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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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460 squadron badge
02/03.06.1942 No. 460 Squadron Wellington IV Z1249 UV-K Fl/Sgt. Levitus crew loss

Operation: Essen, Germany

Date: 02/03rd June 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 460 Squadron

Type: Wellington IV

Serial: Z1249

Code: UV-K

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: Lost without trace.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Solomon Levitus AUS/402910 RAAF Age 22. Missing (1)

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Hugh Rowell Brodie AUS/400524 RAAF Age 30. Missing (2)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert (Bob) George Dunlop Read R/69516 RCAF Age 22. Missing (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Gordon Prentis Townsend 1051659 RAFVR Age? Missing (4)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Albert Gaiter AUS/405020 RAAF Age 26. Missing (5)

Vickers Wellington bomber of No. 460 Squadron, Breighton, Yorkshire 1942

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 23:30 hrs from RAF Breighton to attack the city of Essen. One of 10 aircraft from the Squadron detailed to bomb the city of Essen. The weather that night was fine with little or no cloud

A relatively small force of 195 Aircraft took part - 97 Wellingtons, 38 Halifaxes, 27 Lancasters 21 Stirlings and 12 Hampdens in the second night in succession bombing Essen. The attack was widely scattered and records show that only 3 high explosive and 300 incendiary bombs hit the city with no serious damage or injuries.

The RAF however lost 14 aircraft! 68 crew members were killed and a further 15 made Prisoners of War.

This WellingtonZ1249 was lost without trace and no night fighter claims wee made for UV-K. Another 460 squadron Wellington was lost during this night, that of Z1394 UV-Q flown by 25 year old F/O John Walter Keene AUS/402742 RAAF killed with all but one of his crew.

Outdoor group portrait of members of No. 460 Squadron RAAF, based at an RAF Breighton which has been newly-formed and equipped with Wellington bomber aircraft. Identified from left to right: 404539 Sergeant (Sgt) (later Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt)) William John Chaplain from Brisbane Queensland; 402600 Sgt Trevor Hopetoun McIlveen from Sydney, NSW (killed on flying operations over Germany on 29 April 1942); 400337 Sgt (later Pilot Officer) Stuart Wood from Victoria in front (accidentally killed in the UK on 15 February 1943); next two at back are unidentified; 404256 Sgt (later Flt Lt) Francis Joseph Nugent from Queensland, in front (later awarded DFC); 407828 Sgt (later Flying Officer) Arrol Ainslie Penglase from South Australia; 407531 Sgt (later Flt Lt) Allan Francis McKinnon from South Australia (later awarded DFC) (killed on flying operations over Germany on 5 March 1944); 408122 Sgt John Percival Cosgrove from South Australia (killed on flying operations over Germany on 29 April 1942); 404684 Sgt (later Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt)) Alexander Clive Johnston from Queensland (killed on flying operations over Germany on 13 May 1943); 400524 Sgt (later Flt Sgt) Hugh Rowell Brodie from Melbourne, Victoria (killed on flying operations over Germany on 3 June 1942); 400335 Sgt John Robert Shearer from Victoria, in front (killed on flying operations over Germany on 7 May 1942); and 404705 Sgt Reginald Henry Murphy from Queensland (killed on flying operations over Germany on 7 May 1942).courtesy of Australian War Museum


1941 No 7 Service Flying Training School, Fort McLeod, Alberta. Canada. These young men received their "Wings" Back row 2nd from the left is LAC Solomon Levitus (courtesy of Australian War Museum)

Left: Rostock after a bombing operation April 1942. (courtesy Australian War Museum)Below: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) newspaper dated Tuesday 28th April 1942 reported: (courtesy Australian National Library)

RAF's Fourth Successive Raid on Rostock

A strong force of RAF bombers hammered the Baltic Sea port of Rostock for the fourth night in succession on Sunday. Fires started in earlier raids were still burning when the first of our aircraft arrived. Heavy bombs were seen to burst on the Heinkel aircraft factory, where fresh fires were started.

Wellington bombers of the Australian Squadron participated in the raid on Rostock. Sgt. S. Levitus, of Rose Bay, NSW, captain and pilot of a Wellington that was over Rostock on Saturday night described how his rear gunner Sgt. G. Viner, of Unley, SA sent a Me110 diving to the ground. We were silhouetted against the moon, and were an easy mark for the Messerschmitt he said. Then Viner saw him 100 yards away. Viner fired immediately, and the Messerschmitt broke off, but again attacked from dead astern and then from below. The enemy climbed to our port side to try again, but Viner gave him a long burst, and saw bullets cutting into the cockpit and starboard engine. He went straight down on fire

The crew that day 25/26th April 1942: Sgt. Solomon Levitus, Sgt. A F McKinnon, Sgt Hugh Rowel Brodie, Sgt. L R Clarke, Sgt Robert George Dunlope Read and Sgt. G Viner

This prayer can be downloaded for use at your memorial services

The "Airman's Prayer" written by Sgt. Hugh R Brodie. Sgt. S Levitus and crew took part in the operation to Mannheim. Roll of Honour for James Albert Gaiter (all courtesy of National Library Australia)

Burial details: Fl/Sgt. Solomon Levitus and his brother Maurice Morris (Levitus) are remembered in The Great Synagogue, Sydney

Fl/Sgt. Solomon Levitus. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 111. Son of David and Rebecca Gertrude Levitus, of 65 Beresford Road, Rose Bay, New South Wales, Australia. (1) Born 17th April 1920 and part educated at Scotts College, Sydney. Solomon had completed 14 operational flights while with the squadronFl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Hugh Rowell Brodie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 111. Son of John Godfrey Reeves and Helen Louise Brodie. BA, B.Ed. of Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. (2) Hugh "MA" (with honours) of Melbourne University. An old boy of Melbourne High School, and on the school staff when he joined up in September 1940, Sgt Brodie wrote:

"My Dear Boys, I write because I love you. You are students at the school, where, as a student, I was taught much, and where, teaching you, I learnt much more. Between us there is that bond, and because of it I ask you to be patient. Give me for once your full attention; I cannot threaten impositions now."I do not write for myself alone.

