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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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15 Squadron Crest
16/17.12.1942 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I R9168 LS-T P/O. Frank S. Millen

Operation: Diepholz

Date: 16/17th December 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: R9168

Code: LS-T

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Gortel, Netherlands

Pilot: P/O. Frank Severne Millen J/16197 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Grantley Charles George Hutton 576008 RAF Age 19. Killed

Nav: P/O. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter 16319 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Robert Hugh McKillop NZ/404389 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Russell Neal Holmes J/16538 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Hugh Ernest Hill J/16537 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James F. Perring 539068 RAF Age 26. PoW No: 27297 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf (344)


A school teacher Mr Harry Bouwman contacted Aircrew Remembered in December 2014. His school erected memorial for the crew at the crash site in 1992 with special permission from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Mr Bouwman also published a book on the story of this aircraft and crew. Please see further details at the foot of this page of remembrance.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Bourne with 3 other aircraft to bomb the airfield at Diepholz, which was also used as a storage area for Luftwaffe aircraft.

Above L-R: Sgt. Grantley Hutton, Sgt. James Perring, P/O. Hugh Hill, Sgt. Robert McKillop (courtesy Harry Bouwman)

Above L-R: P/O. Frank Severne Millen, P/O. Russell Holmes, P/O. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter (courtesy Harry Bouwman and Ken Dougan)

Thought to have been shot down by a combination of flak and night fighters although the publication ’The last flight of T for Tommy’ written by Harry Bouwman describes it has being the first claim for Lt. Werner Rap (1) of 7./NJG1 flying a Bf110 G9+GR, with the Stirling crashing at 20.09 hrs.(also confirmed in the 'Nightfighter War Diaries’). The Luftwaffe pilot had taken off from Twente, during a patrol in Raun 4C near Apeldoorn

(1) Lt. Werner Rap served with 7,/NJG1, 5 NJG5, Stab II./NJG5 survived the war after becoming an ace with 18 abschüsse. (shown right)


Burial details:

P/O. Frank Severne Millen. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 627. Son of Ralph Eaton Millen and Cecil Severne Millen, of North Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Sophomore of Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, USA. Grave inscription reads ‘Born to Cecil Severne Blanding and Ralph E. Millen, Watkins Glen, New York. USA.’

Sgt. Grantley Charles George Hutton. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 626. No further details - are you able to assist?

P/O. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. Son of Thomas Milton Kieswetter and Catherine H. Kieswetter, of Seattle, Washington, USA. Grave inscription reads ‘Deep in our hearts, a memory is kept, of one we loved, and will never forget.’

Sgt. Robert Hugh McKillop. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. Son of Patrick McKillop and Ruby McKillop (nee Hay), of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. Born on the 19th March 1917, enlisted on the 5th September 1939.

P/O. Russell Neal Holmes. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. No further details - are you able to assist?

P/O. Hugh Ernest Hill. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 625. No further details - are you able to assist?

For further details our thanks to the following, Mr. Harry Bouwman, Gerry Zwanenburg, MBE. Other sources as shown.

Mr. Harry Bouwman - 'The Last Flight of 'T' For Tommy:-

As a tribute to the crew, in 1993 Mr. Harry Bouwman published a book, ‘The last flight of T for Tommy’, in which he elaborately describe the circumstances of the raid of that particular bomber, which crashed on 16th December 1942. Next to the RAF part of the story, He also wrote about the German side and the Dutch involvement after the crash. Within a few months 1.000 copies of this book had been sold.

During the nineties many Air Gunners, who came over to Dronten in May, paid a visit to his school and joined the Memorial Service in the woods. The British Military Attaché joined us several times.

As people still asked about his book, last year a new edition was published. The main intention was to reach (in special lessons) 1.200 schoolchildren in the region to tell them about WW2 and the hard work of RAF Bomber Command during the war. The professional help of his friend, Gerry Zwanenburg (1928), MBE, Recovery Officer (R’red) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, was of priceless value to him. In both editions he wrote a foreword. Gerry Zwanenburg recovered a lot of RAF aircraft in the Flevopolders during 1960-1980, for which he received several decorations.


