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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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No. 78 Squadron Crest
20/21.12.1942 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II DT509 EY-Q Fl/Sgt. James Albert Hunter

Operation: Duisburg

Date: 20/21 December 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron - Motto: 'Nobody unprepared'.

Badge: A heraldic tiger rampant and double queued - approved by King George VI in November 1939. The theme of the badge was based on the Squadron's aircraft at the time, the Whitley, which had Tiger engines and twin tails.

Type: Handley Page Halifax II

Serial: DT509

Code: EY-Q

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire

Location: North Sea 30 miles off Norfolk Coast (approximately due East of Cromer)

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. James Albert Hunter R/92325 RCAF Age 23 - Missing believed killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Arthur William Edwards 570294 RAF Age 21 - Missing believed killed (2)

Nav: P/O. Albert Lloyd Fox J5331 RCAF Age 22 - Killed (3)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ralph Cameron Baillie R73027 RCAF Age 20 - Safe but injured (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: WO2 Edward Cecil Malone R/86225 RCAF Age 22 - Missing believed killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): F/Sgt. William James Ashworth R/104833 RCAF Age 22 - Uninjured per Form 765 (6)

Air/Gnr (R): Fl/Sgt. Joseph Leopold Rene Kingsley R/73760 RCAF Age 22 - Missing believed killed (7)


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INTRODUCTION


The raid on Duisburg of 20/21 December 1942 was carried out by a bombing force of 232 aircraft comprising 111 Lancasters 56 Halifaxes, 39 Wellingtons 26 Stirlings. The target area was described as clear and well marked and considerable damage was claimed by the returning crews. But it was impossible to obtain a report from Duisburg to verify this.

The round trip of some 800 miles plus time over the target was to take about 5 hours.

12 Aircraft, 6 Lancasters, 4 Wellingtons and 2 Halifaxes, representing 5.2% of the force, failed to return.


REASON FOR LOSS

Halifaxes of No. 76 and No. 78 Squadrons based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse were detailed for the operation and began to take off shortly after 17.00 hours; at 17.38 Halifax DT509 captained by James Hunter left the ground and set out for the target.

It seems that DT509 reached the target safely and having made its attack turned for home.

By 21.00 hours the Halifax was over the North Sea apparently unscathed and off the Norfolk coast at about 2500 feet, functioning normally.

According to James Ashworth the mid upper gunner they were "30 or 40 miles from the English coast [when] a loud banging was heard from the engines. The aircraft slewed to port, losing height rapidly. The Captain ordered ditching stations and the aircraft almost immediately ditched and broke up on contact with the sea. Those who escaped must have been thrown out. Dinghy inflated but unable to reach it owing to rough sea".

In a letter to his brother in January 1943 Air Bomber Ralph Baillie gave a similar version of events:

"We were on our way back from a raid, about thirty or forty miles from the coast, when something went wrong and we tried to ditch. The sea was so rough the plane broke up when we hit. The crash knocked me out. When I came to, I was still in the plane below water [and] sinking".

Form 765 Report on Flying Accident or Forced landing not attributable to Enemy Action contains the following by Unit Commander W/Cdr G. B. Warner Commanding 78 Sqn on 20 January 1943

"The aircraft took off with a full load of 1842 gallons [of fuel] - sufficient, at normal consumption, for approximately 9 hours flying.

At 21.17 an SOS was received on M/F-D/F [medium frequency direction finding]. This signal faded. A 2nd SOS was received at 21.18 hours and the aircraft given a fix - 52"58N 02"08E [52°58'N 02°08'E] Almost immediately, Group received "ditching" but actual time not logged. The aircraft was airborne for only about 4 hours".

The time of ditching was later recorded as 21.19 hours. In his letter Ralph Baillie continued:

"I guess I went out again for the next thing I was floating around on top. I saw the dinghy but couldn't get to it. I don't believe anyone made it as it was so rough. I think I went out again as the next think I knew there was a search light on me. It was a gun boat which heard the crash and came after us. I guess we were lucky, for of all the miles of the North Sea, we came down handy [for] a boat. They had quite a difficult time getting close as the waves were about twenty feet high. Anyway they got me. I don't remember anything from then on for about four hours, I was pretty much filled with water.

They got the mid upper gunner who hasn't a scratch. They also picked up the navigator, who was in bad shape, they worked on him for two hours, but he died. They never saw the other four so there are just the two of us alive".

