23/24.10.1940 No. 75 Squadron (NZ) Wellington Ic P9292 AA-C P/O. Sanderson
Operation: Potsdam, Germany
Date: 23/24th October 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron (NZ). 3 Group. (motto: Ake ake kia kaha - 'For ever and ever be strong')
Type: Wellington Ic
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: North Sea
Pilot: P/O. Rex Martyn Sanderson 42727 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Pilot: P/O. William John Finlayson NZ/39911 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed
Obs: P/O. Frederick Bernard Cleak 77961 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Gibbs DFM. 625697 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Grice Hitchmough 653978 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald William Bryant White 755956 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Several operations taking place this night on various targets in Germany. 75 Squadron sent 5 aircraft to Potsdam south west of Berlin. Carrying 1 x 1000 lb. 500 lb. delayed action and 500 lb. fused NDT bombs as well as 250 lb. delayed action and 250 lb. NDT fused bombs plus containers of incendiaries.
P9292 took off just before midnight. Nothing further heard from the crew until it crashed into the North Sea off Denmark.
The body of P/O. Cleak was washed up on the island of Fanø on the South west coast of Denmark. That of P/O. Finlayson was recovered by a Royal Navy trawler and buried at sea near thwShipwash Light Vessel some 17 miles off the coast of Essex. He, together with the remaining crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
Sgt. Gibbs DFM L/G. awarded posthumously on 26th August 1941.
P/O. Rex Martyn Sanderson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 10. Born on the 08th June 1916 at Thames, the son of Alexander and Adelaide Ida Sanderson (née Murray), of Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a grocery assistant for Blue and White Coop. A total of 373 flying hours logged and on his 12th operation.
P/O. William John Finlayson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 27. Born on the 29th January 1917 at Canvastown, the son of John Herbert McWilliam Finlayson and Hilda Kathleen Eliza Finlayson (née Benton), of Opoho, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. Before going the RNZAF worked as a journalist for Hawkes Bay Daily Mail. A total of 373 flying hours logged.
P/O. Frederick Bernard Cleak. Esbjerg Cemetery (Fourfelt). Grave A.14.11. Son of Frederick and Ethel Cleak. Grave inscription: 'In Peace And Honour Rest You Here, My Son In Silence And Eternal Sleep'.
Sgt. Jack Gibbs DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 14. Son of Philip Frederick and Maud Beatrice Gibbs, of Newbold, Warwickshire, England.
Sgt. William Grice Hitchmough. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 15. Son of Henry and Annie Hitchmough, of Allerton, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. Reginald William Bryant White. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 20. Son of William Herbert and Ethel Ruth White, of Homsey, Middlesex, England.
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: