by then obsolete Blenheim light bomber before
being posted to No.88 Squadron at RAF Oulton on 1 September 1942.
Piloting a Douglas Boston with 88 Squadron, Drimmie participated in his first sortie, a minor raid on the airfield at St.Omer, on 1 November 1942. Appointed a commission, P/O Drimmie's next operation would be as part of a 93 aircraft force to bomb the Phillips electrical factory at Eindhoven on 6 December. Following which, he participated in five more daylight raids against targets along the French coast at Cherbourg, St.Omer, St.Malo and Dunkirk in January and February 1943,
next posted to No. 22 OTU at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford for training on the
Vickers Wellington bomber on 29 May 1943.
The remarks on his final report upon the completion of his training read:
"As pilot – good average. As captain – above average.
ex-operational pilot who has shown considerable adaptability to new
conditions during his shortened course here. He converted to the
Wellington III with a minimum of trouble and has completed bombing
and cross countries by day and night. The crew are good and also ex
operational. They should do well on 4 engined bombers".
Promoted to the rank of Flying Officer, he was next posted to 1659
Conversion Unit to train on the Lancaster and Halifax types at RAF
Topcliffe on 7 July and then to 428 Squadron at Middleton St.George, on 28 July 1943.
His first major raid was made on the night of 30/31 July 1943 upon the town of Remscheid when he flew as second pilot with F/Lt. Gordon Fanson. During the month of August spent with 428 Squadron equipped with the Halifax heavy bomber, he and his crew flew a further eight operations against the enemy cities of Hamburg, Mannheim, Nuremberg twice, Milan, Leverkusen and Berlin as well as the first raid upon the V2 development site at Peenemunde in France.
After only one month with 428 Squadron, Captain Drimmie and crew were selected to become Pathfinders with 405 Squadron based at Gransden Lodge. Their first operation, now flying the Lancaster, was on the night of 22/23 September 1943 to the city of Hannover. During the balance
of 1943, they took part in a further 13 operations. A second trip in September took them to Mannheim and four raids in October were completed targeting Frankfurt, Hannover, Leipzig and Kassel. November commenced with a trip to Cologne followed up by an attack on the railway yards at Modane in France on the night of the tenth.
The month of November 1943 also saw the start of Bomber Command's all-out assault on Berlin when in the following four and a half months Sir Arthur Harris launched sixteen major raids on that city alone. Of these Drimmie and crew participated in three consecutive attacks in November and one in December which was bracketed by trips to Leipzig and Frankfurt.
Sadly on the crew's first operation of 1944, a raid on Brunswick, their aircraft failed to return. One month after being lost flying his 32nd
sortie, Gordon Drimmie was awarded his Distinguished Flying Cross, promulgated in the London Gazette
dated 15th February 1944.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Lane
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 6. Son of George Henry and Blanche (née Kirby) Lane of Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, England.
Eric was born in Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales, January 1922. He was the regular flight engineer with the Drimmie crew having joined them at 428 Squadron when they converted over to the Halifax bomber.
Flt Lt Rodger Bingham Jarvie
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 1. Son of Leslie Reid and Edith May (née Bingham) Jarvie of Sheringham, Norfolk, England. Further details: Flt Lt Jarvie was born in Australia and came to England with his mother at the age of two years in 1923.
After attending Andover Grammar School, Jarvie was employed by the Westminster Bank on Threadneedle Street in the City of London. In May of 1940 he enlisted at Uxbridge and after various stops at training bases throughout the UK he was posted to 75 Air Training School at Lyttelton near Pretoria, South Africa.
Upon his return to the UK in early 1942, he was posted to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down. It was here that he was forced to bale out with five other crew members of Short Stirling R9309 after fire broke out in the starboard outer engine. The aircraft eventually crash landing at the edge of the Porton Range injuring the pilot Flt Lt Russ.
Although it is unclear as to the date that Jarvie was posted to Gransden Lodge it would appear from the squadron ORB that it was probably in November 1943 as his name is first shown as flying as navigator for Gordon Drimmie on the sortie to Leipzig on the night of 3/4 December. This was followed by two further raids that month with Drimmie to Berlin and Frankfurt respectively. On 29/30 December he flew on his fourth operation as navigator for Captain Harold Floren to Berlin.
Possibly these four sorties were precursors to passing his Pathfinder Efficiency Exam which was approved on 9 January 1944. Just five days later, however, on his fifth operation, F/Lt. Jarvie would be killed in the crash of ND423.