The three crew men were rescued by Motor Gun Boat 315 within approximately 10 minutes of ditching. The boat is thought to have been based at HMS Midge at Great Yarmouth and was luckily in close proximity to the aircraft when it ditched.

The Station Commander at RAF Linton-on-Ouse stated that:

"The cause is obscure and there is nothing further that I can add. So far as is known the aircraft was not hit by flak, neither was it attacked by fighters".

But despite the above and the earlier information regarding fuel load Specialist Officer, Fl/Lt. J.E. Wood EO of No. 78 Squadron stated that:

"Owing to lack of evidence it is impossible to ascertain the reason for the port engine or engines cutting, but lack of fuel is suspected".

Albert Fox was lying down in the rest position in the fuselage when the aircraft ditched. He was brought on board the gun boat and although still alive he was unconscious, very severely shocked and suffering from asphyxia due to immersion in water.

He was given artificial respiration for two hours by the crew of the boat to try to keep him going but he died about midnight at the Station Sick Quarters 16 R.C. at Great Yarmouth.

The cause of death was recorded as "asphyxia due to drowning (flying accident)".


The other two survivors were taken to RAF Hopital, Ely in Cambridgeshire.

Despite his ordeal, mid upper gunner William Ashworth had reportedly escaped physical injury but Ralph Baillie had sustained a broken right ankle and left knee and with both legs initially in plaster, was hospitalised until 18 March 1943 after which he was convalescent attached to No. 2 Airmen's Convalescent Depot located at "The Leas" Hoylake, Wirral, Cheshire until 5 June 1943 when he returned to 78 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.



BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW


(1) WO2 James Albert Hunter was born on 10 May 1919 at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada the son of James Hunter (a Seaman - Master of the S.S. Island King) and Catherine Hunter nee Smith. His parents were both born in the Shetland Islands.

He had four siblings Mrs Vincent Collins born c 1920, Ina Hunter born c 1922, Violet Hunter born c 1925 and William Hunter born c 1927. The family lived at 1117 Semlin Drive Vancouver, British Columbia and later at 2335 W 15th Avenue, Vancouver.

Educated at West Squamish Public School (1925-1931) Mount Newton High School,, Vancouver (1931-1938) and King Edward High School (1938-1939)

He is also recorded as having spent a year at University (no further details given)

During vacations he worked at the mill and on the boats of the B.C. Cement Co, Bamberton on Vancouver Island.

He played football and basketball extensively.

5'10½" tall weighing 144 lbs with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair he enlisted at Vancouver on 24 February 1941

After training at No. 11 ED Calgary Alberta No. 2 Initial Training School, RCAF Regina, Saskatchewan, No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Sea Island, Vancouver and No. 3 Service Flying Training School RCAF Calgary he was promoted to Sergeant and awarded his Flying Badge on 7 November 1941

He embarked for the UK on 9 December and on arrival was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, RAF Bournemouth on 19 December.

He was posted to No. 1512 Beam Approach Training Flight on 29 January 1942 and on 9 February 1942 to No. 3 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire.

Posted to 16 Operational Training Unit at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on 21 April for night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons then to No. 29 Operational Training Unit at RAF North Luffenham, Rutland on 26 June for further night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons

On 18 August 1942 he was posted to No. 78 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham for operational flying. The Squadron relocated to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire on 16 September 1942.

He was promoted to Flight sergeant on 1 December 1942. He was posthumously promoted to Warrant Officer Class wef 7 November 1942.


(2) Sgt. Arthur William Edwards was born in 1921 at Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales the son of Charles William Edwards and Florence Christina Edwards nee Jones of Acrefair, Denbighshire.

Old Haltonian A/A No. 570294 34th Entry (years spent at Halton 1936-1939). The 34th was the last Entry to Pass Out pre-war and its Members dispersed to their new Units after three week's summer leave. They had a little more than a week's grace before war against Germany was declared on 3rd September 1939. Many went straight away to France where they lived and worked in fairly rough circumstances and, after suffering the fairly rough winter of 1939/40, were caught up in the Battle for France Blitzkrieg, a baptism of fire for all British Forces in which the RAF learnt many harsh and brutal lessons.

