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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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424 Squadron Crest
15/16.10.1944 No. 424 Squadron Halifax III MZ901 QB-N Fl/Lt. Robert D. Guild

Operation:Gardening (Mine laying in the Kattegat)

Date:15/16th October 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit:No. 424 Squadron (RCAF-Tiger)

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ901

Code: QB-N

Base: RAF Skipton on Swale, Yorkshire.

Location: Simonstrup, Denmark.

Pilot:Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild J/18064 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith J/89362 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. J/9311 RCAF Age 30. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Virgel Lee Riley J/35063 RCAF Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John Peter Grace J/35251 RCAF Age 20. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: F/O. William Edward Jory J/22936 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran J/41353 RCAF Age 30. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from its base at 18:22 hours, Halifax MZ901 was intercepted over Denmark by a night fighter flown by Hptm. Johann “Hans” Dreher (2) of 6/NJG-3. Witnesses observed the bomber taking evasive action while exchanging fire with the German aircraft before it was hit, crashing into the ground and exploding on farmland near Simonstrup. Engagement took place at 20.50 hrs. at 4,400 mts. This was his first of two kills this night - the second a Lancaster from 207 Squadron NG143 fell later at 22.40 hrs.

Rear: L-R: F/O. William Edward Jory, F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran, P/O. Norman Alfred Smith, F/O. John Peter Grace. Front: Ed Matus (not on flight), Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild, F/O. Virgel Lee Riley.

The crew members all perished and were initially buried near the crash site by the occupying German forces. After the war their remains were retrieved and reburied in the churchyard at Idom where seven grave markers now stand together with a memorial cross made from wreckage of the aircraft.

Fl/Lt. Guild and his crew were very experienced having flown together on numerous missions with the exception of the navigator, on this, their last operation.

For this sortie, the navigation duties were undertaken by the Squadron Navigation Officer Fl/Lt. Jack Lee, filling in for their regular navigator who was unable to fly due to illness.


Two days after the loss, it was announced that Fl/Lt. Lee had been awarded his DFC for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.” Fl/Lt. Lee also served as an instructor at No.2 ANS Pennfield before being posted for operations in the Middle East and subsequently to England.

(1) Grace Island in Lake St. Joseph, Kenora, Ontario, is named after F/O. John P. Grace.

(2) Hptm. Dreher - killed on the night of the 3/4 March 1945 during a ground strafing attack when he hit trees at Sutton near Derwent, Yorkshire. 7 abschüsse to his credit - making him an "ace".

Right: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith (courtesy Gordon Hoyle)

Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of John Herbert Guild and Jennie Winnifred Guild (nee Armstrong), of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.


P/O. Norman Alfred Smith. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. No further details, are you able to assist?


Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark. Joint Grave 2. Son of Edward and Ethel Geraldine Lee; husband of Mary Jean Lee, of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Virgel Lee Riley. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Arthur S. and Annie I. Riley; husband of Ivy K. Riley, of Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada.


F/O. John Peter Grace. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of William and Barbara Grace of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. William Edward Jory. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Phillip Henry and Emma Jane Jory, of Midland, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Belfast, N. Ireland. No further details, are you able to assist?

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Gordon Hoyle, son of Una the sister of P/O. Norman Smith who contacted us in December 2015.


CHB 23.09.2010

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), 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', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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