18.04.1945 No 640 Squadron Halifax IV RG564 C8-P F/O. Pugh
Date: 18th April 1945 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 640 Squadron
Type: Halifax VI
Base: RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Location: No details - probably North Sea
Pilot: F/O. Harold Kenneth Pugh AUS/415916 RAAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Thornley Jaques 1522705 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Sgt. John Whittenbury 1805467 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Probert 1566612 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Harold Kendall Franklin AUS/427782 RAAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Archibald Rowan Lishman 1595712 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Alfred Knowles 3040961 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
The end of the war was just 18 days away with Germany surrendering. You may wonder why 617 Lancasters, 332 Halifaxes and 20 Mosquitoes were detailed to mount such a huge operation against a tiny island with just a population of 2000 civilian persons - many of whom had moved to the mainland or had moved into tunnels and various caves. The Islands had a small airfield that hardly posed any threat, the naval base had the facility to hold a maximum of a few U-Boats. The island did have various costal gun and flak emplacements.
Some say it was to destroy stock piles of ammunitions falling into the hands of the Norwegians and being handed over to larger German garrisons in Norway and others say that it was to that Hitler along with others with the imminent collapse of the third Reich may use this area to escape by U-Boat. Others feel that perhaps a local uprising against German forces may go wrong - which in fact it did with several being arrested and shot some three days later at Cuxhaven!
Operation Heligoland 18th April 1945
Three aircraft were lost on this operation (4 others lost either during take off or landing but with no loss of life), the others:
408 Squadron Halifax VII NP776 EQ-R. Flown by 21 year old, Fl/Lt. Albert James Cull J/92246 RCAF from Toronto, Canada - Seven crew lost.
420 Squadron Halifax III NP946 PT-L. Flown by 21 year old, P/O. William John Dunnigan J/95525 RCAF from Merritt, British Columbia, Canada - Seven crew lost.
Above: Runnymede Memorial. Note: We do have high resolution images for each panel that these crew members have their names inscribed and are happy to send them to relatives at no charge.
(1) F/O. Harold Kenneth Pugh was the sole survivor from a mid air collision the previous year. Further details available but a memorial to the two crews, 13 of whom were killed, was placed at Morchard Bishop, Devon on November 06th 1994.
F/O. Harold Kenneth Pugh. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 283. Born on the 25th May 1920 at Perth, the son of Frank Reginald Hendy Pugh and Lavinia May Pugh and husband of Edith Myrtle Pugh, of Leederville, Western Australia. (Muresk Diploma of Agriculture - Honours 1937).
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Thornley Jaques. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 271. Son of Joseph and Millicent Gertrude Jaques, of Irlam, Manchester, England.
Sgt. John Whittenbury. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 277. Son of Joseph Henry and Ethel Agnes Whittenbury, of Nairobi, Kenya.
Fl/Sgt. William Probert. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 272. Son of William A. and Hannah Probert, of Dunoon, Argyllshire, Scotland.
W/O. Harold Kendall Franklin. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 283. Born on the 23rd December 1921 at Koorda, the son of Arthur Edgar and Euphemia Margaret Chambers Franklin, of Koorda, Western Australia.
Sgt. Archibald Rowan Lishman. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 6A.B.3. Son of Thomas B. and Elizabeth Ann Lishman, of Keighley, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. George Alfred Knowles. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 275. Son of Joseph and Mary Knowles, of Normanton, Yorkshire, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.