13/14.07.1943 No. 466 Squadron Wellington X LN288 Fl/Sgt. William A. Gunning
Date: 13/14th July 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 466 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Leaconfield, Yorkshire
Location: Baudour, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. William Alfred Gunning AUS/413856 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Herbert Charles Jordan R/135639 RCAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Rex Feakes AUS/422157 RAAF Age 19. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald Walpole Covell 1336969 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Francis Cummins 1192627 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
374 aircraft were detailed to bomb Aachen - 214 Halifaxes, 76 Wellingtons, 55 Stirlings, 18 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes. LN288 took off from RAF Leaconfield in Yorkshire at 00:01 hrs armed with 4 SBC (8 X 30) 4 SBC (90 X 4) these small bomb containers contained a mixture of incendiary and explosive incendiary bombs. The aircraft is known to have been loaded with 750 gallons of fuel, enough for a period between 7 - 8 hours flying.
A strong tail wind brought the first bombers before zero hour - the pathfinders dropped their markers, so most of the bomber force released their bombs within minutes of the raid. The bombing lasted however, between 01:41 hrs and 02:20 hrs.
The attack caused devastation within the city. 2,927 individual buildings were destroyed, of these, 16,828 had been flats or apartments - the cathedral was severely damaged as was the town theatre, the police headquarters, the local prison, the main post office, two infantry barracks and an army food depot. Reports state that nearly 300 people were killed on the ground, 745 injured - some 28,000 people fled the town, who did not return.
The allies also suffered great losses with 23 aircraft lost. Aircrew killed: 93, PoW: 39, Injured: 7. Evaded capture: 8.
This was the only loss from the squadron on this night. Some publications state that it was brought down by flak, however in the latest work by Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', it is stated that it was shot down by a Me110 night fighter flown by Hptm. Alfred Haesler of 1.NJG4 at 02:24 hrs 17 km. NNW of Mons.
Right: Me110 night fight (Kracker archive)
(1) This was the 5th and final abschüsse for Hptm. Alfred Haesler, giving him ‘ace’ status. He was badly injured during a take off from Morialme airfield. Struck the tail fin of the Me110, resulting in a leg amputated in hospital. No further details if he survived the war.
Crew graves at Chievres Communal Cemetery, (courtesy Tony Vine - see credits)
The report for the No. 2 Missing Research and recovery unit researched a grave placed in the village of Baudoour established the identity of the crew which had also been buried at Chievres Communal Cemetery. The locals had looked after the grave and was in good condition. The CWGC graves at Chievres contain 58 casualties - all of whom are aircrew.
Fl/Sgt. William Alfred Gunning. Chievres Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 14-15. Son of Camden Lewis Gunning and Minnie Clara Gunning, of Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Herbert Charles Jordan. Chievres Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 14-15. Son of Herbert A. and Blanche T. Jordan, of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Rex Feakes. Chievres Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 14-15. Son of Frank Thomas Feakes and Frieda Anna Feakes, of Manly, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Donald Walpole Covell. Chievres Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 14-15. Son of Walpole and Gertrude Covell, of Eltham, London, England.
Sgt. Thomas Francis Cummins. Chievres Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 14-15. Next of kin details not available, are you able to assist?
With thanks to Tony Vine, Commander RAN, relative of the pilot Fl/Sgt. Gunning. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.