Operation: Leghorn (Livorno)
Date: 16th/17th April 1944 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: 104 Squadron (motto: 'Strike Hard')
Type: Wellington X
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
REASON FOR LOSS:
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.
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: