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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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422 Squadron Crest
10/11.04.1942 No. 455 Squadron Hampden I AT221 UB-D F/O. Robert C. Roberts

Operation: Essen

Date: 10/11th April 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 455 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Hampden I

Serial: AT221

Code: UB-D

Base: RAF Wigsley, Nottinghamshire

Location: Stürzelberg, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Robert Charles Roberts AUS/3200 RAAF Age 29. Killed

Obs: Fl/Lt. Frederick Abbey Keck AUS/400623 RAAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Ripley Wright 1057411 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Hill Canning AUS/408045 RAAF Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 21:46 hrs to bomb the Main Square in Essen. 254 aircraft on this operation with a weather forecast of clear skies it was hope that the bombing would prove effective.

The forecast was incorrect however with heavy cloud over the area - the bomber stream scattered, suffering heavily from the Ruhr flak defences with 14 aircraft lost.

Of the 172 aircraft reported to have bombed the city, just 6 aircraft bomb loads fell. 12 houses destroyed, very little industrial damage, 7 people killed on the ground with 30 others suffering injuries.

Hampden AT221 is understood to have been a victim of the anti-aircraft fire with the aircraft coming down at Stürzelberg west of the Rheine, south east of Neuss.

Coned by 1/Res Flakscheinw Abt 159, 2/Res Flakscheinw 648 and 3/III/Flak Regt 611. Hit by 1-3/Res Flak Abt 512, 1 & 3/Res Flak Abt 371, 1 & 3/Res Flak Abt 381, 1 & 3 133. Aircraft crashed near Dalrath/Strurzberg at 0051. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1942 -Theo Boiten)

The squadron lost another crew this night:

Hampden I AE291 UB-K Flown by 26 year old, F/O. Seth Tilstone Manners AUS/403142 RAAF of Taree, NSW, Australia - killed with all his crew.

Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour - Aircrew Remembered have offered to provide basic information for the school records. Sgt. John Ripley Wright had been a former pupil.

Burial details:

F/O. Robert Charles Roberts. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.C.10. Son of Griffith and Ellen Jane Roberts, of St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia. Joined 455 Squadron on 25th February 1942 - completed 5 operations as captain of the aircraft.

Fl/Lt. Frederick Abbey Keck. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.C.11. Son of the Revd. Harry Alfred George Keck and Ethel Annie Keck, of Box Hill, Victoria, Australia. Later of 52 Highfield Road, Canterbury, Victoria, Australia. Joined 455 Squadron on 25th February 1942 - completed 5 operations. Sadly his older brother, 29 year old Fl/Lt. Harry Kingwell Keck AUS/400591 RAAF was also to lose his life a few weeks later on the 30th March 1942. Commemorated on the Alamein Memorial - listed as missing. Flying with 14 Squadron on Blenheim IV Z7627 lost with all the crew.

Above grave of mother of Sgt. John Wright (son shown) with letter to the squadron on hearing news that their son is missing.

Sgt. John Ripley Wright. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.C.8. Son of John and Agnes Margaret Wright, of Southport, Lancashire, England. Joined 455 Squadron in October 1941 - completed 13 operations (9 as a wireless operator).

Sgt. Frank Hill Canning. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 6.C.9. Son of Thomas Ashley Canning and Annie Leonie Irene Canning, of New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia. Joined 455 Squadron on 22nd February 1942 - completed 10 operations (5 of these with 97 Squadron).

Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour, our thanks to Ian Macfarlane for grave photo also to the sources shown below.

KTY 14.06.2015 / RW 02.03.2016 Added additional information.

RW 01.05.2019 Additional information re circumstances of loss added.

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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