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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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218 Squadron Crest
23/24.08.1943 No. 623 Squadron Stirling lll EH925 IC-C Sq/Ldr Hiles DSO DFC

Mission: Berlin

Date: 23/24th August 1943

Unit: No. 218 Squadron

Type: Stirling lll

Serial: EH925

Code: IC-C

Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk

Location: 5km South of Zossen, Germany

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Waldo Harry Bentley Hiles. DSO DFC 121330. RAFVR Age 29. Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Gerald Thompson. 1587646. RAFVR  Age 30. Killed

Nav: F/O. John Neville Ure. 142129. RAFVR  Age 24. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. John Basten. 134569. RAFVR  Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Curran. 995156. RAFVR  Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Bailey Kershaw. 162242. RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: W/O. Desmond Michael De Silva. DFM R/95750. RCAF Age 23. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:
This aircraft took off from RAF Downham Market at 20:52hrs for a night mission to Berlin. This aircraft from No. 623 Squadron was shot down by a night fighter and crashed 5km South of Zossen. This was the first aircraft to be posted as missing from the Squadron since its formation from part of 218 Squadron. 727 aircraft took part in this raid with the loss of 56 aircraft. This was Bomber Command's greatest loss of aircraft in one night so far in the war

(1) Sq/Ldr. Waldo Harry Bentley Hiles. DSO. DFC. was a Staff Officer at 3 Group headquarters at Exning Hall arrived at RAF Downham Market to inspect/report on No. 623 Squadron. Having been informed that a raid on Berlin would take place that night Sq/Ldr Hiles pulled together a scratch crew and attended the briefing. It was a maximum effort for No. 218 Squadron so Stirling EH925 IC-C of 623 Squadron was chosen bombed and fuelled up ready for take off

                                                   

Left: F/O. John Basten is remembered on the WW2 memorial plaque at the old Northern Grammar School now Mayfield School, Portsmouth

Burial details:
Sq/Ldr. Waldo Harry Bentley Hiles. DSO DFC Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 118. Son of Thomas Henry Hiles and Rosamund Sarah Hiles. Waldo was born in 1913. In December 1942 Acting F/Lt. Hiles was awarded the DFC. The citation reads: "In November 1942 this officer captained a heavy bomber, detailed to attack Stuttgart. At one point on the outward flight he brought his aircraft down to 200 feet while his gunner attacked a goods train and put it out of action. He then flew on to his objective and bombed it. During the return journey, attacks were made on targets on the ground, including four separate attacks on goods trains and in each instance locomotives were set on fire. F/Lt. Hiles also attacked an enemy aircraft on an airfield" In June 1943 the now acting Squadron Leader Hiles was awarded the DSO. The citation reads: "Squadron Leader Hiles has been flying on operations since May 1941 and has completed numerous sorties since being awarded the DFC. He always presses home his attacks in the most determined manner, flying at low altitude regardless of enemy opposition" Sq/Ldr Waldo Harry Bentley Hiles is remembered on the Llandovery College War Memorial and Carmarthen County War Memorial

Sgt. Gerald Thompson. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 167. Son of Thomas and Edith Thompson. Husband of Joyce Eunice Thompson of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. At the time of Gerald's death his parents were living at 123 Bath Road, Cheltenham, England.

F/O. John Neville Ure. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 130. Son of Laurence Neville Ure and Phyllis Ure. At the time of his death John's address was 42 Woodbury Park Road, Tunbridge Wells. John is remembered on the Tunbridge War Memorial

F/O. John Basten. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 123. Son of Harold Percy and Winifred Basten of Fishponds, Gloucestershire. John was at one time a pupil at Northern Grammar School (now Mayfield School) Portsmouth. He is remembered on the school war memorial and also on the Lyndhurst War Memorial, Hampshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. John Curran. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 136. Son of John and Catherine Curran of Edinburgh, Scotland

Sgt. John Bailey Kershaw. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 155. Son of John Stanley Kershaw and Linda Kershaw of Mirfield, Yorkshire, England.

W/O. Desmond Michael De Silva. DFM. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 179. Son of Luiz M. and Irene De Silva of Flushing, New York City USA. Desmond was born on the 25th August 1920 in British Guiana. He was awarded the DFM in May 1943 as part of Sq/Ldr Hiles' crew. The citation reads: "Fl/Sgt. D. M. De Silva RCAF No 218 Sqn. has been engaged on operational duties since May 1942 and took part in the 1,000 bomber raids in the Ruhr and Cologne. On one occasion while on mine laying operations in the Baltic the aircraft in which Fl/Sgt. De Silva was flying as rear gunner was heavily engaged by anti-aircraft ships and sustained severe damage. By his very accurate gunnery this airman was instrumental in preventing further damage to his aircraft. On more than one occasion Fl/Sgt. De Silva has attacked and set on fire locomotives on enemy territory, and once while on a sortie against Wilhelms haven drove off an enemy fighter though wounded in the hand"

Researched by: Kate Tame for aircrewremembered.com and for all the relatives of the crew Acknowledgements: With special thanks to Steve Smith No. 218 (Gold Coast) Association Historian - Other sources shown below.

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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