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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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42 Squadron Crest
21.06.1940 42 Squadron Beaufort I L4501 AW-A P/O. Alan G. Rigg

Operation: Scharnhorst

Date: 21st June 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No. 42 Squadron (Coastal Command)

Type: Beaufort I

Serial: L4501

Code: AW-A

Base: RAF Wick, Scotland

Location: North sea - off Bergen Norway

Pilot: P/O. Alan George Rigg 41067 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Obs: P/O. Marcel Adrian Phillips 44259 RAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1. George Edward Tanner 625471 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC. Denholm Gow 532923 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed


Part of Coastal Command and using Bristol Beaufort equipped with torpedoes. They moved to Wick to take part in the attacks on the German Navy. Took off at 14:20 hrs with eight other Beauforts to attack the Scharnhorst which was based at the time at Trondhjem.

Above and below photographs of Alan Rigg during training - are you able to place names to any of the airman? (courtesy Celia Miller)

The aircraft were armed for this raid with armour-piercing bombs and dive-bombed the huge Battle-Cruiser. The raid although not a total success did hit the ship with 3 bombs and she had to return for repairs to Kiel - taking her out of action for about 6 months.

The Squadron was attacked by Bf 109s from IIJG77 and three Beauforts were shot down with all 12 crew members losing their lives. A pilot of II/JG77, later submitted a claim that he had shot down Beaufort L4501 into the North Sea off the coast of Bergen, Norway.

The others lost from 42 Squadron:

Beaufort I L9810 AW-M Flown by F/O. William Barrie-Smith 39178 RAF - lost with all crew.
Beaufort I L4486 AW-C Flown by F/O. Herbert John Seagrim 39176 RAF - lost with all crew.

Burial details:

P/O. Alan George Rigg. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 9. Born on 22nd March 1920 in Downham Market, the son of Annie and Clifford Rigg of Downham Market, Norfolk, England.

P/O. Marcel Adrian Phillips. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 9. Son of George Adrian and Evelyn Phillips and husband of Hilda May Phillips, of Tenterden, Kent, England.

AC1. George Edward Tanner. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 26. Son of Percy and Elizabeth Tanner, of Andover, Hampshire, England.

ACI. Denholm Gow. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 23. Understood to be from Muirton of Ardblair near Blairgowrie, Scotland. No further details are you able to assist?

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Celia Miller for the update to Next of Kin details for P/O Rigg. Also, thanks to sources indicated below:

RS - 11.11.2018 Update to P/O Rigg's NoK details

KTY - 13.10.2019 Further photographs added

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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