28.08.1941 No. 226 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7289 MQ-R P/O. Fitzroy M.V. Johnstone
Operation: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Date: 28th August 1941 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 226 Squadron
Type: Blenheim Mk IV
Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Location: Kethel-Schiedam, Netherlands
Pilot: P/O. Fitzroy Montague Veitch Johnstone 64265 RAF Age 19. PoW No: 3758 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3) (notes)
Obs: Sgt. Raymond Evans 1252262 RAF PoW No: 9547 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald George Drake 959617 RAF PoW No: 174 Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6) (notes)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Some 18 Blenheims took part in a low level attack on the docks in Rotterdam. At a huge cost with 1 crashing on take off (all crew safe) but It is known that two cargo ships were hit along with other damage.
Z7289 was one of 8 Blenheims lost on this raid. Brief details of others:
From 21 Squadron:V6436 YH-L - Flown by 25 year old, P/O. Frank Kerr Orme J/3739 RCAF of Ontario, Canada - killed with all crew.
V5825 YH-R - Flown by P/O. MacDonald 63451 RAFVR - Pow with one other crew member, the Observer, 20 year old Sgt. Raymond Jervis Somerfield 986567 RAFVR from Norton, Sheffield, England killed.
Z7435 YH-S - Flown by 20 year old, Sgt. Kenneth Hayes 1254653 RAFVR from South Norwood, Surrey, England killed with all crew.
Z7447 YH-A - Flown by 21 year old, Sq/Ldr. Richard Ashton Shuttleworth 33548 RAF - survived but succumbed to his injuries later, 2 other crew killed.
From 88 Squadron:
L9379 - Flown by 27 year old, P/O. Tudor Gwynn Edwards 44819 RAF from Rhydymwyn, Wales - killed with all crew.
Z7445 - Flown by 23 year old, Fl/Lt. James Okeden Alexander 44267 RAF from British Columbia, Canada - killed with all crew.
The other 226 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7299 MQ-F Flown by Sgt. R.J. O’Connell RCAF crashed on take off - all crew survived.
After take off at RAF Wattisham in Suffolk at 14:30 hrs Z7289 took part in the attack, the Blenheim IV was hit by Flak, belly landed at Kethel-Schiedam in the Netherlands at 20:23 hrs after attacking harbour and the docks of Rotterdam. All the crew taken PoW.
Notes: P/O. Fitzroy Montague Veitch Johnstone: Born on the 29th May 1922, husband of Dora nee Lofthouse, father of 2 daughters and one son. Died in 1979. Sgt. Reginald George Drake, from Norwich, Norfolk. Worked at the Norfolk County Council after the war. Husband to Vera and father to 2 sons and a daughter. Died July 2014, just before his 100th birthday.
None - all crew survived the war.
Researcher Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered August 2016. Photographs of Sgt. Reginald Blake courtesy Helen Britton (daughter) Other from the Michel Beckers collection. With thanks to the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk for publishing the story of Sgt. Drake and also to Forces War Records who helped his daughter uncover some details.