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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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Robert McLaren
18/19.08.1942 No 57 Squadron Wellington III X3371 DX-G P/O. McLaren crew loss

Operation: Flensburg, Germany

Date: 18/19th August 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 57 Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3371

Code: DX-G

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

Location: Skagerrak - Sea (Exact location not known)

Pilot: P/O. Robert (Bob) Perrin McLaren J/15748 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Obs: Sgt. William Edwin Collins 1259856 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Kivell Harold William Alderton 412309 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hector John Wakeman 411108 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Charles Williams 411230 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 20.45 hrs from Feltwell near Thetford, Norfolk to attack Flensburg on an inlet of the Baltic. This was the first operation using the Pathfinder force and was supposed to be easy but winds were not as they had been forecasted and the bomber stream drifted north of the target area to a similar area. Reports stated that 78 bombers hit the target but reports from the town say that it was not hit at all! Other reports state that Sønderburg and Abenra and a large area of Denmark which was 25 miles north of Flensburg were hit.

Tragically the pilot, P/O. McLaren offered to captain this aircraft on this raid (his 32nd) as the normal pilot could not make the trip for some reason. Three of the crew have graves (shown below and two are commemorated on the Runnymede War Memorial. P/O. McLaran's body was washed ashore some weeks later on the 8th September 1942 at Ockero, Sweden. He was provided a full military funeral by the Germans and the family received photographs of that service and the grave. At the time of this fatal flight he had received a posting to go to Scotland as an instructor but his parents learned from his Commanding Officer that he had also applied to go to the Far East.

Of the 118 aircraft taking part in this operation 4 aircraft were lost and it is thought that all were brought down by night fighters from II/NJG3 and 8./NJG3 although no claims can be positively connected to this Wellington X3371.

              

              Skagerrak with insert P/O. Bob McLaren

Other Losses this raid:

12 Squadron Wellington II Z8538 PH-O. F/O. Douglas Rowe all the crew of 5 killed.

35 Squadron Halifax II W1226 TL-J. Sgt. J.W. Smith and all the crew of 7 made Prisoners of War

218 Squadron Stirling I W7618 HA-V P/O. I.G. McDaniel 4 killed and 3 made Prisoners of War

              

              Ockero Churchyard (courtesy CWGC)

Burial details:

P/O. Robert Perrin McLaren. Ockero Churchyard Collective grave.

Further information: Enlisted on the 28th October 1940, training at Brandon, Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton receiving his wings at Medicine Hat on August 8th 1941. Son of Robert Kennedy McLaren and Clara A. McLaren, of Princeton, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Edwin Collins. Runnymede Memorial Panel 80. Son of Ernest and Gertrude Rose Collins, of British Legion Village, Aylesford, Kent, England.

P/O. Kivell Harold William Alderton. Runnymede Memorial Panel 115. Son of Marie Jane Alderton (nee Nancekivell) and Charles Robert Alderton, husband of Bethel Mary Alderton, of Wellington, New Zealand.

Sgt. Hector John Wakeman. Kiel War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.2. Son of Herbert John Wakeman and of Lily Jane Wakeman (nee Pidgeon), of Pahiatua, Wellington. New Zealand.

Sgt. John Charles Williams. Ockero Churchyard Collective grave. Son of Henry James Williams and Lily Eliza Williams, of Wellington City, New Zealand.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol 3', 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.

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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