04/05.04.1943 No. 408 Squadron Halifax II BB336 EQ-O Sq/Ldr. Gilmore DFC.
Date: 4/5th April 1943 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 408 Squadron RCAF (Goose)
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire
Location: Hindenburgdamm, Wadden Sea.
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Edward Gerard Gilmore DFC C/1036 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kenneth William Haynes 1087533 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. John Baillie Darroch 121551 RAFVR Age 34. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. James William Taylor Mason Smith DFM 1475434 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Potter George Oyler 1254722 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Maxwell Palmer Hall J/16063 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Russell Thomas Wiggett R/116330 RCAF Age 22. PoW No: 1045 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:13 hrs from RAF Lemming to attack the Northern German port of Kiel, together with 576 other heavy bombers.
The raid was not a huge success as the target was cloud covered, decoy fires may have drawn some of the bombers to drop in the wrong areas. Reports from Kiel stated that only a few bombs hit the town with 11 buildings destroyed, 46 damaged a total of 26 people killed on the ground. No commercial buildings were hit.
The allies lost 5 Lancasters with all 36 aircrew killed, 5 Halifaxes - 27 aircrew killed, one made PoW, 2 Stirlings - 14 aircrew killed and 2 Wellingtons - 8 killed, on this operation.
The Halifax is understood to have crashed into Wadden Sea, with Sgt. Wiggett blown onto the shore after managing to bale out, taken PoW.
Above: Potter George Oyler with his wife Lucy (see credits)
Some reports state that this Halifax was shot down by flak but we understand that it was claimed by Oblt. Paul Szameitat (2) of 5./NJG3 with combat taking place at 00.22hrs at a height of 3,500 Mtrs.
(1) The DFC won by Sq/Ldr Gilmore and the DFM awarded to Fl/Sgt. Smith and published 24 hours after they were classed as missing, is described:
'One night in February 1943, Squadron Leader Gilmore and Sergeant Smith were captain and bomb aimer respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area the aircraft was subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire and sustained much damage. The aircraft went out of control and considerable height was lost before Squadron Leader Gilmore regained control. The bomber was riddled by shell splinters and one of his propellers was shot away, two compasses were rendered useless and all navigational charts were lost. Nevertheless, Squadron Leader Gilmore flew the damaged bomber to an airfield near the coast, having received valuable assistance from Sergeant Smith, who by use of the bomb sight compass, displayed skilful navigation'.
Left: Oblt. Paul Szameitat (Archives)
(2) This was the 6th claim by Oblt. Paul Szameitat who went on to make a total of 29 kills before he lost his life on the 1/2nd January 1944 at Obernkirchen near Bückeburg during an air combat.
Sq/Ldr. Edward Gerard Gilmore DFC. Runnymede Memorial Panel 172. Son of Francis M. and Florence (nee Cuddahy) Gilmore, husband of Bernice Gladys (née Quennell) Gilmore of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Prior to the outbreak of war, Sq/Ldr. Gilmore worked as an optometrist and was a member of the No.110 City of Toronto Auxiliary Squadron. Gilmore had accumulated over 1500 hours of flying time upon his promotion from Fl/Lt in 1942.
Gilmore Lake in Northwest Territories, Canada is named after Sq/Ldr. Gilmore.
Sgt. Kenneth William Haynes. Runnymede Memorial Panel 152. Son of Albert E. and Violet Haynes, of Briggs, Lincolnshire, England.
Fl/Lt. John Baillie Darroch. Runnymede Memorial Panel 119. Son of Donald and Nellie Darroch, husband of Joan Mary Amy Darroch, of Tooting, Surrey, England.
Fl/Sgt. James William Taylor Mason Smith DFM. Runnymede Memorial Panel 139. Son of Joseph and Hannah Smith, of Bedlington, Northumberland, England.
Fl/Sgt. Potter George Oyler. Runnymede Memorial Panel 138. Son of Thomas Potter Oyler and Florence Teresa Oyler, husband of Lucy Margaret Oyler (née Catherall), of Wood Green, Middlesex, England.
P/O. Maxwell Palmer Hall. Runnymede Memorial Panel 175. Son of John Henry and Elisabeth Palmer Hall, of Berwick, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Acknowledgments: With thanks to the following: Gerald Lines - cousin of Lucy Catherall, wife of Potter Oyler. Linda Ibrom for her kind assistance. Additional information on Sq/Ldr. Gilmore provided by Colin Bamford. 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'.