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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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408 Squadron Crest
25.04.1944 408 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF Halifax VII NP796 EQ:M Flt Lt Ely

Operation: Wangerooge (East Frisian Islands - see map)

Date: 25th April 1945 (Wednesday)

Unit: 408 (Goose) Squadron RCAF

Type: Halifax VII

Serial: NP796

Code: EQ:M

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse

Location: Target area, Wangerooge

Pilot: Flt Lt Arthur Blevyn Ely J22783 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. James Hughes 2206716 RAFVR Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Nav: WO2 James Edwin Brambleby R197973 RCAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Air Bmr: Fg Off James Kent Stanley J42259 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off Allan Bernard Boyd J46747 RCAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Albert Leroy Rutter R274835 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Vernon Earl Hovey R267615 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 14:32 hrs from RAF Linton-on-Ouse to bomb various gun positions on Wangerooge, East Frisian Islands.

The operation consisting of some 482 aircraft was intended to destroy the coastal batteries which controlled the approaches to Bremen and Wihelmshavaen. The weather for the attack was clear and the bombing was accurate until the target area became covered in smoke and dust. The guns were hardly damaged and were in operation within a few hours of the bombing.

Above L-R: Sgt. Hughes, Flt Lt Blevyn Ely, WO2 Brambleby, Fg Off Stanley, Fg Off Boyd, Sgt. Rutter, Sgt. Hovey (see credits)

Sgt James Hughes seen on front left escorting, who we understand, to be Princess Alice at Newquay (see credits)

Left: Sgt. James Hughes back right with 'friends' - do you recognise any? Right: letter from the RCAF.

Some 306 people died on the ground, including 59 civilians, 20 prisoners of war from Morocco and France.

Of the 7 aircraft that were lost on this operation no less than 6 were due to collisions!

Halifax NP796 EQ:M collided with Halifax NP820 OW:W from 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron, RCAF. All 14 crew from both aircraft lost their lives.

(1) In a letter to the National Defence for Air the mother of Sgt. Vernon Hovey wrote “Wing Commander Fred Sharp has been in contact, stating that Vernon could be a prisoner of War, but then after talking with Flt Lt. Burden he stated that two of his planes collided in the air on that day of the flight and exploded in the air, coming down over water and nobody was seen baling out. We would like you to confirm this report?

Photo taken January 1944. 'D' Flight No. 3 Squadron No. 8 ITW Newquay. Please note that this photo is available in a higher resolution if over relatives are able to recognise anyone, Please contact us.

Burial details:

Flt Lt Arthur Blevyn Ely. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 278. Born on 9th January 1922, son of Arthur Blevyn and Emmeline Elizabeth (née Marshall) Ely of 3 Bowden Avenue, Toronto, Canada. Husband of Enid Jocelyn Brown Ely of London, W1. Married 24th December 1943.

Sgt James Hughes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 275. Known as Jimmy, the son of Edwin and Annie Hughes and brother of Gertrude (Gertie), Alice and Mary (Molly) of 10, Mains Avenue, Bamfurlong, Near Wigan, Lancashire. He was a serving member of the police force prior to enlisting. and was engaged to be married.

Plt Off James Edwin Brambleby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 280. Born on the 19th May 1920 in Barnet, England, the son of Arthur James and Gertrude Florence (née Hull) Brambleby of Burnaby, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off with Service No. J95245.

Fg Off James Kent Stanley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 280. Born on the 6th August 1923, the son of Uriah Frederick and Leda Maria (née Kent) Stanley of Lucan, Ontario, Canada.

Fg Off Allan Bernard Boyd. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 278. Born on the 05th June 1922 at Antigonish, The son of Don and Charlotte Boyd (née Mckenzie), 76 Howe Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. Received common school education. Employed as a stock clerk at C & G MacLeod Ltd, Sydney, NS at time of enlistment in Montreal 13 June 1942. Commissioned Pilot Officer 8 December 1943, Summerside, PEI. Trained as wireless operator/air gunner.

Plt Off Albert Leroy Rutter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 281. Born on the 20th of September 1925 at Milford, Ontario. Son of Albert Alexander and Thelma Pearl (née Clapp) Rutter and brother of Nellie Mae and Ethel Myrtle Rutter of Milford, British Columbia, Canada. Known too the family as Leroy. Posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off with Service No. J95260.

Plt Off Vernon Earl Hovey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 280. Born on the 8th January 1926 in Ludlow, New Brunswick. The son of of Roy Gilbert and Ina Eve Hovey. At the time of enlistment, Roy was overseas serving in the Veterans Guard. Posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off with Service No J95257.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photographs and information of Sergeant Hughes from Sophie Bradley (great niece). Also to Mrs (Stanley) Moore (sister) who sent correct details for Fg Off Stanley in November 2017. With further, much detailed information and crew photographs courtesy David Champion - October 2017. Thanks to Jim McCaw for the correction to the Next of Kin details for Sgt. Rutter. (Mar 2021). Additional updates by Aircrew Remembered (Mar 2021). Further information from sources shown below.

RS 22.03.2021 - Correction to NoK details for Sgt. Rutter and other updates

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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