22nd February 1945 487 (NZ) Squadron Mosquito FB.VI PZ395 W/Cdr. Baker
Operation: Armed reconnaissance (Operation Clarion 1)
Date: 22nd February 1945 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 487 (NZ) Squadron (motto: Ki te mutunga - Through to the end) 140 Group. 2 Group
Type: Mosquito FB.VI
Base: B87. Rosierès-en-Santerre, France
Location: Bevern, Germany
Pilot: W/Cdr Reginald William Baker DFC. MiD. NZ/401748 RNZAF Age 29. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. Alexander John Fowler NZ/422654 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 11:10 hrs on an armed reconnaissance over the Hamburg - Bremen coast area.
Understood to be one of two lost having been hit by railway flak and crashed 2 kilometres north of Bevern, whilst attacking the Bremervörde-Rotenburg line.
The other, was Mosquito FB.VI HR356 flown by F/O. John Cockburn 145110 RAFVR with navigator Fl/Sgt. Frank Valentine 1625056 RAFVR crashed minutes later killing both crew.
Above: W/Cdr Reginald William Baker DFC. MiD, Fl/Lt. Alexander John Fowler
'Acting Flight Lieutenant Reginald William Baker, Royal New Zealand Air Force, No. 485 (N.Z.) Squadron, This officer is an excellent flight commander whose fine fighting qualities have fostered a high standard of morale amongst his fellow-pilots. He has completed numerous sorties over enemy occupied territory, invariably displaying a high degree of skill and determination'.
(1) Operation Clarion was the extensive allied campaign of Strategic bombing during World War II which attacked 200 German communication network targets. 3,500 bombers and nearly 5,000 fighters attacked targets across Germany in effort to destroy all means of transportation available. Targets included "rail stations, barges, docks, and bridges. Five of 487 Squadron Mosquitoes were shot down where all but two survived the day's intrusion over northwest Germany a disastrous Day.
Initially buried in a communal marked grave at Bevern Cemetery - reinterred on 02 October 1946 following the reports carried out by Fl/Lt. P. Borstein of section 15 of the M.R.E.U. dated 07th October 1946. (some pages of report signed Fl/Lt. P. Berstein and Sq/Ldr. W. Griffiths.
W/Cdr Reginald William Baker DFC. MiD. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 13.F.8. Born on the 02nd March 1915 at Dunedin. A analytics chemist for W. Gregg and Company. A civil reserve pilot at the Otago Aero Club. Enlisted in the RNZAF on the 02nd July 1940 at Levin. Son of John Gerald Charles and Mina Margaret Baker (née Dobbie), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. 1002 Flying hours logged and completed 194 operational sorties. (188 with 485 Squadron, 6 with 487 Squadron)
Fl/Lt. Alexander John Fowler. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 13.F.7. Born on the 18th June 1922 at Middlemarch. Prior to enlisting worked as a audit clerk for Patrick, Feist and Jack accountants. Enlisted on the 18th April 1942 at Rotorua. Son of Robert Bruce Fowler and Margaret Fowler (née Francis), of Middlemarch, Otago, New Zealand. 587.05 Flying hours logged and completed 28 operational sorties. (214 Squadron 9 ops, 14 with 161 Squadron, this was his 5th with 487 Squadron)
When he finished with 214 and 161 in January of 1944, he then received additional training on H2S radar at 1657 Conversion Unit (January to March 1944), and then became an H2S instructor at 1651 Conversion Unit Wratting Common, April to November 1944. After that he went to retrain on mosquitoes (having done all his previous war service in Stirlings) at 2 GSU Swanton Morley in December 1944 and January 1945. That was where he joined up with Baker, and they went to 487 Squadron together. (Information from his log books courtesy Jonathan Markey)
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jonathan Markey, nephew of Fl/Lt. Fowler, RAF Command Forum, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: