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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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104 Squadron Crest
16/17.04.1944 104 Squadron Wellington X LN928 EP:M Fg Off Gilleland

Operation: Leghorn (Livorno)

Date: 16th/17th April 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: 104 Squadron (motto: 'Strike Hard')

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LN928

Code: EP:M

Base: Foggia Main, Italy

Location: Tyrrhenian Sea

Pilot: Fg Off William Campbell Gilleland 421900 RAAF Age 28. Survived

Nav: Flt Sgt Geoffrey Charles French 422484 RAAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Air Bmr: Sgt William Fox 1586899 RAFVR Age 28. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt Ronald Adams 1047206 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off Leslie Albert Denison 418224 RAAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: WO William Barry Ryan 413446 RAAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed


Taking off from Foggia Main in Italy on an operation to bomb the harbour and shipping at Livorno. On return trip the pilot experienced engine problems and at 02:09 hrs thee crew sent a message "preparing to ditch'. Air Sea Rescue were dispatched from Corsica to the position informed.

In rough seas they hit the water and rapidly sunk - an inrush of water ejected the pilot. He managed to climb into a dingy and the same day was picked up by USN PBY-5A Catalina of the 1st ASR Squadron. Then taken to Bastia Hospital for treatment. Searches continued to find the rest of the crew into the late afternoon with no success.

WO Ryan then a Flt Sgt has previously escaped with serious injuries to his right eye when the Wellington X HZ812 EP:N upon landing, a bomb was released and exploded. Four of the crew escaped with various injuries however the navigator, 22 year old Sgt Allan Clifford Spencer 1537791 RAFVR from Anfield, Liverpool lost his life.

Burial details:

Flt Sgt Geoffrey Charles French. Malta Memorial. Panel 16. Column 2. Born on the 27th July 1917 at Ryde, the son of Albert Edgar and Elizabeth Ida French, of Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt William Fox. Malta Memorial. Panel 14. Column 2. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Fox and husband of Olive Margaret Fox, of Snaresbrook, Essex, England.

Sgt Ronald Adams. Malta Memorial. Panel 14. Column 2. Born in 1921 (Birth registered in Oct 1921) in Lostock Hall, Lancashire. Son of John Thomas and Elizabeth (née Wallbank) Adams from Lostock Hall, Lancashire, England.

Fg Off Leslie Albert Denison. Malta Memorial. Panel 16. Column 1. Born on the 21st August 1918 at East Melbourne, the son of Albert Leslie and Elizabeth Margaret Denison and husband of Joyce Florence Denison, of Caulfield, Victoria, Australia.

WO William Barry Ryan. Malta Memorial. Panel 14. Column 2. Born on the 24th December 1922 at Hazelbrook, the son of Richard and Elizabeth Ryan, of 57 King Street, West Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia.

Thanks to Bill Brierley for the Next of Kin information for Sgt Adams (Mar 2021). For further details our thanks to the following sources:

RS 21.03.2021 - Update to NoK details for Sgt. Adams

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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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Last Modified: 03 April 2021, 16:00

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