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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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20/21.04.1944 No. 420 Squadron Halifax III LW692 PT-V P/O. Raymond G. Leonard

Operation: Lens, France

Date: 20/21st April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 420 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LW692

Code: PT-V

Base: R.A.F. Tholthorpe, North Yorkshire

Location: Scie River, Pourville, Dieppe, France

Pilot: P/O. Raymond Gale Leonard J/85859 R.C.A.F. Age 22. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Patrick Francis Gough 1652948 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20. Missing

Nav: P/O. Alfred Warren 176005 R.A.F. Age 25. Missing

Air/Bmr: P/O. Herbert Clarke Wilson J/86417 R.C.A.F. Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Clifford James Wheelhouse 175807 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Paul J.H.I.F. Bourcier J/86241 R.C.A.F. P.o.W. No: 4179 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan / Belaria

Air/Gnr: P/O. Robert Allan Anderson R/191468 R.C.A.F. Age 20. P.o.W. No: 4176 Camp: L3 - Stalag Luft Sagan / Belaria (F/O. 1st September 1944)

REASON FOR LOSS:

taking off from R.A.F. Tholthorpe, North Yorkshire to bomb the rail junctions at Lens. 175 aircraft taking part on the target, bomb loads - 9 x 1000 lbs, 6 x 500 lbs - raid was a success with crews reporting extensive fires and large explosions on the target.

Halifax LW692 strayed off course, crossing the French coastline near Dieppe, instead of Le Havre as instructed. As soon as they crossed the coast they were hit several times by anti-aircraft fire. The port engines caught fire which rapidly spread to the wing. 

     

The crew of Halifax LW692 Rear: P/O. Warren, P/O. Wheelhouse, Sgt. Gough, P/O. Wilson. Front: Sgt. Anderson, P/O. Leonard, Sgt. Bourcier. (courtesy Bill Anderson)

The flight engineer called the pilot explaining that he considered they had no option but to abandon the aircraft. Two of the crew managed to bail out, the remainder, it seems could not and went in with the aircraft in the Scie River, Pourville, Dieppe, France.

The two pow’s were imprisoned at Stalag III until May 1945 when they managed to slip past the Russian ‘liberators’ to the American lines at Magdeburg. A short U.S.A.A.F. DC3 flight to Rheims, then onto a Lancaster to Tangemere back in England.

Left: Letter sent home from Bob Anderson whilst a PoW reads:

30/04/1944 
(Received July 20th 1944)
"Dear Folks, 
Well how is all in Brandon? All is ok here and I’m not fooling. You must be glad to know I’m here and someday I’ll come home alive and unwounded. If you knew the joy in my heart right now for I’m with Don Macdonald. I spent the day with him and I’m going to have supper with him tonite, he sure looks fine and we really talked things over. Write to Mrs Alex Bourcier, Châteauguay village, Quebec. You remember Paul, well we’re still together thank God. I guess we’ll be pals till we die. The rest of the crew weren’t so lucky. I only got a nose bleed when I bailed out. I’ve been treated good and fed well so please don’t worry. In fact you should be relieved for now you know I’m O.K. whereas it was doubtful when I was operating. (That address I gave you is Pauls folks) My biggest burden is worrying about you because I know you are worrying about me, My spirit is high and I can sure you I’ll come home as young and wild as when I left. 
All my love. God bless you, Bob."

     

A great photograph taken, we understand, at Stalag Luft Sagan in 1944. We have details on most of the incidents representing the aircraft losses of these chaps - all from Manitoba, Canada. (courtesy Bill Anderson)
Rear Row L-R: Don Macdonald, H.F. Purvis, G.W.H. Venables, Robert A. Anderson, J.S. Acheson, J.T. Glover, D.M. King, J. Plant, D. Witcher, K.A. Banks, H.P. Clark, E. Eggerton, A.B. Drummond-Hay, T.R. Kipp, J.W. Murphy.
Centre Row L-R: G.W.H. Groves, R.J. Teillet, G.J. Richardson, W. Hunter, L. Stevens, G.R. Large.
Front Row L-R: G.L. Sinclair, E.M. Sangster, A.N. Briggs, S.G. King, D.P. Thompson, T.E. Jackson, J.R. Beggs.

Burial details:

The two crew whose bodies were identified, were originally buried at Riquire-es-Plains, later at Grandcourt War Cemetery, after the end of war.

P/O. Raymond Gale Leonard. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 251. Son of Charles and Lillian M. Leonard, of Crowsnest, British Columbia, Canada.

Sgt. Patrick Francis Gough. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 230. Son of Patrick Francis and May Gough, of Barry, Glamorgan, Wales.

P/O. Alfred Warren. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 212. Son of George Arthur and Elsie Warren, husband of Winifred Warren, of Oldham, Lancashire, England.

P/O. Herbert Clarke Wilson. Grandcourt War Cemetery. Grave E.5. Son of Henry Herbert and Mary Wilson of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

P/O. Clifford James Wheelhouse. Grandcourt War Cemetery. Grave E.4. Son of John Henry and Emily Alice Wheelhouse, of Stockton-on-Tees, Co. Durham, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Bill Anderson (son of Air Gunner, Sgt. Robert Anderson) Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Capt. Fred Paradie - 'Paradie Archives', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Oliver Clutton-Brock - 'Footprints On The Sands Of Time'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.

It is thought that Don MacDonald referred to in his letter is possibly a relative - perhaps you know this Don?

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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