The navigator who flew the majority of operations with the Drimmie crew was F/Sg. J.K. Evans, 798512, when he initially crewed up with Drimmie and Hazelhurst at 88 Squadron continuing on while at 22 OTU. F/Sgt. Evans would go on to survive the hostilities.
F/Lt. Rodger Jarvie was an avid photographer and took many photographs during his service in the RAF some of which are provided with his original notations.
Left: After the war, the Westminster Bank published a Roll of Honour in remembrance of the bank employees who gave their lives for their country. F/Lt. Jarvie's page is displayed here as it was originally written in "The Westminster". Many branches created more permanent memorials that were erected in the branch that they had worked. The NatWest Group of companies have recognised the contribution made by so many of their employees and republished a website containing the names of the fallen and locations of the memorials. F/Lt. Jarvie's "new" page can be found here using this link. NatWest Group Remembers
The writer is indebted to Carole Fry a cousin of F/Lt. Jarvie for
sharing his photograph collection, letters and documents from the family archives. Space precludes the inclusion of all the albums. Relevant selections are shown. Carole writes:
"My father, Adrian Edward Bingham Gates and Rodger's mother were cousins. His grandfather, Frederick William Bingham, was my grandmother, (Elizabeth Bingham)'s eldest sibling - as you can see, the Binghams were quite proud of their name! Edie (Rodger's mother) had no other children, and after her sister, Connie Goodley, died, her niece Cherry Bingham(again!) Goodley lived with her. I only knew Edie and Cherry. Cherry had been very close to her cousin Rodger, they probably grew up together. Cherry never married or had a family, and as she had lived with Edie for several years anything to do with Rodger would have been left with her after Edie died. When Cherry passed away in 2008 she was the only person I was in contact with - or knew of who was still alive - on my father's side of the family, and I think likewise for her, I was probably the only person she was in contact with. She knew I was interested in Family History and left me all the family photographs - mostly unnamed(!) - So it was good to see Rodger's albums so neatly written in!!"
Pathfinder Navigation Qualification & Volunteer Document
Rodger with his mother Edie Jarvie
Letter to Rodger's mother from the Headmaster of his old grammar school. The 'Jack Parker' referred to in the letter was F/O John Parker, 173134 RAFVR. He was the pilot of 619 Squadron Lancaster PB208 PG-S lost during an operation to Kiel, 24 July 1944.
Note to above photo:
Sgt. Harry Kay, DFM. was killed when his Halifax DT694 NP-N of 158 Sqn. was shot down over Holland during a raid on Cologne, 14 February 1943.
Plt Off Arthur Henry Childs was killed on his first operational mission when Wellington DV775 XG-O of 16 Operational Training Unit (OTU) ditched in the sea off of Holland during a raid on Dusseldorf, 11th September 1942.
Above left: Flt Lt F. Bracey OC. X Wing West Kirby - right, relaxing at the Hoylake Swimming Pool June 1941.
F/O James Frank Gilbey
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 3. Born on the 14th October 1921 in Rosemount, Montreal, Quebec. Son of John Frederick and Annie (née Walker) Gilbey of Rosemount, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
James was born and educated in Montreal and at the time of his enlistment in June 1941 he was working as a telephone installer for the Bell Telephone Company.
Upon the completion of his initial training at No.1 ITS, Toronto he was found medically fit for aircrew category A3B and recommended suitable for training as an observer. Posted to No.9 Air Observers School, St.Jean, Quebec on 27 October 1941 he completed the course there at the end of January 1942 and was passed to No.6 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mountain View, Ontario where he was awarded his Observers badge and promoted to the rank of Sergeant 14 March 1942. To complete his navigation training, James was posted to No.2 ANS at Pennfield Ridge, N.B. for the advanced air observers course of instruction graduating from there one month later.
Posted overseas he arrived at No. 3 PRC Bournemouth 12 May 1942 and then to No.3 (O) AFU at RAF Halfpenny Green where he spent one- month training before being posted to No.23 OTU at RAF Pershore for training as a member of a night bomber crew re mustering as an Air Bomber/Navigator 'B'. Posted to 405 Squadron 20 October 1942, Gilbey's name first appears in the squadron ORB on operations 22/23 March 1943, a raid on St.Nazaire as part of the F/Sgt. Armstrong crew. This was followed by three sorties with F/O College's crew on 16/17 April to Duisberg, 30 April/ 1 May Essen and 4/5 May to Dortmund. It was also during this time at 405 that James was appointed to a commission.
