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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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139 Squadron Crest
16.03.1943 No. 139 Squadron Mosquito B.IV DZ49 XD-Q P/O. McGeehan

Operation: Paderborn

Date: 16th March 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 139 Squadron (2 Group)

Type: Mosquito B.IV

Serial: DZ497

Code: XD-Q

Base: RAF Marham, Norfolk

Location: Den Hoorn, Tegel, Netherlands

Pilot: P/O. Peter John Dickson McGeehan DFM NZ/411989 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Nav: F/O. Reginald Charles Morris DFC 119221 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 16:50 hrs with 15 others to attack railway workshops in Paderborn. A journey of some 200 miles from the coast! A highly successful raid with the Mosquitoes scoring direct hits on the targets.

DZ497 was the only aircraft that failed to return,, hit from anti-aircraft fire from a Kriegsmarine Unit over the Dutch coast crashing near Den Hoorn on the island of Texel killing both the crew. They rest in graves on the island, but both commemorated on memorials in their home towns.

On the 30th January this crew took part in the operation to bomb Berlin. That day was the 10th anniversary of the National Socialist Workers Party Of Germany (NSDAP) coming to power. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göering, Minister for Aviation and head of the Luftwaffe, was to give speeches to the people. The Mosquitoes from 105 Squadron were briefed that they had to bomb at exactly 11:00 hrs to prevent the speeches taking part and to prove that their capital could be attacked at any time from the air. They succeeded and all returned to their base.

Then, a further attack was made on the same day, again by 3 Mosquitoes, this time from 139 Squadron. The purpose of mainly propaganda value was to disrupt speeches by Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. After taking off in the afternoon they encountered heavy flak and, although some Luftwaffe fighters were seen no combats took place. Just 3 hours later after covering some 1100 miles over hostile territory two returned safely, the third was not so fortunate - Sd/Ldr. Darling DFC, along with his navigator were lost - details of that can be read here.

Standing 2nd from left Fl/Sgt. McGeehan (courtesy Auckland Cenotaph - see acknowledgements)

The then Fl/Sgt. McGeehan received the DFM, with his navigator receiving the DFC gazetted in February 1943:

"On the 30th January, 1943, two forces of bombers were detailed to attack Berlin, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.Close co-ordination and precise timing were called for but such was the skill exhibited that the target was reached and attacks delivered within seconds of the specified time, despite a 500 mile flight over heavily defended territory. Success was due to the calm courage, resolution and endurance of all the members of the crew, including Fl/Sgt. McGeehan. The raids were timed to coincide with speeches by Goering and Goebels at mass outdoor rallies in Berlin, seriously disrupting them".

Burial details:

P/O. Peter John Dickson McGeehan DFM. Texel Cemetery (Den Burg). Plot K. Row 2. Grave 26. Born on the 29th April 1921 the son of Thomas Manus McGeehan and of Marjorie McGeehan (née Hosking), of Avondale, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 464 flying hours logged and on his 8th operational sortie.

F/O. Reginald Charles Morris DFC. Texel Cemetery (Den Burg). Plot K. Row 1. Grave 1. Son of Ernest Edward and Fanny Morris, of Newport, Monmouthshire and husband of Eva Mary Morris, of Newport, Wales. Grave inscription reads: "His Sacrifice Was Made With Honour And Courage To Save Us From Oppression".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn QSM and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 05.06.2018

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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