07/08.11.1942 No. 9 Squadron Lancaster I R5916 WS-R F/O. Kenneth Alexander MacKenzie D.F.C.
Operation: Genoa, Italy
Date: 07/08 November 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 9 Squadron - Motto: "Per noctem volamus" ("Throughout the night we fly")
Badge: A bat. The badge is based on a device used previously.
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Location: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Pilot: F/O. Kenneth Alexander MacKenzie D.F.C. J/5050 RCAF Age 30 - Killed (1)
2nd Pilot: Sgt. James John Taaffe 1216892 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (2)
Nav/Air/Bmr: Sgt. Arthur Reuben Billington 1317547 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (3)
Nav/Air/Bmr: Sgt. Kenneth Thomas John Adams 657341 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy Ernest Werren 930530 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. David John Wicks 1281297 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. Herbert Richard Willacy 1378115 RAFVR Age 27 - Killed (7)
We appeal to relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the HELPDESK
REASON FOR LOSS
Took off 17:46 hours from RAF Waddington on a bombing operation to Genoa.
A force of 175 aircraft comprised of 85 Lancasters, 45 Halifaxes, 39 Stirlings and 6 Wellingtons was despatched for this raid on Genoa. Crews reported that visibility was good and there was little opposition. Photographs and reports from returning crews confirmed that the raid had been a very successful and well concentrated with 147 aircraft having bombed the target. 4 Halifaxes, 1 Lancaster and 1 Wellington were lost.
Lancaster R5916 returned to base at RAF Waddington but at 02:00 hours, whilst preparing to land, collided with Lancaster W4265 also of No. 9 squadron. In the resulting crash the members of both crews were all killed.
The Report on Flying Accident or Forced Landing not Attributable to Enemy Action (Form 765) gives the following information regarding the circumstances of the incident.
"The accident occurred at night over base aerodrome. Neither aircraft had contacted base. Just before the collision occurred a Lancaster was observed immediately over the Watch Office at the estimated height of 1,500 feet, travelling in a Southerly direction with navigation lights burning. Aircraft returning from operations would be flying in a Northerly direction and it is thought the collision occurred head-on. As both aircraft were destroyed and there were no survivors nothing further is known".
The report was prepared in relation to Lancaster W4265 but the circumstances apply equally to both aircraft. It was clearly impossible to determine which of the Lancasters was flying in a southerly direction or why.
For details of the crew of Lancaster W4265 click here
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) F/O. Kenneth Alexander MacKenzie D.F.C. was born 17 October 1912 at York, Ontario, Canada the son of Kenneth James MacKenzie (a Builder, born Scotland, died 1931 Toronto) and Anne (Annie) MacKenzie nee Jennings (born Ireland). He had three siblings Robert George Farquhar MacKenzie (1918-1990), Kathleen Audrey MacKenzie (1916-2013) and Margaret Lucille MacKenzie (1910-1968). The family lived at 16 Heather Street Toronto.
Kenneth was educated at Humewood and McMurrick Primary Schools (1924-1926) and Oakwood Collegiate Institute (1926-1932): he later attended University Extension (1938/39) studying Traffic and Transportation. From 8 April 1929 until 18 May 1935 he served in the Non-Permanent Active Militia with the Queens Own Rifles of Canada rising to the rank of Acting Sergeant. He also qualified as a Cadet Machine Gun Instructor. After a short period as a Seaman he was employed as a Weighman for Toronto Grain Elevators from 1936 until enlisting in the Air Force. On 4 July 1938 he married Vera Jane Greene at Toronto and they later lived at 217 St. Germain Avenue, Toronto.
He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on 16 October 1940 at Toronto. He was recorded as being 5'10" tall, 157lbs, of medium complexion, having brown hair and blue eyes. On his application he stated that he played hockey, soccer and football moderately whilst he skied and sailed extensively.
His interviewing officer was clearly impressed for he described him as "Healthy, rugged, clean and refined: tastefully dressed, clean, neat and smart. Of quick intelligence, organised and accurate. A confident, mature and pleasant person".
He summarised "Excellent type of young man, nice personality, keen to fly, above average intelligence. Believed to be officer material".
And just to complete his already excellent credentials he had had some flying experience with the Toronto Flying Club; his records showing that he had 4 solo hours, 13 dual hours and 2 passenger hours.
