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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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161 Squadron Crest
15/16.01.1943 No. 161 Squadron (SOE) Halifax V DG285 MA-X P/O. H.S. Redhead

Operation: SOE ( Special Operations Executive )

Date: 15/16th January 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 161 Squadron

Type: Halifax MkV

Serial: DG285

Code: MA-X

Base: RAF Tempsford

Location: Crashed on the commune of Guichen in the region of Rennes, France.

Pilot: P/O. Harry Sanford Readhead 131647 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

2nd Pilot:  P/O. Ronald Gray 137441 1288663) RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Stewart Mckenzie Anderson 572444 RAF Age 21. Killed

Nav: P/O. William Wallace Roy J/16141 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Wilson 990531 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr:  Sgt. Leslie Percy Manning 1320934 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Hedley Geoffrey Martins 1382848 RAFVR Killed 


A Special Operations Executive on two missions, a Ker (parcel drop for the Secret Intelligence Service south of Sion-les-Mines) and Crab 6 (container).

Halifax DG285 was hit by 13 division, Flak-abteilung 852 at around 22:30 to the South of Rennes France.

Burial details:

P/O. Harry Sanford Readhead. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of Christopher and Charlotte Readhead, husband of Eileen Alice Readhead, of Haberfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (married in 1932). 

Message received from Jennifer Frances who contacted us in November 2015: 

"For our grandfather, our mother's father and our grandmother's husband, Harry Sanford Readhead, in memoriam.
An accomplished book publisher, Canadian, and married to the love of his life, Eileen Alice Napper, an Australian; had a dream of freedom, country and righteousness. Harry at 31, being a skilled pilot and multilingual took to the skies with Squadron 161 SOE RAF Tempsford but unfortunately for his wife, 2 small children and the generations to come, lost his life and all of his crew on Jan 16, 1943 in the commune of Guichen near Rennes, France mid mission. 
We honour his sacrifice and dream with pride. Harry Sanford Readhead stands tall in our memories and now is comforted at his grave with the ashes of his beloved Eileen who passed away in 2007."

P/O. Ronald Gray. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of John and Eleanor Gray, of Rusholme, Manchester, England.

Sgt. Stewart Mckenzie Anderson. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of Hugh McKenzie Anderson and Isabella Anderson, of 10 Lawside Terrace, Dundee, Scotland.

P/O. William Wallace Roy. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of Henry and Marion Auld Roy, of Tottenham, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. William Wilson. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of Thomas and Helen Wilson, of Mauchline, Ayreshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Leslie Percy Manning. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Grave 7. Son of Leslie E. Manning and Ethel M. Manning, of South Ockenden, Essex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Hedley Geoffrey Martins. Rennes Eastern Communal Cemetery. Sec. 18. Plot 1. Row C. Coll. grave 8-13. Son of Mr. D.H. Martins, of Victoria Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, England.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2015. With thanks to Mr. Alion Dieudome for photographs of grave markers, CWGC graves and crew. Medal photographs from Michel Beckers collection. Other sources as quoted.

MB/KTY 14.09.2015

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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