Consider this letter written by the youth of the whole world, by the countless men, who, born of every race, baptised into every creed, wearing every type of uniform (or none at all) and performing every conceivable task, are working, fighting or dying for man's freedom."We had from our fathers a world that was good. It was not good enough.

Today, because of that, it is being shattered to fragments. We cannot save our cities, they are gone, but in the ruins we may still preserve freedom, and, freedom saved, the cities of the future will be for you to build, "Ancient peoples believed that human sacrifices offered over the foundations of a town procured it permanency and power. The blood of generations shed for your cities and not shed by bound victims, but by free men. Do not waste their sacrifice. The future is yours. Use it well.

And now I write for myself alone. If I wronged any one of you by word or deed forgive me. If I taught anything of worth, act upon it. If I taught what should not have been taught drive from your minds the memory of that teaching, not of that teacher. Do not forget me too quickly, for I shall not forget you. Your friend Hugh Brodie, Sergeant RAAF."

Robert (Bob) Read left and right. Centre Scarborough Collegiate which shows the names of those who volunteered for active service. (all courtesy of Marianne Anderson)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert (Bob) George Dunlop Read. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 106. Son of Charles Edward and Elizabeth Georgina Read, of Birch Cliff, Ontario, Canada. (3) Robert (Bob) was born in Scarborough, Ontario (on Dault Road) December 4th 1919, the third child in the family. He attended R.H. King Collegiate. His family emigrated from Ireland in the early 1900s, and prior to his enlistment, he worked for Eatons Department store in Toronto. He was said to be a quiet, personable young man, and the family was "very proud that he and his brothers joining up to go overseas". He was the only member of the family to be killed - the others survived the war.


W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Gordon Prentis Townsend. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 95. Son of Florrie Townsend. Husband of Jean Pamela Townsend. (4) Born 27th February 1920 in Cockersdale Farm, Drighlington, North Bierley, Yorkshire. Tom lived with his grandparent in Scarborough while growing up and volunteered for the RAF as a radio operator and married in June 1941. Tom had also served with No 142 (City of Worcester) Squadron during 1941 - 1942

Efforts to trace your son have proved unavailing. Roll of Honour Sgt. James Albert Gaiter (both courtesy of National Library of Australia)

The panel at Runnymede Memorial (courtesy Stephen Daglish)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Albert Gaiter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 112. Son of James Gaiter, and of Elizabeth Augusta Gaiter, of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. James had served with A.I.F. before enlisting. After finishing his education James was an active member of the Shire in Cloncerry as an Assistant Shire Clerk and then as the Shire Clerk of Cooktown. James enlisted in January 1941

Mr. J A Gaiter, who had been employed on the staff of the Shire Office practically since he left school, left on Friday morning last for Redbank where he goes into camp with the Second A.I.F. Mr. Gaiter was a member of the militia and holds a provisional commission in the 26th (Western) Battalion. Prior to his departure the members of the Shire Clerk (Mr O'Callaghan) presented Mr. Gaiter with a gold cigarette case as a token of the esteem in which he was held by the staff. Jim's many friends will wish him luck at the war and that he will return safely to Cloncurry with the honours of war heavy upon him.

"My great, great, great Uncle, Air Gunner James Gaiter" by Madison Brasch Mullins

"My Grandmothers great Uncle , James Albert Gaiter, is one of the 6,176 brave and selfless men and women who were killed in action flying for the RAAF in World War II.

His service is commemorated at the War Memorial in Canbarra, as well as the Air Force Memorial, Runnymede, England. The Runnymede memorial is dedicated to the courageous men and women of the Allied Air Forces, who have no grave anywhere in the world. The Runnymede Memorial is purposefully and poignantly located under the flight paths for Heathrow Airport, with the jet streams from planes criss-cross above the memorial.

James Albert Gaiter was born in 1916 in Cloncurry, Queensland. After the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, 458 Squadron and did his flight training at Fradley, England from late 1941 to early 1942. When he finished training, he joined the RAAF's 460 Squadron, which flew for the larger No. 1 Group, RAF. He flew Wellington planes over Germany, as an Air Gunner. Tragically he flew in action for less than a month before he was killed. His first flight with 460 Squadron was on the 19th May 1942, flying over Mannheim, Germany. His war records show a number of flights after that, and then the final entry is "2.6.42. 23:30hrs. Air Gunner, Operation Essen. Failed to return"

RAAF Air Gunner Gaitor, my relative, flew a total of 6 daylight hours and 17:55 night hours in flying missions over Germany. He flew in the first 1000 bomber raids over Cologne. The 460 Squadron flew the most sorties of any of the Australian bomber squadrons (6262 sorties) and dropped more bombs than any squadron in the whole of Bomber Command. It lost 188 aircraft and suffered 1,018 combat deaths, 589 of whom were Australian - my uncle one of them. This was the most of any Australian squadron"

Researched for relatives of this crew with thanks for additional information to Brian Ramsey from New Zealand, Kristian / Rask Mølle and Ole Krauis from Denmark, Stuart Mullins, Stephan Daglish, Marianne Anderson, Colin Brothers, Frank Turner, Hazel and Paul Jobson, Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old',

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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Last Modified: 18 March 2017, 20:43