He is commemorated on the Old Haltonians Roll of Honour and the Cefn Mawr War Memorial, Denbighshire (now Wrexham County Borough)


(3) P/O. Albert Lloyd Fox was born on 1 March 1920 at Desford, Manitoba, Canada the son of Francis Robert Fox (a Farmer) and Annie Mabel Fox nee Blackwall. He had three brothers and three sisters: Thomas Leslie Fox born c 1903, Elsie May Fox born c 1905, Ida Mildred Fox born c 1907, Francis Arthur Fox born c 1911, Edith Winifred Fox born c 1912 and Frederic Roy Fox born c 1917.

He was educated at West Lake Public School (1927-1935) Rapid City High School (1936-1937) Boissevain Collegiate (1938-1939) all in Manitoba. He enjoyed riding, softball and badminton.

After leaving school he worked on his father's farm until he enlisted at Winnipeg, Manitoba on 1 May 1941.

He was 5'7½" tall weighing 125 lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

After training exclusively in Saskatchewan at No. 36 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Swift Current, No. 4 Training Command, No. 2 Initial Training School and No. 3 Air Observer School (all at RCAF Regina) and No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mossbank he was awarded his Observers Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 20 December 1941.

The following day he was posted to No. 1 Air Navigation School at RCAF Rivers Manitoba and on 21 January 1942 to Y Depot Halifax Nova Scotia from where he embarked for the UK on 9 February.

On 20 February 1942, the day after arriving in the UK, he was posted to No. 3 personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth

from where, on 21 March he was posted to No. 2 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Millom, Cumbria, to No. 16 Operational Training Unit at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on 5 May for night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons) then to No. 29 Operational Training Unit at RAF North Luffenham, Rutland on 26 June for further night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons. He was remustered to Navigator B on 21 July 1942.

On 18 August 1942 he was posted to No. 78 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham for operational flying. The Squadron relocated to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire on 16 September 1942.

Promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 November 1942 and to Warrant Officer 2nd Class on 20 December he was posthumously commissioned as a Pilot Officer wef 19 December 1942.


In 1995 the Province of Manitoba honoured the memory of Albert Lloyd Fox by the naming of Fox Rapids in the Seal River




(4) Sgt. Ralph Cameron Baillie was born on 28 June 1922 at River John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada the son of George William Baillie (a Farmer) and Mary Myrtle Baillie nee Cameron.

He had five siblings: Margaret Jean Baillie born c 1917, twins Alexander John Baillie (see below) and James Edward Baillie born c 1919, Elizabeth Kathryn Baillie born 1920 and a brother born and died 1923.

He was educated at River John School 1929-1937 and River John High School 1937-1939

Radio was his hobby and after leaving school he worked for three months as a Radio Servicer for Mrs O. McKay before becoming self-employed in the same trade.

He enjoyed swimming, boxing, skating and playing softball.

When he enlisted at Moncton New Brunswick on 12 September 1940 he was 5' 8½" tall weighing 142 lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

After training at No. 1 Wireless School at RCAF Montreal, Quebec, No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School RCAF Mountain View, Ontario he was awarded his Air Gunner's badge and promoted to Sergeant on 13 October 1941.

He embarked for the UK on 2 November and on arrival was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth on 14 November from where he was posted to No. 1 Signal School at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire on 9 December.

On 24 March 1942 he was posted to No. 10 Operational Training Unit at RAF Abingdon Oxfordshire; to No 78 Squadron Conversion Flight on 7 August and No. 78 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse on 23 September. From 2 October his trade classification is changed to Temporary Air Bomber.

He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 November 1942 and on 8 December 1942 he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (J17942)

After the ditching of 20 December 1942 he was in hospital and afterwards convalescent until 5 June 1943 when he returned to duty with No. 78 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

Three days later on 8 June 1943 he was promoted to T/Flying Officer.

On March 23 1943 his brother Navigator F/Sgt. Alexander John Baillie R124717 RCAF was killed when his aircraft, Hudson BW260 crashed at Yarmouth aerodrome Nova Scotia shortly after taking off for a coastal patrol. All four crew and two of the five ground crew members who tried assist were killed in the crash and the ensuing explosion.

Flying Officer Ralph Cameron Baillie was the Air Bomber of Halifax II JB798 EY-P of 78 Squadron which crashed on 30 July 1943. Captained by F/Sgt. Peter Aird Fraser all seven crew were killed and lie in Hamburg Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Germany.



