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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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57 Squadron Crest
27/28.12.1941 No. 57 Squadron Wellington Ic Z1097 W/O. Purdy

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 27/28th December 1941 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 57 Squadron (3 Group)

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: Z1097 (Gorakhpur named after an Indian Rajah who paid for the aircraft)

Code: DX-?

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

Location: Someren, Netherlands

Pilot: W/O. Thomas Purdy DFM 564392 RAF Age 28 Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Maxwell Joseph Cronin NZ/404996 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Ronald Cave Scarlett AUS/402763 RAAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stan Barraclough 1007462 RAFVR PoW No: 134 Camp: Hohen Fels

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Frederick Aldous 1254695 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Walter James Poulton 1378026 RAFVR Age ? Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk at 17:00 hrs to attack Düsseldorf - 132 aircraft taking part, 7 failed to return, 2 others crashing in England.

31 aircrew killed or missing, 6 others taken PoW.

Wellington Z1097 was shot down by Oblt. Reinholdt Knacke of 2./NJG1 one of two claims he made during this operation. He engaged south west of Helmond at 20:24 hrs with the Wellington crashing at Someren. Already a night fighter ace at this time with 12 claims he went on to make an incredible 44 claims before he was shot down and killed on the 03rd February 1942 (Information from the Kracker Archives on †his website)

One of the W/Opertors Stan Barraclough managed to jump and land safely. After a few miles he came across a farmhouse where he was fed and shown a bed. Shortly after turning in, Dutch police arrived who explained that he had been unlucky in that the hosts were collaborators he was †hen handed over to the Germans.

Another New Zealand pilot was also lost, 21 year old, P/O. Melville John Hyland Hunt from Wellington, New Zealand. Flying Whitley V Z6841 with 58 Squadron when all 5 crew members lost without trace. Claimed by Oblt. Egmont Prinz Zur Lippe-Weissenfeld of 5./NJG2 over the North Sea at 21:46 hrs.

DFM Citation for the pilot W/O. Purdy which was awarded on the 24th December 1940:"Sergeant Purdy has taken part as Captain of aircraft in most of the important operations undertaken by the squadron since 4th September 1939 and has at all times shown conspicuous gallantry and determination in pressing home his attacks in the face of severe enemy opposition and in adverse weather conditions. His success as a captain of aircraft is no less marked than his skill and determination as a pilot and he has imbued his crew with a team spirit to a marked extent. By his courage, persistent determination, skill and power of leadership, this N.C.O. has at all times set an example deserving of the highest praise".

Burial details:

Initially buried at Venlo - reinterred after the end of the war.

W/O. Thomas Purdy DFM. Eindhoven Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJ. Collective grave 42. Husband of Ellen May Purdy, of Harton Rise, South Shields, Co. Durham, England. He had been a keen and accomplished boxer, winning many trophies whilst seeing in the RAF.

Sgt. Maxwell Joseph Cronin. Eindhoven Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJ. Collective grave 42. Born on the 29th November in Napier, the son of Edward Denis Joseph Cronin, and of Mary Florence (née Garland), of 1 Tahora Avenue, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 243 flying hours logged and on his 9th operational sortie.

F/O. Ronald Cave Scarlett. Eindhoven Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJ. Grave 42. Born on the 30th May 1914 at Adelaide, the son of Frederick Harold and Alice Annie Scarlett, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "For God, King And Country, His Duty Nobly Done".

Sgt. Robert Frederick Aldous. Eindhoven Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJ. Collective grave 42. Son of Annie A. Aldous, of Sandwich, Kent, England. Grave inscription reads: "In Proud Memory Of A Brave Son And Brother. "Always In Our Thoughts".

Sgt. Walter James Poulton. Eindhoven Cemetery (Woensel). Plot JJ. Grave 41. No further details - are you able to assist?

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

KTY 01.08.2018

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', 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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