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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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10 Squadron Crest
16/17.06.1944 No. 10 Squadron Halifax III LV825 ZA-G P/O. Norman C.C. Leitch

Operation: Domleger, France.

Date: 17th June 1944

Unit: No.10 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LV825

Code: ZA-G

Base: RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire

Location: Pastures Farm, Rawcliffe, Yorkshire

Pilot: P/O. Norman Colin Campbell Leitch AUS/427001 RAAF Age 28. Killed

Navigator: Sgt. Ronald Francis Pearce 1339551 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. William John McCarroll 1483480 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Clarence Ralph Benjamin Lewington 1587162 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril Albert Reginald Dummer 1866298 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Aubrey Crawford 929824 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Mervyn John Coleman AUS/436070 RAAF Age 20. Injured

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 00:20 hrs to bomb the V1 Flying Bomb Site at Domleger in France. Loaded with 18 x 500 lb. high explosive bombs and normal crew.

Statement of Fl/Sgt. Coleman at the subsequent Court of Inquiry:

"I am an air gunner and was detailed as Rear Gunner in aircraft Halifax III LV825 (G) which was to fly on bombing operations on the night of 16/17th June 1944. We took off at 00.20 hours from Melbourne and had to fly on a radius of action before coming back over base to set course for the operational flight proper. We flew just below the clouds which were based at about what I should judge as 1500 feet. After flying for about five minutes I heard over the intercom, the Mid-Upper Gunner (Sgt. Dummer) report to the Pilot, P/O. Leitch, that the starboard outer engine was on fire. I heard the pilot say he would feather the engine but the Mid-Upper Gunner said he could see that the propellor was still rotating.

The Flight Engineer (Sgt. Crawford) asked the Pilot whether he had pushed the feathering button right in and the latter replied that it was in as far as it could go. The Pilot also said he had put on the graviner switch, and asked the Navigator (Sgt. Pearce) for a course to take the aircraft out to sea so that he could jettison the bombs. The Navigator replied that if he kept ahead as he was he would reach the sea. A few minutes later the Pilot said that he could not maintain height and that it would be best to jettison the bombs dead immediately, at the same time he ordered the crew other than myself to get into the rest position and brace themselves. I twice heard him shout out "we're going in" and I braced myself in my turret.

I could see a glow on the starboard side and sparks trailing backward, but was not able to see the wing itself. All at once the aeroplane crashed and I scrambled out as quickly as I could." (note:Time of crash 00:50 hrs)

Rear: Sgt. Crawford, Sgt. Lewington, Sgt. Dummer, Fl/Sgt. Coleman. Front: Sgt. Pearce, P/O. Leitch, Sgt. McCarroll.

"The aeroplane was blazing and after shouting and getting no reply from any of the others I ran as hard as I could and after about fifty yards fell into a ditch. At this moment the bombs exploded. I lay for about four minutes and then got up to find a crowd had started to collect. I shouted out that there were bombs onboard and then a policeman led me away. I do not know for sure whether the undercarriage was down but the landing certainly felt as if we had arrived with the undercarriage up."

Signed. M.J. Coleman 19.06.44.

Notes: On the 08/09th June, just over a week earlier, the pilot (probably with this crew) took off from RAF Melbourne in Halifax III LW371 during a night cross country training exercise. On return the pilot held off too long having misjudged his height, a very heavy landing followed. The starboard undercarriage unit was thrust forward into the wing - all the crew escaped injury but the aircraft was classified as a write off. Fl/Sgt. Mervyn John Coleman of 35 Aberdare Road, Shenton Park, West Australia. Born on the 04th June 1924 in Kalgoorlie Western Australia. Prior to service worked as a clerk. Enlisted in Perth. Injuries included bruises, slight shock.

Burial details:

P/O Norman Colin Campbell Leitch. Harrowgate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. B. Row G. Grave 3. Son of Colin Campbell Leitch and Mary Leitch the husband of Isabel Currie Leitch, of Innaloo, Western Australia.

Sgt. Ronald Francis Pearce. Plymouth Cemetery (Ford Park). Gen. Sec.K. Row 30. Grave 29. Son of Richard Charles and Kate Pearce, of Plymouth, Devon, England.

Fl/Sgt. William John McCarrol. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 220. Son of Robert T. and Jane McCarroll, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Sgt. Clarence Ralph Benjamin Lewington. Melksham Church Cemetery. S.W. Part. Son of Benjamin Job and Melinda Lewington, of Melksham, Wiltshire, England.

Sgt. Cyril Albert Reginald Dummer. Harrowgate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. B. Row G. Grave 4. Son of Arthur Reginald and Ethel Mary Dummer, of Kenton, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Ronald Aubrey Crawford. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 227. Son of Arthur James Crawford and Florence May Crawford, of Swansea, Wales.

Researched for relatives of this crew with thanks to the National Archives of Australia for details on statement at the Board Of Enquiry.

KTY 25.12.2016

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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