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25/26.06.1942 No. 15 O.T.U. Wellington IC DV935 Sgt. James Leather
Date: 25/26th June 1942 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 15 OTU. (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington IC
Base: RAF Harwell, Berkshire. (Now Oxfordshire)
Location: Ijsselmeer, Holland
Pilot: Sgt. James Stewart Leather 655486 RAF Age 22. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. Harry Bloor 1381609 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Obs: Sgt. John McKelvie Dunn Oliver RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Thomas Fage 1286358 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Thompson Stanners 1065713 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gordon Lake 518299 RAF Age 37. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:44 hrs from RAF Harwell. Using every available aircraft in RAF Bomber Command and some of other commands, a thousand bomber raid was mounted against Bremen. 1,067 aircraft (472 Wellingtons, 124 Halifaxes, 96 Lancasters, 69 Stirlings, 51 Blenheims, 50 Hampdens, 50 Whitleys, 24 Bostons, 20 Manchesters and 4 Mosquitos), 102 Hudsons and Wellingtons of RAF Coastal Command, and 5 RAF Army Cooperation Command.
Those of No. 5 Group RAF - 142 aircraft – bombed the Focke-Wulf factory; 20 Blenheims were allocated to the AG Weser shipyard; the RAF Coastal Command aircraft were to bomb the DeSchiMAG shipyard; all other aircraft were to carry out an area attack on the "town and docks".
Ron Fage drawing of his Wellington IC DV935
The limited success was entirely due to the use of GEE, which enabled the leading crews to start marker fires through the cloud cover. 696 Bomber Command aircraft were able to claim attacks on Bremen.
572 houses were completely destroyed and 6,108 damaged. 85 people were killed, 497 injured and 2,378 bombed out. At the Focke-Wulf factory, an assembly shop was completely flattened, 6 buildings were seriously damaged and 11 buildings lightly so. The Atlas Werke, the Bremer Vulkan shipyard, the Norddeutsche Hütte, the Korff refinery, and two large dockside warehouses were also damaged.
48 Bomber Command aircraft were lost (5% of those dispatched), including 4 which came down in the sea near England from which all but 2 crew members were rescued. This time, the heaviest casualties were suffered by the OTUs of No. 91 Group RAF, which lost 23 of the 198 Whitleys and Wellingtons provided by that group, a loss of 11.6 per cent. 5 of the 102 Coastal Command aircraft were also lost.
Left: Oblt. Hermann Greiner II./NJG2
Wellington IC DV935 was one of many shot down on the raid. Oblt. Hermann Greiner II./NJG2 intercepted and shot down 15 OTU Wellington at 06:00 hrs and the aircraft crashed in 5 metres of water on the Ijsselmeer, Holland. 5 bodies were washed ashore and taken for burial at local Dutch cemeteries but Sgt. Lake is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
(Note: Other sources quote it as crashing into the Wadden Sea west of Harlingen)
This was Oblt. Hermann Greiner's first kill of WW2, he survived the war, after a total of 47 night victories and a further 4 daylight kills.
Doreen Maud Puddephatt and her visit to Ron Fage’s grave in August 2011 (courtesy Tim Broome)
Grave of Sgt. Ronald Thomas Fage, Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery and guest book (courtesy Tim Broome)
Sgt. James Stewart Leather. Harlingen General Cemetery Plot E. Row 1. Grave 6. Son of James and Florence Ann Leather, of Liverpool, England.
Sgt. Harry Bloor. Harlingen General Cemetery Plot E. Row 3. Grave 4. Son of Thomas and Mary Ann Bloor, of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England.
Sgt. John McKelvie Dunn Oliver. Harlingen General Cemetery Plot E. Row 2. Grave 1. Son of James Walker Oliver and Hannah Oliver, of Duns, Berwickshire, England.
Sgt. Ronald Thomas Fage. Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery 32. B.5. Son of James William and Lilian Mary Fage, of Luton, Bedfordshire, England. Fiancé of Doreen Puddephatt. Grave inscription reads: 'God Moves In A Mysterious Way.'
Sgt. David Thompson Stanners. Ferwerderadeel (Hallum) Protestant Churchyard Row 32. Plot 1B. Son of John and Annie Stanners, of Galashiels, Selkirkshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: 'He Answered Duty's Call To Fight At Mans Command. But On The Way God Called Him Home.'
Sgt. Gordon Lake. Runnymede War Memorial. Panel 87. Son of Bertie and Florence Sylvia Lake, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England.
For Tim Broome and his mother, fiancé of Ron Fage. Doreen was living at the time at 156 Carlton Crescent, Luton. She married later after the war in 1946 to Tim's father.
With thanks for further information to Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 2", Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - "Nightfighter War Diaries Vol.'s 1 and 2", Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries", Commonwealth Graves Commission.
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.