(5) WO2 Edward Cecil Malone was born on 12 April 1919 at Winnipeg, Manitoba the son of Cecil Stanley Spearing Malone (a Merchant) and Mary Ellen Malone nee Stanley, later of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Both his parents were born in Ireland and he had three sisters I. Malone born c 1915, Dorothy Malone born c 1917 and Ruth Malone born c 1925. Lived at 558 St. Mary's Road St Vital, Manitoba

He was educated at Hugh John McDonald School, Winnipeg (1927-1934) Norberry Collegiate, St. Vital (1934-1936) and whilst unemployed in 1938 at night school at Kelvin Technical School, Winnipeg studying Shops, Mining and Prospecting.

After leaving school he worked at several companies in Winnipeg alternatively as a Messenger, Warehouseman and Delivery man. When he enlisted he had been working at Pepsi-Cola as a Bottler for a year.

His hobbies were photography and carpentry and he played rugby, baseball, hockey and basketball.

When he enlisted at Winnipeg on 28 December 1940 he was 5' 7¼" tall weighing 135 lbs with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

After training at No. 2 Wireless School RCAF Calgary, Alberta No. 5 Bombing and Gunnery School RAF Dafoe, Saskatchewan he was awarded his Air Gunner's Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 8 December 1941.

He embarked for the UK in January 1942 and on arrival was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth on 21 January 1942 from where he was posted to No. 1 Signal School at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire on 24 February.

He was posted to No. 16 Operational Training Unit at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on 7 April for night bomber training initially on Vickers Wellingtons then to No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland on 2 June and to No. 29 Operational Training Unit at RAF North Luffenham, Rutland on 29 June for further night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons.

On 18 August 1942 he was posted to No. 78 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham for operational flying. The Squadron relocated to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire on 16 September 1942.

He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 8 June 1942 and Warrant Officer Second Class on 8 December 1942.


In 1974 the province of Manitoba honoured the memory of Edward Cecil Malone by the naming of Malone Lake north of Nejanilini Lake




(6) F/Sgt. William James Ashworth was the son of the Rev. W.J. Ashworth (Methodist Minister) of Auburndale, Florida USA in 1943.

He graduated at No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School RCAF Jarvis - Course 17 (WAG's) September 27 - October 25 1941. At the time he was described as being of Greensboro, Florida.


(7) Fl/Sgt. Joseph Leopold Rene Kingsley was born on 17 July 1920 at Montreal, Quebec, Canada the son of Leopold Kingsley (a Musician) and Azilda Kingsley nee Thiberge. The family lived at 1 Monarque Street, Montreal East.

Bilingual in French and English he was educated at St. Richard Catholic School, Montreal (1926-1936), Académie Roussin studying Commerce and Science (1936-1938) and Montreal Technical School for 3 months on an Electrical course.

He later worked for Shell Oil Refinery in Montreal as an Electrician's Helper.

When he enlisted at Montreal on 16 September 1940 he was 5'7¾" tall weighing 142 lbs with a medium complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He stated that he skied, swam, played Le Gouret (a close relative of ice hockey and ringette) extensively, and tennis, baseball and lacrosse moderately

After training at No. 1 Wireless School at RCAF Montreal, KTS (Composite Training School) at RCAF Trenton, Ontario, No.8 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Lethbridge, Alberta he was awarded his Air Gunner's Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 22 Dec 1941

He embarked for the UK on 8 January 1942 and on arrival he was posted to No. 2 Personnel and Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth on 21 January 1942 and on 7 March to No. 7 Air Gunnery School, RAF Stormy Down, Bridgend, South Wales (Course No. 62)

He was posted to No. 16 Operational Training Unit at RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire on 5 May for night bomber training initially on Vickers Wellingtons then to No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland on 2 June and to No. 29 Operational Training Unit at RAF North Luffenham, Rutland on 26 June for further night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 22 June 1942.

On 18 August 1942 he was posted to No. 78 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham for operational flying. The Squadron relocated to RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire on 16 September 1942.


BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS


(1) James Albert Hunter. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 102

(2) Sgt. Arthur William Edwards. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 82

(3) P/O. Albert Lloyd Fox was buried at Caister Old Cemetery, Norfolk - Sec. M. Grave 877.

His epitaph reads

He loved honour

More than he feared death

(5) WO2 Edward Cecil Malone. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 102

(7) Fl/Sgt. Joseph Leopold Rene Kingsley. Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 105


Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - April 2018

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 06.04.2018

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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