It is not surprising therefore that six months after enlisting on 28 April 1941 he was awarded his Pilots Badge (Wings) and two days later he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer. His training had been at No. 1 Initial Training School at Toronto, No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Malton, Ontario and No. 1 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Camp Borden, Ontario. He embarked for the UK on 30 May 1941
He was posted to No. 9 Squadron at RAF Honington, Suffolk on 6 December 1941 and on the 30 April was promoted to Flying Officer. The squadron moved to RAF Waddington in September 1942 and converted from Wellingtons to Lancasters.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously on 31 December 1942(London Gazette 12 January 1943). The citation reads:
"As captain of aircraft this officer has displayed outstanding keenness and determination to achieve success. One night in September, 1942, in appalling weather he attacked a target in northern Germany. Although his aircraft was heavily engaged and hit by anti-aircraft fire Flying Officer MacKenzie pressed home his attack. He flew with distinction in the daylight raid on Le Creusot and on the more recent raid on Milan."
The memory of Kenneth was commemorated by the naming of MacKenzie Lake in the Northwest Territories, Canada.
(2) Sgt. James John Taaffe was born in 1922 at Upton on Severn, Worcestershire the son of Frank Armstrong Taaffe and Ada Beatrice Taaffe nee Tipping of Malvern, Worcestershire. He was a pupil of Kings School Worcester and School Captain in 1940. He is commemorated on the School WW2 Memorial and the Malvern War Memorial
(3) Sgt. Arthur Reuben Billington was born in 1922 at Pontypridd, Glamorganshire, Wales the son of Clarence Henry Billington and Sarah Amelia Billington formerly Barber, nee Fenn.
He is commemorated on the Pontypridd Roll of Honour.
(4) Sgt. Kenneth Thomas John Adams was born in 1921 at Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales the son of George Adams and Elizabeth Adams nee Green. He married Olive Wanklin at Caeleon, Monmouthshire, Wales in 1942 and later of Oakdale, Blackwood, Caerphilly, Wales. He and his wife had only been married about six months when he was killed.
(5) Sgt. Roy Ernest Werren was born in 1920 at Lambeth, London the son of Ernest Richard and Nellie Emily Elizabeth Werren nee Brown, of Herne Hill, South London.
(6) Sgt. David John Wicks was born 1921 at Norwich the son of Frank George Wicks and Laura Phillis Wicks nee Dix. In 1942 he married Jean Bolton at Ploughley, Oxfordshire.
(7) Sgt. Herbert Richard Willacy was born c 1915 the son of George Brooks Willacy and Alice Louisa Willacy nee Hensby, of Heckmondwike, West Riding of Yorkshire. He had a sister Ivy Willacy born 1912
In 1939 he married Muriel Senior at Spen Valley, West Riding of Yorkshire. Their only child Pauline M. Willacy was born at Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1940.
Herbert Willacy is commemorated on the Heckmondwike War Memorial, West Riding of Yorkshire.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS
(1) F/O. Kenneth Alexander MacKenzie D.F.C. was buried at Lincoln (Newport) Cemetery - Section H. Grave No. 316 North
His epitaph reads:
In loving memory
(2) Sgt. James John Taaffe was buried at Great Malvern Cemetery, Worcestershire - Plot 6 West. Grave No. 6620
(3) Sgt. Arthur Reuben Billington was buried at Pontypridd (Glyntaff) Cemetery, Glamorganshire, Wales - Plot Y. Grave 714
His epitaph reads:
Borne upon wings of glory
Into the arms of the Lord
(4) Sgt. Kenneth Thomas John Adams was buried at Penmaen (St. David's) Churchyard, Monmouthshire, Wales - Row D. Grave 33
His epitaph reads:
God's greatest gift
(5) Sgt. Roy Ernest Werren was buried at Lambeth Cemetery, London - Section 1.2. Cons. Grave 416
His epitaph reads:
In loving memory
Of our only son Roy. At rest
So sadly missed.
Mum and dad
(6) Sgt. David John Wicks was buried at Oxford (Rose Hill) Cemetery, Oxfordshire - Section J.2. Grave 162
(7) Sgt. Herbert Richard Willacy was buried at Heckmondwike Cemetery, West Riding of Yorkshire - Cons. Sec. G. Grave 4.
His epitaph reads:
"Thy will be done"
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - September 2017
With thanks to the sources quoted below.