This book is now available in English from the International Bomber Command Centre priced at just £18.00 and available to order online.


In the new edition (88 pages full colour, 175 pictures) a comprehensive description of the circumstances during the raid has been written. How the aircraft was prepared, what kind of men formed the crew, what did they have to do during the raid on Diepholz Airfield? After the Stirling was hit by Flak and on his way back to England, the reader is led to the German pilot in his Messerschmitt. He shot down the Stirling at 20.19 hrs. At the time of the crash, the story follows a Dutch boy who was an eyewitness to the crash. Only the rear gunner survived. He was taken PoW and transported to Stalag 344, Lamsdorf. He survived the war and returned to England in 1945.

In addition to this main part of the book,he describes, in about 50 short articles, the circumstances of the Dutch during the war: resistance, the suffering of the Jews, liberation etc. (I told my pupils that this book contains circa 80% of the headlines of WW2.) Also many interesting details are mentioned.

All main records of the RAF, the Germans and the Dutch are included, as well as letters from parents of the crew. Last year he met the son of the rear gunner, who handed him his fathers’ logbook.

Vaassens weekly 31 May 2016 (reproduced with permission of the author)

Gortel – Bomb aimer Ken Dougan ought to have been part of the crew of the Stirling R9168 that crashed at Gortel on 16th December 1942. He was in hospital following a crash during take-off. His crew had to fly their next operation to bomb the Diepholz training airfield of the Luftwaffe. So Ken wasn’t flying with them this time...

Right: Even H.R.H. Princess Margriet found the time to come and meet with Ken Dougan. She spoke to the elderly veteran for a long time at the entrance of the cemetery Tongerenseweg. (Photo Harry Bouwman)

Harry Bouwman, who in 1992 erected the air gunner’s memorial with his then primary school class, accidently came into contact with the 98 year old Canadian last year. It wasn’t until the English version of the last flight of T for Tommy was published last year that he realised how his comrades died. The veteran had one last wish; to pay his respects to his fallen comrades at the place where they lost their lives. For this reason he travelled from Vancouver to the Netherlands, a trip he had never taken before.
On Monday, in the company of his son and daughter, Dougan visited the cemetery in Epe. Princess Margriet was also there. The princess was born in Canada, when the Royal family took refuge there during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She spent 20 minutes speaking to the veteran, who was clearly moved.

In the afternoon, Dougan visited the primary school ‘Het Mosterdzaadje’ at Gortel. The school adopted the memorial commemorating the to the memorial. Dougan was taken by jeep to the “Veenwegje”, escorted by the bagpipers and old army vehicles. Former marines formed a guard of honour. Following the opening speech from organiser Harry Bouwman, Frans Roos a pupil from the primary school, read a poem written by herself. A former marine playing the perished airmen on the street “Veenwegje”. Representatives from the Canadian and English embassies were also present. Dougan spent an hour answering questions from the pupils.

The Canadian war veteran Ken Dougan (98), surrounded by the pupils of the Mosterdzaadje primary school, pays his last respects at the Airman’s memorial to his comrades who in 1942 crashed. Next to him his son and daughter. Mrs. Gallit Dobner is laying a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Embassy.

After a cup of coffee and a surprise performance from the Bagpipers City of Apeldoorn, everyone went to the memorial. Dougan was taken by jeep to the “Veenwegje”, escorted by the bagpipers and old army vehicles. Former marines formed a guard of honour. Following the opening speech from organiser Harry Bouwman, Frans Roos a pupil from the primary school, read a poem written by herself. A former marine playing the trumpet accompanied the singing of “Abide with me”. Harry Bouwman read a passage from his book T for Tommy. Headmaster Frans Jan Roos read it in English. Following the Dedication by Margreet Slijkhuis the Last Post was played, followed by two minutes silence. The Dutch, Canadian and English National anthems were played followed by the laying of wreaths and flowers by the Canadian embassy, the British embassy, the schoolchildren from the Mosterdzaadje primary school, the association Gortel Niersen, and Harry and Virginia Bouwman.

During Harry Bouwman’s thank you speech he invited those present for a cup of coffee together in Het Mosterdzaadje.

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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Last Modified: 22 January 2017, 16:20