03/04.07.1943 No. 196 Squadron Wellington X HE980 Fl/Sgt. Paul Gee
Date: 03/04th July 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 196 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Leconfield
Location: Averbode, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Paul Gee 1332441 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Ronald Sydney Naile 1316536 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Allan Henry Taylor 1431243 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Neville Downing 1027411 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert James Horne 1586200 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:49 hrs to join 652 aircraft to bomb the part of the city based on the east bank of the Rhine as a great deal of industry was situated there. The raid was considered a success with 20 industrial premises and 2,200 houses were completely destroyed with a loss of life on the ground placed at nearly 600 people killed, a further 1,000 injured and a massive 72,000 people bombed out of their homes.
The allies suffered the loss of 30 aircraft - the majority being claimed by the night fighters from the jagdgeschwader 300 using the "wild boar" technique and consequently all the claims were shared with the flak units based in the city.
196 Squadron Wellington X HE980 Crew (courtesy IWM)
This technique (New to the allies) were attacks made (in this raid) single engine fighters and the German pilots used searchlights, target indicators and the glow of fires from the ground and the idea being that the local flak units limited the firing at a certain height allowing the Luftwaffe to attack the bombers over this height.
196 Squadron lost another crew this night:
Wellington X HZ478 Flown by 28 year old F/O. Eric Douglas Eastwood 120442 RAFVR from Blackburn, Lancashire. Killed with all the crew. Apart from the 2nd pilot who had been flying as second pilot, this had been an extremely experienced crew and well into their 2nd tour of operations with a total of some 241 sorties between them - yet none had received any decorations. This aircraft was shot down by a night fighter flown by Hptm. Wilhelm Herget of 1./NJG1 over Solre-sur-Sambre in Belgium.
Fl/Sgt. Paul Gee. Heverlee War Cemetery. Collective grave 6.D. 1-20. Son of Guyus Augustus and Maud Mary Gee, husband of Gladys Mary Louise Gee. Grave inscription reads ‘We Shall Remember While Light Lives Yet In Darkness We Shall Never Forget.’
Sgt. Ronald Sydney Naile. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 10.D. 5. Son of Robert Edmond and Mary Beatrice Naile, of Walcot, Bath, Somerset, England. Grave inscription reads ‘In Loving Memory He Died That We Might Live, Dad And Relatives.’
Sgt. Allan Henry Taylor. Collective grave 6.D. 1-20. Son of Ralph Alexander Taylor and Jean Taylor, of Glastonbury, Somerset, England.
Sgt. George Neville Downing. Collective grave 6.D. 1-20. Son of John Downing, and of Jennie Downing, of Ramsgate, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads ‘You Left A Beautiful Memory To Us Who Loved And Lost You Will Never Grow Old.’ Our Roy Wilcock has established that Sgt. Downing’s parents registered his birth in the September quarter 1921 at West Derby Registration district (mainly Liverpool area). Perhaps a reader is able to explain the gravestone shown above left?
Sgt. Albert James Horne. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 10.D. 6. Son of Albert James Horne and Annie Horne, of Penge, Kent, England. Grave inscription reads ‘In Proud Loving Memory Of A Dear Son Never Shall His Memory Fade, Mum, Dad.’
For further details our thanks to Mike McQaid who visited Rake Lane Cemetery and photographed the family headstone for Sgt. Downing. Also to the following sources.