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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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RAF Crest
08/09.10.1942 26 OTU Wellington Ic R1389 F/O. Salt

Operation: Bullseye (1)

Date: 08/09th October 1942

Unit: No. 26 Operational Training Unit. 92 Group

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1389 (2)

Code: -

Base: RAF Wing, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Location: Saint-Mars-Du-Désert, France

Pilot: F/O. Geoffrey Courthope Salt NZ/415382 RNZAF PoW No: 780 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Obs: F/O. Sydney Victor Gorton 118106 RAFVR PoW No: 228308 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ernest Wellings 1018356 RAFVR PoW No: 138561 Camp: Stalag Fallingbostel / Kopernikus

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Lt. Ivan Charles Allen 126838 RAFVR PoW No: 775 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Shann Cooper Richardson 540457 RAFVR PoW No: 39321 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus


Note: This page would not have been possible without the help from the son of Sgt. Ernest Wellings, Bernard Wellings and Errol Martyn.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 19:30 hrs on a 'Bullseye' (1) training operation.

After 9 hours flying, during which the observer was unable to obtain a fix and the wireless operator unable to establish radio contact, the aircraft ran out of fuel. With the port engine cutting out it was decided, at about 04:30 hours, to make a wheels-up forced-landing.

They landed safely and evacuated the aircraft just before it burst into flames. The crew then found they had landed in France!

Salt and his Wireless Operator successfully evaded for 8 days before capture by the Germans, near Mayenne on the 18th October. While the remainder of the crew were captured within a few days.

Writing from PoW camp to his wife, Trixie, on 22 Ocrt 42, Salt said in connection with his 'arrival' in France:

'We crashed in the early hours of the morning. Providence must have been with us as I landed the aircraft in the only available clearance for miles & we, the whole crew, got out when the plane burst into flames. None of us got a scratch'.

(1) A Bullseye exercise was carried out by bomber crews training at OTU level and involved a navigation exercise to a simulated target in the UK, usually one of the larger cities. The target was indicated in many cases by and upward shining infra-red light and crews were expected to return with a 'bombing photo' of the target. Others were with personal on the ground at 'target' area reporting how close the crews came.

(2) Many publications list this incorrectly as coming from 16 Operational Training Unit with the serial number Z1839. (Due to RAF Administration errors)

F/O. Geoffrey Courthope Salt born on the 07th October 1913 at Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted on the 27th January 1941. Married Beatrice Ruby Hueston in 1940. Beatrice passed away in 1992 at Christchurch, age 80, Geoffrey passed away in 1959 at Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand at the very young age of 46. Lived at 34 Marshland Rd, Shirley, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Burial details:

None - all crew survived as PoW.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

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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