28/29.04.1943 No. 75 Squadron Stirling I R9290 AA-X Fl/Sgt. Alfred E. Lewis
Operation: Gardening - "Radish"
Date: 28/29th April 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 75 Squadron (New Zealand)
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Langelandsbælt, Lolland, Denmark
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Alfred Edward Lewis AUS/412458 RAAF Age 25. Missing (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Andrew Graham 1369996 RAFVR Age ? Missing
Nav: Sgt. Henry George Corin NZ/417269 RNZAF Age 35. Missing
Air/Bmr: F/O. Charles John Bickham 49977 RAF Age ? Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Arthur Moulton 1292879 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Herbert Whitehart 964185 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Charles Howes NZ/413418 RNZAF Age 20. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 20:41 hrs. from Newmarket, Suffolk. Part of a huge 207 aircraft force on a 'Gardening - Radish' (mine laying) operation (see map of Gardening ops here). A total of 593 mines were laid off Heligoland, in the river Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts.
Low cloud base forced the aircraft to fly very low over the German and Danish coasts. Because of this they took very heavy flak and also attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters.
Crew of R9290 - Positive ID of Sgt. Howes 3rd from left and Sgt. Corin 5th from the left, Sgt. Moulton 7th from the left - can you help with the others?
Although this was the largest mine laying operation in one night of the whole war it came at a price. A total of 22 aircraft were lost (75 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone, with a total of 28 crew members killed) - 9 aircraft were lost by the night fighters and the remainder from the flak.
R9290 was hit by marine flak when flying very low at 300 mtrs. The aircraft is understood to have been hit in the left inboard engine and also along the fuselage. The aircraft crashed into the sea some 300 mtrs off shore and exploded on impact at around 00:23 hrs.
75 Squadron Stirling I
On the 11th May a Danish civilian noticed the beach was found covered in debris from the aircraft as well as human remains. Local Police buried these in unmarked graves along the beach.
(1) Promoted to Fl/Sgt retrospectively from 2nd October 1942.
Right: Runnymede Memorial in Surrey
Fl/Sgt. Alfred Edward Lewis. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Son of Herbert and Mabel Jane Lewis, of "Kyarra", Coolamon, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Andrew Graham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 151. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Henry George Corin. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Son of George Corin, and of Harriet Mary Corin (nee Stanton), of Caroll Street, Te Kuiti, Auckland, New Zealand. Trained at No. 1 Air Observers School, Malton, Ontario, Canada. born 22nd October 1908. Educated at Parnell and Pongoroa Schools where actively interested in football and cricket.
F/O. Charles John Bickham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Frederick Arthur Moulton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 160. Son of Anselm and Daisy Jane Hilda Moulton, of Tonbridge, Kent, England.
Sgt. John Herbert Whitehart. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 169. Son of Arthur and Harriet Whitehart, of Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
Sgt. Victor Charles Howes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Son of V. R. and Dolina Howes, of Albury, South Canterbury, New Zealand. Born 1922 and also commemorated on the Albury War Memorial in South Canerbury, New Zealand.
Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: National Archives of Australis, New Zealand Cenotaph archives, other sources as quoted below.