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22/23.07.1940 No 149 Squadron Wellington T2459 P/O. Panter
Operation: Gotha, Germany
Date: 22/23rd July 1940 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron (3 Group)
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: Outbound trip (North Sea)
Pilot: P/O. E.B. Panter RAFVR Survived
Pilot 2: P/O. C.R. Barrett RAFVR Survived
Obs: P/O. Robert Camac Sterling 77981 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A.W. Court RAFVR Survived
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. F.W. Brindley RAFVR Survived
Air/Gnr: Sgt. L.C.U. Gray RAFVR Survived
REASON FOR LOSS:
68 aircraft from various squadrons sent to attack various targets in Germany, France and Holland.
Thirty of these were Wellington crews sent to bomb Gotha and Gelsenkirchen - no aircraft were lost.
Taking off at 21:17 hrs from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk when, during the outbound trip they (together with a 9 Squadron Wellington) were attacked by Bf110's. The rear air gunner, Sgt. Gray shot one down as a confirmed kill (witnessed by others) and claimed another as damaged. Sadly during one of the attacks the observer was hit by enemy fire and killed.
The pilot decided to abandon the operation and return to Mildenhall with the casualty - which they did and landed at 22:55 hrs.
On subsequent trips he was replaced by Sgt, Holden as the crews new observer.
The body of the observer was returned to his family for burial in Belfast. We have requested via various sources a photo of his grave!
The remainder of the squadron who took part in this operation:
Wellington R3164 piloted by Sgt. Sayers - up at 21:17 hrs - down, safe at 0346 hrs. Wellington P9244 piloted by P/O. Miller - up at 21:29 hrs - down, safe at 03:39 hrs. Wellington P9248 piloted by Sgt. Harrison - up at 21:29 hrs - down, safe at 04:10 hrs. Wellington R3280 piloted by Sq/Ldr. Kerr - up at 21:17 hrs - down, safe at 03:50 hrs. Wellington P9247 piloted by P/O. Swift - up at 21:23 hrs - down, safe at 05:40 hrs. Wellington P9245 piloted by Sq/Ldr. Thwaites- up at 21:23 hrs - down, safe at 05:40 hrs. Wellington R3212 piloted by P/O. Birch - up at 21:23 hrs - down, safe at 03:30 hrs. Wellington L7812 piloted by F/O. Griffith-Jones - up at 21:31 hrs - down, safe at 04:04 hrs. Wellington L7846 piloted by Sgt. Sandeman - up at 21:56 hrs - down, safe at 02:00 hrs.
P/O. Robert Camac Sterling. Belfast Cemetery (Dundonald) Section B.2. Grave 294. Son of David Colston Sterling and Jean Smyth Sterling, of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Grave inscription reads: "In My Father's House Are Many Mansions". Also commemorated in the 149 Squadron Memorial book at St. George's Church at Methwold.
Photographs and other information supplied by Camac Sterling, relative of P/O. Sterling. Information gathered from Air/27/1000 National Archives Kew. Many thanks to Martin White for photo of P/O. Robert Camac Sterling grave - August 2018. For further details our thanks to the following sources:
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', 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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