14/15.04.1943 No. 75 Squadron Stirling III BF513 AA-E P/O. Donald G. McCaskill
Date: 14/15th April 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Regniéssart, Belgium
Pilot: P/O. Donald Gordon McCaskill NZ/13573 RNZAF Age 19. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Angus McVicar 1371651 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: P/O. James Kennedy Grainger NZ/42295 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Bertram Elwell 519416 RAF Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Thomas Charles Green 1211032 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Desmond Cook 1609864 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Alexander Smith NZ/415378 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
In November 2014 we were contacted by researchers in Belgium. On or about the 10th May 2015 a ceremony is planned to commemorate this loss. Relatives and interested parties are invited to attend - please contact us in the first instance. Preliminary details are as shown below. We also appeal for any other photographs/details of the crew.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 21.32 hrs joining 462 aircraft – 146 Wellingtons, 135 Halifaxes, 98 Lancasters, 83 Stirlings to attack Stuttgart again. Not classed as a huge success as the pathfinders although claiming to have placed the markers accurately the main bombing force hit the north east of the target.
Only a few bombs hit the centre of Stuttgart. The old church Gedachtnis was destroyed with 1 bomb having a direct hit on an air raid shelter packed with French and Russian prisoners of war. 257 Frenchman and 143 Russians were killed. This tragedy brought the total death toll to 619, a new record for raids to Germany. 23 aircraft were lost on this raid.
It is understood that BF513 was attacked and shot done by Lt. Friedrich (‘Fritz’) Graeff (1) of I./NJG4 based at Florennes, his 4th abschüsse of the war. The Stirling crashed at 02.23 hrs in the area of Regniéssart, Belgium.
(1) Lt. Graeff went on to claim 6 kills before he was wounded on the 8/9th July 1943 in a crash some 15 km. south east of Avesnes near Wighenies, after a collision with Lancaster III ED720 ZN-R from 106 squadron - 1st. Lt. E.L. Rosner USAAF was killed, along with 6 other crew - 1 taken PoW (5 crew - RAFVR, 2 - RCAF) It is unknown if Lt. Friedrich Graeff survived the war.
Preliminary ceremony details:
14:00 hrs - Welcome of the participants in the City Hall, Nismes.
14.30 hrs - Travel by bus to Regniéssart (place of the crash)
15.00 hrs - Beginning of the official ceremonies (inauguration of the memorial, speeches, military homages, national anthems, friendship drink, small on-the-spot exhibition)
17.00 hrs - Regional Cultural centre, inauguration of the exhibition ‘Memory and Citizenship’ by ASBL foundation Auschwitz with, on the first floor, opening of the exhibition on Stirling BF513.
19.00 hrs - Conference by Mr. Martin Gray.
Please contact us today to assist our friends commemorate this loss!
The crew were buried on the 16th April 1943 at 19.00 hrs. in the cemetery described below.
P/O. Donald Gordon McCaskill. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Grave 27. Son of Gordon Milton McCaskill and Gwendolyn McCaskill, of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. His 7th operation. Total 444 flying hours.
Sgt. Angus McVicar. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Coll. grave 22-26. Son of Donald and Margaret McVicar, of Dunbeath, Caithness-shire, Scotland.
P/O. James Kennedy Grainger. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Coll. grave 22-26. Son of William Grainger and of Ida Grainger (née Main), of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. His 4th operation. Total 249 flying hours.
Sgt. Bertram Elwell. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Coll. grave 22-26. Believed to be from the London area. NoK details not available, are you able to assist?
Sgt. Reginald Thomas Charles Green. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Coll. grave 22-26. Son of Ernest and Miriam Amelia Green, husband of Edna Daisy Green, of Medbourne, Leicestershire, England.
Sgt. Ernest Desmond Cook. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Grave 26. Son of Ernest and Esther Cook, of Kintbury, Berkshire, England.
Sgt. Ronald Alexander Smith. Florennes Communal Cemetery. Row 2. Coll. grave 22-26. Son of David Watson Smith and of Agnes Adelaide Smith (née Doyle), of Lauriston, Canterbury, New Zealand. His 4th Operation. Total 168 flying hours.
For further details our thanks to the following, Errol Martyn - 'For Your Tomorrow Vol’s 1-3', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page.