18.12.1939 No. 37 Squadron Wellington 1A N2889 LF-P F/O. Lewis
Operation: Wilhelmshaven Harbour, North Sea
Date: 18th December 1939 (Monday)
Unit: No. 37 Squadron
Type: Wellington IA
Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk
Location: North Sea
Pilot: F/O. Oliver John Trevor Lewis. 40054. RAF (Australia) Age 24. Killed (1)
Obs: Sgt. Maurice William Barrington-Taylor. 516752. RAF Age 26. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Roderick Menzie Ross. 41070. RAF (Canada) Age 25. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1. Peter Thomas Jones. 540554. RAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: AC1. George Warne Geddes. 539328. RAF Age 20. Injured (3)
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Wellington 1A 1939. Wilhelmshaven 1939
REASON FOR LOSS:
Wellington N2889 took off at 09.40hrs with six other No. 37 Squadron Wellingtons from RAF Feltwell to carry out a raid at 14.000ft on Wilhelmshaven harbour to attack any battleships or cruisers. Having rendezvous at 10.30hrs over Yarmouth No. 37 Squadron Wellingtons flew in a diamond formation with 9 aircraft from both No. 149 Squadron and No. 9 Squadron.
The formation were attacked South of Wilhelmshaven at 12.30hrs by approx. 30/40 enemy aircraft and the attack continued until reaching Wilhelmshaven when heavy A.A. fire was encountered from both shore based batteries and Navel craft. No suitable enemy battleships or cruisers were seen.
After leaving the Wilhelmshaven area the aircraft were followed for some 70/80 miles to the German coast by the enemy fighters. Obt. Helmut Lent of 3./ZG-76 claimed to have shot down Wellington N2889 10km NWN Borkum. A total of 12 aircraft were shot down on this operation. Situated on the island of Wangerooge the Germans had been tracking the bomber force for many miles using the experimental early warning Freya radar system and this information was passed on to the German fighters.
The total loss for No. 37 Squadron from the operation: 21 killed, 1 injured who died of his injuries and 4 POW. Only one aircraft of No. 37 Squadron returned to base. Lost: (N2904) (N2888) (N2935) (N2936)
Runnymede Memorial, Surrey and Sage War Cemetery, Germany
F/O. Oliver John Trevor Lewis. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 1. Son of Oliver James Lewis and Vera Emestine Lewis of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. (1) Air Cadet Oliver John Trevor Lewis trained in the RAAF at Point Cook in 1937 and was granted a short service commission on the 26th August 1937 in the RAF General Duties Branch as a Pilot Officer and was posted to No. 10 Flying Training School, Tern Hill on the 1st September 1937. P/O. O. J. T. Lewis was promoted to Flying Officer as of 26th May 1939
Sgt. Maurice William Barrington-Taylor. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 1. Son of Mabel Barrington-Taylor of Hammersmith, London
(left: courtesy John Jones) Pilot Officer Roderick Menzie Ross. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 1. Son of Charles Walter and Elizabeth Ross. Husband of Valerie Alice Margaret (née Miller) Ross (30th April 1922 - 9th January 2009) of Bedford. They were married just 11 days, on the 9th December 1939 at Flitwick, Bedfordshire, before he was lost on this mission.
(2) Roderick Menzie Ross was born on the 14th October 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Granted a short service commission as Acting Plt.Off. on the 23rd August 1938 and confirmed as a Plt.Off. as of 27th June 1939. Plt.Off. Ross was posted to No. 37 Squadron on the 18th October 1939 from RAF Harwell.
The photograph (left) of Plt.Off. Ross shows him with Pilot wings. He had only been with the Sqn for a month prior to this sortie so it is probable that he may have been the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner for flying hour purposes or for experience.
AC1. Peter Thomas Jones. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 3. Son of Thomas Arthur and Mabel Ada Jones of Colchester, Essex
AC1. George Warne Geddes. Sage War Cemetery. Grave Ref: 5. F. 7. Born on the 24th November 1919. Son to Robert Smith and Adelaide Emma (née Smith) Geddes of Leicester, Leicestershire, England.
(3) George Warne Geddes was wounded and died the following day from his injuries
Researched by: Kate Tame for Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew
Acknowledgements: With special thanks to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, W. R. Chorley - Bomber Command Losses 1939-1940 including Prewar Losses July 1936 - September 1939. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - Bomber Command War Diaries, National Archives U.K. Air 27/394, 27/388, Imperial War Museum, Flight Archives, London Gazette Archives. Thanks to John Jones for the NoK details for AC1 Geddes and the image and details for Plt.Off. Ross.