After three weeks attached to 427 Squadron, he was posted to No.22 OTU at Wellesbourne Mountford attending an abbreviated course for experienced crew members prior to conversion to heavy bombers with 6 Group. It was here that Gilbey first crewed up with fellow Canadians Drimmie and Peterson. Three weeks at No.1659 Conversion Unit prepared the crew for operations flying the Halifax and Lancaster and on 28 July 1943 the crew were posted to 428 Squadron and subsequently to 405 Squadron.
Sgt. John Joseph Waddell
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 7. Son of James and Alice (née Carlin) Waddell of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Tragedy would strike three times for James and Alice losing three of their sons while serving in the military.
L/Cpl. James Waddell, 3065809. 1st. Bn. Parachute Regiment A.A.C. Killed in action Tunisia, North Africa 8 March 1943. Age 19.
Pte. Alexander Waddell, 14417294. The Parachute Regiment A.A.C. 13th. (2/4 Bn. The South Lancashire Regt.) Bn. Killed in action 3 January 1945. Age 19.
A fourth son, Robert, also passed away in 1945 at the age of 17.
As Sgt. Waddell's name does not seem to appear with any other crews on operations it would perhaps suggest that he was on his first operation when lost.
For unknown reasons, Waddell stood in on this sortie for the regular wireless operator on the Drimmie crew, WO Alan Hazlehurst, 1181648. Hazlehurst would be killed two weeks later, however, when his aircraft, Lancaster ND462, failed to return from a raid on Berlin.
Flt Sgt Raymond Floyd Peterson
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 4. Born on the 25th June 1921 in Bentley, Lacombe, Alberta. Son of Leslie Raymond and Mildred Frances (née Carritt) Peterson from Bentley, Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.
Raymond's parents, Leslie and Mildred, were both born in the United States and emigrated to Canada with their families as children in the early 1900's. They were married in 1920 and the following year Raymond was born. A second child, a daughter Mary, was born in 1923. After only four years of marriage, Leslie contracted Diptheria and passed away in July 1924. After several years spent raising the two children, Mildred married William Woolgar in May 1943. She passed away in Lacombe, Alberta in 1981 at the age of 83.
Raymond struggled with some subjects at school but eventually passed some grade twelve courses before deciding to take up jobs working on a farm and as a labourer with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Probably looking for some adventure and a chance to improve his position in life he enlisted in the RCAF in June 1942.
After completing his initial training at Saskatoon in December 1942, he was selected as suitable for aircrew and posted to No. 3 Bombing & Gunnery School, MacDonald, Manitoba, for training as an air gunner. Graduating with his Air Gunner's badge on 2 April 1943 with the rank of Sergeant, he was posted overseas one month later arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 12 May.
Posted to No.22 OTU at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford 18 May and then to 1659 Conversion Unit on 7 July. Posted to 428 Squadron 28 July and then to 405 Squadron 30 August 1943. Raymond first crewed up with Gordon Drimmie at 22 OTU and remained as part of that team throughout their operations with 405 and 428 Squadrons.
An interesting comment written by AC2 Raymond Peterson on his RCAF Personal History Form dated 29 September 1942
Flt Sgt Dennis Frederick Smith
Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 11 H 5. Son of Charles Frederick and Nellie (nee Ball) Smith of 1585 Stratford Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, England. Charles Smith was a printer by trade. Dennis was born on 27 May 1922.
Researched and written by Colin Bamford for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the families of the crew of Lancaster ND423.
Flt Lt Jarvie's photograph collection courtesy of his cousin, Carole Fry, with many thanks.
To Phil Dent for photograph of Flt Sgt Dennis Frederick Smith (his mothers cousin). Phil has been researching this loss for a number of years. Also many thanks to Dave Lane who has also researched this loss and submitted the report from the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit dated 19th March 1948. As the report contains graphic details on the result of their fine research we prefer not to release details within this page as it may prove upsetting for surviving relatives. All the crew were killed during the crash - two were recovered from the main wreckage, one from the rear turret, with the remainder recovered in close vicinity to the crash site. Updated by Aircrew Remembered to include German night fighter claim (Mar 2021).
Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada; Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947; Series: RG 24; Volume: 28414